The Church and Homosexuals

Yes, that’s right. For the constant readers who have followed me from blog to blog, this issue is definitely old hat. So I apologize. For everyone else, I have a story:

A few years ago I was an assistant youth pastor at a moderately small rural church. There was a fairly large and vibrant youth group, and in that group were two kids. We’ll call them Jane and Henry. Jane was a slightly sweet but kind of mean pretty girl, who was found to be having sex with her morally squishy boyfriend. Henry was a sweet-as-candy gentle boy who was kind to everyone, not in a relationship but questioning his sexuality. He faced these questions with an immense amount of guilt and fear, wondering why he couldn’t just be the way he was “supposed to”, terrified that God would judge and punish him, and horrified that he was a disappointment to his church and family. Which one of these kids should have been embraced by the Church, loved and comforted? The answer is simple because the answer is BOTH. Yet Jane was brought back into the fold with tears and sympathy despite the fact that her attitude belied her words and she was more or less unrepentant. Henry, despite his ambivalence and self-hatred, was ostracized.

I feel that I shouldn’t have to explain how wrong this is, yet this scenario is played out from church to church without a second thought to its rightness. Sin is Sin and God is God, and may I remind everyone that 1st John makes it INFINITELY clear that God is Love. We are to love, first off, we are to allow God to be our Judge secondly, and we are to forgive all as we wish to be forgiven. I am baffled by the fact that people live as if homosexuality is somehow on a plane above and beyond other sins. I have seen murderers and child abusers welcomed back in to the fold with less questions that one would ask of a reformed homosexual- and yes, I said reformed.

I have also seen adulterers and gossips embraced while unrepentant. And yet… must I keep repeating myself? I don’t even care if the homosexual says they are at peace with their lifestyle and deny conviction- if a heterosexual came in to the church saying that they were at peace with living in sin, we’d accept it. We should do the same, across the board, equally- or we should judge all the same.

I know as well as all of my dear readers that most churches aren’t ready to be heavy handed about demanding repentance, because most churches realize that we are a flawed people and we all live with some kind of sin. The churches that are heavy handed (May I just say… Westoboro) are largely ostracized and condemned. We know why that is. It is because we realize that only God should judge.

So why, oh why, do we continue to judge when it comes to homosexuality? We should love and embrace, forgive and respect, see the good and not the bad, with the same temperance we do to any multitude of sins every day.

So there you have it, WordPress. The gays are not my enemy. In fact, some of them are my very good friends.

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31 thoughts on “The Church and Homosexuals

  1. Thank you for this post. Also thank you for not condeming us GLBT.
    I think what you wrote about the ‘church’ is right on. I do belive that some GLB (I don’t know a whole lot about transgendered) are not GLB. I think that in their lives there has been an sexual act, witness to an abusive relationship, etc. that has mared their perception of what a relationship could be. Therefore they seek solice in the same gendered relationship, or because their abuser is of the same gender and they were sexually aroused they think ‘I must be____’
    Just my thoughts.

  2. Thanks for your comment. I agree- there are some people who feel motivated or forced into same sex attraction, some are just curious, and some say that they always felt different. I believe all of those reasons. My thoughts on whether or not homosexuality should be considered a sin would take up a few more posts, though, so for now I’ll just leave it at that. 🙂 I’ve noticed that Christians are more open to listening to my views if I don’t hedge around the fact that it is still widely viewed as sinful, so I don’t mince words.

    I honestly don’t care if people think it is a sin- that’s still no excuse for being hateful or judgmental. Gluttony is a sin and often condemned in the Bible, and we don’t ostracize people who supersize their value meals.

  3. Recently I’ve ended up discussing the topic of sexuality with a fairly right-wing conservative who has affiliations with a Christian group called Positive Alternatives to Homosexuality (PATH). Now I’ve looked at PATH’s website and I had to admit their website was very carefully worded. They didn’t say that all homosexuals needed to be reformed, (though they didn’t say that not all did either) they simply said they were there for those homosexuals who didn’t want to pursue that alternative lifestyle, which I can accept. I’m not so naive to think that some people don’t want to embrace those urges. Happiness is a transient and ephemeral concept after all.
    Personally I think that there should be a few more groups like PATH sponsored by churches, but it’s hard to be helpful and non-judgmental with issues like these, and even if you can be you’re under-fire from both sides of the fence because you’re either promoting Christian homosexuality, or persecuting gays, we both know how fine a line that would be to tread. The organization might be able to be non-denominational and that leads to it’s own hurdles.
    So ultimately it’s such a touchy subject because so many Christians are scared that if they talk to the boy and try to help him sort things out they’re entering unsure and dangerous terrain. The whole morally ambiguousness of it all along with the fact that homosexuality is so highly publicized and politicized mean that treading that fine line can land not just you but your whole church in hot water from many special interest groups. That’s a hard pill to swallow for most, espeically since most church-goer’s greatly fear is being ostracised by their peers; why would they take that risk, when there are so many other causes they can be praised for? Political and social pressure is a scary hurdle, and while God says the easy path is not the guaranteed path to heaven, the path of questionable sexual identity is seen as bad news for everyone, and so for the greater good one child is left to suffer out in the cold…

    Which is very sad.

