Responding to Gay Marriage

gayandlesbianAwhile ago I wrote a piece that that went crazy. In case you missed it, you can find it here… LGBT: It’s All or Nothing. If you didn’t think this was an important issue… clearly, it is. For those who are interested, I thought we could dig down a bit today. This is a re-post that contains years of my own study and thought on the issue. Not coincidentally, several of the responses that follow are from friends of mine who happen to be gay. Grab a cup of coffee. This will take a minute.

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The very unusual length of this post (at least by my standards) demonstrates the complexity of this issue. I have friends who think this is a simple discussion. I would challenge you to re-think your position.

Clearly this is a topic that is super-charged with opinion and emotion… within the church and in the greater community. The left would say love and acceptance is the way of Jesus. All the while the right would point out the texts on the topic that seem to deal merely with condemnation.

I prefer a sandwich approach to the discussions. Admittedly this is more than a little corny. But I think you’ll see where I’m trying to go with this. While a Truth Sandwich certainly sounds best to my lofty view of Scripture, instead I have chosen the Love Sandwich from the spirit of Ephesians 4:15.

Allow me to develop the sandwich analogy a bit. You’ve probably had a sandwich that was mostly bread. Not so tasty, right? Why not? It’s not really what a sandwich is made for. Bread is good. Necessary for a diet even. But a sandwich implies that there is something else in between the slices of bread. In fact, we name it a _______ sandwich. What goes in the blank depends on your vegetarian/meatetarian inclinations. But the point is the same. The sandwich is known for what is in the middle.

In developing my position on the gay and lesbian discussion from a Christian perspective, I am seeking to be thoroughly biblical and surrounded – on both sides actually – by truth. However, what I want to be known for in this discussion is by what is in the middle. I want even my truth to be flavored by the love. Hence, the Love Sandwich.

Here are a few other cursory reasons:

1. most gays and lesbians are already familiar with the truth as the Bible states it
2. most gays and lesbians have not experienced much (if any) Christian love
3. while the truth may set you free, it is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance

For starters when I began full-time Christian ministry 17 years ago I had zero friends who I was sure were gay or lesbian. That was my fault and part of the culture I was raised in. It’s not that I didn’t have any gay people around me growing up… I did. I just didn’t want or know how to relate to them. So I ignored that part of their reality and put my friendship with them mostly off limits… at least for that phase of my life. In the last few years I have been able to renew some of those friendships and begin to right some of those wrongs.

When you have friends who are gay and lesbian it takes the conversation to a whole new level. In fact until I started reaching out to people who are gay and lesbian, I’m not sure I really thought about it all that much.  When you start to listen, you hear their stories of the hatred and bigotry they have had to endure. And while the Matthew Shepard story may sound like an extreme, most gay and lesbian people have experienced vitriolic hatred that is similar in kind. They almost daily endure denigrating speech and mistreatment. It was from this place that I began to really think about what it meant to have a truly Christian perspective related to the gay and lesbian discussion.

So what does it mean to have a truly Christian perspective? Here’s how I have begun to digest it. Typically I hate lists for several reasons. Among them is that people almost always take them to be all-inclusive… even if the list-er says they’re not. The only reason I have chosen to use a list format here is to show the division and separation of items in my thinking. I have chosen to use a somewhat chronological approach. In other words, I generally think of the things mentioned here in this order…

1. I know there are some ultimate conclusions that I am going to have to draw from the data that I am able to mine from the Scriptures.

2. I know that I don’t know what it means or feels like to be gay.

3. I know that the gay and lesbian communities have, generally speaking, been treated horribly by the evangelical church.

4. I know that God created man in His image and as such all human beings have equal value… that is a truly pro-life position.

5. I know that the Scriptures have, at times, confusing and at other times, silent messages about gay and lesbian issues.

6. I know that the Scriptures ultimately seem to disapprove of same-gendered sexual relations in similar fashion to the way it disapproves of inappropriate heterosexual relationships  – i.e. (but not limited to) adultery.

7. I choose to live with this tension and maintain loving friendships with gay and lesbian friends… whether or not they ever become not gay.

8. I do so based on the teaching of Jesus. Because I am a follower of Jesus I do not believe that someone’s choices/persuasions/propensities give me an excuse to bad-mouth, slander or do anything but love every person made in His image.

So what is the Christian thing to do? Most of us have been content to arrive at a position that we feel can make us right before God. While there are plenty of theological difficulties with that approach, allow me in closing to address the practical problem. If all we do is identify what we think God’s mind is on this issue (which by itself is a pretty hefty claim), I believe we fall short because it fails to offer any solutions regarding how we treat those who do not agree with our findings for whatever reason.

I challenge all of us who follow Jesus to have a thoroughly thought-through and equally biblical, practical perspective.

