I realize that writing or saying something in any public medium on homosexuality and Christianity is the equivalent of pouring honey on myself and running in the Yukon by the grizzly habitat. I’m going to get attacked. This is an incredibly sensitive subject for many for a variety of reasons. Whatever I write, I want it to be filled with grace, truth, humility, and compassion. I’m not writing this because I believe I have all the answers on this subject. I’m writing this for my church family to read and pray through the issues our culture and churches are facing today. I’m writing so that our minds and hearts will turn toward the Word of God and that we would not make decisions based on emotion or tradition, but on the authority of Scripture that does not change.
As you know, our great state of North Carolina is voting next month (May 8th) on a constitutional amendment (Amendment One) defining marriage as the union between one man and one woman. The very fact that this is something that has to be debated and voted on says a lot about what has transpired over the last 20 years in our American culture. No matter where you stand on Amendment One, everyone would agree that the last 20 years could be described as the rise of homosexuality in America. What once was forbidden and never discussed is now on full display on most television shows and movies. As someone who has grown up in the church my whole life, it has been an incredible development to see.
Let’s be honest. The evangelical church is scared to death about this issue. In two decades we’ve seen a huge shift in public opinion on homosexuality. A behavior that has been generally accepted by the church and Christianized cultures as a sin for almost 2,000 years, has now become normalized, and more than that, promoted. In fact, the growing sentiment, especially, among the younger generation is that the real sin now is to call homosexuality a sin. We’ve seen the world turn upside down on this issue, which makes most Christians feel uncomfortable about what is happening. One of the worst things that anyone can be called today is a racist. It’s the black death to someone’s social standing and even one’s career if that label gets put on you. To be called a homophobe is becoming the equivalent of being called a racist today (at least that’s what the liberal academia and media is pushing). Evangelicals are scared about the world their kids and grandkids are going to grow up in.
As the church has seen the explosion of the homosexual agenda before our eyes, I have to admit that the American Evangelical Church has done a lousy job of confronting this issue. With everything we need to speak the truth in love, expressing uncompromising biblical truth in a loving, gracious way. We’ve waxed eloquent from behind our pulpits on how the Bible teaches homosexuality is a sin, yet many have made no effort to even talk to someone who identifies themselves as gay or lesbian. I believe the church’s first mistake was to demonize the victims of AIDS and HIV during the 80’s and 90’s. Instead of reaching out to those who were heading towards death’s door and telling them about Jesus and the gospel, the prevalent attitude among conservative Christians was, “They are getting what they deserve”. How hypocritical of us to think in such a way. All of us deserve death. All of us deserve judgement. It’s only through the rich and abundant mercy and grace of Jesus that we escape what we deserve. We segregated the gospel from the homosexual community. We hid the riches of Christ from those who needed it most and made them sit in the back of the bus.
Here’s what we have to realize today: The church has failed to effectively represent Christ to those who identify themselves as homosexuals. Liberal churches cheered on the movement and conservative, evangelical churches ignored or demonized the movement. Both groups failed (by and large) at confronting sin and sharing the gospel of Jesus. I remember one time leading a discussion about the issue of homosexuality in my youth group. It was about 10 years ago. The venom and attitude that most of the students had toward this sin was astounding. I thought to myself, “If there’s any young teenager that is struggling with homosexual feelings, there is no way that they would ever come out and share them now”. The church has to be a safe place and an effective place to openly confess our sin. It needs to be safe to confess and it needs to effectively lead the repentant sinner to the cross where God does his amazing, sanctifying work. Unfortunately, many churches have dropped the ball in regards to being a safe and effective place to deal with our own personal sins. I’m not trying to bash the church. Please don’t think that. There are some churches that have done things the right way. That are showing grace and truth to the homosexual community, but it’s not happening enough. If there’s one hope for our country and our world, it’s the church of Jesus Christ that is living in the power of God’s Word through God’s Spirit.
This whole blog entry today was to serve as an introduction and to call us as a church to repentance. Maybe you need to repent of having unbiblical attitudes towards those who identify themselves as gay or lesbian, thinking that they don’t deserve the gospel of Jesus or God’s forgiveness. Maybe you need to repent for not having enough faith that God can change anyone, no matter what their sexual preference. I do think it would be good that we ask God to root out any beliefs in our heart that have been more shaped by culture and tradition than the Word of God.
In my next post we’ll discuss the biblical reasons why Christians hold to a narrow view of holiness in regards to sexual activity and identity. Then, we’ll discuss what the big deal is with gay marriage and why I believe the battle for marriage was lost 30 years ago. Finally, I’ll conclude with some thoughts on how the gospel can change the trajectory of our nation. As always, I look forward to your comments and questions.