‘Hate Has No Home Here’ vs. ‘All Are Welcome, No Exceptions’

“All are welcome” vs. “Hate has no home here.” Both these signs are from churches. The top one is obviously from the Episcopal church, the bottom one from another church of a different denomination, near the one I attend.

Both signs undoubtedly refer to the same issue, homosexuality. The two churches probably agree completely on it.

Except one says all are welcome, and the other one disagrees.

I’ve already expressed my  thoughts on the first sign, over at The Stream. I have  questions now for the church that’s posted the second one.

Easy Questions

Suppose someone who hated someone walked in your door on Sunday morning. Suppose they were looking for a relationship with God. Would you tell them they weren’t welcome?

No? I thought not.

Suppose someone walked in and said, “I hate slavery!” Would you turn them away?

No? Again, that’s no big surprise.

Harder Question

Now, suppose someone showed up, you got talking about LGBT, and she said this:

“I disagree very strongly with gay marriage and homosexual physical intimacy, but my disagreement isn’t motivated by hate. It’s because I’ve studied the matter, and I’m convinced it leads in the long run to harmful outcomes that really hurt real people. Moreover, my in-depth study of the Bible leads me to conclude that God prohibits such things.”

Would you say she was unwelcome?

Harder Questions Yet

It takes a very specific kind of hate to be excluded from here, doesn’t it?

I’m curious, then. How did you choose that one above all the others?

And finally, what do you think about the Episcopal Church’s statement, “God loves you, no exceptions, and [implied] all are welcome”?

Comments

  1. Damon J. Gray

    Tom, you have artfully demonstrated the danger inherent to the skilled use of imprecise, assumptive language.

    For starters, you have pointed out (correctly, I believe) that both signs make reference to homosexuality. Yet, note how neither sign uses that term. We assume. We make mental connections between the verbiage on each sign and commonly correlated issues that plague contemporary society.

    Now to the assumptive language. “All are welcome here.” Is that true? Perhaps, but then perhaps not. The better question is, “What does that mean? What definition do you apply to ‘Welcome?'” If, by ‘welcome’ you mean that I accept you walking through the doorway of our ministry center so that you can learn, worship, grow, and mature in Christ regardless of the specific sin with which you struggle, then yes, you are welcome here. However, if by “welcome” you mean that I must approve of you in all aspects, including your active homosexual lifestyle, saying, “That’s just fine!” then no. That definition of “welcome” does not work for me.

    Neither would I expect to be “welcome” if I were dedicated to my rampant heterosexual impulses which led me to pursue intimate relations with every woman in the local church body. Or worse yet, if my impulses were very strong and I actively, forcibly raped women on a weekly basis. But I am “Welcome here,” right? No.

    My local church family is the most gracious, loving, welcoming family of believers of which I have ever been a part. It took me 30 years to find this church family, and I am so blessed to be a part of it. Here we have clean-cut doctors and lawyers sitting next to, and loving on single mothers of infant children, recovering drug addicts and alcoholics who teach humility and devotion to aircraft mechanics and software developers. We have former prostitutes who teach the depths of God’s grace to CEOs and CFOs. It is Philemon and Onesimus sitting side by side with hands uplifted beside tear-streamed faces, looking at the cross. THAT is what welcoming looks like. Does any of us accept the unconquered sin in our lives? No, but we stand arm locked in arm, with God by our side, and we support one another as we strive to become conformed to the image of the son.

  2. David Heddle

    Actually, I have always been curious about the fact that garden-variety unbelievers are universally welcomed and invited with open arms. I’m not (seriously) arguing that we shouldn’t–but I think the examples from the church in Acts and the epistles does not explicitly endorse welcoming unbelievers, and in fact on the surface it looks as if the gatherings were for believers.

    Now if we welcome unbelievers–who are dead in sins and have endorsed unbelief (the ultimate rebellion against God) as an acceptable lifestyle, why wouldn’t we welcome anyone else?

    I don’t have a simple answer.

  3. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    I suspect the answer might have something to do with Damon’s question: Welcomed for what? To what roles? And with what kinds of affirmations?

    1 Cor. 14:22-25 implies the presence of unbelievers, and tells us our church services should take account of their being there in some sense. But certainly not to teach or to lead.

  4. David Heddle

    1 Cor. 14:22-25 implies the presence of unbelievers, and tells us our church services should take account of their being there in some sense. But certainly not to teach or to lead.

    Perhaps. But it speaks of those unbelievers, upon hearing prophecy, falling on their faces and worshipping God. (How often is there prophecy in your church for the benefit of potentially receptive unbelievers? And how often does it lead to such dramatic conversions?) The purpose of that passage, I think, is to show the superiority of prophecy over tongues, not as a general guide for an open-door policy. It says nothing, for example, of how many “chances” you give an unbeliever. (Not to mention it also goes on to talk about women being silent. Only to ask questions of their husbands at home. So how much of that passage is prescriptive?)

    But–fair point.

  5. Philmonomer

    Both signs undoubtedly refer to the same issue, homosexuality. The two churches probably agree completely on it.

    While I can’t be sure, my guess is that the second sign actually does not refer to homosexuality. Rather, I think it is probably a response to what the attendees of the church feel to be a growing xenophobia in our culture.

    That said, I think you are right that the sign could refer to homosexuality, and the two churches probably agree completely on it.

  6. grodrigues

    From where I stand, the even harder question to ask is: did Jesus love Judas? Did he love him till the end? And what does each answer entail? Replace Judas with your favorite abominable sinner.

  7. BillT

    Not to mention it also goes on to talk about women being silent. Only to ask questions of their husbands at home. So how much of that passage is prescriptive?

    Though the admonition above has been used to criticize Christianity there is a better understanding. Because Christianity so empowered women, validated them and their participation in the church (and certainly in the 1st century ANE!) that this was a reasonable request given the expectations of the times. Like the prior critique of always speaking in tongues (“and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds?” ) it is there not to repress women but to create an environment that met the expectations of outsiders and unbelievers. So, it’s not unreasonable to view it as prescriptive.

  8. staircaseghost

    Ouch.

    Pretty rough weekend to have the top post on your site still be about how opposition to bigotry is morally equivalent to bigotry, eh?

  9. Philmonomer

    Tom,

    I was surprised my comments (Number 5 and Number 6) received no response or acknowledgment from you.

  10. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    Sorry. I thought they added to the conversation and didn’t really need further comment. If there’s somethinyou think I missed, please let me know what it is.

  11. Philmonomer

    Well, let’s say a reader stumbles across this blog post a week from now. They read the blog post, and then read the comments. There is no response from you with regard to comment Number 6.

    If I were that reader, I’d leave confused–wondering what your opinion is on the matter. (Do you agree? Disagree? Do you still stand by the blogpost? Why no comment?–I’d think it’s possible you hadn’t seen the comments?)

  12. Post
    Author

Comments are closed.