“On Community” By Kolby Atchison

A community is a basic human need, I would argue. Every emotionally healthy person I know is part of one (or two or three) and receives indispensable nourishment from the experience. By joining hands with like-minded men and women, social goods of friendship, acceptance, and belonging are unlocked, and the result is nothing less than a refuge from an otherwise lonely and estranged life.

Unfortunately, not everyone receives these life-giving benefits of belonging to a community. In fact, I suspect that many do not. Despite modernity’s lofty promises to lead us to a better world through faith in reason and the inevitably of human progress, it seems that one aspect of progress modernity could not ultimately secure is the experience of true and healthy intimacy. While advances in technology have provided us with a variety of novel ways to connect to one another, through social media, for example, these means leave us frequently thirsting for more. We are more connected to each other than ever, it would seem, and yet we cannot escape the sneaking suspicion that the gap of isolation continues to widen.

This desperate need for community applies to everyone, including those men and women who experience sexual attraction to their own sex. Century after century, our world has not known what to do these with these people and, sadly, this uncertainty has engendered programs of persecution, alienation, and marginalization. These men and women were labeled as aberrations to the norm, dangerous to society, and therefore, to be avoided at all costs. This despicable treatment of human beings endowed with the image of God requires, first of all, heartfelt lament, and subsequently, genuine repentance. Reparation must be made: our only hope is to trust that God will forgive us through His gracious work in Christ, and permit us the opportunity to correct our wrongdoing. In other words, to do justice in the land.

But how can justice be done and in what sense is this related to the idea of community? As the family of God and the torchbearers of His kingdom, it falls to the church to lead the way in welcoming these men and women back into society. If Christians are going to remain committed to an orthodox view of marriage and sexuality, which they must if they are going to remain at all, then they need to open the doors to their homes and let those with same-sex attraction in. They must vigilantly care for their marriages and families in order to use them to be a blessing and bastion of a community to those who may never make the vow of matrimony. They must look beyond the noses of themselves and, indeed, the noses of their immediate family members, in order to look on with the compassion to the needs of those attracted to the same sex. 

As the clock keeps ticking, the universe keeps expanding, and our world keeps marching further along into the uncertainties of the modern age, the church must lead the way in practically caring for these men and women. While the Age of Faith is behind us, and quickly with it, the Age of Reason, the Age of Feeling simply cannot carry this burden for long. Feeling is too transient, too immediate, too flimsy. It may empower the LGBT community to temporarily fulfill their own self-prescribed needs and desires, but it will not only ultimately fulfill them. It was not intended to. Rather, the church must show these men and women with same-sex attraction that a spirit-saturated, Christ-led community of Touch, Time, Teamwork, and Transparency is waiting for them just as the Father waits and prepares a place for the church.