Will you weep with us too?

My name is Andrew McFarland Campbell, and I have been working to support LGBT Christadelphians in one way or another for a very long time. My notes on the subject go back as far as the early 1990s, starting around the time I was baptized. Over the years, I have had the privilege of getting to know many other LGBT Christadelphians and their loved ones. Mostly, it must be said, it has been other gay men.

In the past few weeks, following the killing of George Floyd, a lot has been said about racism, and many people have finally realized just how pernicious and awful racism is. I’ve seen white, middle-class, heterosexual men weep as they begin to understand what racism really means. This is a good thing. More and more people are waking up to how harmful this cancer upon society is.

When I think about racism I think of Galatians chapter 3, verses 26 to 29:

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, or all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Galatians 3:26–29, NIV 2011

When Paul wrote that, he wasn’t writing about some future time, he was writing about how things are for those of us in Christ. How things are now, not how they will be in the future. It is not “There will be neither Jew nor Gentile,” it is “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female.”

In the plain teaching of scripture, racism is wrong. 

In recent weeks, I have seen people weep when they consider the world today and Galatians 3.

But the teaching of Galatians goes beyond just racial tolerance. It goes way beyond. “Neither slave nor free” is obviously about race, and it is about economic inequality too. “Nor is there male and female” is condemnation of sexism, and although you might not realize it, it is condemnation of homophobia.

Racism arises from the idea that there is a difference between different ‘races’, and that one’s race determines one’s role. Imagine a young Christadelphian tells you that they are in love with someone. They have found the person they want to spend the rest of their life with. You wouldn’t ask what race their beloved was, and even if you did, you wouldn’t use their race to determine whether or not you thought their relationship was ‘valid’. If you say that the relationship is only permissible for certain combinations of race, then you are saying that Jew and Gentile do exist in Christ, and if you say that you are rejecting the clear teaching of Galatians.

Now imagine another young Christadelphian tells you that they are in love with someone. They have found the person they want to spend the rest of their life with. Do you use the sex of their beloved to determine whether or not you think their relationship is ‘valid’? If you say that the relationship is only permissible if one of the parties is male and the other female, then you are saying that there is male and female in Christ and if you say that you are rejecting the clear teaching of Galatians.

Galatians teaches us that we cannot use race when morally evaluating someone else’s relationship, and it teaches us that we cannot use gender either.

I have faced prejudice because of my sexual orientation. There are individuals and ecclesias who refuse to talk to me. I have had people assume that I am somehow dangerous to children and young people. I have been physically threatened and blackmailed by other Christadelphians because I am gay.

As I said, I have got to know many LGBT Christadelphians. They have faced prejudice too. That is one of the awful things about prejudice. It doesn’t apply to individuals. It applies to groups of people. I know of parents who have disowned, or threatened to disown their gay children. I know of gay people who have been pressured into opposite-sex relationships. I know of people who have been disfellowshipped for the perceived sin of being lesbian, gay, or bisexual. And perhaps the worst of all I have known LGBT people who have an interest in learning about the Gospel but have been driven away from Christ because of the attitudes that Christadelphians express towards gay people.

I often hear people say things like “same-sex relationships go against everything the Christadelphians believe”. That is fundamentally untrue. Nothing in traditional Christadelphian belief stands opposed to same-sex relationships. The fundamental Christadelphian beliefs, the beliefs that unite us, are clearly stated in the Birmingham Amended Statement of Faith, the Commandments of Christ, and the Doctrines to be Rejected. Nothing in those documents forbids the belief that same-sex relationships and opposite-sex relationships are on an equal moral footing.[1]

You, I hope, will stand up to racism whenever you encounter it. You, I hope, will stand up to sexism. Will you stand up to homophobia too?

If someone is blackmailed because of their sexual orientation, will you stand with their blackmailers or will you stand with them? 

If Christadelphian parents reject their gay son or daughter, will you stand with the parents or will you stand with their child?

When someone is cast out of their ecclesia because they are gay, even though there is nothing in traditional Christadelphian beliefs that says that is wrong, will you  stand with that ecclesia, or will you extend the right hand of fellowship to the one who was cast out and invite them to join your ecclesia?

Racism is wrong. Sexism is wrong. Homophobia is wrong. This is clearly taught in the Bible. 

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, or all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

If you treat one Christadelphian differently to another because of their race then you are saying that Jew and Gentile do exist in Christ and you are rejecting the teaching of Galatians.  

If you treat one Christadelphian differently to another because of their gender, then you are saying that there is male and female in Christ and you are rejecting the teaching of Galatians.

If you treat one Christadelphian differently to another because of the gender of their partner, then you are saying that there is male and female in Christ and you are rejecting the teaching of Galatians.

It is our Christian duty to tackle racism in all its forms. It is our Christian duty to tackle sexism. And it is our Christian duty to tackle homophobia. 

In the past few weeks, many of us have wept about the racism in the world and in the Christadelphian body. Many of us have wept about the sexism. How many of us have wept about the homophobia? I know I have. I have wept for the young gay man terrified that he will lose his family and his place in his ecclesia if anyone knew he was gay. I have wept for another young man who did lose those things. And I have wept for a gay Christadelphian who was so overwhelmed by the stresses he was under that he destroyed his life with substance abuse.

The simple plain words of Galatians speak to us all of equality.

Will you weep for everyone who has faced prejudice? Perhaps more importantly, will you stand up against racism, sexism, and homophobia as the New Testament tells us to?

Further reading

What a Christadelphian should believe about same-sex relationships

Footnotes

[1] There are other forms of the Christadelphian statement of faith; how they relate to each other is outside the scope of this video. The definitive versions of the BASF, Commandments of Christ, and Doctrines to be rejected can be found in The Ecclesial Guide by Robert Roberts.