Fewer topics are more divisive within Christian communities than homosexuality. It is a volatile issue, splitting and dividing denominations and those who comprise them. Most church leaders would just as soon ignore the issue than take it head-on. Those that do, however, tend to fall into two camps.
On the extreme right, there are folks like Fred Phelps who broadcast the message, “God hates fags.” (It’s painful to even write those words.)
On the opposite side of the spectrum, denominations like the Episcopal Church USA proudly ordain openly gay men like Gene Robinson.
Talk about polarizing!
Consequently, our lack of clarity has only weakened the Church’s moral voice. And in most cases Christians have lost the right to be heard by the gay community, which is tragic.
It is tragic because the Christian message is primarily one of human flourishing, hope, restoration, and redemption.
- It upends the curse of the fall, rescuing humanity from the slavery of sin and death.
- It restores relationships and maintains social order.
- It is the pathway toward true forgiveness.
- It sets in motion a healing process that will one day culminate in the believer’s perfection.
- It enables us to understand the world as it really is.
- It provides substantive hope for a suffering world.
- And it frees the soul to truly live.
Yet that message can’t get through in part because the Church can’t seem to get on the same page.
I believe an authentic expression of Christ compels followers to embrace the tensions of both extremes: indignation on the one hand and acceptance on the other.
Each contains a grain of truth, but both are encumbered with a ton of baggage. Somehow we have to find a way to hit the sweet spot — that delicate balance of honoring truth with grace.
I also believe homosexuality is the most important social issue facing the church in North America. The reason is because this community is perhaps the hardest to love.
It takes a truck-load of prayer, patience, discipline, and self-examination to represent God well to gay individuals. We all carry emotional baggage, which means that before we can begin to deal with other people’s junk we must first deal with out own. Such maturity requires an awful lot of personal growth and development. But if we can learn to responsibly minister to gay individuals, I am convinced it will dramatically improve our overall witness.
So the ten million dollar question is “How should Christians respond to gay individuals in a way that honors both them and biblical truth so that we can earn the right to be heard?”
I have a few thoughts on the matter, but I’ll share them in another post. In the meantime, I welcome your thoughts on what I’ve raised so far.
1. What do you agree or disagree with concerning my comments thus far?
2. Why, in your opinion, is it so hard to represent God well to gay individuals?