Men with rape and molestation charges are treated the worst in prisons. Sex-offenders are viewed as the most disgusting people in the neighborhood and pedophiles as worse than Satan. Our society clearly imposes a razor-sharp passion toward sexual violators, and this type of thinking overflows into the church where homosexuality is highly elevated beyond other transgressions.
Should we point out the sins of the gay community while disregarding the porn addicts and adulterers?
Should we spurn gay people in our churches and cast them out in the name of church discipline while allowing heterosexual couples who live together to continue to worship?
How should we think about our gay neighbors?
We all stand equally condemned and guilty at the foot of the cross, and we all need reconciliation back to God. We all desperately need Jesus, whether straight or gay.
Recently I was in dialogue with an unbeliever about homosexuality. This person regularly engages me about my faith and worldview, and I’m always happy when they do. Below is a summary of our conversation about homosexuality.
Unbeliever: So, how do you feel about homosexuality?
Me: When my sister became a new believer she asked me, “How do you witness to someone who is gay?” I told her, “The same way you witness to someone who is straight.” We’re all sinners who stand equally condemned at the foot of the cross. Ultimately the goal is to be brought back to a connection with God through Christ and to let the Holy Spirit do his work in us.
As a heterosexual male, I have a broken sexuality just like someone who is gay. But my struggle is not same-sex attraction, it’s the struggle to fight off impure thoughts about women. I struggle every day. We’re all struggling, and we need our sexuality to be redeemed and we need healing that only God can give.
The point is that both gay and straight people are alienated from God apart from Christ, and there are a thousand other ways we need forgiveness other than our sexuality. So what do I think about homosexuality? It’s a type of sexual struggle. Heterosexuals have hard struggles as well and this struggle is an everyday struggle for both parties, gay and straight.
Unbeliever: So why is homosexuality wrong? Shouldn’t gay people get to choose who they want to be with?
Me: Just because someone has a sexual desire toward someone doesn’t mean they can do whatever they want. I don’t sleep around on my wife. And think about pedophiles or bestiality. Should they have the choice to do whatever they want? There is right and there is wrong, and this fits within the category of our sexuality. In other words, there is a right way to have sex and a wrong way to have sex.
Unbeliever: Then what standard are you using for morality?
Me: It’s certainly not the standard of culture. The standard I use for morality is the objective and perfect character of God. Some cultures allow men to have several wives and declare it OK for the men to rape them if they so desire. Some cultures oppress and control women and children. So we can’t define right and wrong by culture because all cultures are different. There has to be an objective truth about morality, and that’s God character.
Unbeliever: So then do you think it’s a choice to be gay?
Me: I personally know gay people who have such deep wounds and hard lives, who live in a great amount of fear. They’re scared to death of being rejected and hated. Why would anyone choose that? There’s no way anyone wakes up and says, “I’m going to be gay so I can struggle immensely and be hated by my family for the rest of my life.” But there is a choice in the matter.
I’m not saying that a choice isn’t involved. We all have the choice of how we deal with our struggles. I have a choice as a heterosexual male to be faithful to my wife and to keep the promise that I made before God when we got married. Even though I have my sexual struggles, I still choose to be faithful to the woman I love. So in this, I’m choosing to allow God to have a rightful claim over my life. God is defining right and wrong for me, I’m not defining right and wrong on my own terms.
So the choice is this: Will I follow my own impulses and do what I want, or will I choose to give God a rightful claim over every aspect of my life, including my sexuality. I don’t choose my struggles, but I do choose whether or not I will embrace them or fight them. My choice is Jesus. He rules my life. A gay person has the same choice I do in regard to Jesus.
Unbeliever: So you’re saying gay people have to choose loneliness and singleness the rest of their lives to please God? You’re saying they have to live miserably so that God will be happy?
Me: There is unspeakable joy and fullness in the life that is connected with Christ, and God wants our joy and that’s why he offers us his Spirit if we’ll come to him. The fulfillment of our sexuality will never bring the richness, and fullness, and complete joyfulness that Jesus brings. God wants our joy so he gives us Jesus. Our sexuality is only one part of our humanity.
There are thousands of other ways that we can find joy in this life. Choosing a life with Christ because it’s a life of fullness and completeness. They have recognized that sexuality is not the ultimate reality. It doesn’t give ultimate joy and satisfaction, Jesus does. They recognize that God is the ultimate reality and he gives ultimate joy and satisfaction, and they choose Christ over their own sexual impulses. And in this, they find life to the full because they have a family and faith in God that gives them more than sex will ever give them. So, if a gay person chooses Jesus then that person is choosing life to the full.
Unbeliever: Well, I still think it’s wrong that the church wants to hate gay people when there are so many other sins that are going on that are just not as visible. It’s not fair to gay people that they get hated on so harshly when you have men sleeping around on their wives and guys molesting kids.
Me: I get that, and I agree with you. The church has responded hatefully and harshly to gay people. Yet we know through the teachings of Jesus that we should love our neighbors and have compassion on them. Compromise the truth? Never. But our faith should never provoke hatred towards others.
If I could say one thing to the church I would say that we need to be far more sensitive to the gay community. They’re hurting and scared. They feel outcast by their own families. They belong nowhere. But God is calling them to join his story in Christ. God is calling everyone everywhere to take hold of his grace and experience His love, and that love should be exuded through his church, that is, his body.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the one thing I would say to the gay community: Your sexual orientation is not the sum total of your identity. You’re human, and you have many layers to your identity and existence. When gay people come out they have a strong tendency to make everything about being gay. It really grieves me that they elevate their sexuality to the point of the ultimate reality. Their sexuality encompasses their total being, and it shouldn’t be this way. We’re more than our sexuality, much more.
We’re human. We’re made in the image of God, all of us, gay and straight. We all have an identity that finds itself in that image, and in order for us to get the healing, forgiveness, and redemption we need, we must come back to our Creator and allow his Spirit to fill our minds and hearts.
Our goal is to get back to the beautiful and delightful relationship God wants with us. Whether straight or gay, it’s our greatest need and our surest hope. That is, a relationship with God through Jesus. Wouldn’t you know that It all comes back to our unbelievably great need for the grace we find in the person and work of Jesus.