Note: I understand this is a hot debate today and that there’s a lot of emotion surrounding it, but I offer my view regardless of the yelling you may do at me. Why? Not because I want to make people angry or tick everyone off. Quite the opposite. I love people and I want to offer what I believe to be truth on an important topic. If you are going to read this, please read the whole thing so you get the whole picture I’m painting—not just a piece. And if you do engage in commenting the post, be nice—I’m not looking for a fight.
Also, if you are about to read this and you are homosexual, I’d just like to apologize on my behalf and the church’s. We have been jerks and treated you harshly and in many cases, completely “unchristianly.” While I do not support your lifestyle and believe it to be sin, I still want to offer my apology and I hope you will forgive me. I’d also like to invite you to continue reading to see why I think the way I do.
The relationship between homosexuality and the church is an incredibly sticky affair to get into. The majority of people who have a viewpoint on how to handle this ever-growing issue, tend to be extremists. One side wants to raise their bullhorns against homosexuals with hatred and disgust, while the other side almost seems to claim that God’s love is so great that He could care less if a person sins by practicing homosexuality. These two opinions clash quite harshly with each other, creating the issue of homosexuality and the church.
I, however, find myself in disagreement with both of these standpoints, because I believe that the correct view is found somewhere between these two extremist views. And as the number of those practicing homosexuality rises, I feel that it is all the more important to offer my opinion to those in today’s church. We will get more into my opinion later, but for now I will share the basic premise for my view: I believe homosexuality is a sin, but that we as the church need to fully love those who practice it.
When addressing the history of homosexuality and the church, most conservative Christians would likely draw reference to the Biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah. In this narrative we come to find that these two cities were very engrossed in homosexual behavior. In fact, the men in these towns wanted to have such relations so badly, that when two angels came to visit Lot, men came knocking on his door, ready to rape the angels. God burned this city to the ground for their immorality. This story, found in Genesis 19, shows us that homosexuality was already an issue this early on in life.
While Sodom and Gomorrah may have come to an end, homosexuality did not. We find reference to it once again in Leviticus (18:22; 20:13) and when the Law that the Israelites are to live under is laid out. These laws in Leviticus define homosexuality as an abomination and make death the punishment for violating such law. We can only imagine that these laws were put in place to address an issue going on during this time, and so we see that homosexuality is still a problem many years after Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed.
The Old Testament is not the only place where we read about homosexuality. As we move into the New Testament of the Bible we find that homosexuality is still an issue since both Paul and Timothy address it (1 Cor. 6:9; 1 Tim. 1:8-11). We can now see that homosexuality has been around for a very, very long time. While it may have been practiced more heavily at certain times than others, it has endured nonetheless.
Homosexuality is becoming increasingly popular today as many are fighting for the rights of gay marriage. In 1961, Illinois became the first state to make sodomy legal, which allowed homosexual adults to have sexual intercourse with each other. Over the next two decades, many other states also allowed such behavior. On July 1, 2000, Vermont allowed the gay couples in their state to have the same benefits that any husband and wife have.
On February 12, 2004, San Francisco married a lesbian couple. As word spread, over 3,200 homosexual couples found their way to this city to get married. Twelve days later, President George W. Bush pushed for an amendment that would stop homosexual marriages from happening. California’s Supreme Court forced San Francisco to stop homosexual marriages on March 11, 2004.
A few months later in May, Massachusetts became the first state to legalize homosexual marriages and in July, Bush’s amendment to make such marriages illegal was rejected by the U.S. Senate. However, despite Bush’s setback, California made an advance to put an end to same-sex marriages in their state. On August 12, 2004, California’s Supreme Court voided all of the marriages that took place between February 12 and March 11 in San Francisco.
Since then, much has happened in gaining world rights. Last year on June 3, New Hampshire became the sixth state to allow homosexual marriage in America. But while America remained fairly adamant about rejecting gay marriage, countries around the world were legalizing it. Today, gay marriage is allowed in Canada, Sweden, Spain, South Africa, Norway, Belgium, and The Netherlands.
As stated earlier, people tend to be extremists when the issue of homosexuality and the church comes up. Christians tend to either fully condemn those who practice homosexuality or fully accept the act of homosexuality—neither of which are true accounts of what Christianity should look like. Both sides make us look bad and are bad, which is why we still need to reach some middle ground. But first, let’s try to come to a better understanding as to what these extremist sides look like.
The extreme conservative side of the church that rejects homosexuals tends to do so claiming that “God hates gays.” Their doctrine states homosexuality as sin and their preachers preach “no acceptance.” They seem to have a hatred of those who practice it rather than of the sin itself and they yell words of damnation rather than of repentance and forgiveness.
The movie, Lord, Save Us from Your Followers paints a picture of one of these extremists. In this documentary, the host visits Pride Northwest, a festival where many homosexuals were present. While there, he invited anyone and everyone to come into his confessional booth. He would then repent of the sins he’s committed against homosexuality to the homosexuals who were visiting. Each visitor was shocked by the love this man showed them and they would then open their hearts up to him, sometimes even crying along the way.
While the host went about reaching out to homosexuals the right way, he saw an example of the extreme conservative side of the church while he was there. While attending this festival, he received an email from a pastor that talked about a prophetic dream he had. In it, the email said, “There was a big Gay Pride Parade going on in downtown Portland when the earthquake hit and buildings came tumbling down on all of those there. Portland was in total devastation.” This is not the only time extremist right-wingers have sought to connect disastrous situations to sinners or try to predict disastrous situations onto sinners.
