Wednesday, July 29, 2020
Written by Alan Vink
Categories: Pastors Blog
Tags: Church and society
From my first year in Pastoral Ministry in 1983, literally, to today I have had to deal with or called in to assist with moral and ethical dilemmas. Not every week and not even every year but when they did arise, and there have been many, they were never easy and always challenging…….very challenging. I’m sure as a Pastor and Christian leader you will concur.
Today, I want to refer you to a situation in a (main stream) Baptist Church in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada called Lorne Park Baptist Church.
On the 25th June (a month ago) in a Zoom sermon Senior Pastor Justin Joplin announced that she is from today a transgender women by the name of Junia (you can call me June) Joplin. You can hear her sermon here and her announcement starts at 36mins.
A month later she is fired. The Church put the matter to a vote and 52% said she should be dismissed. Note 52%!
Can I encourage you to take some time and look into this story. What we are dealing with here is not some kind of liberal or progressive church that has abandoned the authority of scripture. Not even close. This is, as I said, a regular main stream Baptist Church, very similar to the Baptist Churches in NZ. June Joplin comes across as a Christ centred, sincere Christian who loves her family and her congregation deeply. She is clearly a good person.
“A bad day as my real self is better than a good day when I was repressed”.- Junia Joplin
You want to talk about a modern day moral and/or ethical dilemma? This is one of those. This deserves some thought, a lot of prayer and biblical reflection and even more conversation.
It would be ever so easy to dismiss this story as an aberration, a bad apple in amongst thousands of good apples or an unnecessary deviation that is straight forward and obvious.
My response is simple. No it isn’t. I know too many friends and colleagues in pastoral ministry in NZ for whom situations like this one are very real. Whether, it is a child or spouse who has come out gay, or infidelity, or a youth leader sleeping with her boyfriend, or a young adult who has had an abortion, or child abuse, or an Elder or Pastor addicted to Pornography or transgenderism or any number of variations on these themes. Friends, that is our new reality, isn’t it?
I am making a case today that we do the very important work of prayer, the study of scripture and the figuring out of pastoral responses that are both true to scripture yet loving and respectful to the individual(s) concerned…..all at the same time. Oh boy! Who wants to be a pastor?
I would love some feedback to this blog. Please hit reply and send me a personal note. Thanks.
Alan Vink is currently the Executive Director for LeadershipWorx. Prior to this role he has been the Executive Director of Willow Creek Association NZ (WillowNZ), a Baptist pastor (23 years), Bible College teacher, and church consultant.