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30 thoughts on “Responding to Gay Marriage

  1. Great post. I’ve been reading that book I told you about (Love is an Orientation by Andrew Maren), and it is very thought-provoking…in a good way. When he spoke at our church he repeated a statement Billy Graham made to a reporter while attending a luncheon for former pres. Bill Clinton following his…ahem…indiscretion: “It is God’s job to judge. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict. It is our job to love.” That is very profound.

  2. this is an issue that god has placed on my heart in recent days. the culture in which i grew up in so severely discouraged anyone from even associating with homosexuals that it wasnt until i was removed from that culture that i understood what the love of god feels like. thank you so much for writing this. it really hit home.

  3. Amy, appreciate your thoughts on Rob’s post. While I have not read the book you mention or heard the speaker you quote, I would point out something regarding his statement. While God is the ultimate judge, scripture is clear that a Believer has a responsibility to (Hebrews 10:24) provoke or, as can be taken in the original language, “irritate” others unto love and good deeds. So our job is not just to love, but as 1 Corinthians 13 tells us, every thing we do must have a foundation of love. That love is for Christ and Truth first, then for others-we, most definitely, should be last in that formula. But lets not forget out responsibility to confront sin with the Gospel, not our own agenda.

    The Great Commission is about preaching the gospel to every creature. Those creatures include liars, thiefs, gossips, the covetous, homosexuals, the greedy, the proud, etc. The Christian has a duty to intentionally show the love of Christ to those that are perishing-not just by “living the life” but by proclaiming the Truth. Lets not confuse love for a lack of courage to identify sin and show God’s remedy for such a malady. By the way, one of the problems I see with this is that humility is often left behind when sin is confronted. While this is a problem, and one the devil has used to greatly hinder the gospel effort, it does not negate the command. It is just a warning to do things the Biblical way.

    Well, I would like to give some thoughts to some other things you said in your post, Rob, but that will have to wait a few days. I am out of time. Until then…

  4. What challenged me to think this through the way you are was when an evangelist challenged a church I was at to reach America with the Gospel. He noted the prostitutes, drug addicts, transgenders, transvestites, and gays. On every point there were hearty amens…until he asked, “but if they came in here through those doors tonight, could they get past the stares?” Instant conviction all around!

  5. I feel I have to leave a response in order to put some other views into this topic of “Christianity” and Homosexual lives.

    I grew up in both Christian schools and church, and had much Christian “love” around me, but still always knew of my own sexuality.

    Being Gay is never the real issue of the gay child, but in fact the issue of the rest of the world to make the millions of gay children feel that they are different in anyway,and to feel shame with themselves. There for causing gay children to feel weaker or less wanted or important. Children don’t judge, its the adults they live with. People don’t look at any other human with so much judgement as the Gay person.

    I knew I was “Gay” when I was very very young… (age 8) my parents knew much earlier. It was NEVER an issue in my home, and in fact it was nothing more then excepting by both parents and 3 heterosexual brothers. I have never had a problem with being gay and if you ask MOST people from my childhood, they will most probably say they knew I was gay.

    I don’t know why everyone wants to understand or talk about homosexuals. If your not Gay then what is to understand. “We” do not think about what’s happening in your private home nor are we paying our “neighbours” bills, do we even care when they have family fights or discussions, so WHY do people pass so much judgement on nothing more then an act that has been “Taboo” for 1000’s of years.

    Everyone needs to STOP thinking so much about “it” and except everyone as nothing more then Human Beings. Because the “God” that I believe in and pray too is an almighty forgiving God, and If he feels that I am in anyway doing wrong then HE and only he can pass judgement on me, and if you believe that he has already past judgement on us, then he is not the God that I should be praying to or worshipping anyway, and I mean that with the up most respect.

    Also, in topic 4. “I know that God created man in His image and as such all human beings have equal value… that is a truly pro-life position.”… that’s right, he did as HUMANS !! to be like him, of walking and talking and standing up right…. but it was not till much later that the devil came into the garden and introduced sex.

    And to conclude, being gay is not choice I have ever had to make, it is ONLY something I’ve ever known. I am so proud of myself for being the person that I am. I don’t pass judgement on anyone, and I am an honest and respected person within my own life, friends and family. I have travelled the world and met some amazing people and have never encountered anything more then I have given back.

    Robert, I was one of the kids you knew when you were growing up, and you were nothing but nice to me, and I am 100% sure you knew I was gay, as I never pretended to be anything that I wasn’t.

    With nothing but respect.

    Scott

  6. Rob,
    Forgive me for taking so long to post these thoughts here. I wanted to be careful of how and what I said-the message may offend, but the messenger need not contribute to that with his own failings. I would, however, like insert some things for you and others to consider regarding your essay on the topic of homosexuality.

    I will attempt to discuss your article in an orderly fashion, kind of working my way through some of the statements that struck some sort of cord with me. First, I would have to disagree that this is a complex issue. Why do I say this? Because Scripture is clear on the matter. Homosexuality is a sin. That seems pretty “non-complex” if you ask me. I am not sure about the lefts and rights you speak of, I try not to operate within those confines. Rather, I do my best to take a position of humble acceptance of the biblical standard. That standard, as I mentioned earlier, is clear. Debate on the sinfulness or supposed non-sinfulness of homosexuality would mean that I believe that the Bible is not clear. It would mean that I think the subject is open for well meaning argument/counter argument. That is not the case.

