Confession: I was afraid today. I was afraid of trying something new. I was afraid that people might ask me a question I could not answer. I was afraid I would get into trouble. I was afraid of what people might say or think of me.

Justification: I presented a paper today for an online “ecclesia and ethics” conference hosted by St. Andrew’s University in Scotland. It involved new technology that I did not understand. Participants were potentially from all around the world and might have strong and diverse opinions on the subject. My paper was on a controversial subject. “Holiness, Hospitality & Homosexuality: How can Christian colleges with traditional views on marriage be welcoming to students with alternative sexual identity.” [It is posted under “published articles” under the title “sexual identity”] I know, perfect love is supposed to cast out fear, so I guess I do not have perfect love, but I am praying for it. More than anything else I want to love God, my neighbour [including my LGBTQ neighbour], and myself with perfect love.

Penance: You must preach a sermon the next two Sundays in a row. One should be on why creation care is at the heart of the Gospel and the other should be on the text where Jesus says, “I have not come to bring peace but a sword.”

PS The technology worked and participants were interested and generous. I did not deal with Romans 1:18-32 in my paper and so I submit a brief word here. As with all good biblical interpretation this text must be seen in context. Simplistically, there are two ways to read this text without considering its context: 1. it condemns all homosexual activity in all time as immoral and unnatural, 2. it condemns specific extreme, lustful, idolatrous acts in a particular time. Either way, it must be seen in its wider context. Paul is “setting up” his Jewish Christian readers by mentioning Gentile sins in chapter 1. Readers are all feeling pretty good by this time, but then in chapter 2 he levels the punch line, “Watch out you who love to pass judgment on someone else, for whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself.” In other words, those who love to quote Romans 1 to condemn others, need to beware of their own smug judgmentalism. Indeed, in chapter 3 he goes on to say that “all have sinned and fall short.” [v.23] But there is good news in that “all are justified freely by God’s grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” [v.24] There is hope for us all. I feel better now.