  4. @lesbiansaidwhat:
    I think that in their lives there has been an sexual act, witness to an abusive relationship, etc.

    That is the basis (from what I understand) for the “induced homosexuality” argument, which I find incredibly offensive. It seems to be advanced by the psychological community in response to the “ex-gay” movement to discredit their efforts.

    It seems to say, “you do not experience real homosexuality. You are not a part. You are fake. You are false,” etc.

    I have had enough problems with activist groups saying “you’re bisexual and therefore just exercising the het privilege”, society in general assuming people MUST be gay or straight and anything in between is deceptive, self-loathing, and contemptible; and in general, just being caught in the crossfire.

    @Tony:

    they simply said they were there for those homosexuals who didn’t want to pursue that alternative lifestyle, which I can accept.

    This was the road I took, and I sincerely hope that more “ex-gay” groups hold strictly to this philosophy. I won’t deny that homosexuality remains a part of my experience, but living the lifestyle was not the best option for me. I don’t want to force my choices on anyone; but rather invite others to have a look if they aren’t happy with the way things are going. It’s not for everyone, but I can confidently say it’s working for me.

  5. Tony: There is a risk with taking any kind of a stance in regards to Homosexuality. What I have managed, by both saying “I understand it’s seen as sin” as well as, “people can live the life they want and we’ve still got to love them” isn’t easily done by a Church or any organization. People accept my perceived ambivalence because I’m an individual.

    I think what PATH is doing is great- because honestly there are times where people do feel that they would have chosen a different life for themselves, if given the choice. I have two wonderful male friends in RL who used to be gay and chose to live a different lifestyle for various reasons. It takes a lot of strength and support, and certainly isn’t for everyone.

    jaklumen: I think that regardless of whether or not people have a “reason” for having the inner drive that they do, a lot can be gained from the Church admitting that the drive is genuine and cannot simply be switched off. Whether or not a man is gay because his mother was overbearing and his father comforting, older boys sexually abused and aroused him on the playground or he simply doesn’t feel an attraction to women is inconsequential! The truth is that the struggle and stigmas are genuine and deep for him, and that is what matters.

    Of course you understand that. I just want you to know that I do, too.

  6. Well… sometimes it helps us to look at triggers, to consider possible causes, etc.

    But you are 100% right. It is there. I admit it may always be there, possibly until the day I die, even after. What is important to me is making peace with the past, making sure old hurts don’t remain in the present, and living the good life I am living right now– for it IS a good life.

    Thanks again for your thoughts.

  7. The one thing I always ask people who think gayness is a “choice”: Ok, so why don’t you choose to be attracted to the same sex, and only that sex, for one day?

    I mean just feel attracted, not actually act upon it. Since when did the Bible ever say temptation was as evil as sin? As long as it remains temptation, and we do not even entertain the thought, is it a sin? No.

  8. Jaklu
    The psychological community dosn’t have a problem with homosexuality, it isn’t in the DSM, it’s not considered a mental disorder…I didn’t say all I said some.
    There are some GLBT people who have been abused etc who just happen to be a person who was abused.
    I think that people are born GLBT over all.

  9. MILD TANGENT
    “I know as well as all of my dear readers that most churches aren’t ready to be heavy handed about demanding repentance, because most churches realize that we are a flawed people and we all live with some kind of sin.”

    I think that our churches suffer from spiritual poverty due in part to the failure to uphold the necessity of regular repentance. The recognition of our constant battle with sin, throughout this life, points to the need of it. The lack of it darkens our eyes to the true beauty and love of the gospel and we appreciate our ultimate victory in Christ less.

    Christ calls sinners to belief and repentance in order to receive eternal life and so I think the church, in his name, should ask nothing less.

    BACK ON TOPIC
    I think that homosexuality being singled out is not biblically consistent. Sin, in all forms, should be addressed for what it is. That being said, the church should be known for loving and respecting all people and not giving special treatment.

