18 Comments

  1. Scott Golden says:

    Dear Matt,

    Thank you for your piece here ‘Shall We Have A Rethink’ and discussing the issue of LGBT+ people in the life and ministry of the Church. As a 50+ gay man, who at a time and place in my life felt a calling to ministry but, in light of the attitude of the Church back then (and still holds within a huge swathe of it and in particular within the Anglican Communion) I felt I could not follow that call. I turned my back on Christianity for many years. 10 years ago the man who is now my husband and, together we have returned to being part of a small Anglican group of parishes in the Church of Ireland here in Co. Wicklow that is welcoming. Sadly, however within the Church of Ireland as a whole, the issue of LGBT inclusion still rages and it’s official stance is respectful but non-inclusive. However, my husband and I have been fully embraced locally and we both play active roles in leadership within the parish. We are both also members of Changing Attitude Ireland which is a group of Christians here in Ireland, predominantly within the Church of Ireland but also working with our Methodist brothers and sisters, for the full inclusion of LGBT+ people in the life and work of the Church.

    Your piece here, Matt, is a wonderfully inclusive exposition on a subject that for a lot of people is so important and, as we have seen (and as I can personally attest to) for some can be a matter of life or death.

    Please, please, please, continue to speak thus to this subject as you have done here, in the knowledge that you are doing the will of him who sent you, to show His love to all who call Him Lord.

  2. Matt Hyam says:

    Hi Scott,

    What a beautiful comment. Thank you for taking the time to write it. Bless you and your husband.

    I pray that God will lead you into the ministry that he called you to. I am certain that he has not given up on you.

  3. Luke Johnson says:

    Hi Matt,
    I was wondering what Vineyard UK’s response to your article series has been? Is there an official response? What is Vineyard UK’s position on these questions? Or is each Vineyard church free to determine their own views? Thank you, Luke

  4. Matt Hyam says:

    Hi Luke,

    Up until now, with regard to every other subject, Vineyard churches have been free to determine their own views. Not so with this single issue. Suffice it to say, we are not in agreement over this issue.

    Matt

  5. Jgarraty says:

    So what would happen if you were asked to conduct a wedding for a gay couple? Would you say yes? Would the movement object? This issue is massive and one that could split a whole denomination. You must feel a sense of responsibility going out on a limb like this?

  6. Matt Hyam says:

    I feel a huge amount of responsibility.

    I do not like being at odds with the movement, but, ultimately I cannot treat someone as a lesser person and so, if one of the engaged gay couples in our church asks me, how can I possibly say no? How can I possibly walk with them and say they are loved and 100% accepted and then refuse? That would be so hypocritical of me

    I know it puts me at odds with the movement, but, for me, this is an issue of integrity, so it’s a no-brainer. Sometimes you come upon a hill that’s worth dying on and, for me, this is one.

  7. John Cook says:

    I see that the Methodist churches seem to be splitting over this very issue this year.

    Rather than potentially create a schism in a whole movement, do you think it would be better to cut your losses and withdraw from the Vineyard and throw your lot in with the Anabaptists entirely? it seems to me that many of your views are straying from conservative evangelicalism and the Vineyard are in the Evangelical Alliance after all. I can see here that the Vineyard movement are in a no win situation here. If they agree with you they will probably lose half their membership and face a horrible divide. If they publicly disagree with you they risk a media frenzy where they are called homophobic and intolerant.

  8. Matt Hyam says:

    Wouldn’t us leaving be creating a schism? I am really committed to staying, but I have thought about it, believe me. It would certainly make my life easier. This is a secondary theological issue and I do not think it is one to leave over. You are correct that I disagree with many of the theological views of the Vineyard, and indeed, the EA, but we are allowed to disagree and still love each other. We are allowed to me in dialogue. That is healthy. If every time someone who disagreed left then things would never change except we would end up with 33,000 Protestant denominations… (oh, hang on, wait a minute!)

    Our view is, while clearly a minority, far from unique (on most of these issues), within the movement+ and there are a lot of very broken, very hurt people who love the Vineyard, needing someone to stand up for them. They want to be part of the Vineyard and do not want to leave. I am committed to trying to help them stay, not leave.

    I have been, and continue to be, in constant dialogue with the leaders of the UK movement. All that I am asking of them is to treat this issue the same way they have treated every other issue* in the entire lifetime of this movement. That is, to allow churches to decide for themselves, as with divorce, women as leaders etc. We are, theoretically, a ‘centred’, not a ‘bounded’ set.

    *the Vineyard leadership are adamant that this is not a ‘salvation issue’.
    + Many (if not most) of the theologians (those with formal post-grad qualifications) within the UK Vineyard actually hold the same view as me. That ought to be pause for thought.

  9. Date Moreton says:

    This post was sent to me. I was so pleased to read your stance on LGBTQI. It is a life saver to many. I pray that as journey on this new adventure, you will be sustained not only by your trust in Jesus, but the people around you.
    I help lead the LGBTQI work at the church I attend. We have been fully inclusive and embracing for 10 years now. The Lord has been good, but sometimes his followers not so good. Bless you.