David Kinnaman’s book, Unchristian, points out some other examples of this extreme side. In this book he asks outsiders (those who aren’t Christians), what they see in we Christians. They did not have a lot of great stuff to say about how we treat homosexuals. They too had heard of disasters being blamed on homosexuals including such events as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. Also, many of the public comments from pastors and other leaders in the Christian faith have been very inappropriate and rude. Some of the more extremists even use language such as “fags” or “sodomists.” These outsiders also don’t appreciate how Christians oppose having homosexuals work in politics (93-4).
These may sound like extreme circumstances, but the sad thing is that there are people out there like this. For whatever reason, they feel the need to target homosexuals passionately and forget about all the other sin in the world. They have ruined the image of Christ and His people and have preached the message of Satan rather than of God.
The extreme liberal side of the church has done the exact opposite. They have an acceptance not only of the homosexual, but also of the sin itself and they yell words of salvation rather than of turning or burning. They look to show God’s love in all ways except correction leaving sin to run rampant through the church.
Some of these churches have even gone on to allow their leaders to be homosexuals. There are now churches that have openly homosexual pastors, which their attendees accept. For this reason, we can only understand that extreme liberals do not believe such a form of sexuality to be sin, despite what Scripture says.
It is here in these churches that homosexuals feel welcome and loved because these churches accept everything about them and do not push them to change. It seems to me that in these types of churches, Satan has clothed himself as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14), and is preaching God’s message of love so greatly that in the end, homosexuality becomes a matter of unimportance.
But despite what churches say, the matter of homosexuality will never be unimportant. There are lots of arguments we could make back and forth about this situation, but if we open our Bible’s, we get the straight and honest truth. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 says that homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. There are many Biblical debates in which we have to search long and hard to find some kind of answer, but when it comes to the topic of homosexuality we get an explicit answer.
That is not to say that Jesus does not love homosexuals at all. Jesus died for absolutely everyone, no matter what kind of sin they are involved in and He loves homosexuals with a passion. He gives us the strength and the grace to live righteously. He gives us the love we need to pull on through tough situations. But that strength, grace, and love does not mean that it is okay to continue sinning (1 Jn. 3:6). Jesus expects us to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect (Mat. 5:48), and if practicing homosexuality means that we will not inherit the kingdom of Heaven, we should understand that doing so is sin and an imperfection.
That is why I believe Satan is preaching a message of acceptance through extreme liberals. If he can trick people into believing it’s okay to be homosexual, than he can keep them in a place where they can’t inherit the kingdom of heaven. He can also keep them in place where they will teach this to others so that homosexuality becomes widely accepted and perhaps practiced among God’s people.
If we are to go about this in a Godly way, we need to accept those who are homosexuals, but not their sin. We all have sin we need to fight in this life, and at times it feels impossible! Homosexuals who are trying to get clean of this sin can definitely resound with this. But so can the man who struggles with pornography and lust. And the woman who has been trying to give up drugs for years.
Yes, it truly does feel impossible at times, but God expects more out of us regardless of our feelings, and again He empowers us to break off such chains. There is hope in Christ, but simply accepting the act of homosexuality is hope in something completely different and degrades what Christ did for us.
The extreme conservative side of the church understands that the act is wrong, but they empower their message with the hatred of Satan, rather than the love of God. Their love for homosexuals could perhaps be found if they would just pay more attention to the plank in their own eye than the sawdust in another’s (Mat. 7:3). Then they would find that sin is still sin regardless of what the sin is.
Homosexuality is a hot-button issue right now and so sadly we focus on it more than anything else. And since it’s newer to us, extreme conservatives especially make it out to be the greatest sin. Billy Graham makes a great point on this:
“…it [homosexuality] is wrong, it’s a sin. But there are other sins. Why do we jump on that sin as though it’s the greatest sin? The greatest sin in the Bible is idolatry, worshipping other things besides the true and living God. Jealousy is a sin. Pride is a sin. All of these things are sins. But homosexuality is also a sin that needs to be dealt with and needs to be forgiven, and that’s why Christ came and died on a cross.”
It would also be helpful if they tried to stop focusing on the story of Sodom and Gomorrah every time they think of homosexuality. Just because it happened once in the Bible, does not mean that God will now always seek vengeance and destruction on homosexuals. And we can stop thinking that all homosexuals are like those in Sodom and Gomorrah. Surely they aren’t walking the streets looking to rape the new guys in town.
When it comes down to it, my position is simply that we need to seek to love homosexuals and help them break free of their sin. We all need others to hold us accountable and be real with us. We cannot accept sin as doing so will only lead us to Hell, and we must love those who practice it if they are to feel Christ’s love and find the motivation to break free.
If the church is to be extreme in any way that they relate to homosexuals, it should be in their love. But unlike extreme liberals they should not sacrifice salvation for acceptance. Homosexuality is still a sin as extreme conservatives and the Bible proclaim, but we need not go about it the way we have been. The church must now rise up and become all that she is supposed to be: loving God, loving people, and pursuing perfection.
While homosexuality is on the rise, we must be ready to deal with the situation, as we want to see others experience the Kingdom of God along with us. If we are going to do this, it will take all of us. We will need to correct one another on how we love and how we act, for if we do not correct our love we will send out the same hateful message of Satan that we have been stereotyped to have. And if we do not correct our acts, our churches will become full of hypocrisy, sin, and even worse—an acceptance of it.
Billy Graham, Bay Area Crusade Press Conference, September 24, 1997.
“CBC News – World – Same-sex Marriage around the World.” CBC.ca – Canadian News Sports Entertainment Kids Docs Radio TV. CBC News, 03 June 2009. Web. 03 May 2010. <http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2009/05/26/f-same-sex-timeline.html>.
Kinnaman, David, and Gabe Lyons. Unchristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity– and Why It Matters. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 2007. Print.
Lord, Save Us from Your Followers. Dir. Dan Merchant. Perf. Dan Merchant. Zacchaeus Film Group, 2008. DVD.