Well, here’s a touchy subject and one that I think the church has not handled particularly well nor have individual Christians handled well in the public sphere. In fact, I’d say the treatment of this particular subject has been handled rather hypocritically. Yes, I said that. But when I started this blog, I made a commitment to address issues in a straight-foward manner and to express what I really thought about them.
First off, homosexuality is a sin. It says so in the bible. (If you are a Christian and deny the authority of the bible, then that is another subject altogether). There’s been a lot of hermeneutical gymnastics to make it say otherwise. Leviticus 18 is not a good argument nor is saying that Jesus never addressed homosexuality. Of course he did in Matthew 19:4-9. If he says that marriage has from the beginning been between one man and one woman, there is no default position of what he really meant. It is what it is.
We also can’t look at 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and the list of transgressions and turn that into exceptions. Romans 1:21-32 also identifies that when God’s creation denies the truth that He reveals within them, creature worship can result in same sex attraction.
But here’s the thing. Homosexuality is not the only sin mentioned in the bible nor is it classified as an unpardonable sin. In fact, if you look at the passages mentioned in the last paragraph, this particular sin is included in a list of other sins. That means we can’t highlight one above the other as if it is deserving of some special treatment.
The reality is that we all have bents towards particular sins. We are sinners by birth thanks to fall and imbued with a sin nature that eeks out pet sins just for us. I don’t know why that is or how particular sins find their way into some and not others. Certainly James tells us that we all have particular lusts that draw us (James 1:14). When we come to Christ because of regeneration and baptism by the Spirit into the kindgom of God, it is foolish to think that particular bents will go away automatically. Sometimes it does but mainly it does not. Any interactions with Christians for any length of time will tell you that.
I think it’s funny how we can tolerate some sins and not others. Homosexuality tends to get a special treatment. I’m no mind reader or psychologist, but I wonder if it is because we find it personally repulsive. But sin is repulsive to God…all sin, including the ones we can become quite comfortable with. It amazes me how much we tolerate pride, ambition, greed, slander, and thievery but have zero tolerance for same sex attraction. Even adultery and fornication get treated lighter. Yes, all those sins are on that list, too.
What would happen if a gay couple came to your church seeking out God? Would you treat them differently than any other seeker? Would you concern yourself if the one’s whose behavior does not repulse you so much while rebuffing and rejecting the homosexual? If they are there, it is probably because the Lord is moving on their heart and excepts that His people will identify them as ones who are deserving of the same love He showed to us.
Here is where I know it gets uncomfortable for many of us. On one hand, we want to show people the love of Christ. But on the other hand, when the bright red flag of homosexuality is waving in our faces, the most likely tendency would be rejection. And stories abound of people who have a same sex attraction seeking God and confronted with dismissal and hatred from the Christian community. And that’s a shame.
When we do welcome gays, there is the expectation that they will go straight right away. While that does happen, overall it does not nor is it a reasonable expectation. Did you automatically turn from your deep-seated sin right way? Of course not. Sanctification is a process, the process of being made holy according to the sanctification that we already possess in Christ. It is utterly ridiculous to presume that one who has had a same sex attraction for as long as they can remember will suddenly turn from it.
Well, I can hear the retort now, the same one I’ve heard on many occasions…”but, but God didn’t make them like that”. Well, he didn’t makes us to be liars, boastful, lustful or greedy but many of us seem to do that just fine. Yeah, see because it’s all a product of sin that impacts us all the same.
I also think we need to make a distinction between a same sex attraction and a homosexual lifestyle. We do need to confront the lifestyle with the word that says it is wrong. But if you don’t know that many who identify as gay or homosexual have felt that way for all their lives, then you need to befriend some and get to know them. Have conversations, take them for coffee and listen to their story. Yes, some people place saving faith in Christ and have same-sex struggles. We need to accept that and not turn people away when they don’t straighten out according to our timetable. If they are Christians, then the Holy Spirit indwells them and is at work just the same as all Christians.
To be sure, there is rebellion in our society against God to embrace a homosexual lifestyle. But we can learn from Romans 1, that the lifestyle is only the implications of an inner rebellion that denies God and His truth. We can expect that. It was no different than in the the ancient greco-Roman world that was rampant with overt immorality. But the conundrum for many of us is how we handle them as people, especially if they came to our church.