Same sex relationships – my 2¢, adjusted for inflation

May 20, 2012

in Links to good stuff, None of the Above

Bride and Groom © Stephen Coburn | Dreamstime.com

One man, one woman.

This will be a bit beyond the normal parameters of the blog, but since it’s all over the news and I’ve had a couple people ask me where I stand, I figure I should say something.

I see homosexual activity as one of a number of possible sexual sins. I do not see it as a far worse sin than the others; all sexual sins are harmful, and based on 1 Cor 6:18 sexual sins are more harmful to us than any other sins we can commit. Yes, it’s called an abomination, but so are the sins of having rigged scales, lying, killing an innocent person, and a proud heart!

What bothers me is the church seems to have made homosexuality the scapegoat sin – the one we yell, preach, and march against, while we ignore sex sins that are far more common. Rather than throwing stones at the unsaved, something Jesus never told us to do, maybe we should deal with the church. Maybe we should do more about the fornication, adultery, porn use, and other sexual sins increasingly common among those who claim to follow Jesus. Jesus said he who is without sin should cast the first stone – if we apply that to sexual sins, who among us is “qualified” to throw a stone?

What about same sex marriage? I find it interesting they have chosen it marriage, fighting to redefining a concept with thousands of years of history. A drive for civil unions with all the same rights as marriage would have been much easier to pass, so the choice to go for the harder win tells us something about the real goals. That said, same sex marriage is not defiling marriage; same sex marriage is gaining ground because marriage was already defiled. Marriage has been defiled by the high level of divorce (including in the church), the sexual sin in marriages (including in the church), and the oppression and abuse in marriages that is swept under the rug (including by the church). The “defence of marriage” cry is rather hypocritical given how long we’ve ignored so many sins against marriage.

The church’s “battle” against homosexuality has been a colossal failure. We’ve done nothing to stop what is happening, and it would be hard to prove we’ve done anything to slow it. It could even been argued we’ve helped the process along because our perceived (and sometimes real) fear and hated has a unifying effect on those outside the church. Even worse, the battle has turned the world against the church. In a 2007 study by The Barna Group found 91% of young non-Christians thought “anti-homosexual” described the church as a whole, and for most this is the first thing they think of when they think of Christianity. Additionally “they believe that Christians show excessive contempt and unloving attitudes towards gays and lesbians” and “the church has made homosexuality a ‘bigger sin’ than anything else.” Moreover, many young Christians complain the church “has not helped them apply the biblical teaching on homosexuality to their friendships with gays and lesbians.”

Jesus said we should be known by our love, but our “war on homosexuality” has resulted in being known for our hate. While the intentions were good, the results show us how wrong we’ve been. Jesus never called us to judge or change the lost, He only called us to love them and point them to Him. If we are not doing that, then we are wrong, no matter what we are doing or why we are doing it.

Bottom line: Homosexuality is wrong; the Bible says so, and I believe the Bible. However, our enemy baited a trap with this issue, and we fell for it. We’ve tarnished God’s reputation, and harmed out ability to share the truth with a world that desperately needs truth. I pray God will forgive us and help us find our way.

A note: I wrote this post before I did the childless by choice posts. I thought about not running it today because I don’t want to pump out a lot of controversy at one time, but given the issue is front and centre in the USofA right now, I felt it was timely. I will reply in the comments, but I will not being doing a follow-up on this post any time soon.

Since writing this post, I’ve come across several good posts and thoughts on this issue:

Does Protesting Gay Marriage Advance the Gospel? An interesting blog entry by a fellow who’s been on both sides of this issue.

This Side of the Fence The folks over at Marriage Life did great post about this issue.

When we elevate sexual sins above all the others, we inevitably fixate on scriptures that talk about “regulating” sexual behavior. This then becomes one of the main purposes in discipling people—to get them to suppress their sexuality rather than redeem it. It’s not surprising then that when our attention shifts to those outside the church, moralizing about their sexual practices becomes normative and even acceptable.” ~Deb Hirsch on Facebook

Links to blog posts that stood out to me this last week:

 

New blog this week – Pearl’s OysterBed. I’ve only been following this blog a short time, but I’be been impressed with what I’ve read.