    This link below puts things in a proper light and actually has similar analogy that you used in the beginning of your article. It explains things far better than I could.

    http://www.gty.org/Resources/Articles/A170_Gods-Plan-for-the-Gay-Agenda?q=homosexuality

    Regarding your cursory reasons for starting the discussion; first, you said most homosexuals are already familiar with the truth as the Bible states it. If that is so, then they are under greater condemnation, because they know the truth and they have rejected it. This does not bring the Christian any joy, rather sorrow that someone would know the truth and reject it. Second, you noted that most homosexuals have not experienced much (if any) Christian love. I am not sure what it means to experience Christian love, but if a homosexual, as you said in reason number 1, knows the Bible, then they have at some time or another, experienced Christian love. They just have rejected it in favor of pursuing a sinful lifestyle. That is something we all do, by the way. Third, the truth can only set you free if you know it. The homosexual needs not to just know they are in sin, but accept that fact and turn to Christ. You then spoke of kindness leading one to repent. By kindness, I assume you are referring to the Grace of God. His Grace makes repentance possible, but the Holy Spirit (not kindness) leads to repentance when the sinner admits their sin. Where is the love? The love is shown in the obedience of the Christian to follow the great commission and preach the gospel to EVERY creature. (uh, that means: gossips, the greedy, adulterers, gluttons, homosexuals, etc.). It is also shown by not being, as James said in his letter, a “respecter of persons”.

    Now, I realize there are some “out there” who mistakenly believe that it is their duty to punish homosexuals on behalf of God. These are, often times, the same nuts who bomb abortion clinics, etc. Militia types with a distorted view of Scripture that fits their pre-conceived reality. They are not legitimate participators in the discussion at hand. Further, I would contend, they are not indicative of the evangelical, fundamental, churches at large. Rather they are the lunatic fringe who have globbed on to a legitimate view of Scriptural interpretation and authority. They make a lot of noise and the devil uses them to shame and harm the name of Christ. Our message must remain Gospel centered if we are to have any hope for the Truth to prevail over such nonsense. Sadly, as can be seen in our current political climate, truth is often distorted to the point of actual acceptance and belief in a lie. That is what we who seek to see sinners saved by the Grace of God are up against. Bible truths that are distorted to fit a man made idea. That is as backwards as it gets.

    Before I exhaust everyone who decides to read all this, I would like to respond to your list, which makes some interesting points. I will do this by highlighting your point and making comments under it:

    1. I know there are some ultimate conclusions that I am going to have to draw from the data that I am able to mine from the Scriptures.

    Yes, I agree. And that data is clear on the matter (See Above)

    2. I know that I don’t know what it means or feels like to be gay.

    Neither do I. However, I do know what it is like to sin and disobey God. The call to exhort and rebuke (Heb. 10:24) is still the same.

    3. I know that the gay community has, generally speaking, been treated horribly by the evangelical church.

    Too many examples exist to completely refute this point. Much of it, I believe, is a warn out stereotype that keeps getting “press” because it is easy. An intelligent observation of the facts would reveal that while some would most certainly be guilty of treating homosexuals terribly, that true believers in the Gospel of Jesus Christ are not defined by such behavior. Let me say that I am humbled to know many of these type believers.

    4. I know that God created man in His image and as such all human beings have equal value… that is a truly pro-life position.

    Yes, God values life and he created man in His image. Homosexuality is not part of that image. The image has been marred by sin (homosexuality is a sin) and sin devalues mankind, making us unworthy to be in the presence of the Holy God.

    5. I know that the Scriptures have, at times, confusing and at other times, silent messages about homosexuality.

    Not sure what passages you refer to here, would like to see them posted. Even so, Scripture is clear enough on the matter in both the Old and New Testaments. We may not understand all of what God is saying in His word, but I do not believe Scripture is confusing to the person who is honestly seeking Truth in its pages. God promises wisdom to those who seek it in His Word.

    6. I know that the Scriptures ultimately seem to disapprove of same-gendered sexual relations in similar fashion to the way it disapproves of inappropriate heterosexual relationships – i.e. (but not limited to) adultery.

    I agree, however I would remove the word “seem” because it opens the door for doubt. Again, the Bible is clear on the matter. I have seen some attempt to, by reading the text with great liberality; try to compel Scripture to fit their own personal desires so they will not have to come to grips with their sin. Sadly, they will some day, but it may be too late to avoid the consequences at that point. And, yes-homosexuality is a sin no greater or less than adultery, pride, slander, anger, etc.

    7. I choose to live with this tension and maintain loving friendships with gay friends… whether or not they ever become not gay.

