A few days ago I was on Facebook when I noticed that a friend of mine had changed their profile photo. You may have noticed the image he changed it to. It’s the featured image on this post. A red square with an equal sign. I was then informed, after a bit of research, that this was from the Human Rights Campaign and that it is showing up everywhere due to the Supreme Court debate regarding same-sex marriage. I normally try my best to avoid political issues (apart from with a very select group of friends), but since Conversatio Morum is written to address the subject of theology and culture, I figure that it’s appropriate and I hope that this post brings some clarity and is helpful to you as the nationwide conversation continues.
First I would like to say that there have been many others who have written on this excellently. Doug Hankins has written an excellent few posts on possible and appropriate responses to this issue. You can read that here. So to start, a few months ago, I realized that the church at large (myself included) really haven’t thought well through the issue of homosexuality. So I called up and old friend who is actively homosexual and started to ask some questions. From that point we had a brain child moment, and what started from there is a series of ongoing discussions regarding the church and homosexuality. There are several things I feel I’ve learned\I’m learning regarding this issue. Beyond that, I’ve made some friends. It seems that once political agendas become a national conversation there are so many generalizations made that it begins to become difficult to determine which opinion is OK. So the issues get murky with so many talking heads until no one knows which way is up and how to respond.
I still believe that I haven’t thought through this subject well enough, but there are parts of it that I have thought through. I will say that at this point in my life, I have personal opinions and then I also have friends and neighbors who I know. At times those two things conflict. Regardless of which sides of the issues I fall on, either way the decision goes, people I know and love will be affected. Maybe part of it is that I’m tired of the constant noise on the signal when I know that those sweeping generalizations are aimed at friends of mine.
A few things for Christians to keep in mind regarding this:
- We may very well be on the losing end of a culture war, and regardless of whose favor the decision falls on, some will be hurt and not everyone will win this. I have homosexual and straight friends and I, personally, don’t enjoy generalizations made about them.
- Homosexuality never sent someone to hell in the same way the heterosexuality never sent someone to heaven. Our failure isn’t moral, but is choosing to ignore God and live without Him.
- Let’s avoid cultural arguments and blanket statements.
- I don’t know how many times I’ve heard Christians address homosexuality as a choice. Regardless of the fact that the argument, there, is based in cultural reasoning rather than biblical doctrine which states that, choice or not, it’s still defined as sin.
- Christians are the only ones who appreciate the “Adam and Steve” statement. Even then, it’s still only a select few who do. It’s not helpful, confirms everyone’s opinions of us that we are ignorant, and shuts down conversation with those we’re called to love.
- We all sin.
- I’m not exactly sure how this one thing became so big. It’s almost as if we think Jesus blood was spilled to battle this rather than to conquer Satan.
- The statement some would say is that habitual\unrepentant sin is the issue. Hmm…isn’t that trusting in your work of repentance instead of Jesus work on the cross? I’m not so concerned with those who repent over and over because they care. I’m much more concerned with those, homosexual “Atheists”, homosexual “Christians”, heterosexual “Atheists”, or heterosexual “Christians” who show no signs of repentance at all because they don’t think they need it. Since they are the ones who are using whatever their thing is to ignore God. I’m concerned…with the unconcerned.
- Ask more questions.
- My perception is that most Christians want to be helpful, but don’t know how.
- The church as large hasn’t worked toward developing common language to talk with members of the LGBT community (I’ve found that the LGBT community as a whole hasn’t really done this themselves either.) on their level. We don’t know how some of our well-meaning, albeit misguided, statements are taken. So we should ask.
- From the previous point B: I think that asking questions, helping bridge the language gap so that we can begin to ask harder questions, is in a sense ministry to both sides and needs to be raised as a priority for the church in order for us to be good missionaries to a culture that we know very little about.
- We, as followers of Christ, are called to love people regardless of orientation, religion, race, etc. So let’s do that before we make and trust the sweeping generalizations.
- Rehab programs with behavioral modification doesn’t fix the human fallenness condition. This is something that comes from Conversations, Community, and Christ working in us.
- Our tendency is to send people away and ignore, rather than following our missionary God-Man Jesus into the hard places of the world.
To end, I was talking with a group of homosexual friends and asking some questions a while back. The statements made were glaring slaps in the face to me. One man told me of his father punishing him, rather than hugging and talking to him, for being suicidal when he was younger. One told me about dancing around his house trying not to be gay until he worked himself up into such a frenzy that he threw up and passed out. When he awoke he was still gay. All of them have heard some variation of statement that they’re abominations. When I asked what they thought when they heard the word church, I heard things like “judgmental, ignorant, hate, harsh, uncaring, scared”.
These conversations are sad, painful, heartbreaking and at the same time wonderful, gracious, and amazing. I thank God for these guys everyday. I’m continually being lead into further repentance for the sweeping generalizations I’ve made. I’m reminded of a time when Jesus said to “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” The church is at a great point in history to respond well to a culture that is opposed to God on many levels and sees it the way it was described above. As a “judgmental, ignorant, hate, harsh, uncaring, scared” people. But that’s not the truth of scripture. The reality is God would say we’re a loving, welcoming, thoughtful, caring, courageous people who engage those in culture because we have a God who is in the business of rescuing people. Take courage. Fear not. We can take risks, because God doesn’t. Love God. Love people.