 

Assume Love

Third Alternatives to Children / No Children: While this ties in with our recent discussion, I am linking to it because it’s a great primer on finding third alternatives.


Black and Married with Kids

What Comes First: Regular Sex Or A Husband Who Acts Right?: Good question!


The Generous Wife

What Brings Him Joy?: Change this to “Her” and apply.
Sorting Out Sexual Truth and Error: If your bride struggles with sex in her head, this might help.
What Would It Take?: And are you up to it?


Mystery 32

Be Present: An important reminder.


One Flesh Marriage

Defeating Delayed Desire: and Sex On The Grill or How To Heat Things Up: address an aspect of female sexuality that you MUST get.


Pearl’s OysterBed

Smellin’ Sexy : A great post that explains why scent can make sex easier/better (especially for her) and what scents to use.


Romantic Act of the Day

Give her a Break: Because it gets OLD!
Dinner by Candlelight: A classic – when did you last do it?
Just Take Care of It: Making a big deal about it does not make her appreciate it more.
Quit Fussing About the Little Stuff: Something else that is not helping!


The Romantic Vineyard

Debi – with help from Tom, did a four-part series on dealing with pride. It’s a long read, but it’s excellent. If you have an issue with pride, read this. (If you think you don’t have an issue with pride, check with God!):
Mortified
Mortified – Part 2
Mortified – Part 3
Mortified – Tom’s Turn: This one is also a great look at a husband trusting God to change his wife.


Stupendous Marriage

Does your Marriage Have a Mission?: After missing a week, Stu and Lisa are back with another great podcast.


…to Love Honor and Vacuum

How Churches can Encourage Marriage Mentorship: A very important issue!

54 comments
i love
i love

why do you promote the race mix ? i dont like this picture, i dont like destruction of white race. we die out over race mix propagation. anti racist is code word for anti-white

Ethan
Ethan

Thanks for the awesome words. One book that helped me adjust my approach on subjects like this was Philip Yancey's "What's So Amazing About Grace?" (http://www.amazon.com/Whats-So-Amazing-About-Grace/dp/0310245656) The concept of Grace not excusing sin, but treasuring the sinner is perhaps one of the most difficult things ever for us to put into practice, even as we as Christians have benefited from Christ applying it to us. I think people waste a lot of time debating what the government's current definition of a marriage is. My wife and I are married before God. And though we also have a marriage certificate, even if the government were to not recognize it, we'd still be married in my opinion. Ultimately, a society will determine what they think marriage is. That never changes what God told us about it. Anyway, no matter what happens with the legal definition of marriage, our duty remains the same: to demonstrate Christ's love to others and to tell them them about Him and what He did. I love some of the examples above. I pray that I can follow Christ's example.

Karen
Karen

Very balanced and kind article. I am a therapist who has to deal with these issues on a fairly regular basis. We have same sex marriage in the state where I live.

Kate
Kate

Thank your for this, Paul! I have to say that it seems so black and white until someone you love dearly says they are gay. It has certainly opened my eyes and brought me to the feet of Jesus to seek His love and grace! My thoughts are how can we love as Jesus did and how can we focus on marriage in a way that will bring hope and healing? I agree that focusing on homosexuality is not going to help the current (and ancient-been around forever) issues in marriage. It is a bunny trail that Satan is so pleased to see us take! Thank you for sharing this post!

Bill
Bill

This is definitely a discussion that needs to be had. I would like to make an observation. At 60 years old I have been observing Christians closely for about 35 years and they are doing best when either they are feeling persecuted or they have a target to hate. In this place and in this time real persecution is unlikely so hate is what is most available. The target can be a person or a behavior or some inanimate thing like alcohol or some popular children’s toy of which you can disapprove. It allows them to forget their petty squabbles and band together. I think this is a human problem and not a Christian problem. That being said, how can you turn this all too human trait to your advantage, as well meaning Christians, and get them to band together over something more appropriate? Like maybe a real discussion on sex, money, divorce, adultery, hypocrisy, or a discussion about how to have a discussion.

