Monday, December 6, 2010

Gays, God and Grace

This is one of the toughest topics I have ever written on. I get a lump in my stomach just thinking about it. Why? It involves people with feelings and souls, and it divides the church. Hot button issues make for lots of comments on blogs, but that is not why I am writing about it. This issue can be so emotionally charged, that many times it is much more easily avoided. Count me as part of that group.

Some times issues come to confront us, and the folks from Westboro Baptist Church in KS showed up in my town last Friday to protest. You can read about it HERE. They picketed the high school because of a play that they were putting on about Matthew Shepherd.

Certainly there are lots of views on homosexuality within the church. HERE is a survey review. It ranges from the judgmental hating of the Westboro Baptist Church to the folks at Gay Christian 101. That is one of the biggest reasons that it is tough to write about - if we oppose homosexuality we are haters and bigots, and if embrace it we are liberals and unbiblical heretics.

Is there a better view? I think so.

I think there are some real problems with our general approach to the issue in Christendom. We focus on cultures and lifestyles, and paint things with a broad brush strokes which sets up a "for" or "against" atmosphere that does not allow any of us to be challenged, listened to, or understood. There are more than enough generalities tossed about to make a civil discussion virtually impossible, but I am going to try; using the utmost compassion and empathy.

Not Welcome, Not God
First, the notion that anyone is not welcome in a church is sure sign of error - especially the unsaved! In the Kingdom, folks come to Christ, and then they work out their salvation in fear and trembling. It is between them and God. No one comes to Christ because they are good enough, no sin is unforgivable (except not receiving Christ), and no Christian is without sin. When we treat one sin differently than another we are surly in trouble. When we treat certain people (anyone who is not like us) differently in church, or do not allow them into a service we are in error.

If Someone Isn't Sinning, Why Do They Have to Change?
Second, the notion someone must change who or what they are seems foreign to the church. When a person comes to Christ, we don't expect them to stop feeling like they did the day before they first believed. What we expect them to do is grab hold of Jesus and begin the process of sanctification. If a single person gets saved, after the transformation, they are still single and probably still feel single.

Most folks, even the ones that have radical salvation experiences are not perfected. Most of us receive Jesus, and with the experience, we may have a powerful change, but it is not all the change that we will experience in a lifetime of walking with Christ. Christians come out of many sinful lifestyles. For some, it takes many years to actually change. Some may actually never make it.

The idea that someone who is attracted to the same sex will simply stop, seems to be a very rare occurrence.

That said, there are two ministries led by men for whom that has happened: Clay McLean and Tim Wilkins.

I believe that the Bible is pretty clear that the only sex that is godly, is that which takes place between a husband and a wife; a male and a female that are married. After many many years, I am no longer willing to debate this. I just don't think that we can make sin not sin. I didn't write the book.

Do note:
- Jesus does not specifically mention same-sex behavior.
- The Jewish prophets did not specifically mention homosexuality.
- The Bible is only clear on the sexual act, not specifically the lifestyle.

Paul did have things to say to the Romans (chapter 1), and of course it is mention ed in the Old Testament too. My only point is that I just don't think that we need to hyper-focus on lifestyle; let's stick to sin and repentance.

Based on a lot of surveys, there is a lot of sex taking place outside of marriage even within the church along with adultery. As I previously stated, we have lots of work to do.

As Christians we don't think that we have the privilege of deciding whose sin is the worst - or worse, who is worthy of our love.

Sin and godliness will repel each other. One only needs to look around the church and see that there are lots of problems that require a few slaps upside the head. Holiness is the work of God, not of man, or his religious agents.

Can't we leave it at loving our neighbor as ourselves, and get on with preaching the Gospel, casting out demons, healing the sick and loving others with our gifts?

Before I go, I read some other blogs, and here is Charlie's thoughts on all this over at Nicodemus at Nite.

How about you, where do you stand, and why?


Su said...

Well said! Count me in the "surely there are other things to talk about" group. If we gave loving our neighbour and feeding the poor the same attention that we collectively give to abortion and homosexuality... I'm sure you can see where this rant is going. :)

Being perfected in Christ is a process. We're all on the road.

Charlie Chang said...

David - Thanks for the shoutout.

And yes, this is a tough topic.

Anonymous said...

Gracious and biblical.

In other words, a very rare blog post about homosexuality.


Andrea said...

I appreciate anyone who opens the door to honest communication about homosexuality. I wish it were preached more from the pulpit.

In any average congregation, there are Christians who are addicted to pornography, gambling, overeating, drugs & alcohol, and more. There are divorce and infidelity, ungratefulness, dishonor, and the list goes on.

I can't possibly imagine that no one struggles with same sex attraction. I feel sorry for the person to whom this is a problem, because where can they go for help without condemnation (even if they haven't acted on it).

No one was ever shamed into the kingdom. Why can't we simply bring people into the kingdom through kindness, which leads to repentance?

Thanks for the post.

Tonjia said...

I have had the privilege and honor, in my life, of becoming good friends with some of gods most damaged children, who are homosexual.

Despite everything you have heard or think you know, and despite many public outcries to the contrary, I have never met a gay person who was not sexually assaulted by a trusted family member in infancy or early youth, typically, in the name of, and by the authority of god himself.

That is the empiricle evidence, which I have seen, and I know to be the absolute truth of the matter.

They did not choose to be homosexual any more than they chose to be sexually molested by trusted adults at the age of 2 or 3.

Of all of gods children, they are the most damaged, the most lost, and the most forsaken. We keep blaming and crucifying the victim, so we don't have to look at the crime.

These are those for whom Jesus came. These are the least of his. I do not know if that kind of damage can be repaired in this lifetime, for most of them.

Charlie's Church of Christ said...

fantastic post! I knew it was great when you began with we are to welcome people not discount them. I loved your point that no one is perfected, even if they have radical salvation experiences.

I'm sorry Westboro came to your town and broke plenty of things that need metaphorical repair. Hopefully non-Christians see them for the ridiculousness they are and can separate them from a person who has encountered Jesus' peace and grace.

Renae said...

Very balanced David. Too many look past their own sins of lust and adultery and focus on someone who is gay, but as you said, sin is sin, no matter what sin it is. When we come to Christ in heartfelt repentance and begin to be changed by the washing of the water of the Word, then we begin to see the holiness of the Father being worked out in our lives and sin will be conquered on a daily basis.

Thank you again. It is important to love all sinners and allow God's love to be poured out through us so they may come to know Christ


David said...

@Su - Yes lots of other things to talk about. In fact so much I have 3 books going!

@JCC - a pleasure!

@faceoflions - thanks. Making a lot of noise and focusing on culture are not the best ways to make a point. Thanks for reading.

@Andrea - When Christians gt to the core issues, every one struggle with something. Thanks, reading.

@Tonjia - yes, I have seen the damage first hand. And I agree, there is so much it is unlikely that one cold be completely healed in a lifetime, but that is the business that Jesus is in.

@Charlie - in this world there is sin. There is hate, and there is plenty of evil. But I can change that by loving the unlovable. ;o)

@Renae - thanks for reading along. Love to you and yours!

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