    I would too, so long as those friendships are redemptive. That is to say that my goal in that relationship (accompanied by consistent effort) would be to share the Gospel with them, not just to maintain a friendship so I can say I have a homosexual friend. Any other type of relationship with non believers would be inconsistent with biblical command and would be a cruel abuse of a friendship, especially if that person you were a “friend” to died the next day and went to hell.

    8. I do so based on the teaching of Jesus. Because I am a follower of Jesus I do not believe that someone’s choices/persuasions/propensities give me an excuse to bad-mouth, slander or do anything but love every person made in His image.

    The first commandment, Jesus said, is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, etc.” The second, to love your neighbor as your self, makes this statement easy to agree with.

    Then, you said the following:
    “If all we do is identify what we think God’s mind is on this issue (which by itself is a pretty hefty claim)…”

    I don’t think indentifying God’s mind on the issue is all that difficult. I don’t say that in arrogance, I simply believe some things in the Bible are clear enough to hold firm on and not waver. In those cases, it is not difficult to know the mind of God-that’s why He put in there for us in the first place.

    And finally you mentioned:
    “I believe we fall short because it fails to offer any solutions regarding how we treat those who do not agree with our findings for whatever reason.”

    Well, if their reason is they do not agree with the Bible on the matter, then they will reject the solution because they fail to recognize and admit their sin. Pointing out the sin is one thing, seeing an individual point it out in their own life is another thing all together. If the homosexual does not do that, then they can not be saved, according to the scriptures.

    Well, that was much longer than I thought it would be. I probably could have summed it all up in the following words. If we are supposed to love God and others, then that means no matter how I might hurt someone’s feelings, I am compelled to tell them the truth about how to be reconciled to God, regardless of the situation they are in or what they might think of me in the end.

    Remember this: The Bible says the Gospel will be offensive to people, but that doesn’t mean I have to be.

  7. Well, Rob and all the others that posted here….all I can say is… WOW! There is a lot to digest here.

  8. OK everyone, I will try to keep this brief. I have turned to the scriptures on this one as I hope everyone else will. I can safely say this is not a point of view that is coming from others, just myself and my study of the Romans text(a letter from the Apostle Paul sent to preach the word of God).
    Lets begin with Romans 1:17-
    “This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through FAITH that a righteous person has life.”

    Paul continues by pointing out how obvious it is how God feels about Sin, that sinners are not excused by simply being ignorant to what God truly wants, evidence is all around us.

    In Romans 1:24-1:32, Paul states that “God abandons them”, the sinners, and they continue to be involved in shameful, vile acts. He even goes into detail about homosexuality within this text and speaks of other sins as well..greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, gossip, deception, and it goes on.

    But he does not abandon them forever…..there is always forgiveness from our Glorious God through Faith and commitment….

    Does the church turn its back on those who gossip, show envy, break promises or even family members involved in a quarrel? I have never seen a Church that has turned its back on people for these sins but can bare witness to churches that close their doors to homosexuals. Hmmm, should their be a distinction? Even murders and rapists are visited by the church in prison. Just my thoughts….

    The scripture continues with Romans 2:1- Paul writes,

    You may be saying, “What terrible people you have been talking about!” But you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you do these very same things.
    2.And we know that God, in his justice, will punish anyone who does such things. 3.Do you think that God will judge and condemn others for doing them and not judge you when you do them, too?

    Romans 2:13- For it is not merely knowing the law that brings God’s approval. Those who obey the law will be declared right in God’s sight.

    I will finish with Romans 3:22-
    “We are made right in God’s sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done. 23. For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”

    Did God withhold his blessing from Abram, Isaac and Jacob after seeing the deception and mistrust by them in Genesis? He did not…he continued to show his mercy and love despite there sins…The scriptures say and is quoted again by Paul- “Abraham believed God, and God counted as righteous because of his faith.” It was his faith in God that led him to stand beside God, not his perfection!

    I do feel that we as Christians share a responsibility of being available to those who seek the word of God through fellowship and understanding. I can say this honestly about ALL sinners as I am a sinner as well. I am also quilty of judging others and I pray for forgiveness and strength in changing this about myself. I can say with all honesty that I love and cherish the human spirit and thank God for it.
    I encourage you to read Romans completely through and use this message from God in guiding you with your treatment of others.

    But I also DARE you to remove from your mind the words of others including those within the scripture and simply pray….talk to God, ask him what he wants from you on this topic.(Rob- how do like that Dare?)hehe

    Thank you Rob for allowing me to join you in the Process of seeking the truth in my journey to walking with God…We all have a journey ahead of us…

    My apologies- I am not as “well written” as some of you…

    My best regards
    Jennifer E.

