Sexual identity and Gender identity are the most talked about and divisive issues to date. Not only around the water cooler at work, but also in church board rooms, as denominations grapple with political correctness in their places of worship. I write this on the heels of the Presbyterian Church USA voting to approve gay marriage in all ten thousand of their churches, which represents about 1.8 million parishioners. While I understand the debate outside the church, I’m deeply disturbed by the ever growing divide inside the church. If we know anything about the way God created man and woman, certainly we realize through scripture and nature that He designed one for the other. It’s a beautiful design and it’s perfect, just like our Creator. What has bothered me in the last few years is the way in which some Christians have engaged the homosexual culture. While we are not to tolerate sin of any kind, there’s a way in which we are to approach a culture who is out right confused about their identity. This subject is very dear to my heart because of the deep hurt, rejection, depression and bondage that people in this lifestyle experience. It’s a very real issue involving very real people. It is so important that we as Christians learn better ways to communicate the uncompromising word of God to those who don’t know or understand it. It is our job to make it plain to them, not to confuse them with our ever changing beliefs or our lack of understanding how to interact with them. So I compiled four types of Christians that people who live the gay lifestyle run into, none of which are helpful in reaching this community. I write this not to bash well intentioned Christians, but rather to help shine a light where we are wrong so that we can correct it and truly reach this important part of society.
1. The Uneducated Christian
This is probably the most common of all. People who try to help a gay person see their true identity, but simply do not understand the complexity of the lifestyle. All they know is that it’s wrong. Because they have never experienced such feelings themselves, they are completely repulsed and don’t even think to take out time to study and understand the challenges that a person may have went through that got them to that point in their lives. They also don’t understand how closely tied a person’s emotions are to what they are feeling. So lines like, “that’s just disgusting” and “who would even do such a thing” causes people in the gay community to completely shut down. See, what most people don’t realize is that a lot of people who identify themselves as gay, didn’t wake up one day and decide they were going to be that way. Many times this stems from years of sexual abuse by a same sex family member or trusted friend. Other times they may have stumbled across inappropriate material at a young age. For others it’s because of strained relationships they may have with their father or mother. For instance a son may long for affirmation from his father, upon not getting it he turns to another male in his life that does give it to him and in turn a homosexual relationship is born. For some it is simply the vice that Satan uses in their life to keep them back from all God has for them. For some, the reasons that I stated above are simply not good enough. But it doesn’t matter if the explanation for how they got there is not good enough. This is where some in society are and we have to find a way to communicate the love of Christ to them. Another thing that most people don’t understand is that just like when you became of age and began to like the opposite sex, when others become of age they like the same sex. They don’t plan it that way, it just seems to happen that way. After this is realized, they spend months and sometimes years turning these feelings over in their heads. So when they finally “come out”, they have spent a lot of time hiding who they think they are. Because these feelings sometime come very early in life, they begin to believe that they were born this way. This really boggles the mind of the uneducated Christian. How could a person possibly think they were born that way, they ask themselves. It’s very simple. There are sins that you and I may deal with that we can trace back to when we were small children. Lets use anger for example. You may remember when you were little getting mad at your parents or your teachers. Maybe even getting in fights on the playground.No one taught it to you, that particular emotion would always seem to rise up in you. Now that you are a believer, God has helped you to be a lot less angry when things don’t go your way. This is the same way that someone who has same sex attraction feels sometime. As long as they can remember, they’ve had these attractions. So as Christians we can’t take the sins that we remember from birth and excuse them while condemning the homosexual for saying he or she feels they were born that way. While both are wrong, we must realize that these emotions and feelings are there. Psalm 51:5 clearly states that we were literally born in sin, we were conceived in iniquity. The reason that we feel we have had these issues since birth is because we have. Being born into sin means that you were born sinning. No one taught you how to sin, it came automatically woven into your human psyche. This is a direct result of the fall. (see Gen 3) Everyone is born bent toward a certain sin. For some it’s greed, for others lust, and yes for some it is same sex attraction. So many in the gay community feel that this is their identity. This belief is a fundamental misunderstanding of Psa 51:5. Just because you were bent towards a certain sin at birth doesn’t mean we take that on as our identity. If I tend to get angry all the time, I don’t now start calling myself an angermaniac. I don’t start marching for anger rights, I get help. Another area of mistake for an uneducated Christian is when helping someone in that lifestyle, they focus more on the person’s sin, rather than their need for a Savior. They sometimes forget that people don’t go to Hell because they are gay, rather they go because Christ is not in their hearts. None of us are fit for Heaven even if we are heterosexual and have been faithful to our spouse for thirty years. So when you meet an unsaved homosexual, your job is not to try to get them to not be gay, rather it must be to get them saved. The rest will follow. My fear is that most Christians have an emotional response when someone says they are gay rather than an educated one. There is no one better equipped on the planet to help someone free themselves from this lifestyle and the baggage that comes with it more than an educated Christian.
