EMC church leaders will gather November 26–27 to explore theological questions about same-sex attraction and our pastoral responses.
EMCers might ask, isn’t this a dangerous discussion? Fear not—we are people of the new covenant, which completely reverses the original covenant. Under the old covenant, impurity threatened the people of God. Now, through Christ, the people of God have become a threat to all that is impure.
God-fearing Jews living in Jesus’ time spent much time and energy separating themselves from anything and anyone unclean. It was important that they abide by clearly defined rituals, prayers, sacrifices, and cleansing practices. They had segregated neighbourhoods, veils, walls, festivals, and schedules. Devout Jews were preoccupied with fulfilling the Old Testament purity laws; anything impure was a major threat to God’s people.
When Jesus entered the scene, the religious leaders were angered. Jesus fellowshipped, debated, healed, worshipped, blessed, forgave, touched, kissed, travelled and ate with the unclean. He was regularly criticized for his total disregard of the stringent purity laws of Jewish society. Jesus showed us a reversal of purity: he purified what was considered unclean.
When Jesus touched the leper, Jesus did not become unclean as expected; rather, the leper was declared clean (Mathew 8:1–3). The same thing took place in the case of the hemorrhaging woman (Matthew 9:20) and the dead girl (Matthew 9:23–26). Everything Jesus touched had the reverse effect of pollution—purification.
The Apostle Paul affirmed this total reversal when he said that a believing spouse would sanctify—make pure—the unbelieving spouse (1 Corinthians 7:14). This was in total contradiction of the Hebrew law that forbade intermarriage with foreigners because foreign spouses would sully the purity of God’s people.
In the New Testament, believers don’t need to cleanse or purify themselves to enter God’s presence. They are purified upon encountering the living Christ.
A faith rooted in Jesus need not fear or feel threatened by external influences. Rather, faith rooted in Christ threatens and challenges all opposing ideologies and philosophies. The Message says it well: “We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity” (2 Corinthians 10:4–6).
Jesus healed and restored all, without concern for his own defilement or reputation. His way is the way of embrace. We know we are not at risk when we care for all people.
The conference is open to leaders and spouses in EMC churches. There are options for in-person and virtual attendance. Registration is online at www.emconference.ca/theology-conference.
Jen Kornelsen lives in downtown Winnipeg with her husband Dallas and their two daughters. She belongs to the Many Rooms Church Community. Jen is part of the committee planning the November theology conference Desire: Pastoring, Same-Sex Attraction and the Church.