Today the Christian Chronicle published an article entitled Homosexuality and the church by Bobby Ross Jr.
Here are some additional thoughts:
- It’s important for Christians to learn how to respond to those struggling with same-sex attraction because we haven’t been doing so very well. It is important for us to learn to distinguish between sexual orientation and sexual practice. The truth is the Bible says absolutely nothing about homosexual orientation - that topic is never treated in scripture. When biblical writers mention the sin of homosexuality, they are talking specifically about practice – not orientation. Unfortunately, many Christians have treated people struggling with same-sex attraction insensitively because they’ve confused orientation (i.e. struggling with attraction) with practice (i.e. seeking to fulfill homosexual longings).
- I’ve never met a gay person who chose to be gay, but many Christians ignorantly believe that sexual orientation is a choice and that gay people have simply made a rebellious one. Orientation is not a choice – only actions are (that is, the way one responds to their orientation). We must distinguish between orientation and action, and must avoid sending gay people the message that they simply need to “stop being gay” to be loved by God.
- I lived in San Francisco, CA, and my first Bible study there was with a transgendered male in his 60s who grew up being sexually abused by his Catholic priest and members of his family. Not all, but many individuals who struggle with same-sex attraction I’ve known experienced abuse of some kind as children.
- I think people are becoming more open to conversation about homosexuality in the church simply because the conversation is playing out in our culture (news, media, mainstream church life, etc.). Unfortunately, many Christians seem to think homosexual practice is vastly different from other sins but it isn’t. All of us struggle with something – all of us need to be loved and steered toward Jesus in our own unique ways. What business do we have looking down on others simply because their struggle differs from our own?
- Some people get off track talking about homosexual orientation and biology. They think if scientists can find a “gay gene” that will serve as some kind of evidence that homosexual practice is okay because “God created people that way”. Today, I am a drug addict. I am not a practicing drug addict, but I’m still a drug addict and will always be a drug addict – that’s my “orientation”. While science has not proven a concrete link between genetics and homosexual orientation, it has proven a link between genetics and the proclivity toward addictive and/or alcoholic behavior. I believe I was born with that proclivity. Does that mean it’s okay for me to spend my lifetime drunk and high – since “God created me that way”? Absolutely not. If science does prove there’s a link between homosexual orientation and genetics, it will provide insight but ultimately will not matter. The Bible condemns homosexual practice – not orientation (biologically driven or otherwise) – and Christians must learn that truth.
- A ministry colleague of mine administrates an email newsletter for about 200 other Church of Christ preachers that serves as a resource exchange (members share sermon outlines, bulletin articles, etc.). When I was living in San Francisco, a country preacher shared a bulletin article he’d written railing against “the homosexuals” and how Christians must stand up to condemn the “homosexual agenda”. I responded by stating that instead of writing articles broadly condemning “the homosexuals”, we might see if we can become a friend to those with that struggle so that we can minister to them. The preacher responded harshly saying he was sorry to see that I’d “gone soft” on the sin of homosexuality. Remember now, this was when I was living and working in San Francisco. That little exchange was upsetting to me, but also typical of many Christians I’ve encountered. Why in the world would a gay person want to subject themselves to that kind of treatment? Give me a break.
- Love is the answer. Yes, homosexual behavior is sinful, but that doesn’t mean people struggling with it are unworthy of love – just the opposite. We must love them out of that sin and stop burning bridges before they are built.
SALLY GARY & CENTERPEACE
Sally Gary is doing important, front line ministry advancing conversation and thought related to this issue. If you are unfamiliar with Sally’s work, please visit centerpeace.net and check out what she’s doing. You’re also encouraged to pick up Sally’s book Loves God, Likes Girls - a very personal story that details her own struggle with same-sex attraction. Go here to ‘like’ CenterPeace on Facebook.
Sally facilitated two sessions for us at the 2013 CMU Workshop at Harding University. If you’d like to listen to those free of charge, you can access them here.
- The Overflow: Homosexuality and the Church – Q & A with John Copeland
- Christian Chronicle: Homosexuality and the church
- Christian Chronicle: Same-sex attraction – Q & A with Key Voices
- Christian Post: ‘Loves God, Likes Girls’ Author Talks Myths Christians Believe About Same-Sex Attraction