Forget the false friends, listen to St Paul

I’m not fond of boiling complex theological issues down to single-verse soundbites. But there is one three-verse passage that I often think of. Galatians 3:26-28.

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

In Christ, there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor male nor female.

When Paul wrote those words, he wasn’t talking about some abstract future, he was talking about how things are when you are in Christ, how things are now.

With the words “neither Jew nor Gentile”, Paul reminds us that in Christ there are no racial differences. Any one of any race can take any role in the church. With the words “neither slave nor free” Paul reminds us that there is no distinction based on social class. Anyone, no matter what their background, can take any role in the church.

Could a Christian oppose a marriage because of the races of the people involved? No, Paul’s words forbid that, because there is neither Jew nor Gentile. Could a Christian oppose a marriage because of the social backgrounds of the people involved? No Paul’s word forbid that, because there is neither slave nor free.

Nor male nor female. There is so much in that simple phrase that modern Christians could learn from. But for now, if a Christian judges a marriage based on the sexes of the people involved, then they are going against the words of Paul.

When you are a gay Christian, you will encounter people that treat you differently because you are gay. Sometimes they are openly hostile to you. Other times they are more subtle. They will pretend to be your friend. “I accept you as a gay Christian,” they say. “I respect and affirm your relationship,” and this sounds good to you. “But,” they continue, “but, your relationship is not as good as an opposite-sex relationship. You must be content to be second class.” You are told you can be in a civil partnership, but not in a marriage, or you can get married, but not in church. Or there is some other way to make us feel less worthy.

When people, even people who identify as LGBT, say these things, they aren’t being our friends, no matter how welcoming they say they are. They are pushing us into second-class status, but they aren’t just pushing us into second-class status. They are denying the simple and plain teaching of the Bible. When false friends try to relegate us into second-class membership of the church, however hard it is, do not listen to them. Listen instead to the words that Paul wrote to the Galatians.

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

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About Andrew McFarland Campbell

I'm Andrew. Belfast born, Cambridge educated, living in Dublin. Married to John. I earn my living by writing, mainly documentation, but I write fiction as well. I am a liberal Christian and founded Faith and Pride.

Posted on 15 October, 2016, in Affirmation. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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