I am writing a book. It’s about my experience of faith and the experience of Changing Attitude England. It’s about the experience of God’s infinite, unconditional love for creation and humankind revealed in the life and teaching of Jesus Christ. It is about personal experience, intellectual and emotional. It is rooted in Scripture. And as I read this morning’s lectionary reading from the second chapter of St Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth, I thought, yes, that applies to my brothers and sisters in the Church, LGBTI and straight and every shade of sexuality and gender in God’s rainbow creation.
4-5 The word I spoke, the gospel I proclaimed, did not sway you with clever arguments; it carried conviction by spiritual power, so that your faith might be built not on human wisdom but on the power of God.
7 Among the mature I do speak words of wisdom, though not a wisdom belonging to this present age or to its governing powers, already in decline; I speak God’s hidden wisdom, his secret purpose framed from the very beginning to bring us to our destined glory.
9-12 Scripture speaks of ‘things beyond our seeing, things beyond our hearing, things beyond our imagining, all prepared by God for those who love him’; and these are what God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit explores everything, even the depths of God’s own nature. Who knows what a human being is but the human spirit within him or her. In the same way, only the Spirit of God knows what God is. And we have received this Spirit from God, not the Spirit of the world, so that we may know all that God has lavished on us.
16 Scripture indeed asks, ‘Who can know the mind of the Lord or be his counsellor?’ Yet we possess the mind of Christ.
I want to claim this passage as applying equally to LGBTI Christians as to all other Christians who from the witness of their own experience know the mind of Christ.
Paul testifies that the gospel he proclaimed to God’s church at Corinth carried conviction by spiritual power, so that faith might be built not on human wisdom but on the power of God. This is as true for LGBTI Christians as for everyone else. Our faith is built on the power of God. We too speak of God’s hidden wisdom, his secret purpose framed from the very beginning to bring us to our destined glory.
God reveals to us through the Spirit ‘things beyond our seeing, things beyond our hearing, things beyond our imagining, all prepared by God for those who love him’. We LGBTI Christians have responded to God’s call in faith, a call from the infinite lover to those who are infinitely loved.
Because most of us were born into a society and church that denied equality to LGBTI people we learnt the hard way, through a deeper exploration than most of our inner world and life, that Spirit explores everything, even the depths of God’s own nature and our own inner nature. In coming out, firstly to ourselves, the human spirit within each one of us revealed the truth of our sexuality or gender. The spirit knows what a human being is.
The Spirit of God knows what God is and we LGBTI Christians, along with Paul and the Christians in Corinth have received this Spirit from God so that we may know all that God has lavished on us. And we do know all that God has lavished on us, the wisdom, goodness and infinite blessings of creation that energise and enliven us, often in the face of judgement, hostility and rejection by other Christians.
Scripture indeed asks, ‘Who can know the mind of the Lord or be his counsellor?’ St Paul claims something which tepid, deferential, neither hot nor cold people, Twenty-first Century Christians (who ought to know their place in the divine scheme of things) might find outrageous – Paul claims to possess the mind of Christ.
LGBTI Christians can also confidently proclaim to know the mind of Christ, having explored the depths of our own nature and discovering through personal experience who we are both as human beings and as people created in the image of God.