Welcome All

Two Sundays ago I was invited to preach a sermon on the theme “Welcome All” at a congregation in Independence. It was just a few days after the passage of the marriage equality bill in New York State and so I felt compelled to preach on the importance of the Community of Christ becoming a welcoming church for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. I also wanted to use the opportunity to publicly apologize for my own homophobia, which as a young adult I had accepted uncritically from those who had given me religious instruction. I show that the church has often struggled to be prophetic on human equality, using examples of race and the American Civil Rights movement. I call on Community of Christ congregations to become inclusive churches.

I wrote up a summary of my sermon for my column in The Examiner (Independence, MO). Click here to read it.


13 comments on “Welcome All

  1. mark gibson says:

    D&C 152 calls fornication one of “the grosser sins of the world” as well as “wanton living” which are closely tied together.

    Since this revelation is still binding on members, how do you come to accept irresponsible sexual behavior/attitudes, be it hetero or homo?

    I don’t believe that Jesus was saying “come follow me; I don’t care what you do, how you do it, or who you’re doing it with”

    It’s also not helpful to your cause to use the broad brushstroke of “homophobia” to someone who simply disagrees. I fear the CofC, as it becomes more inclusive on this subject will be more exclusive against people with differing opinions.

  2. Good points all, Matt.

  3. Karen Lea Mercer says:

    I think Christ’s message was so clear. Love God and love your neighbor as thyself.
    There was a time when the color of your skin was considered a sin, to be of dark skin was a curse. We know better now, it is biology, inherited, evolution… Homosexuality is not a sin, we used to think so, but we know better now. We know it is biology. It is no more a choice than the color of your skin or your eyes. There may be a handful that choose it just as there are those of us vain enough to change the color of our skin at the tanning beds or the color of our eyes with contacts. Many of us work against nature. I know too many people and love too many people who are gay and lesbian and were born that way, They would not choose this more difficult path for themselves and many fight it to their detriment. Thank goodness that in the light of this day many can choose to be who they were created to be. We embrace those who know themselves and are true to that.
    Jesus warned against judging and encouraged enlightenment. We are enlightened, hopefully. We know better now just as those who lived in Jesus’ time knew better than those in the time of Moses. Let us be wise! Let us grow!

    • cyndi says:

      So is Alcoholism, Pedophilia, cannibalism, and bi polar personalities. so if it is not sin to have sex without marriage and commitment, is it then wrong if I was born an alcoholic to drink until a stupor is achieved, and drive. Perhaps not and all these years I have held my self accountable restraining myself for becoming the drunk I was born to be. I feel much better now thank you

      • While the sarcasm is likely not a very effective communication tool, your point is certainly a good one. If progressives would look at this argument seriously, they’d understand why the “its not a choice” debate has long been a lost one.

  4. Reynaldo says:

    you can love them but you cant love their sin,

  5. mark gibson says:


    Let me re-word my previous post into questions.

    What behavior, in your opinion, would be fornication?

    Is it still important, in your opinion, to make an effort to follow the law of chastity?

    Would you encourage a friend engaging in self-damaging sexual behavior to seek help as you would abuse of alcohol/drugs?

  6. That’s alot of questions, Mark. As for me – I would encourage a friend engaging in self-damaging sexual behavior to seek help. Of course, I don’t believe responsible sexual intimacy between consenting adults is often, if ever, self-damaging.

    • mark gibson says:


      I agree, because you include a key word-intimacy. Adultery, pornography addiction and sexual abuse are not intimate nor consensual, but they did have starting points that should be eliminated.

      I know some would disagree, but I believe the scriptures have asked us to refrain from certain indulgences, while many believe that all limits are off.

      • Obviously the scriptures have asked us to refrain from certain indulgences – from consuming shell fish to touching women who are menstruating – nearly all of these society has moved away from. The scriptures have also asked us to engage in certain activities – from keeping women subservient to slavery – that society has also moved away from.

        When we start interpreting scripture to allow/forbid activities in any kind of subjective fashion, then it all comes down to who is doing the interpreting. For that person to then use the scriptures as the “authority” for their personal beliefs, seems disingenuous.

  7. Jaramiah says:

    It is interesting for me that your welcome was extended to bisexual individuals like myself. There are some camps who believe that a bisexual individual is simply a homosexual who doesn’t accept their sexuality. This is likely influenced by prevailing pressures to identify as either gay or straight.

    Beyond your welcome and reassurance that you’ve met bisexual individuals who are capable of love, I’m not sure that your welcome ‘really’ invites a practicing bisexual to fellowship fully. If one is to have partners of opposite genders and keep the law of chastity as it is understood, it would require serial monogamy or plural unions. Neither is really advocated theologically or practical for social participants of religious organizations.

    I am most content with the union that has provided a mate and biologic offspring (family) in the traditional sense. So, I pray for help in repressing the aspect of my sexuality that is attracted to the same gender. If I was gay, this attempt to change who I am would be considered futile and even damaging. Nevertheless, its the commitment that I am responsible for. And yes, I consider myself fortunate that my sexuality does not require a lifetime of celibacy to participate in my religious community.

    I hope fervently that my children will be strongly heterosexual–not because I wouldn’t love and accept them if they were gay or bisexual, but because from my experience, life is far easier if your sexual orientation is synchronous with your sexual reproductive biology. You may say that they don’t have a choice, and it that’s true, so be it. If they are gay, I will help them develop their talents and life goals to their full potential in any way I can. But I will raise them assuming that they are heterosexual until they tell me otherwise. If there is any real fluidity in the development of their sexuality, I don’t want to miss out on them having a chance at that dual compatibility of orientation and sexual biology. I know that some will view this as a form of homophobia, but I’ve been exposed to enough bisexual-phobia from both sides that I have lost interest in what people think on this issue. Especially when their opinions are based on the latest turn in the politically popular tide.

    • Jaramiah, just so I understand, are you suggesting that bi-sexuals, rather than hetero or homo-sexuals, have, by the nature of their sexuality, a need for multiple partners in order to satisfy their attraction to both males and females?

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