  9. Jennifer,

    If you are saying by this quote

    “But I also DARE you to remove from your mind the words of others including those within the scripture and simply pray….talk to God, ask him what he wants from you on this topic.”

    that our prayer life somehow trumps the direct revelation of God on a matter, that is heresy in the tallest order. The revealed Word of God is to be obeyed without question. In areas where we might not fully understand what the Scripture is saying, we study and pray for direction from the Lord. Never are we to disregard God’s Word in hopes that He will reveal some unique message to us during our personal time of prayer. That is a dangerous path to tread.

    As I mentioned in my earlier post, the Bible is clear on how we treat homosexuals, just like we treat any sinner in need of Redemption. By showing them the Love of Christ in sharing a Gospel message that recognizes their sin and provides a means of escaping the penalty for that sin (through Christ’s atoning death. That is a glorious message that needs no clarification through prayer. Just acceptance by Grace through Faith.

  10. Dereck

    You need to be careful with your posts. From one beleiver to another- you seem to take the role of judge rather than humble follower of Christ.

    1. My apologies, Tony. Scripture is the authority, not me. I was merely trying to share what the Bible has to say. I re-read my posts and did not see any personal attacks in my words. I would ask you to clarify, but I do not want to derail this forum with that. If you contact Rob, he knows my contact info, should you be interested in continuing the discussion. God Bless

      1. It’s not a derailment- how you come across here is how most Christians do. And whether you realize it or not, it is hurtful to many homosexuals. As far as treating homosexuals outside the faith goes, the Bible is very clear. We don’t judge. That is what 1 Corinithians 5 says without question.

        Be careful with the idea that love equates to telling the truth. It’s so much more than that. Be carful about speaking hard truths to people when they haven’t invited that relationship.

        When Paul was talking to a liberal and sinful culture at Mars Hill (notably different from his usual audience of religious Jews) he didn’t make a point of calling out their sins. Rather he introduced them to the God they needed but were missing. I’m sure there were hard conversations, but they came later.

  11. Wow . . . the discussion heats. I know I will receive a little “flack” here, but I would have to agree in the greatest part with Dereck. There must be a final and absolute truth and that truth must govern how we process this situation. That absolute truth is the Word of God.

    My post will probably be a bit lengthy, so please see through the verbosity into my heart. I grew up in a very legalistic/judgmentalist/religious circle. In this circle I saw the obvious dichotomy of “fat” preachers who could preach a topical message about homosexuality, but could never seem to preach a message on gluttony . . . why? Because he was a glutton! I saw the fallacy in this. Evangelical circles have be very guilty of condemning others yet the whole while excusing themselves.

    I see that is a problem that needs immediate attention on the part of the Christian. I find it very interesting that Jesus was the hardest on the religious crowd. I think that in today’s modern context most “fundies” would have separated from Jesus because of His association with the woman at the well, publicans, and sinners. He would probably have made it to the front page of the Sword of the Lord as the newest religious scandal.

    I would have to totally agree with Dereck on reference to points 5 and 6. I don’t think that the scriptures are confusing. I think someone would be hard pressed to look at Romans 1 and be confused. I would partially disagree with Dereck on point 7. Friendships with motives are not true friendships. Although I would never accept homosexuality as being o.k., I can still befriend someone. Jesus was friends with Judas.

    I would also agree with Dereck with the notion that simply praying is not enough. As a Biblicist I believe the Bible is God’s authority. God is not going to lead my through prayer in contradiction to His written Word. I do believe that prayer is essential and probably one of the greatest missing ingredients in how we minister to others. While the absolutes of right and wrong are contained in the Bible, we often forget about the ministry and power of the Holy Spirit. I am convinced if we spent more time in prayer before we dealt with these difficult situations, we might see different results. With that said, God’s character is consistent with His word!

    Rob, I am on the train 100% on #8, which is where I feel we have fallen soooooooo short as believers. Jesus hung out with some pretty messed up people. He hated the sin, but not the sinner.

    Here are some things that I am not sure how to process.

    1. Regardless of how sincere we are, the truth always offends. Yet truth is still truth.

    2. Whether you have hatred in your heart for homosexuals or you are sincere and loving in your approach, the moment you speak out against it, you WILL BE labeled a hater.

    3. Being “sinlessly perfect” does not qualify me as suitable to share truth. Paul spoke out against sin, yet he was a murderer. It would be hard to go through scripture and find many who were used by God and had “perfection” credentials. So does this mean we shouldn’t speak out?

    I shared my dilema with a fellow friend in the ministry lately in dealing with this particular issue. I think the greatest advice given was to be kind or befriend someone. Instead of blatantly condemning the sin of someone I don’t know and forever polarizing them against God and Christianity, begin by simply showing them the love of Christ. We don’t have to make a big deal or production. Simple kind acts may open tremendous doors. Your walk talks far louder than your talk talks. This may open some uncomfortable situations because to effectively be kind to someone, you must spend time with them.

    Be true to the truth. If asked your opinion, don’t shy from God’s Word. On the converse, don’t beat someone over the head with it either. I am not the sin police, God is. I am simply His ambassador. God hates the SIN, but loves the SINNER. I need to be sure that my words and actions are consistent with the one I represent, Jesus Christ.

