Tonight, after dressing up as zombies, vampires, fairy princesses, and Justin Biebers, tons of children will knock on tons of doors and consume tons of candy. The night air will be scented with glitter, grease paint, and slow-roasting pumpkins.
But did you know that today marks the anniversary of a world-changing event? 494 years ago today, before the idea of sending children out as well-disguised beggers came into fashion, a man named Martin Luther (who came WAY before a similarly named man with a dream) celebrated Halloween by nailing a piece of paper to church door in Germany… and changing the church forever.
The year was 1517.
For years, German Christians – as well as other believers around the globe – sat in church pews lazily listening to priests explain the Bible. The problem? Few people had ever read the Bible. Most Bibles were written in Latin, a language that died long before Martin Luther was born. Of course, since most people were illiterate, it didn’t matter what language the Bible was written in. They couldn’t have read it anyway.
That’s why, when church leaders told the people what the Bible said, the people blindly accepted it. For example, when priests told their congregations they had to pay money to have their sins forgiven, frightened women and guilt-ridden men paid their life savings to keep themselves out of hell.
Martin Luther was furious. He had actually read the Bible and knew that salvation is a free gift of God’s grace… not something that can be bought and sold.
Instead of writing a blog in protest (obviously… blogging wasn’t very popular in 1517), Luther wrote 95 statements (called the 95 Theses) that outlined in everyday language what the people needed to know about forgiveness, scripture, and the church… and nailed it to the front door of the biggest cathedral in town.
This small action – this protest – changed Christianity forever. In fact, if you attend a Protestant Church (basically any church that isn’t Catholic or Orthodox), your church grew from Luther’s protest.
Many of us in the LGBT community believe the church needs yet another reformation… a redefining of their relationship with the gay community. Our pastors preach the Bible and our people read the Bible, but few of them have seriously studied scriptures that deal with homosexuality. As a result, many Christians are either confused or misinformed about what it means to be both Gay and Christian.
We need someone to follow Martin Luther’s example and nail a few challenging truths to the church door.
Patrick Cheng, an openly-gay theologian, minister, and seminary professor recently followed Martin Luther’s example and wrote “9.5 Theses for a New Reformation.” This incredibly insightful article outlines 9.5 (actually, it’s 10, but Cheng’s trying to be clever) ideas both gays and Christians need to consider so we can bridge the divide between us.
In my opinion, Cheng’s entire article should be read by every Christian (both gay and straight) in America. Click here to check it out. The full article goes into more depth about these 9.5 ideas…
- LGBT relationships are grounded in love, which is a the very heart of our understanding of God and the Christian faith.
- Christian evangelicals often lack compassion toward LGBT people, which makes it difficult, if not impossible, for LGBT people to hear the good news of the gospel.
- Christian evangelicals establish a new words righteousness when they require that LGBT people abstain from same-sex acts in order to be saved.
- Even the Reformers did not treat all biblical verses as having the same interpretive weight.
- True proponents of “family values” would not preach and teach values that drive families apart.
- If the uncircumcised and unclean Gentiles could be accepted just as they were through the work of the Holy Spirit, then so can LGBT people.
- True repentance only occurs as a result of understanding how deeply we are loved, yet Christian evangelicals often fail to show that kind of love to LGBT people.
- Focusing on the “sinfulness” of same-sex acts obscures the true meaning of original sin.
- “Hating the sin” is essentially hating the sinner.
- Christian evangelicals and LGBT people actually have more in common than either side would care to admit.