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

Another issue which we have made a similar mess of is abortion. I'm absolutely against abortion, but I can see that the churches protests has failed to bring about the desired results. Again, it has not helped, and it has made people think we are a religion of hate. We could have been clear what we thought without all the protesting. Some will say that blocking abortion clinics has saved lives. Maybe a very few here and there, but it's caused people who did not care either way to get involved and to fight for "abortion rights". This is called winning the battle and losing the war. We've helped energize people to fight for abortion, which makes it more acceptable, which means women who would not have done it before now feel they can. Imagine if we'd put as much time and money into building clinics that would provide cost-free prenatal services and birthing for those who did not want their babies? Imagine if those who spend hour and hours protesting has said I will take a couple of unwanted babies." In addition to saving lives and raising those children to know the Lord, we would have shown love and compassion to a woman who was in a bad situation. I'm pretty sure love and compassion is something Jesus is for. As with the issue of same sex relationships, all of our rhetoric and desires not withstanding, the clear evidence is that our actions have failed to do what we intended to do. No benefit, and the stigma of hate - doesn't that show us we have been doing it wrong? We tried something that Jesus never told us to do, and it has turned out badly. Will we redouble our efforts, or will we look for a way to do what Jesus would do?

stan lee
stan lee

Agree 99% Paul. It is striking that homosexual behaviour gets hardly a mention in the NT, when it was more common - and accepted - in the classical Greco-Roman world then in the West today. Jesus (not to mention the other NT figures) was much more concerned with the sins of the Church than those who do not belong. Also, we as Christians often completely misinterpret where the gay community - and same-sex marriage proponents - are coming from. We do not give them the benefit of the doubt. Most sincerely believe they were born gay and cannot change. Thus calling their behaviour sin comes across as attacking an integral part of them. It is dangerous to get into "us" and "them". We need to get the log out of our own eye first!

Rico
Rico

The problem I see is that within the (American) church there is a growing number of people - mostly younger, but not exclusively - who simply don't see homosexuality as a sin. No matter how much Biblical truth and logic you point them to, their feelings/societal pressure trumps the word of God. The ELCA, Presbyterian, and UCC churches have already buckled under. The UMC (the denom I grew up in) is holding fast, only because their numbers in Africa - where they hold fast to Biblical truth, rather than pomo musings - are growing and their US numbers are decreasing. One of the common arguments - which you have touched upon - is "why are we focusing on this one specific sin?" Yes, there are adulterers, alcoholics, liars, cheats, and more in the church. The difference is, there is not an organized effort to say adultery or alcoholism is OK, and that the Bible doesn't *really* mean what it says about the subject. e.g. the common meme that Paul's statement in Romans doesn't apply today, because there was supposedly no such thing as "committed, loving" homosexual relationships back then. Or that since Jesus said nothing about specifically about homosexuality, that therefore He must be A-OK with it, etc. For me, it's not an issue about a sin that only affects a small percentage of the population - it's an issue of the infallibility of God's word, and if we as a Church are going to uphold the Bible, or simply discard whatever parts we don't like - in which case we might as well throw the whole thing out if it's up for a vote.

Scott
Scott

AMEN, Paul. I work in the mental health field. Everyday for the last 10 years I have had to deal with the wreckage of HETEROsexual sin. Marriage needs more defense from the sins of heterosexuals than it has ever needed from the sins of homosexuals. BTW--are you familiar with the book "Love is an Orientation"? I found it challenging, and I think that if the world is ever to see a church that loves as Jesus loves, we're going to have to get more comfortable with loving gays. Period.

greg
greg

well said man! i agree that it is a sin without a doubt, but on the other hand i sin all the time and all sins are equal. i still dont get why they want to be married when its a christian custom and most homosexuals aren't religious!

Pearl
Pearl

AMEN! I especially agree that we need to equip our Christian youth in how to be positive influences on their friends who proclaim to be homosexual. Heck, I need to know how to be a better friend and influence. I have some friends who are admittedly homosexual, some practicing the lifestyle, some not. My default is to love them like Jesus! I agree with all you've said. If I could only get my husband to write....he has a wonderful loving viewpoint of this particular topic.

