Preface: This post (like my entire blog) is intended for Christ-following people who believe the God of the Bible. If you don’t place yourself in that category, you’re welcome to continue reading. [How could I stop you, after all? :)] But my goal is to approach this matter from the perspective of one who wants to follow Jesus Christ in this and every aspect of life, relying on the source of truth He gave us: the Bible.
Before proceeding, if you haven’t already done so, please read the first post in this mini-series about homosexuality: What Would Jesus Say to a Homosexual? It provides a critical foundation for today’s post.
“Hate the sin, love the sinner.”
That pretty much sums up the perspective of many Christians toward homosexuality.
While I agree with the bare bones of these words, I’ve come to see that the topic of homosexuality is so much deeper than this.
Oh, so much deeper and so much more complex.
I suspect that reducing it to just six words cheapens the issue. It cheapens it for those hearing the words…
and it cheapens it for me.
It reveals a heart that might be too casual toward precious souls God loves. It reveals a shallow understanding of the issues and the people involved. Perhaps most of all, it keeps a barrier between “us” and “them.”
Because really, I suspect the “love the sinner” part is no more than an afterthought – a string of words that slides off my tongue and assuages my conscience for not actually showing them love at all.
I’ve determined that I cannot in good conscience utter this phrase again without fulfilling these caveats. I hope you’ll prayerfully consider them with me.
I won’t say I hate their sin until I’m actively hating my own. Ouch. Yes, I stepped on my own toes; so if yours are sore, too, know that you’re not alone. But let’s not mince words here: it’s easy to boast a hatred for the sin of others while secretly harboring complete satisfaction with my own.
And that bears nothing of the gospel.
Pointing out the sins of others while failing to realize the depth of our own sin and its depraved nature before a holy God reeks of the Pharisee-ism Jesus rebuked so very harshly. And I don’t want any part of that. I don’t think you do, either.
I won’t say I love the sinner unless I’m truly loving them. “Let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (I John 3:18). This verse, shared in the context of taking care of the physical needs of those within the Church, is no less God’s heart for our love of all people He made and loves.
And I have to say, too often, the love I profess falls so far short of action. It falls so fall short of sympathy. It falls so far short of looking into someone’s eyes and listening like I care, and being willing to be vulnerable with someone who isn’t just like me.
I don’t know about you, but I see the issue of homosexuality as one that is growing and growing and growing in our land. And I just really want to know how God wants me to view it. I’m desperate to seek His face in this, and desperate for the Church to seek His face in it, too.
Jesus told the adulterous woman to “go and sin no more” (John 8:11). Should Christ-followers demand that homosexuals give up their homosexual practice, shouting from the rooftops that they ought to “go and sin no more”?
It stands to reason that a Christ-follower would want to…well, follow Christ, so it seems the answer must be “yes.” And that’s basically what we’ve been doing.
But I’m not sure it’s working very well.
And I suspect it’s because we ourselves are not without sin, as our Savior was.
A Christian Perspective on Homosexuality
So what should we say? How should we respond? I’m not sure, but I think these nine points are a good start.
1.)Have a proper view of my own sin, and an ever humble awareness of it. We’re just broken-made-whole people ourselves. In his book, Counter Culture, David Platt does an excellent job discussing the point that we’re all predisposed to sexual sin to some degree, in some way, shape, or form.
“But homosexuality is so disgusting! It’s unnatural and just…wrong!” Oh, but here’s the thing, beloved friend: perversion isn’t defined by what’s disgusting to me. It’s defined by what’s disgusting to God. Perversion is anything that defies and distorts God’s created design.
It’s easy for heterosexuals to piously label homosexuality a perversion. It’s the truth, but only a partial one; the full truth is that anything sexual that takes place outside of a husband-wife relationship is a perversion. This includes harboring sexual desires for another, encouraging sexual desires in another, and even crude and coarse speech about sex. It includes the beach reads on our e-readers and the repeated stolen glances and the flirty text messages.
I suspect that even many cases of divorce might be labeled a perversion. For don’t divorces that fall outside the parameters established in the Bible defy God’s created design?
Oh, my friends, we’ll only have compassion on other “sinners” as we remember how very often we ourselves fall short.
2.)Claim Christ’s forgiveness of my sin, and His power in walking uprightly. The Gospel means I can confess my sin before God, receiving His forgiveness and being cleansed from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9) Hallelujah!
The Gospel means I can and must walk in self-control. Paul tells us so clearly that we can expect our testimony to be meaningless if we’re not exhibiting self-control in our lives (I Corinthians 9:27).
The Gospel means I can and must walk by the Spirit and not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). And as I walk in the Spirit, free from known sin in my own life, it is then that I can see clearly to have proper discernment about the sins of others (Matthew 7:1-5).
