The Church’s Response to….(Dare I say it?)
I really try to avoid controversial subjects on this blog. Avoiding is hard to do when I keep seeing stuff in the media that grates on me. It’s even harder to do when professed followers of Christ act like their faith is a footnote to their way of thinking. About 2 months ago I started writing this post. Because I want to stir the pot? No. Because I believe what I said needed to be said. Here’s the article:
5 Ways the Church Needs to Respond to Gay Acceptance
Few issues of our generation have been more heated and divisive as gay rights. When I say gay rights, I’m not referring only to legal rights. I am really addressing the entire idea of gay acceptance by our society. To see evidence of this divisiveness, all one needs to do is look at the comments section of any online news article on the topic. Name calling, insults, accusations, and personal defamation are the norm.
The protestant, evangelical Christian community has been spearheading the fight against gay acceptance. Through boycotts, legislation, and demonstrations, Christian conservatives have constantly pushed back against pro-gay ideals in our society.
Unfortunately, it is this push against gay acceptance that has been the gasoline on the fire of the gay rights movement. A society that screams, “If it feels good, do it,” and “YOLO,” perceives our faith community as uneducated, close-minded, and prudish. They perceive us as trying to stop others from seeking the same pursuit of happiness we take for granted. If pro-gay vs. anti-gay is a battle, like many believe it is, the church is losing.
In an article published by the University of Chicago, support for same-sex marriage has gone from 11% approval in 1988 to 46% in 2010. Younger generations support gay-marriage more than older generations (64% of those under 30 years old versus 27% of those 70+ years old). These age-related statistics are not limited to same-sex marriage. Twenty-six percent of those under 30 surveyed said homosexual behavior is “always wrong.” Sixty-three percent of the 70+ crowd shared that opinion.
Between these numbers and the saturation of pro-gay happenings in our culture, it is safe to say that the Christian conservative community is not making headway against gay acceptance. Since the pro-gay movement is not going away, how should the 21st century church respond? I have five suggestions:
Realize that homosexuality is sexual immorality. This makes it no different from looking at pornography, engaging in sex outside of Biblical marriage, or lusting after another person (1Thess. 4:2-3; Eph. 5:3; Gal. 5:19-21; Jas. 2:11, 1Cor. 6:18).
Quit arguing against homosexuality with verses from Leviticus. To do so is futile. First of all, if someone doesn’t believe the Bible to be the inspired Word of God, the verses mean nothing to the listener. Second, if we are not going to observe all of the Levitical law (such as these: Lev. 15:18, 19:27, 20:10), then how can we expect anyone else to?
Remember that homosexuality isn’t the unforgivable sin. Rebellion against God is (Matt. 12:31-32).
Learn science. Anatomy/physiology, biology, genetics – if we are debating homosexuality do it in a way they understand. Are gays really born that way? Do we know? Do they know for sure? Our scientific-minded society responds to science more so than Scripture. The Bible deems it unnatural (Rom. 1:24-32). Anatomy and physiology of the human genitalia supports that.
Do not engage in name calling. Nothing is gained by either side when names like “ignorant,” “intolerant,” or “hateful,” are used. In fact, most of those adjectives are so over-used they are misused. People have forgotten what they really mean. Our speech is supposed to be grace-filled (Col. 3:8, 4:6).
Churches should be ready with open doors and open arms. Anyone who wishes to turn from un-Biblical ways should be able to find a place in church to be ministered to. This is not limited to LBGT individuals. As churches have opened their doors to sex addicts and divorcees, they need to be prepared to open doors for those struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction and behavior. Not for political reasons but for the people behind the movement. The church is about healing and freedom from legitimate hurts (2 Cor. 5:16-20).
Love the people no matter how ugly it gets. The goal of dispelling the myth that gay is normal/natural/okay is not to “Save America” or “Bring our country back to God.” It’s about people. People that God loves just as He loves us. It is about shining a little light into peoples’ lives so that they find the only One who can give them real Life (Matt. 5:14-16; Jn. 6:35, 11:25; 1Jn. 5:11-12).
As ministers of reconciliation to Christ we need to consider if our actions have been more of a stumbling block, than a source of light. We have spent much effort and resources saying “No. We will fight you.” We have forgotten all about saying, “While I don’t agree with you, God loves you and I do, too.” Let’s remember we are dealing with people who need to be loved. Jesus commanded us to love them and then make disciples of them.
If I didn’t make it clear enough before, let me say: I do not condone gay marriage or support gay rights. I believe it’s homosexuality is a sin just like drunkenness is a sin. Yet rarely do you hear drunkenness condemned from Christians these days. I simply do not believe the church has handled the issue of homosexuality in the most Biblical manner. The way it has been handled in the past has only pushed people who need Jesus away from Jesus. Anybody who comes to the church for help (from unwanted same-sex desires, addictions/habits, broken marriages, depression, etc.) should be able to receive that help. The church should be equipped to deal with those issues.
Thank you for reading.
(If you’re curious about the yellow heart image, ask me.)