Rick
Rick

A few weeks ago the topic "Christians who don't support gay marriage are not showing the love of Christ" came up in one of my web boards. Specifically I responded to the notion many of my "Christian" friends are attached to; in order to show the love of Christ we must embrace sinful activity by encouraging, facilitating and enabling it. Here is my edited response to the post on the web board. I think anyone claiming to be a Christian needs to ponder what the love of Christ is really like; how He applies it to our lives and how we need to apply it in our interactions with others. Christ Loves Me but Hates my Sin “Jesus loved everyone but he did not hesitate to call a spade a spade and tell people to repent from those activities that separate them from God. The unconditional love Jesus demonstrates is love in spite of our choices, circumstances and actions. “Perhaps the best human example of such love is that of a parent. As parents we can never truly hate our children no matter how hard they seem to try to make that happen. Children will disappoint and anger us, they will certainly do things to put a wedge between us and them, but we still love them no matter what they do or become. And, as parents, we will never stop encouraging, cajoling or calling them to ‘fly right’ even if they choose to do otherwise. “None of us, Christian or no, would think it unloving to tell a child or friend that are on a destructive path that they better be changing their ways. “So it is with the love of Christ as He demonstrated and called us to. His love is unconditional with a call for repentance so as to restore our relationships with God. “Jesus never said, ‘I love you, and by the way, anything goes.’ He said, ‘I love you, change your ways, come back to the Father.’ Jesus didn't reject people outright either. He went to them, where they were. When they didn't like His message it was they who rejected Him. Not the other way around. Jesus let them walk away but He didn’t shut the door behind them either. “The world and many Christians seem to think Jesus came and said, ‘I love you, anything goes.’ If that is what He said then it follows Christians should have let the likes of Manson, Bundy, Hitler, Hussein and Tito go free and do as they please. If Christ did say, ‘I love you, anything goes’, then Christians should have flocked to those despots’ defense! “The apparent prevailing opinion of the word and many “Christians” is that you can't love someone unless you turn a blind eye to their choices. “Judge Not!” is the mantra. They seem to have adopted the corollary to “judging not” as meaning you can only show love if you defend and enable other’s sinful lifestyles. “The folly of such thinking can be illustrated thus: If we believe that we must turn a blind eye in order to show Christ’s love then let's apply that idea unequivocally to our marriages. “Today, let’s go and tell our spouses that we love them no matter what they do. But don’t stop there; let’s tell them it is OK for them to have an affair, or two or three, as many as they want! Tell them that we will still love them, will pretend nothing is wrong and take care of any damage or injuries that result; we’ll be responsible for taking care of everything. “We shouldn’t stop there either. If we truly espouse the principle that a blind eye and endless support and encouragement for them to expand their opportunities for an affair show the love of Christ best then we must also do our best to make their trysts as convenient and safe as possible! “Of course that would be the minimum we should do. In order to seriously show the love of Christ as defined today then we should also promote all affairs publicly, maybe even introduce our spouse to someone to have the affair with. We’d also have to call for legislation that makes extramarital affairs a right of marriage and thus no longer grounds for divorce! “Then, if our spouse’s infidelity becomes public knowledge, we must not forget to vehemently defend them against any vitriol and hate that might come their way from bigots and the unenlightened. Of course the best thing to happen would be a pregnancy. We could then proclaim it as a ‘God Thing’, a truly wonderful blessing!! That is unless such a pregnancy would cause problems in which case must be the first in line to personally ensure that an abortion or other corrective action is performed. “That is exactly what we should do if we buy into the world’s premise that Jesus doesn't want us to be ‘judgmental’, that showing His unconditional means turning a blind eye, to defend sin and help promulgate it. “The world has bastardized the definition of the love of Christ and much of the Church has bought into that definition. Further, if we accept the world’s definition then we must apply it universally and not just to positions that are politically correct or make us less of a target for society. “By accepting the world’s definition then we must stand up for, and promote, ALL that God has called sin; we must support and defend those that wish to engage in: bestiality, incest, murder, rape, theft and abuse…such a list is endless. “Even so, Christian, ‘christian’ and non alike would have to agree there is a limit to what could acceptably be supported. Indeed, non-Christians have already agreed that any “sin” against the earth is unacceptable and the sinners should be punished severely. So much for the ‘non-judgemental’ principle they call the Christian to. “Those of us buying into the world’s definition of the Love of Christ seem to have forgotten the dire warning Christ gave us: ‘Woe to you who helps another to sin. For your punishment will be worse than having a stone tied about your neck and being thrown to the depths of the sea.’ “When a Christian turns a blind eye, enables or otherwise facilitates another person to engage in anything that separates that person from God they themselves have committed an egregious sin. I daresay such a sin comes close to the sin of Grieving the Spirit. “It is true Jesus told his followers not to swing the club of spiritual judgment on the rest of the world. God did not give us the authority to close the door to heaven for anyone! Christ alone will make that decision when each of us faces the judgment seat. “But Christ did tell us to point others to Him, call them to repentance and to help fellow believers see the wedges in their lives that separate them from God. “Jesus was the perfect example doing just that. “Christ never hesitated to call a spade a spade, encourage people to repent, and then let them exercise their gift of free will. He also didn't make himself party to their choices to drive wedges between them and God. “We can love someone and still completely disagree with their life choices. Parents have been doing that for millennia. Jesus has done that with me. In my deepest pit of sin he has come to me, held out his hand and said, ‘Come out of that filth and follow Me.’ Sometimes I accept, others I wallow. He always allows me the choice to follow or wallow. Though He never, ever, wallows with me He always leaves the door open for my return. “We can love someone and still not be party to their sinful life choices. We can love someone and not make it easier for them to sin. We can show the love of Christ, when we point them to Christ. And when they choose not to walk to Him we love them by not shutting any doors. We also love them by not wallowing with them in the pit of their sin. “Sometimes the greatest love we can show someone is to tell them, ‘I love you but I can’t follow down the path you have chosen. I cannot help you build the bridges to get where you are headed and I can’t encourage you to head down that path either. In fact, I think it will be a big mistake if you go down it. “‘We must part ways, but I will be here for you if you get stuck and want help to get off that path. I will always welcome you to join me on the path I’m on.’” “That what Christ says to me every day. Does it not follow that it is the perfect model of the ‘Love of Christ’ that I am supposed to show my fellow man?”

