I’ve been noticing a meme going around social media lately about the Salvation Army. Most of us know the group for it’s thrift stores and the red kettle campaign during the holiday season.
Here’s how the policy reads:
The Salvation Army believes that homosexuality can be properly considered only in the broader context of a biblical understanding of human sexuality in general. The creation account set out in the opening chapters of Genesis reveals the following truths:
The Bible thus teaches that God’s intention for mankind is that society should be ordered on the basis of lifelong, legally sanctioned, heterosexual unions. Such unions (marriages) lead to the formation of social units (families) which are essential to human personal development and therefore to the stability of the community.
Scripture opposes homosexual practices by direct comment (Leviticus 18:22, 23; 20:13; Romans 1:26, 27; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:10) and also by clearly implied disapproval (Genesis 19:1-29; Judges 19:1-30; 2 Peter 2:1-22; Jude 3-23). The Bible treats such practices as self-evidently abnormal. They reject both the obvious implications of human physiology and the potential for procreation. Romans 1 sees homosexual acts as a symptom of a deeper refusal to accept the organising scheme of God for the created order (Romans 1:23-25).
The Army recognises that same-sex friendships can be enriching, Christ-honouring relationships, bringing joy through mutual companionship and sharing. However, same-sex relationships which are genitally expressed are unacceptable according to the teaching of Scripture. Attempts to establish or promote such relationships as viable alternatives to heterosexually-based family life do not conform to God’s will for society.
Now, I’m not crazy with that viewpoint, but does it cross the threshold of being virulently homophobic?
My own view (you knew I was going there) is that there’s homophobic and then there’s homophobic. The Sal Army’s view is not favorable to someone like me, but I’m wary of branding it with the broad homophobic brush that many others are. For one thing, it might be fashionable to ignore those folks ringing the bells in front of stores, it’s not such an easy thing for me. The Army is a group that is involved heavily in the Twin Cities in helping folks find shelter. They happen to run one of the largest homeless shelters in the area. In my role as an Associate Pastor, I’m on a coalition of faith communities dealing with homelessness in Minneapolis. The coalition is pretty diverse, with Christians, Jews and Muslims working together. The Army is the newest member of that group. A number of our congregations are very gay friendly. So, should we not work with the Salvation Army because of their stance?
I know that for a lot of folk, the gay rights movement is similar to the civil rights movement. We tend to view those that might disagree with us on gay rights as tantamount to a modern day Klansman.
But I don’t feel comfortable with that viewpoint. A conservative Christian that might think homosexual acts are sinful, might also have gay friends. Yeah, I know, that doesn’t make sense, but the fact is it happens. Not every person that hues to what has been the traditional view on what the Bible says about homosexuality is a full-on bigot. The Sal Army might not agree with me, but unless they are leading anti-gay campaigns, I’m not going to boycott them.
Also, I don’t know what good a boycott will do. Since a lot of the money raised will go to, you know, help poor people, a boycott means less money for the poor, and less for homeless folk here in Minneapolis, which happens to get cold every so often.
So, I’m not going to boycott the Army. I’m going to live out and proud and be a witness to them- and work with them to help the “least of these.”