    Finally, realize that apart from the Holy Spirit real change will never take place. In the religious circles outward conformity has often been mistaken with inner change. This is where I feel that prayer is vital. Can I force someone to respond to the Holy Spirit, NO! Can I pray that He will work in someone’s heart and be confident that He will? YES! How do I know this? God clearly desires repentance on the part of mankind throughout the scriptures. God also clearly says that if I pray according to His will, He will do it. We know it is not God’s will for us to live in sin, and we know it is not God’s will for someone to die in their sin. Therefore, I can confidently know that if I pray for God to intervene in someone’s life He will. What I cannot control is their response.

    Thanks for allowing me to indulge with my epistle. I am still working through my own processes on how to reach out to others without the cloak of piousness or judgmentalism. I am trying to find the balance in speaking the truth in love, and realizing that the truth may not always be readily accepted.

  12. I’m going to answer here instead of attaching it to any one person’s comments because I think we’re already a starting to have some overlap in thoughts.

    First of all (I’m having a little fun here), having watched the Lion King, even though you knew Elton John did most of the music, is not the same as “knowing people that are gay”. What I mean by that phrase is… that you are not only aware of people who are gay and/or lesbian, but they would claim to know you… and as a friend. Not calling anyone out in particular, but my experience has been that most people who say they have gay friends, actually do not.

    Again… I hear much talk of truth here… and I get that. But, as I mentioned in my initial post, most gay and lesbian friends of mine already know what I believe to be truth. In fact, though they may not agree with my version, they are more interested in seeing how that “truth” will affect my ability to see them as a person and love them the way they perceive Jesus would. The difference (as I see it) between speaking truth and judging someone is where that rendering leaves you after its application. Here’s what I mean. After I speak truth… I can immediately (and comfortably and of necessity) get involved in the lives of my friends. Judging someone is easy. All you have to do is drop the bomb of truth, condemn someone because they don’t presently line up with that truth, and continue to distance yourself from them. I have observed this pattern over and over with “truth-tellers”.

    The other push back I’m going to give is to the specificity that so many of you claim to see in the Scripture. I’m not saying there is not some information there to consider. What I am saying is that this issue is certainly not present in Scripture (in any way, shape, or form) to the same degree that many political parties and brands of Christianity pretend that it is by the level of importance it takes in their so-called platform. Jesus never spoke of same-sex concerns. I’m not even saying that I do not draw some of the same conclusions you do from the Scriptures, but at least have the decency to admit that it isn’t one of the most pervasive topics found in the Bible.

    1. Rob, speaking the truth and judging are inseparable. You make a judgment and then decide to share a truth either for or against the judgement you made. The often misused portion of Scripture, about judging does not say “do not judge” then stop. When read in context, it says “do not judge by a standard you are not willing to be judged on yourself.” Once you share a truth with an individual you have already made a judgement against them. The problem I see with many “truth-tellers” as you call them is they do so in such arrogance and pride that the truth is lost on the hearer.

      1. We’re probably just splitting hairs on this one. I agree that when we hit a “this saith the Lord” (as we used to call it), we have a right… even an obligation to make a determination about a person’s behavior. I guess all I’m saying is that there is only one Judge in terms of an ultimate condemnation and that is Jesus Christ, the Righteous.

  13. First, I want to preface this by saying that I am not 100%. Typically, I would edit and re-edit. I am working through the fog of a cold. Therefore, my thoughts may scatter.

    I meant to start off a couple of paragraphs down, but read some more of the responses here. I disagree that there is an absolute right and an absolute wrong, at least fromt he perspective of humans. I believe this is why Jesus spoke in parables. We are supposed to have a personal relationship with God. If Jesus had said that “this” or “that” is exactly what I mean, then His words would have been used as clubs just like other passages in the Bible are used. How can anyone tell me that if I pray fervently and ask God to reveal Himself to me through his Word that what He tells me is any less real than what He tells you or what you believe He tells some religious leader? In fact, the Bible has meant different things to me at different times in my life. It is a living book. Anyway, that is the bulk of my digression.

    Someone said to me several days ago that they just didn’t know what was going to happen if the Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriage. If that happened, she worried that her child might try to be converted to homosexuality. This is a lovely person inside and out. Therefore, I couldn’t just roll my eyes. She truly believed what she was saying. That is sad on a level that I can’t even put into words.

    On any other day I would have probably just listened. However, that day I must admit to being tired and on the verge of getting the worst cold/flu I’ve had in several years. I just responded, “I don’t care.” As in, whether or not gays can marry does not reflect on me, it does not reflect on the church, it does not reflect on our society, even. As a matter of fact, it reflects more on our society that gay marriage is such an issue because the United States is not a theocracy.

