There were two really well written articles on Christians and Homosexuality that were posted yesterday. The first is by Bobby Ross at the Christian Chronicle. His article, “Homosexuality and the Church” highlighted a lot of churches that are giving attention to this issue and engaging in discussion on how Christians should view this from a biblical perspective and how Christians should treat people who are homosexual. Then Wes Woodell, who was interviewed in that article put out his own piece also called “Homosexuality and the Church” where Wes gives some additional thoughts that are well worth reading. If you haven’t read these two articles you should take a few minutes to read them.
How does the church/Christians respond to this issue? Here are a few thoughts to help answer that question:
- Be Jesus to people. Scripture tells us over and over again that we are to be Christ-like and that means we must treat people as Christ treated people: 1 Cor 11:1, Philippians 2:5-8, 1 John 2:6, 1 John 3:16, 1 Peter 2:21 (context there is suffering), 2 Cor 3:18. In those verses we learn that we are to both be like Christ or be made like Christ and to then act/live/behave as Christ did. So if we want to know how to deal with people who are struggling with sin examine how Jesus treated people in similar situations. It is so disheartening when you see Christian organizations responding to sin in our world in ways that are uncharacteristic of Christ.
- Be the bride of Christ to people. The Bible talks about the church being like the bride of Christ. The bride doesn’t do things that bring dishonor to her own husband, neither should the church do and say things that bring reproach to Christ.
- Be transparent and honest. There is nothing worse than someone shouting you down because they don’t have a good answer. This is a very difficult issue to deal with well so we typically avoid it. In today’s world, to avoid it is to bury your head in the sand and hope it all goes away. It won’t. Don’t run from it. We want those in the congregation to be biblically informed on this. If we don’t teach on this their opinions will be solely shaped by a thousand other sources outside of scripture. If you really believe this is sin, be in the business Jesus was in…reconciling struggling people with the God who loves them unconditionally.
- Know what you believe and make sure it is actually from scripture. Remember, we don’t have authority on our own. The authority our words carry only go so far as our words are words from scripture. As Fred Craddock has said we are just the messengers. We are “as one without authority”. So study, study, study to know what you believe about this from scripture. Study, study, study to know how to communicate with people in ways that are in line with Christ. Too often we study to know what we believe but do a terrible job communicating it in Christ-like ways.
- Don’t be afraid to call a sin a sin. If you are convicted that something is sinful, don’t be ashamed to say that. We see in the ministry of Jesus, Paul, and others that there are times to call certain behaviors sin (Read Wes’ point #1).
- Understand the difference between rebuke to those inside the church and those outside the church. 1 Cor 5:9-13 says this, “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.” Is anyone listening to that? I see few Christians on television who take that seriously. Why? Because taking that seriously won’t result in you getting much press. When Christians go ballistic on the world they get press because it makes us look stupid and confirms the pre-existing narrative that Christians are harsh, closed-minded, bigots…which, by the world’s standards, is the worst sin you can commit in the world today.12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”
- Dealing with our own heart issues. Let’s be honest, there are going to be some Christians in the church who have serious heart issues on this matter. We won’t reach people we don’t love. That will be uncomfortable for some but Scripture never gave us an excuse or rationale to be unloving, ever. So if you have a heart issue on this, you are going to have to deal with it and ask God to forgive your unloving spirit. Sometimes the first person who really needs reconciliation is ourselves.
This is a discussion we are going to have to engage in. Know what you believe, based on scripture. Throw away any ungodly attitudes you may have about this issue or people who struggle with this. Treat people like Christ would.