Yes, we must be aware of our sin. But that awareness shouldn’t silence us. It should drive us to the cross for cleansing, and it should drive us to compassion for those who haven’t yet met a Savior there.
3.)Remember that homosexuals are people. Broken, bruised, battle-worn souls just like me. Souls that have already been deeply wounded. Souls that Jesus gave His very life for. Souls that He loves with no less passion than He loves you and me.
Friends, don’t breeze past that statement. I fear that in our disgust with a sin we can’t understand and frankly find repulsive, we’ve come dangerously close to dehumanizing homosexuals altogether. Jesus loves them passionately; He pursues them just as hard and fast as He pursues you.
The truth I must claim back is that homosexuals are not my enemies. No matter what debates and debacles are taking place politically in this country. It’s time that we stop falling for the lie that homosexuality is an argument to be won. Those involved in it will not be swayed by our logic. They’ve heard it all before, and they would probably use the words ad nauseam to describe it.
They will only be won by encountering God and by having a heart changed through the power of the Holy Spirit.
4.)Pray for myself as I engage this issue. Beg God for His unconditional love to flow through me, and ask Him to give me the proper mindset toward it. “God, please change my heart” is a prayer God delights in hearing, and one He delights in answering. I need God’s protection over my mind and my heart, that I might not be lured into sin myself. I need God’s wisdom to know when to speak and when to remain silent. I need God’s grace as He allows me to cooperate with Him in His work in the world.
5.)Pray for those I know personally who are practicing homosexuality. Pray for their families and for their friends. Pray that other Christians in their lives would show love to them. Pray that they would encounter the Gospel. Pray that the Holy Spirit would draw them toward Himself. With God, nothing is impossible. Nothing too difficult. No one beyond His reach.
6.)Embrace those I know personally and those I meet who are practicing homosexuality. Greet them warmly. Interact with them kindly. Spend time with them, getting to know them as the people they are. Find out what you have in common with them. Invite them into your life, and anticipate an invitation into theirs.
One lie that’s wreaking havoc in our culture is that sexuality is one of our primary identifiers. I believe it’s part of the worship of romantic love and sex that’s so prevalent. We would do well to reject this lie, which will better enable us to connect with people involved in homosexual practice. They are first and foremost people, not homosexuals.
7.)Trust God’s leading in my relationship with them. I need to be content to stay silent about homosexuality unless God opens a door for me to speak. Homosexuals are not projects. They’re not eagerly anticipating my arrival in their lives, searching the horizon for my flying form soaring in the sky as I approach and then swoop in to save them. Oh, but we long for them to be saved, don’t we? And that can cause us to take matters into our own hands.
Lest you mistake my intent, let me be clear that I’m not advocating passivity or apathy, but discernment. As we grow closer to those involved in homosexuality and they begin to understand that we are Christians, they will likely already know how we feel about the issue. Tell God that you’ll walk through any open doors He shows you, but that you won’t force an issue without His clear leading. Be willing to tread lightly – they’ve likely already experienced plenty of the “bull in a china shop” approach.
8.)Point them toward Jesus at every opportunity. And here it is – the most important thing. The only thing that will change someone’s heart is the Gospel. You see, I really think we’re horribly ill-suited for the role of sinless One beckoning the homosexual to “Go and sin no more.”
The “go and sin no more,” after all, came only after an encounter with Jesus.
Our rightful place is that of the adulterous woman running back to town, beckoning the people to “Come and see a Man who told me all that I ever did” (John 4:29). And so we must implore them to come and see a Man! “Let me tell you about the wounds I bore. Let me tell you about the chains I wore. Let me tell you about the healing and the freedom I now have. Let me tell you about this Jesus who loves you so.”
9.)Pray for the effects of the homosexual agenda in our nation. While I’ve considered at length how God wants us to interact personally with people who are involved in homosexuality, I’m aware that a whole other facet to this issue is the political implication of the “gay rights” movement.
I’m not a politician, but I am a citizen, and I do have strong beliefs about these issues in our culture and in our nation. These are matters Christ-followers ought to be passionate about. For example, I vote in favor of preserving God’s created design for marriage between one man and one woman. I also believe businesses should be free to do business or not do business with whomever they choose.
But as Christ-followers, it is imperative that we not allow the “gay rights movement” to control our thinking. We must not let it sway our unconditional love for individuals God brings across our paths. We must not let it convince us that people are our enemy, when they are in fact captives of the true enemy of all mankind. Captives just like I was before I met Jesus.
Oh, how we desperately need grace! To stand strong against a movement with soft hearts toward its people seems an impossible task.
How thankful I am for His grace that promises to always be enough. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
I’m claiming it today. I hope you will, too.