  10. In regards to Jersey’s last comment–

    First, the Bible does suggest that we not dabble with temptation (…lead us not into temptation…, Matthew 6:13) not because it is evil, but because we are weak and temptation easily can lead to sin.

    Secondly, I do think that asking someone to “choose” to have an homosexual attraction is on par with asking someone to “choose” to have an awful temper or to be extremely lazy. The fact is some people are inclined toward these behaviors and some are not. I think that the same applies to homosexuality. The curse affects us all in different ways, both in our nature and how we were nurtured. Yet Christ overcomes all obstacles in bringing victory to those who trust in him. Not that we will ever be perfect in this life, but that we know he will finish the good work he has begun in us (Philippians 1:5-7).

  11. Jersey: I think that’s a very interesting question to ask. The truth is that most people would probably vehemently fight against such a suggestion because they would find it in poor taste, to say the least. I think that shows a lot about the mindset. There are a lot of heterosexual people that find the mere implication of homosexual attraction disgusting. It’s worth dwelling on why there is that reaction to homosexuality but not heterosexual promiscuousness, which is equally if not more condemned in the Bible.

    mmiller925: I’m not saying that churches shouldn’t hold their congregations accountable, not in the LEAST! There should be more accountability and true discipleship. It is simply that these things should come as a result of a healthy relationship between member and elder, and can’t be seen as a prerequisite to attendance. Churches don’t turn people away from the door and say, “you have to be less fat”, but there are churches that turn people away and say, “just be less gay.” Sin is sin, God is God, we don’t get to pick and choose.

  12. I totally agree with you.

    I have a cousin who is gay, and I have met and visited with his friends who are gay as well. I can’t speak for all people who are gay of course, but…

    My cousin and his friends are very nice people. And yet if they walked into a church on Sunday, and openly stated they are gay they would probably be asked to leave.

    It’s so wrong.

    Why to Christians focus on small tiny little parts of the bible and make them huge issues. Things like homosexuality, spanking, and submission of women become almost more important to them than the gift of salvation.

    And yes I am a Christian, but my views make me pretty well unacceptable in any church, so I don’t go.

    But before anyone reading this says “she’s not a christian”.

    Didn’t Jesus say “Follow me”. He didn’t give them some pamphlet that Billy Grahm had written.

  13. mmiller925: Glad we’re on the same page!

    thixiasviews: I understand what it is like to feel without a home when it comes to Church, I’ve had periods of my life where I was pretty unpopular with people of the Faith as well. And Jesus did say, “follow me”, meanwhile he was eating with the sinners. Sometimes following God takes us to places we weren’t expecting or prepared for.

  14. As usual, I like your perspective, even as a non believer. I think as long as people think of homosexuality as a “lifestyle” choice, the judging will continue. Love is not a sin. Until people get that through their thick skulls, it’ll never change.

  15. Shushy, on this: “I agree – there are some people who feel motivated or forced into same sex attraction, some are just curious, and some say that they always felt different.”

    You know, I’m sorry. I don’t believe that first part. I’ve never met any LBGT person that has ever said that. I really cannot tell you how many gay/lesibian/bi and even transgenders I’ve known in my life. I grew up around gay people, they were my adult friends as a child just like my parent’s straight friends and I only knew what it was because my parents never hid it from me. My mom’s bookkeeper was a 350 lb bull dyke. She used to take me to the movies and out for ice cream and never once did we discuss her current relationships or being gay because I was a child. There are no groups that exist in this world that try to PROMOTE homosexuality. There is NO pressure to be gay. If anything, there is only pressure to NOT be gay. Unless we are discussing to phenomenon of late-life lesbianism, which does happen, people do not just up and decide to be gay or bi or tran. And they only have lived through their lives feeling different from others because as culture we have gone out of our way to make them different. But they aren’t different from us straights at all. The instinct is not curiosity, it’s human nature. It’s been around since the beginning of time – since before the Bible was even written. And what’s even more curious about LGBT issues is that the instincts DO happen in the straight world. There was been studies done that have shown that there is only about 20% of the human population that can actually say that they are 100% straight OR 100% gay. The rest of us fall somewhere in the middle, a gray area of biological human instinct, most of which isn’t even acted upon and, like any other healthy sexual feeling that doesn’t harm anyone, is natural. I am a firm believer that our sexuality rules us in many ways, its not until we try and take that away from people that problems are created. I’ll shut up now 😉

  16. DKN: I’ve known a few gay men who did say they felt subconsciously motivated or forced into it as a response to things that happened when they were kids- not from outside forces, certainly, but an internal drive caused by some odd experiences. I wouldn’t say that is the majority or even a large number of LGTBs, just “some”. A few. The vast majority of homosexuals I’ve spoken to say they always felt a little different or strange, until they discovered themselves and learned to accept their sexuality.

