Once Round the Barn: LBGTQ Edition

February 3, 2018 | Opinion
Will Braun | Senior Writer
Video below: With chickens as witnesses, senior writer Will Braun offers a few thoughts as he strolls around his barn south of Morden, Manitoba.

With a nod to Ranting Rick Mercer, senior writer Will Braun steps into the mess that is the church’s disagreement over same-sex inclusion.



The Maple View insert appeared in the September 25, 2017, print issue of Canadian Mennonite. You can read readers’ responses here

Readers write: October 23, 2017 issue
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This is the second in the video series, Once Round the Barn. See the first video here. 

Video below: With chickens as witnesses, senior writer Will Braun offers a few thoughts as he strolls around his barn south of Morden, Manitoba.

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Now that comments are appearing only online for this topic, I feel more inspired to comment. I had told myself I wouldn't comment but now can't resist.

When I was growing up in a Mennonite church in southern Ontario way back more than 50 years ago, it was apparently okay to "preach against" Catholics. Except I didn't know that until we had a visiting minister. I wasn't very old but could tell that people in the congregation were very uncomfortable with whatever the visiting minister was saying. As I started to listen (what kid really listens to a sermon), I realized this minister was saying some uncomfortable things against Catholics. That didn't happen in our congregation because we had three people (spouses of long time members) who were Catholic. They were our family, our friends and just like us, but we knew they were Catholic. So I figured out that our church was different than many other Mennonite churches of the time. And it was something that was never talked about because it was just part of life. Then for a while it was divorce and remarriage. Does anyone really talk about that now?

I look forward to the time when homosexuality is not talked about any more because it's not important when we have everyone as part of our family and friends and our congregation.

Thank you Will, for wading into a topic that, for Mennonites and likely a good lot of non-Mennonites, is likely a lot more difficult to navigate than a fresh pile of manure. I agree with your take on all this and feel badly that Mennonites have not been able to come up with a more official response to the LGBTQ community. Being exposed to the entertainment industry through my wife, I've come to know several people that are a part of that community and they are a hurting bunch in need of a lot more support. I'm so glad there are people like you that have a mind OPEN to the love of Jesus and all that brings with it.

Best to you, Will,
Sincerely, D. Ralph Fehr

Thank you. The hurting does need to stop. Not all conservatives are homophobes, that's a better place to continue the conversation. Thank you for articulating those contingent truths as we seek firmer ground on which to base our convictions. A good way point. And thanks for actually talking to the folks involved!

I appreciate Will's honesty, particularly when it comes to his own journalistic bias. There is one basic problem, however, with his conclusion, which seems to be that we all just need to agree to disagree and move on with things. (We hear the same mantra repeated over and over again from many of our leaders, don't we?) The problem is this, though: it's simply not what God is saying.

I concede that learning to embrace disagreement on these contentious issues seems like wisdom on the surface, but that's often the problem with man-made wisdom, it seems good to our fallen nature. For this reason, the Bible repeatedly warns us not to lean on our own understanding but instead seek to hear the voice of God for heavenly (not human) wisdom.

When I, and many others, have repeatedly done this over the issue Will speaks of, we are immediately shown by the Holy Spirit that we should NOT merely 'go along to get along'. Rather, quite the opposite: the Spirit is speaking loudly that we are to reject the leadership of those who compromise on God's eternal word. They are uttering heresy and need to be called out for it.

I realize what I'm saying is not politically correct, but maybe that's precisely the point. It's time we recognize that political correctness is a form of idolatry that's crept into the church under the guise of 'love' and 'grace.' How long, folks, will we continue to allow our leaders to lead us astray like this?

Sorry Will, your barnyard talk sounds good on the surface but its conclusions are wholly incorrect.

Contrary to what Will Braun says, let’s not “leave the pursuit of moral purity to the land of TV delusion.” In reality, as Christians we are to walk in the light of Jesus Christ under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This is not a TV delusion—the sheep hear His voice and follow Him. Beyond the barn, sheep will be separated from the goats.

Hi Elaine - I think Will's comment about leaving purity to TV delusion was a reference to the CBC show "Pure" which was on TV a while back. It was a dramatization about Mennonites smuggling drugs. There were a number of articles and letters about its issues earlier in 2017, like this one: https://www.canadianmennonite.org/stories/review-show-not-so-pure-its-de...

Indeed Matthew, that is correct.

Hello Will—I now understand that the quote in question is a vague reference to the CBC show, "Pure." But that statement was applied to the LGBTQ issue in saying, “leave the pursuit of moral purity by both sides to the land of TV delusion.” Would you please clarify what you meant by that?

Hi Elaine,
Fair question. I am not referring to the personal pursuit of inner purity. I am referring to, and critiquing, a form of Christianity focussed on deciding who is in and, more so, who is not. Jesus seemed to embrace various people who were not pure or right by the standards of religious folks of his day. He seemed to reach out graciously and warmly to such people (eating with them, talking with them). As people of faith we all need to make decisions about right and wrong. That is important. I believe it is also important to leave the judging of others to God and focus more on reaching out and showing love. Does that help explain my comment?

Thank you Will, for responding to my request for clarification. By the way, I do like your Once Round The Barn format-- casual stroll around the barn while speaking your mind. That’s pretty creative. I had time to think about a response to you as I was kneading Air Bun dough (yes, a recipe from my trusty Canadian Mennonite Cookbook :), trying to come up with something short and concise. So I’ll just briefly focus on two points you’ve touched on—how Jesus related to sinners and the issue of judging.

Yes, Jesus was compassionate towards sinners, but He loved them so much that He didn’t want them to remain in their sin, so He would confront them in their sin. Sometimes in very gentle ways, as with the woman caught in adultery, telling her “Go and sin no more.” Other times, as with the Pharisees, he used sharp rebukes. But clearly, Jesus didn’t embrace people’s sin; rather, he would call them to repentance. And of course it should be mentioned that He paid the ultimate price for all sin, by laying down His life so those who repent and trust and believe in Him can have eternal life with Him.

Today, “thou shall not judge” had become somewhat of a mantra among Christians and there is some truth to that. We’re not to judge in order to condemn others, that is true, nor are we to judge hypocritically. But on the flip side, church elders have been given a duty to rebuke sinners in the church (Titus 1:10-16 and 1 Timothy 5:20). As fellow believers, we also have a duty to, in the spirit of gentleness, correct those who are overtaken in sin (Galatians 6:1). And if anyone wanders from the truth, we are to try and turn him back in order to save their soul from death (James 5:19, 20). So in short, for us to be able to fulfill those responsibilities, we must engage in rightful judging. So much more could be said, but that's it in a nutshell for today.

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