In fact, the Report on Family does show a great deal of enlightened thinking, although it is not particularly ground breaking in its proposals. The central theme of this document is about acknowledging the reality of societal pressures on family relationships; it seeks to affirm the positive, life-giving elements found in cohabitation, civil marriage, divorce, and committed homosexual relationships while acknowledging these are not ideals. This report is a positive step toward recognizing the brokenness within family relationships while also looking for moments of redemption in which to speak words of grace. In short, it is an exhortation to pastoral sensitivity in dealing with painful and divisive issues whereas in the past, the church sought a one size fits all approach to dealing with family issues.
The church needs to major in the art of accompaniment as individuals walk with each other pointing out sin but importantly also proclaiming grace. This pastoral sensitivity needs to be applied to all areas of life, balancing law which lays out God's standards/ideals for life while also speaking Gospel in the midst of brokenness. It is like dealing with my children. I do not expect them to get everything right, they will try and not be able to do somethings, they will rebel and choose to disobey me for which there are consequences but there are also opportunities to instruct, encourage, and show compassion. There are redemptive moments in the midst of struggling, suffering, and hurt.
The church is full of broken people whose lives are in varying degrees of mess. We need to walk with one another humbly, supporting each other, mourning, hurting, and rejoicing together. As we do so with authenticity and openness, there will be moments where the Gospel can be shared. In the midst of all of our brokenness, we each need to hear the life-giving message of the Gospel set against the ideal which the church is called to model as a Christ's body on earth.
So, this document is not groundbreaking in the ways that mainstream media has portrayed and yet it is groundbreaking because it admits the church's failures in seeking redemption in society. It is groundbreaking in the very fact that it calls the church toward God's redemptive heart in announcing the life changing message of forgiveness, reconciliation, and love of Jesus.