    That’s what I was speaking out of- the subconscious drive, certainly not a belief that other people can force someone into homosexuality. I don’t believe in a vast conspiracy or agenda. Honestly, so many homosexuals face a tremendous struggle to “revert” to the “proper” heterosexuality, I don’t think there’s a one of them that would wish that struggle on someone else.

  17. OK, I see what you are saying.

    “I’ve known a few gay men who did say they felt subconsciously motivated or forced into it as a response to things that happened when they were kids- not from outside forces, certainly, but an internal drive caused by some odd experiences.”

    I guess I just I don’t see the difference between that and being born gay, like the majority you are referring to – thats probably where the internal drive comes from. As for things happening…well…who the heck knows what that could be. Children are sexual beings, too. They have their own world when it comes to sex and hormones that we often forget about as adults, once we hit puberty. All I remember is making my Barbie dolls “do it”, having kissing contests with boys in day care and going on fake dates with my bossy neighbor Kim who would always force me to be the boy :-/ LOL!

  18. You know how much I love everything you write and how much I admire you and respect you….and I reckon this is a great post….only I wonder why the need of writing things like this…?
    If instead of judging, condemning, casting off (and a 10000 of other horrendous words) ALL religions (not only Christians) would worry a bit more with spreading the love (to all, to God, to others, to nature, and so on), helping one another…..maybe we would be living a better world.
    Whoever I(anyone) have sex , or decide to love and share my life with shouldn’t be the worry of others…
    but then again, we know how the human race does not know to learn lessons…..we still live in war…

  19. Christians view homosexuality as sinful and that is why marriage should not be allowed between them. But if it is just a sin shouldn’t the ban be extended to all sinners?

    I mean unbelief for just one example? Should we argue that atheists can’t get married because of their sin.

    It does not make sense

  20. Red Wine Gums: You are absolutely right. The question, to me, is not if marriage is between a man and a woman or open to all- it is if marriage is a purely religious institution or under the discernment of the state- if marriage is a purely civil right it should be given to all. If it is purely religious, the state should not be able to marry ANYONE.

  21. How right you are that currently homosexuality is being held up into a higher plane of much more serious sin by the church. Focus on the Family’s “Truth Project”, from the limited introduction DVD I’ve viewed, seems ready to foist this opinion upon as many as their pyramid scheme will allow over the next 2 years. Wait for it!

  22. If someone who has chosen to live the homosexual life style and honestly sought forgiveness my church would accept as any church should.

    It doesn’t matter what the sin is. Sin is sin and separates one from God. The church is a place where people gather to worship God and to be welcomed with open arms. But the church also must not condone sin of any sort. People must have a truly repentant heart and no one should be rejected by the church.

    Lesbian Said What, I noticed in your reply you mentioned abuse. Were you abused?

  23. Sane: The problem is that people don’t really choose their sexual orientation. That boy I spoke of in this post, he would have never in a million years chosen the struggle he ended up with- so when one says “choosing homosexuality is sin” it causes him and thousands others like him indescribable pain.

    We must rephrase this discussion not in terms of what is wrong but what is best. It is best that people grow in life and love, it is best that we come closest to the ideal of what God would desire for us… if we constantly focus in so closely on where we all fall short, it is easy to get mired in despair. Such as when I think about my competitiveness, my stubbornness, my tendency to “over” feel things, I would easily fall into a place where I despise and hate myself. It would seem insurmountable to come to the point where I felt that I was approaching holiness or my whole potential. So instead of focusing on the failings of my mentality, I focus on my good points and the areas I can grow in.

    When we focus only on people’s homosexuality to the point of ignoring all that is good, we do ourselves and them a disservice. Instead of saying, “you must abolish this sin” (something I hope that you would agree could take decades, as sexual orientation cannot be reprogrammed overnight) why not focus on all of the areas where we can bring them closer to God, and allow God to woo them?

  24. I don’t focus on someones homosexuality. But if they are going to flaunt it and be proud of it then I will call them on it.

    In order for someone to come to God and be willing to be cleansed by His grace they must be broken first. Take the conversion of Paul it took God to knock him off his horse and place scales on his eyes for him to see.

    God breaks people down, then molds them in the way he wants them to be.

    What is best is that someone needs to see how filthy their sin is so they can then see they need to be redeemed from that sin.

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