    The Ten Commandments lays out the framework of how we are supposed to behave as one of God’s children and I daresay that outside of murder, most of us fail miserably, pretty much every day on the the other nine. And don’t try and shut me down by saying that the fact that we sin does not mean we should condone being gay. No one is asking you to condone being gay. But what tries to pass itself off as responsible Christianity pointing out the error of the homosexual lifestyle comes off as persecution because equal energy is not assigned to other sins carried out by much other sectors of society.

    The bible has been used to justify slavery, to justify disallowing blacks and whites from marrying, to justify not allowing women to vote or own property, and to justify the belief that blacks are inferior to whites.

    The Bible condemns many things, including divorce and children cursing their parents. The punishments are severe. Yet, we do not waste the resources of government trying to enact legislation to target groups that do not adhere to these Biblical principles. Further, we have tempered our interpretation of the Bible on a good many things over the years. Author John Shore says it best, “Heterosexual Christians are being unbiblical by using the clobber passages as justification for applying absolute standards of morality to homosexual “sins” that they themselves are not tempted to commit, while at the same time accepting for themselves a standard of relative morality for those sins listed in the clobber passages that they do routinely commit.”

    Some of the comments I read in response to the original post seem to suggest that to hold any view other than what they believe is heresy. Perhaps if what they are describing is the actual dictionary meaning of the word, it is appropriate. However, I would point out that there were other heretics in history: John Calvin, Martin Luther and even Jesus, himself.

    Yes, Jesus came teaching something counter to what the Pharisees “understood” God’s Word to mean. He tried to explain to them that they were not capable of living up to the requirements of the law. Further, he outlined that they did not even know what the law really meant; i.e., they only understood the outward show of following the law and knew nothing of having a right relationship with God on the inside. So, what did the Pharisees do? They had Jesus crucified.

    Jesus died to fulfill the law once for all. ALL. Do Christians believe that anymore? I wonder.

    I had a cousin (he’s passed) who we all knew was gay from very early on. When we were kids, I remember him taking a towel and wrapping it around his head so that when he swung his head back, the towel looked like long hair. He would then imitate Cher. He was probably 8 or 9 years old. We thought it was funny, and although we knew he was different than other boys it did not seem “wrong” to us children. He was different the way someone born without arms or legs might have been, in that it was not like “us” but it was part of who he was. This particular cousin tried to deny his homosexuality and married. He was miserable and led a miserable life. It all seems so NOT what God envisioned for His children.

    Why are certain Christians so solely focused on getting “gay” legislated out of existence? Why do Christians want to work out faith and salvation through the US government? That is the question I want answered.

    1. Preach Cindy! Great post, Rob. Derek… Get to know someone who is gay. After you’ve shared meals with them and really gotten to know them I think you’ll at the least reconsider the language you use.

      1. Dan, you make a great point. I do need to be considerate with the language I use. I often fail at that. While I do not need to defend my friendships to you I want you to know I have multiple people as friends who are gay. Most are “out” some are private and few really know. With some of these I have shared meals, prayer, handshakes and even an embrace as they struggle with this particular temptation. I have also shared some of my own sinful struggles with them. I also am personally connected and know unsaved people who have chosen the homosexual lifestyle. We have laughed together, worked together etc., but thanks anyway for the admonition, I guess.

  14. My explanations above included some poorly worded paragraphs, I can see that in hindsight. Instead of “heresy” I should have used the word “mistake”, sorry about that.

    Also, as Jason pointed out above, I did not mean to imply that I have ulterior motives in my friendships. The Biblical motivation for all relationships should be to point the other to Christ, considering them even before yourself. I wish I would have used better wording in that paragraph as well.

    The Bible says that God envisioned His children as loving, serving, and worshiping Him. The struggles that people have against sinful behavior can lead us to miserable lives which lack joy. That is one reason why the message of salvation is so powerful, in Christ we do not have to be slaves to sin. According to the words of Christ, love for Him is demonstrated through obedience and while our finite minds can’t comprehend everything the Bible has to say, the Bible is clear on many things. Homosexuality is not a trait you are born with (i.e. eye color, skin tone, etc) it is a sinful choice (just as any sexual relationship that occurs outside of biblically defined marriage is). Actually, Jesus did speak of this topic as well as the Apostle Paul.

    Cindy, Jesus did perfectly fulfill the law, amen to that, I totally agree. As such, we are still given the commands to be like Christ, keep unstained from sinful society, etc., so while we are not under the curse or minutia of the Law believers must still uphold the Gospel message, the veracity of the Scriptures and strive to be like Christ. Another great point you made, Cindy, was that it is not the job of government to enact laws to change the moral character of its citizens. I believe the federal government should stay out of the business of marriage and many other things as well. I believe true forgiveness and repentance from sin comes from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Instead of using government to try and make their environment more comfortable to be “saved” in, Christians should be giving more effort to living, loving and sharing Christ to their neighbors, coworkers, etc.

    1. D, you said “Homosexuality is not a trait you are born with (i.e. eye color, skin tone, etc) it is a sinful choice…” The jury is still out on this one. Do you not agree that there is at least some ambiguity as it relates to the go-to passages of Scripture that we often use to talk about this subject?