  10. Rachel Humphrey says:

    Thank you Matt. Every time a leader has the courage to speak out and be honest about their journey, it makes it easier for the hundreds of others who are a little way behind you to be braver. I hope they’re not too far behind. You just made the world a little brighter and more hopeful for the thousands of LGBT Christians who’d love to come home to a church like yours.

  11. Becca says:

    Thank you for all you hard work on this, Matt. It is a spectacularly dividing issue, which in and of itself astounds me. To me it is simply an issue of if we fully accept someone or not. However, I have to recognise I am at a different place than I was 10 years ago, and many others may be, themselves, at a different viewpoint in another 10 years to where they are currently. It is so hard to stay in the church. I stay because I hope I can be just one more ‘safe person’ (or try my very very best to be and know I have much more to learn before I truly am) for the LGBT+ community, but sometimes the progress feels so slow that everything in me wants to leg it and not be part of the church any longer. You are so right. It is not easy at all.

    (came across your blog after speaking to one of your congregation, and I have dropped in now and again to hear your thoughts. Thank you for sharing them online.)

  12. Matt Hyam says:

    Thank you.

    It is indeed divisive and, like you, I have changed my view over time. Initially, through study but now this is no longer a Theological issue but one about people – my friends, who I love and who have been so badly treated over the years and yet are so godly!

    My biggest sadness is that so many people people seem unwilling to even consider that they may be wrong. Certainty is often dangerous,in my experience.

  13. Stephen Hopkins says:

    My difficulty lies with the conflict of gay marriage with the doctrine of creation, male and female created He them. Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and the two become one flesh. Whilst it is possible to have children through artificial insemination nowadays the only natural way is for a man to impregnate a woman. Noone questions that two men can love each other deeply, like Jesus and John and David and Jonathan, but marrying someone of the same sex is a separate issue to me.

  14. Matt Hyam says:

    Thanks for that. I see your point, and indeed, to my mind, the creation argument is the only Biblical argument that can be made against same sex marriage. However, there are a number of questions that arise from it.

    Is any form of sex other than penetrative sex, therefore, wrong? Is it wrong to have sex other than for procreation? If so, does that mean that when a couple have decided to not have any more children they should cease having sex? If a couple cannot conceive should they cease to have sex?

    I know of a very famous evangelical pastor who, while expressing disgust at homosexuality and claiming that things ‘just do not fit’, also claims that it is a wife’s duty to regularly perform oral sex on her husband, and to be available for anal sex during menstruation!

    Which is it?

    The Bible says that he created them male and female, and why wouldn’t it? It also claims the world is flat and the sky is a hammered metal dome. It is an ancient text and reflects the understandings of the day. However, we now know that, at a genetic level, 1-2% of people are neither male nor female, so it just isn’t that simple.

    I know affirming theologians who would agree that the original plan was just heterosexual but the fall has led to homosexual orientation. I know others who would state that the creation account states the norm, but that God loves variety.

    We are where we are, and the point is that whether it is from the fall or not, I do cannot conclude that God has given any indication that he is against it.

    You may disagree. Many do.

  15. John cook says:

    I think it’s great you are trying to be inclusive and for too long groups have been excluded and marginalised.

    Genesis 1 and 2 and Jesus in Matthew 19 seem clear though that the only Bible definition of marriage is between men and women.

    You recognise the male and female Ness of God in your writings. Well God made mankind in his own image, male and female he created them. Both of them together joined as one reflecting the image of God.

    God looked for a suitable helper for Adam. He didn’t create another Adam to do this.

    As it says in Matthew 19 what God has joined together let not Matt seperate..

  16. Matt Hyam says:

    Hi John,

    Thank you for your comment. Could I refer you to my more detailed, theological blogs in the series “The Third Rail”?

    I agree that the Genesis account presents the strongest argument against same-sex marriage, but, as I am sure you are aware, this inspired text, was written a long time ago through the lens of ancient understandings. For example, Gen 1, clearly describes a flat earth supported over waters by pillars and a sky that was literally a metal dome with doors in it to let through the rain. This was the scientific understanding of the day. We now know it was wrong. The point of Genesis 1 is not affected by this. It is no less inspired.

    Gen 2, clearly states that there is only male and female. However, science has now shown us that 1-2% of human beings are genetically neither. How could the writer of Genesis know that? They could not. Likewise, the concept of “homosexuality” was not recognised until 150 years ago and so how could Matthew have recognised same-sex marriage when the idea was utterly alien?

    If you are genuinely interested in exploring this and understanding better why I have landed here, then could I suggest reading this series of blogs, which are a far more academic exploration of the subject.

    http://www.svc.church/blog/2019/03/the-third-rail-same-sex-marriage-part-1-introduction/

  17. Ken Wilson says:

    May God grant you the willingness to lose the ads vantages of belonging to your group in order to stand, today, with. The marginalized. Ignore the fear.

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