Jason Patten
Jason Patten

I will agree with much of you are saying Paul. We as a church have failed miserably to uphold marriage and sexual morality. Fighting "gay rights" legislatively is a losing proposition. It is a dangerous fight as well. Once we legislate morality and belief one way, it is easy for political winds to shift and we will be on the losing side. We are headed that way already with hate speech laws. The fight should not be in the halls of congress or the courtrooms, but in the hearts and minds of the people of the United States. We need to defend our freedoms, but also defend the freedom of others to make the wrong choices. After-all The Lord gives us that freedom.

Russell
Russell

Paul, good post. I have been saying mostly the same thing for the past couple of years. My hope is that more Christians with this belief will speak their minds and show non-believers through our actions what Christ is really about. I tell people that God hates homosexuality NOT homosexuals. The same way He hates all sin not sinners. If He hated sinners we would all be in trouble!

JB
JB

Paul , I read your posts off and on but this one hits the nail on the head and is very well spoken. One comment you made stands out to me and is really what it is all about. "Jesus never called us to judge or change the lost, He only called us to love them and point them to Him. If we are not doing that, then we are wrong, no matter what we are doing or why we are doing it." I hope you don't mind if I borrow that comment, I am sure I will quote you in the future.

Neil
Neil

Paul, I was just thinking the other day 'he only has to make a comment on gay marriage and he'll top the hundred comments mark'. It seems I'm first, so let me be the first to praise all that you have written above. That be the Jesus I follow. Now lets see what the other 99 have to say.

jon
jon

lost me as a reader with this one.

Doug Prager
Doug Prager

I contend that there is a major reason that the Church has focused on the sin of homosexuality above other sins, sexual or otherwise. The Church has been compelled to such an outspoken position because the militant homosexual movement has demanded that society not only tolerate this sin, but that it should be accepted as normal behavior, without comdemnation. I have not seen any similar movement demand that the Church, or society as whole, accept adultery, lying, or an any other myriad of sins as normal. The Church expects sin in a fallen world and routinely condemns it, hopefully with a measure of grace and the message of salvation. But the hubris of the modern day homosexual movement has earned a disproportionate response.

