Readers write: July 27, 2015 issue

July 22, 2015 | Viewpoints | Volume 19 Issue 15

Thanks to those who attended TRC report in Ottawa

I would publicly like to thank and acknowledge the presence of Mennonite Church Canada personnel and other Mennonite workers who attended the Truth and Reconciliation Report in Ottawa. I think it is awesome that you took time out of your busy schedules and made this a priority and that you not only came, you participated whole-heartedly. Thank you for being role models to the wider church.

Steve Heinrichs, Chi Chi Miigwetch, Nya:wen for organizing everyone, making sure we were kept up to date with what was coming! Your passion and willingness to be part of this process of reconciliation and teaching the wider church is amazing.

Willard Metzger, your willingness to be involved in the activities and connecting with many of us “Mennos in the crowd” was heart-warming. I appreciated your presence.

Moses Falco, the man behind the lens, keep on running. I hope your photos and videos are posted somewhere that we can all see them. Your hard work did not go unnoticed.

Brander MacDonald, Lyndsay Mollins-Koehn, Henry Kraus, Sue Eagle—you guys are amazing! I know your path is not easy, but never lose your passion. You are our teachers even when we don’t want to listen.

To the other “Mennos” who took time out of busy lives, we were asked to take a message back to our communities. We can be the pebble in the puddle that creates ripples but it has to start with us. In the words we heard from Clara Hughes, “We have to want to win for all.”

To the wider church, I hope the time for listening and learning is upon us. We have a wonderful resource in our own backyards that we can learn much from. My prayer is that we will all take the opportunity to do so.

Mim Harder, Uxbridge, Ont.


Abortion should be of greater concern

I read with disbelief (May 11 issue, page 19) that climate change is one of two issues Canadian Christians are most concerned about according to the Canadian Council of Churches (CCC). It is certainly trendy to be talking about climate change, but surely when one in five unborn babies is aborted in Canada, Christians should have different priorities. It seems to be a case of straining the gnat and swallowing the camel.

If CCC, including Mennonite Church Canada, have the time and resources to travel across the country warning of climate change and agitating for government action, then one would think they would be concerned about this widespread but mostly hidden abomination.

Where is the outrage among Canadian Christians against the killing of thousands of unborn babies? Have we really become so distracted by the “in” causes that our moral compass no longer functions? Or is it too uncomfortable and untrendy to be part of the struggle against this evil? When has Canadian Mennonite last mentioned this subject?

In the coming federal election how many will vote for parties that support abortion or do not allow their Members of Parliament to speak against it? Canada is the only western country with no legal restrictions on abortion.

We read with horror in the Old Testament how the heathen sacrificed their children to their gods, but we remain unmoved when unborn babies are sacrificed to the gods of our day—the career god, the wealth god, the convenience god, the not-quite-normal god. We can be sure the blood of these innocents will be held against the nation. And when God asks the the CCC what it was doing while this evil was being perpetrated I hope they will have a better answer than that they were talking about climate change.

Sam Entz, Plattsville, Ont.


Why make homosexuality the greater sin?

Why all the uproar with the members of the gay community? Everyone seems to have an opinion on homosexuality and that is their right but the answer is clear and very simply found in the scriptures. We read and were taught to believe that no sin is greater than another. Sin is sin. Why do people insist on harping on this one? How would all the people so hatefully treating the members of the gay community feel if we all discussed what goes on in their bedrooms?

After all, if all the liars, gossips, thieves, coveters and adulterers were not allowed in our churches, there would be some pretty small congregations on any given Sunday morning. And most important we have always been told we should strive to live our lives to be more like Jesus. The question has often been asked, "What would Jesus do?" Jesus did not love the sin but he did ALWAYS love the sinner.

Many gay people (not all of course) have stated to people close to them that they know they are in a sinful relationship but I believe that is between them and God. We recognize when we sin and know that we personally must make it right with Him. It is not between us or them and every person who decides that our or their sin is greater than his or her own. And maybe if they can get enough people disgusted at our sin no one will notice theirs.

It is really so simple. Let God do the judging and worry about your own sin and coming judgment. And if we do not accept these "terrible" people into our churches—filled with only perfect people—how will they ever have the same chance to repent and be saved that we value so much? Quit discussing and as we are taught to do with all our troubles—turn it over to God. Leave it at the foot of the cross. He is quite capable of dealing with it without all this interference from us.

