So anyone who thinks that he has understood the divine scriptures or any part of them, but cannot by his understanding build up this double love of God and neighbor, has not yet succeeded in understanding them.– Augustine, On Christian Doctrine
First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Fort Smith is an open and affirming congregation. This means we understand that the church should be a place where all people are welcomed to join a community of grace, love, and forgiveness. We are committed to being a people of grace who welcome all of God’s children regardless of differences in race, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, class, income bracket, nationality, ethnicity, marital status, physical or mental ability, or political stance. We affirm the faith, baptism, and spiritual gifts of all Christians and celebrate that all people are part of God’s good creation.
Two Important Truths:
- God has made you exactly as you are supposed to be. You are loved.
- You are not a token or essentialized here. You are valuable and worthy of grace as a full person.
A Few Helpful Answers:
What is an Open & Affirming Congregation?
Open & Affirming (O&A) churches seek to welcome all people without judgment and to provide a welcome that honors and accepts the diversity that is the image of God in creation. An O&A church works to ensure that when we say ‘all are welcome,’ we truly mean everyone.
Do you perform LGBTQ+ weddings?
Yes. Please see our wedding policies on our Resources & FAQs page. We welcome all Christian weddings regardless of sexual orientation.
Doesn’t the Bible condemn homosexuality?
In short, not so much. While the Bible does have six passages supposedly referring to gay folks, they have either been mistranslated or stripped from their context. In other words, they have been cherry-picked and reworked by folks with an agenda, not read as a straightforward look at scripture. Here is a helpful handout walking through each verse cited as condemning homosexuality. And here is a youtube playlist walking through them. Simply put, any statements made about gay people in the Bible are extremely sparse, if present at all. Keep in mind, too, that finding verses that supposedly condemn gay people amidst the entire Bible’s witness to love, welcome, and care for those who have been pushed to the edges of society is like finding a needle in a haystack. If you’re reading the Bible and taking away more hate towards your neighbors, you have misread it.
So is this just about LGBT people?
Not at all. Because many people still believe that God rejects LGBTQ+ people, we have started by more fully opening the doors to LGBTQ+ people. However, we understand that no one is truly welcome until we understand that God welcomes everyone. The Church’s job is always to seek out and care for those pushed to the edges of society.