I preached on homosexuality and the Church yesterday. This is a tough topic that is very polarizing. I think my biggest problem with the Church’s traditional approach to it is that it has offered a 2 cent answer and has failed to comprehend that this is a million dollar question. I think the reason we (heterosexual Christians) have done this is because homosexual attraction is not an issue we have to deal with personally so we make humongous assumptions about the people who do, assumptions we have no way of validating. The root of this problem is that we don’t have any friends or even acquaintances who are gay or lesbian, so we really have no idea what they are going through. And we won’t be able to have any friends who are gay or lesbian because we have created such a stigma around it that both sides are now feeding off of, only making matters worse.
What would help?
It would help if the Church would stop creating such a stigma around homosexuality. The Bible calls homosexual acts a sin; that’s well and good and it’s okay for us to stand behind that, our entire faith is based on the Bible after all, but the Bible calls a bajillion others things sin as well, and I don’t see this type of stigma created around those things. And by stigma I mean: 1.) we (as well as many on in non-church culture as well do) make a mockery of homosexuality with gay impersonations, jokes, sarcasm, and calling one another homosexual slurs, either maliciously, or in fun. We do not do this with any other issue that the Bible calls sin. It would help if we stopped this because it is tragically destructive to those who do struggle with homosexual attraction. Why would you ever want to confide in someone who is blatantly making fun of you and your deepest struggles? Or even want to be around them? 2.) We say the Church is a place for sinners to come and find Jesus but if your sin and/or temptation is homosexuality, you are shown the door. It would help if we didn’t expect people to be perfect before they are allowed to hear about Jesus. It would help if we stopped acting like homosexual acts are a worse sin than all of the things we repeatedly struggle with and do on a regular basis. I think one of the main reasons we treat homosexual acts like they are a worse sin than others is because since we don’t struggle with it, it makes us feel self-righteous and superior to those who do. We’d never create this type of stigma about arrogance, greed, lust (see my blog post about my issues in this area), premarital sex, malice, or disobeying our parents, which are sins that Scripture condemns in the exact same context as homosexual acts. The reason we wouldn’t create this type of stigma for these acts is because we’d be ostracizing ourselves and our close friends. 3.) It would help if we stopped teaching that homosexual attraction is a sin. Show me in the Bible where it says that being tempted is the same as sinning? Attraction and lust are two very different things. I am a married man and I am often attracted to other women that I see. This is not a sin. All other women will not become ugly the moment I say “I do”. But when I choose to lust over them, I have made the conscious choice to sin by acting on my temptation. It would help if we stopped treating homosexual attraction as the same thing as homosexual acts. It would help if we stopped making things up that aren’t in the Bible. It would help if we stopped plucking verses out of the Bible and posterizing them, without any concern for the context of the rest of the Bible, let alone the context of the rest of the same sentence…what a concept!
It would help if as soon as I say “I think homosexual acts are a sin”, I am not called a bigot, homophobic, or hateful by those who disagree with me/the Bible. It would help if those who disagree understand that I love all homosexuals in the same way I love all heterosexuals who are having sex with their boyfriends or girlfriends out of wedlock, i.e. the same way I love everyone who disagrees with the Bible. And to Christians who’d ask how I do this, it is a very simple answer: you just love them, it’s what we are commanded to do by Jesus. And no, love is not synonymous with approving of that person’s behavior. I find it odd that we’d have to agree on 100% of things in order to love someone, it would help if both sides of this issue understood that. I can 100% love you but not 100% approve of everything you do, yes that is possible, in fact it’s how nearly all of our relationships already function. It would help if those who disagree with me/the Bible understand that my church has a welcome mat on our front doors to everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, or any sexual behavior outside of marriage for that matter. It would help if church people didn’t assume that a church approves of homosexual acts just because they see gay or lesbian couples in attendance. It would help if those who disagree with me/the Bible understood that a Bible church like mine is going to follow what the Bible says–that we call everyone to the journey of aligning their lives with God’s commands, because we have made Him the King of our lives and it’s our soul’s aim to walk the path of life He has set before us, not to earn his approval, but out of thanks, love, and worship to Him for all He has done for us, and out of faith and trust that God’s ways are better than ours, even when it doesn’t feel like it. I’m not saying you have to agree with me on this, I’m just asking that you see ahead of time that this is our mission on all matters, whether it be sex, money, humility, conflict, forgiveness, you name it. We (by “we”, I mean myself and those who say they believe in the Bible) can’t pick the parts we like and dismiss the parts we don’t, because then every Sunday morning is simply Noah’s opinion session, and nobody needs that. If you have a beef with what the Bible says, I can thankfully say that is above my pay-grade and you can take that up with God, it’s His book. There are things that I have a beef with, and I do take them up with Him, honestly expressing my frustration and confusion, but still submitting to Him in spite of some difficulties.
This is a difficult topic but instead of ignoring it or letting it fester, it would help if we put our weapons down and followed the path of Jesus, talking to the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4. Loving her as a friend when everything in his culture told him not to, while at the same time gently showing her why she was so spiritually thirsty, and pointing her towards the answer to her thirst: a relationship with Jesus himself, which would bring her the wholeness each and every one of us is looking for.