Loving the sinner does not mean that we condone the sin. Perhaps if we were to approach these "sinners" whose sins we feel are so much worse than our own, with love instead of hatred and disgust they would be willing to hear our views and share theirs.

Who knows what healing might occur? After all, we all know that God works in mysterious ways.

Again, we have learned that He loved us while we were yet sinners. And a familiar hymn says He loved me err I knew Him. Are gay people any less worthy of God's love than you are? If you truly think they are—then think again—and shame on you. When He was criticized for sitting and eating with "sinners" did He not say He had come to heal and help the sick and those in sin not the well?

And I especially believe people who speak cruelly or unkindly to or turns a cold shoulder to parents of gay children, or even go as far as to insinuate they should turn their backs on these children should be doubly ashamed. And it does happen even here in our Christian communities in the Bible Belt.

Remember the old adage, Do not judge me until you have walked a mile in my shoes. And the Bible says do not judge your brother at all. As a mother myself, I know we must ALWAYS love our children. They must know they can ALWAYS come to us, no matter how big the problem. God gives us our children on the faith that we will love, nurture and care for them ALWAYS.

This is, of course, only my personal opinion and I welcome any rebuttle.

Hilda A. Elias, Altona, MB.


Tired of the sexuality debate

I am tired of reading and listening to the debate about the church’s concern with acceptance or rejection of homosexuals, transgender individuals, same sex marriage, and other sexual issues.

I am not a Biblical scholar so my views are subject to correction and I will meekly retract them if demonstrated to be wrong. I am of the understanding that the term Christian was applied to those peoples that are believers and followers of the teachings of Jesus Christ. What does Jesus teach about homosexuality, transgender, etc.?

The strongly held conservative views on the homosexuality/transgender issues seem to stem from the Old Testament, from Leviticus, where there is strong condemnation of homosexuality; where those that commit such an abomination shall be put to death. These are not the teachings of Jesus. I am unaware that Jesus ever mentioned homosexuality. He talked about sexual immortality, and other transgressions, but He said nothing about homosexuality or same sex marriage (Mark 7: 20-23).

But, He was very explicit in telling us how to deal with people that we perceive to deviant from our norm, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Mark 7:1-2. When Jesus was tested with how man should apply the Old Testament law against sexual immorality, again, He was very explicit, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” (John 8:7).

So I ask myself, what is the debate really about? I believe we have real issues that we should be addressing- racial inequality, famine, starvation, homelessness, environmental degradation, strife and war. So if homosexuality and transgender marriage are the most pressings issues for the Mennonite church to deal with, I would rather spend my time working at the local Food Bank.

Peter Kroeger, Calgary


Change the Focus

Re: "More study on the Bible and homosexuality sought" June 8, p. 14

Winkler Bergthaler Church's request for more study on the texts referring to homosexuality and marriage brings to mind Justin Lee's book Torn. Lee was a Bible-believing evangelical Christian, who was convinced of the sinfulness of homosexuality. Then in his teenage years he discovered, to his great dismay and horror, that he was same-sex attracted.

After spending years in prayer, in study of the texts and other literature on the subject, as well as ex-gay ministries, his sexual orientation did not change. What finally helped him out of his confusion was putting aside the texts that dealt with homosexuality and studying Jesus' message as a whole. There he found compassion, love and acceptance. He then felt that Jesus accepted him as he was, and as a result he was also able to do the same.

We, as the Mennonite Church, have already spent much time studying the seemingly applicable texts; this magazine alone has published their exegesis by many theologians. We have studied the proverbial tree, but have lost sight of the forest. When do we look again at the message of Jesus, who upended the pharisaic legalism of his day by saying, "Men of old have said, but I say unto you, love..."?

John Neufeld's article in the same issue (p.13) speaks eloquently to this as he refers to the church in Corinth, which was "divided by different understandings and priorities, but united by love, which is to be pursued above all else." Let us spend our time studying texts like these and recognize that our differences of understanding are not bad, that they are actually God-given gifts to help the whole body function.

Mary Funk, Jubilee Mennonite Church, Winnipeg

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In the context of growing fatigue and frustration for everyone invested in trying to reach a common understanding of one divisive social and political issue, same-sex marriage, I am surprised to see a call to revisit the topic of legal limits on abortion. Perhaps we can take the lesson that sharing a common faith doesn't mean that we all share a common social or political viewpoint?

I also note that despite the call to consider this topic when voting, no political party in Canada has sought to introduce legislation on abortion in almost 25 years.

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