Just because a professor retires, it doesn’t mean he or she stops teaching, although some do. My friend Leroy Seat grew up in Missouri but the horizons of his life were vast as he kept studying and writing until he and his wife were called as missionaries to Japan where he taught theology for 38 years. These days he teaches at Rockhurst University and writes a blog appropriately called, “A View From This Seat.” I’m a regular reader of his blog
because he has something worth saying. Frequently his posts are included on www.ethicsdaily.com. You can read past essays here: http://theviewfromthisseat.blogspot.com/2012/03/is-homosexuality-sin.html.
This past week, Dr. Seat wrote about the question of whether homosexuality is a sin. I invite you to link to his blog to read his comments. As usual, they are the comments of a mature, scholarly Christian believer who’s as honest as anyone I know.
In the end, I simply cannot answer the question, “Is homosexuality a sin?” for you or for this church. Each of us must study the whole of our faith, our Scriptures, asking God to speak to us on this issue. There are only a handful of Scriptures that speak to the issue and each of those have particular historical and religious contexts from which those texts are created and have particular meaning. Jesus, living in a hedonistic Roman culture, said
nothing about it. One must be careful in wielding such a small word from Scripture in order to claim a final word on any topic. We are to listen to the Word of God both when it speaks and when it is silent.
While I cannot speak for you, I can speak as your pastor about what I think and believe. In a sermon last summer, I said these things: Perhaps we should be clear … what would a “welcoming church” look like? In order to fully answer that, we have to hold in our minds’ eye: A welcoming church does God’s work in the world by offering a welcoming gospel so good it’s almost too good to be true. We should have a word of affirmation only God could offer. We serve up a truth so wildly true and so radically true that we can’t help but share it with others.
Look around … there are signs and symbols here in this room of that kind of welcome, but we mostly overlook them because we’re not paying close attention. There’s a baptistery where folks who come to stand in solidarity with Jesus who was baptized. The
table befor e this pulpit is a table whose purpose isn’t merely as decorative furniture – it’s a table meant for a meal.
At dinner we look around to see who’s there and who’s missing. We should do that at this table too when the bread is broken and the wine is poured and we’re all called to holy memory about that time when Jesus and his followers shared a meal together and this meal was served for the first time and we were all called to “do this in remembrance of me.” The table asks one more question of pertinent value: Who feels excluded?Strangely, there are folks who don’t feel particularly welcomed and they are who I want us to think about.
Over the years, I’ve come to meet a good number of the friends of my adult children, Ben and Alex. Their friends are about as mixed a group as I could picture and they’re all bright and lively and they’re all children of God. But there are some who don’t feel welcomed when they come to church. Interestingly, they know I’m a Baptist pastor and that’s seldom a good thing when they first hear it. As a Baptist, if they’re gay or lesbian, a quick assumption is that I will reject them. My kids assure them I won’t do that and I don’t. I’ve come to know some who’ve suffered terribly from the sting of “unwelcome” from the church that would shame them or deny them God’s great welcome. A surprising number of them are children of the church. They long for the comfort of the hymns and the chance to pray to God and worship but the pain of rejection stings mightily and they stay away as though they’ve been banished from the place where hospitality ought to flow freely.
I’ve come to the place where I cannot sit back and merely apologize. I’m saying honestly and openly with you that God’s great welcome has no boundary to these kids. We’re the ones who put these boundaries up and we should stop. Let’s call discrimination what
it is and let’s explore our faith so we can join God in loving others in God’s name.
Remember the “no separation” words of Paul in his letter to the Galatian church? No separation due to gender; no separation because of class or economic concerns; no separation because of religious purity laws. By naming Jew and Greek, he says there is no clean or unclean in God’s all-seeing eyes otherwise none of us would enjoy God’s love. 
Is homosexuality a sin? It can be. “Not much of an answer,” some would say. “Not true to the Bible’s utter condemnation of homosexuality,” others would respond. In my estimation, it’s about as likely for homosexuality to be a sin as for heterosexuality. It depends on what you do with it.
That’s where my mind and my heart are on this subject. God’s great welcome is at the heart of the life and teachings of Jesus and that’s how grace is given and grace is received.
 “God’s Good Welcome,” preached at Holmeswood Baptist Church, 6/26/11