To Those Who Are Gay, Become as One Who Is Gay
I bring up the topic of homosexuality quite a bit on this blog, and I ask myself why sometimes. Why do I feel such a burden for sexual minorities? Such a need to listen to their experiences and read about their stories and express what I’ve learned in writing? I can’t really say why except to wonder if it is a burden God himself has placed on my heart. Or maybe it’s because I feel like I have to seriously overcompensate, because most church people I know don’t listen at all. Or maybe…maybe it’s just that I’ve always felt compassion for those who have been treated unfairly. And in this day and this society and this time, precious few people groups have been treated more unfairly by the Church than the LGBT community.
A little while ago, I discovered Stephen’s Sacred Tension blog. I started reading it…and I couldn’t stop. His words struck me so deeply and filled me with a boiling rage because of what my fellow Christians are responsible for, and what we will have to answer for one day. And I thought about all the things that conservative Christians I know have to say about homosexuality, such as flippantly comparing it to adultery, or defining it exclusively in terms of sexual urge. And even more subtle jabs, such as talking about how gay feelings are something that can be healed by God, and that if a person hasn’t experienced that healing, it means they haven’t surrendered their will to the Lord and submitted to the process of sanctification.
One post in particular that Stephen wrote got me thinking pretty hard about what it means to love. Here’s an excerpt:
“I am not asking you to change your beliefs. I am asking you to see that your beliefs have consequences. If you are conservative when it comes to this subject, my intent is not to convince you that homosexuality is right in God’s eyes.
Instead, my goal is to convince you of the price of your words, because there is a price – a terrible price. Most Christians believe they speak eloquently and wisely on this topic, but as long as they fail to realize the cost of their words, they will be babbling uselessly to those who are practically dying to hear the gospel of love. My goal is to show you what it really means when you say, “homosexuality is a sin.”
No matter what you mean to say, what is often heard (and what I often heard) when Christians condemned homosexuality was not a condemnation of sex, but a condemnation of love.
A condemnation of having someone to be with in your old age.
Of having someone warm to be with you at night.
Of having someone to raise a family with.”
I hate to say it, but most conservative Christians are entirely insensitive to how members of the LGBT community perceive the message that homosexuality is a sin. And I wonder if this is because they are afraid—afraid to have their own perspective challenged, afraid to wonder what it will mean to admit that gay people do not associate being gay with sex and promiscuity so much as they associate it with their capacity love another person romantically. Because if Christians admit that, then suddenly the whole game changes. Suddenly what they’re asking LGBT people for when they ask them not to sin isn’t just to quit sleeping around. They’re asking them to give up on marriage, and romance, and family.
Or at least, that is how gay people see it.
And if we fail to put ourselves in the shoes of the LGBT community, then we fail to love them. It’s really that simple.
In 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, Paul says this:
“For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.”
Of course Paul isn’t just talking about becoming as a Jew, or as those under the law or without it, or as the weak. He became all things to all men. And as believers in Christ, you and I are called to be the same. To those who are gay, become as one who is gay. See the world through their eyes. Join in their suffering. For goodness’ sakes, listen to them when they say, as Stephen does, that calling homosexuality a sin makes them feel like a very integral part of them is broken. Listen to them when they say they can’t change their attractions, they can’t become straight. Until you do…until you listen to them, and open your heart to what they are trying to tell you, I really believe you are failing your LGBT brothers and sisters. And I believe you are failing God’s call to love.