      1. Rob, I do not believe the jury is still out on this one. I am convinced that theory is a deception that has been propagated to make acceptable what God has stated is not acceptable. I equate it (though not exactly, equal) to “science” saying that a baby in a mother’s womb is a fetus and not a baby. Basically cultural reprogramming by a society being manipulated by the Devil. I would have to respectfully disagree about the ambiguity. I believe a normal interpretation of the text will bring you to obvious conclusions on the matter.

  15. Galileo was tried by the Inquisition, found suspect of heresy, forced to recant his belief that the earth revolved around the sun, spent the rest of his life under house arrest, and his book was banned by the church. All because the church had adopted Aristotle’s idea that everything revolved around the earth which seemed to jive with scripture. That’s all I really need to know. The church gets things wrong. Often people are persecuted for it.

    There is such a fear that having to look at parts of the bible with a different understanding will somehow undermine the authority of scripture or Christianity itself such that people will reject sound science because of that fear. Prayer and an open heart are the only way to get to the truth that our human brains can comprehend. And sometimes God imprints a knowledge on my heart that cannot be explained but only for a fleeting moment. Perhaps that is how God is working through this issue, one prayerful heart at a time.

    1. Rob, I know you have made a new post regarding Easter, so I don’t want to continue to belabor the point. First the video above is EXCELLENT! Secondly, let’s take the time to look at scripture and see what it says about the subject.

      Romans 1:24-27 (ESV)
      24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
      26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

      Lev 18:22
      22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.

      Lev 20:13
      If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.

      1 Cor 6:9-11
      Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

      Not to be a Bible thumper here (I used the ESV since most thumpers use the KJV! – LOL)! When you look even at this small window of scripture you would be hard pressed to say that the Bible is ambiguous on the matter!

      In regards to being born with it. I lean strongly in the direction that Dereck subscribes to. I feel the video above clears the matter quite well. Because of Adam’s sin, we have all been plunged into sin. Whatever your sin struggles may be, they all find their common denominator in the fall. After watching the video above I don’t know that I would ever argue whether or not someone was “born” gay or not. Having a propensity in that direction is not the issue. The decision to consumate it is.

      Every man alive can say that he was born with lust in his heart, but that does not give him the carte blanche to indulge in his weakness just because he has been plagued with this sexual appetite.

      Postmodernism is a dangerous slope especially when dealing with matters of the Bible. A neutral ground explanation of postmodernism:

      “Postmodernism is “post” because it is denies the existence of any ultimate principles, and it lacks the optimism of there being a scientific, philosophical, or religious truth which will explain everything for everybody – a characterisitic of the so-called “modern” mind.”
      (source http://www.pbs.org/faithandreason/gengloss/postm-body.html)

      We must embrace the final authoritative truth – The Bible. Once we have carefully and (hermeneutically) correctly determined God’s mind on the matter, we have an obligation to live within the confines of what we have learned. Biblically, once we have understood truth, we are accountable for that truth.

      Again, although we may be in possession of truth, it does not obligate us to police the world for it’s shortcomings. We must pair grace with truth. Truth may still offend, but it is imperative that our delivery not offend.

      In my opinion I would like to pair the sandwich method with both Rob’s and Dereck’s point of view. To be completely honest Rob, I feel like you were a bit soft in the area of taking a definitive stand on what the Bible says. I will be careful to say that in my opinion, there is no wiggle room for interpretation on how God feels about homosexuality. I believe that there are many “issues” in religious circles that have dogmatically been defended with lacking scriptural support. Unfortunately, I don’t think this particular subject warrants lack of scriptural support. Lack of scriptural “quantity” also does not dismiss the matter either. All we need is one absolutely clear passage in order to know where to stand. So . . . back to making my sandwich. Where I feel like Rob excels is in the area of compassion and understanding. Sympathy (hopefully not empathy . . . LOL). For far too long in evangelical circles we have heartlessly condemned when that is never what God called us to do. How much more open of an audience would we have if we genuinely showed the love of Christ to someone. They may not like our stand, but would be much more inclined to listen to us because our walk talked louder than our talk talked.

      So here’s the sandwich. Take 2 tremendous slices of Rob’s bread of compassion, and Christlike selfless love and insert one slice of Dereck’s absolute truth. Share how God feels about the matter, not our own personal opinion and then allow the Holy Spirit help our audience to digest what they have eaten. There may sometimes be a bit of indigestion, because no one likes to be told that they are wrong.

      Thanks all for your post in this section. This particular subject is something we all face on a very personal level and must be challenged to find where we Biblically fit on the matter. Thanks everyone for making me think. There are a few things I will be handling differently in the future because of your insights.

      1. Jason, your description of the sandwich brings my mind to 1 Corinthians 13. Well said. I pray that I did not give the impression that a lack of humility and love was an acceptable means of sharing Gospel Truth.

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