2. The Homophobic Christian
While this is a small minority, it does exists. These are those who are so repulsed by even the thought of homosexuality that they take it to the extreme. These are the kind that think it’s catchy. If I get near one, I might get it. They can’t disciple anyone because they are too busy being repulsed. And, if they are honest, they have no desire to help anyone come out of that lifestyle because it would mean they would have to interact with them. This is utter nonsense. These are people who have a real misunderstanding of how ALL of our sin looks to God. All sin stinks in the nostrils of God. It’s all like a rotting corpse that no one wants to touch to a pure and holy God. Isaiah 64:6 is clear that even our righteousness is like filthy rags to God. You may think it’s righteous indignation, but check yourself. It could be your self righteous flesh. People like to use the fact that the Bible speaks harshly about homosexual behavior as a scape goat for their homophobia. Bad idea. The Bible also speaks against the deceitful ways of the prostitute and the adulterous woman, drunkards and swindlers. But who do you see Jesus being accused of hanging out with in the New Testament? Those very type of people Matt 11:19. Jesus wasn’t afraid to get dirty and be talked about by so called church people. He had a mission and He was determined to fill it. We also have a mission to fulfill. But if we can’t engage culture, we are going to miss one of the most important things that is close to the father’s heart. To go and make disciples Matt 28:19. Yes we are to call out sin where we see it, but just like Jesus did, we are to love people where they are. All sin is sin to God. It is always a bad thing when we begin to compare our sins to someone else sin. If this is hidden in your heart, ask God to cause you to have a burden for this community in particular. God’s desire is that you love the way He loves. Ask yourself what your reaction is when someone from that community walks into your church or the break room at work. Do you tend to think that you and that person couldn’t have anything in common? I’m a man’s man you say. The manliest thing you can do is go over to that person and show them the love of Christ. Don’t compromise, but love unconditionally.
3. The Unloving Christian
When I think about unloving Christians, my mind quickly goes to the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka Kansas, pastored by the late Fred Phelps. This man was a shining example of an unloving christian. The irony is that many times these are the very people who would say they love the homosexual community the most because they tell them the truth. They are right, they tell them some truth and serve it up in a glass full of self righteousness and hate speech. You will never find this type of thing in scripture. Unfortunately most of us have seen the videos of the despicable signs that Westboro Baptist church would hold up at military funerals with grieving families in attendance. Signs like, “Thank God For dead Soldiers” ” God hates Fags” etc. This type of behavior is not representative of Christ and His true church, but rather that of hate filled extremist who use the name of God. How awful it must have been for those families of the heroes who died protecting the very same hate filled people holding those signs. My heart goes out to them. That was neither the time nor the place for such nonsense. Also standing outside on a crate yelling hate speech with a Bible in your hand is not preaching the Word of God, but rather it’s making a mockery of the real thing. The last time I read 1 Corinthians 13 it said love was patient, kind, not easily provoked. It hopes all things and endures all things. Unloving Christians don’t have time for patience and allowing God to work on a person, all they want is to criticize and tear down. God has called us to build others up. There is nothing wrong with speaking the truth, but it needs to be bathed in love. Eph 4:15.
4. The Tolerant Christian
This Christian has went to the other extreme. They say that they are loving a homosexual by tolerating their sin. These are the churches and Christians who clearly see what the bible says about homosexuality in Lev,18:22, Lev 20:13, 1 Cor 6:9-10, Romans 1:26-28 and tell people who are living this lifestyle that it’s okay, that’s the way God made you. And you say you do this all in the name of love? Shame on you. If you had cancer and were going to die in six months and you had one doctor tell you, if you feel okay, don’t worry about, just go on with your “life”. Then you had another doctor who sat you down, looked into your eyes and told you the uncomfortable truth that you had cancer and unless you did something about it you were going to die. Which one of these doctors truly love you? Yes, one made you feel good for the moment by telling you to go on with life as though nothing has changed. But just because it felt good to hear that didn’t all of a sudden make it true. Even though you might not have liked what the second doctor was saying, you needed to hear that so you have a chance to save your life. It’s the same in the spiritual. We are here to save lives, not make people feel good. There is a difference between someone who is struggling with same sex attraction, but choosing to live in obedience as opposed to someone who knows it’s a sin and continues to live in the lifestyle and claims that Jesus condones it. For the person that is struggling, it’s no different than you and I struggling with certain issues from time to time. But those who are unrepentant, rebellious and choose to live in bondage, their end is destruction. Though we might not understand it or have a hard time coming to grips with it, we have to remember that we are not God. He knows what he is doing. Somethings may seem unfair because we are trying to understand an infinite God with a finite mind. You may think it’s okay for someone to marry whoever they want as longs as they truly love the person and that’s fine, but is that what is true. Or are you the doctor who will let your patient die believing a lie. As much as my heart breaks for this segment of society. As much as I love them and want to see them happy, I realize that God didn’t come and die a horrible death so that we could be happy, rather He came that we might be saved. My thoughts, feelings, life experiences and emotions must bow to The One who knit me together in my mother’s womb. We confuse tolerance with love. That is a fatal mistake. If I love you, I’m going to tell you the truth no matter how it makes you feel, but I will do it in love. People like Rob Bell (love wins), Carlton Pearson, and the christian liberals in this country are causing millions of people to be lead astray by their false teachings of tolerance, false acceptance and false love. The Truth hurts, but tolerance will kill you in many cases. Yes, you can truly hate sin but love the sinner. I pray this will be a help as you interact with precious people around the world who may struggle in this area.