TheGenerousHusband
TheGenerousHusband moderator

@i love God said Christians should not marry non-Christians. This is the only limitation. Racism is still alive and kicking in this country, and I am more than happy to promote a more Christ like view of loving everyone.

TravisByers
TravisByers

It is not code for anti-white. What you are saying is that if I'm not racist and I have no problem with multi-raccial couples I am anti-white? I am white and I think that racist is code for ignorant jerks who think they're better than others of a different color. In the Bible it says to love all and to not judge but if you are racist then you are doing the exact opposite. No where does it say that white and black people or Asian people or Indian people or any other race of people can't be together. If they love each other then what is the difference? Also its not destroying the white race, there will always be plenty of white people marrying white people and having kids.

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

Bill - I fear you are right about the two things that bring Christians together in strength. Jesus gave us some things to focus on, but we seem to keep getting off those. The other problem is people like to hate something that neither they nor their friends are doing. This makes homosexuality an easy target.

Doug
Doug

Rico - Exactly! The modern Church has failed miserably at communicating and instilling a biblical worldview within the Body. This problem is particularly acute among the youth whose worldview has been shaped more by social media and pop culture than biblical truth.

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

Rico - I do see it as a problem that so many in the Church are saying it's not sin. It seems to me the solution to that is to deal with it in the churches, not to take to the streets to protest. As to why so many young people are saying it's not sin, I think that is a reaction to the anger of the church over this issue. There is no love in what many say about homosexuality, and many know instinctively that if it's not out of love, it's not God. They reject it because it can't be God, but in the process they reject no only the hate, but also the truth that is warped in that hate. IOW, the church has driven them to this. As I said, the enemy baited a trap for the church, and we have fallen for it. I am all about the infallibility of God's Word, but I don't expect the world to respect or care about that. We EXPECT them to disagree with the Word, it's a given. They deny that Jesus is the only way to the Father, but we don't march and protest and try to pass a law.

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

Scott - When we get the church fixed, then we can think about fixing the world. (Not that I expect that to ever happen.) Until then, why are we looking out there when we have a mess in here for which we ARE responsible? Have not heard of the book - added it to my wish list.

NJ
NJ

@ greg: Marriage is far from an exclusively Christian custom. Don't Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, and atheists also get married?

Scott
Scott

Greg--if "most homosexuals aren't religious" it's because they're not coming to our churches, where they know they're not welcome. There is a great hunger & thirst for spiritual things among gays. Again--I encourage anyone with an interest in this to read Marin's "Love is an Orientation", or at least check out the Marin Foundation's website: http://www.themarinfoundation.org/

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

Rick - I agree with you about telling people things are sin, but you gave the examples of our children or a friend. Most who the church yells at and condemns are not our friends. We don't have the relationship to speak into their lives, but we try to do it anyway. That is offensive. If you have a friend who is homosexual, then you have an opening to speak into their lives. This is how it's done, this is how we are supposed to do it. To whom did Jesus speak? He spoke to religious leaders, to those who followed Him, and to the lost who choose to listen. He never chased down sinner so He could tell them how horrible they were, or that they were going to hell. That we are doing something Jesus never did and never told us to do concerns me a great deal. It's another gospel, is it not?

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

JB - Borrow away! To me it really is about how we relate to the lost. Are we doing what Jesus told us to do, or something else?

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

Neil - Thanks! Not my intent to hit 100 comments, but you never know. BTW, you were the first to show because a couple others were held in pending (first comment is always moderated).

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

jon - I'd be curious to know if that is because you support gay marriage of you think the church should put a lot of time and money into a fight against gay marriage.

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

Doug - It may well be a reaction to the world, but when are we told to react to the world? Beyond that, history shows us that our tactics are not working - and are in fact counter-productive to the stated goal. The more we protest, the more they protest, and the more we look bad to the world. We can, and should identify this as sin - but that does not require us to try to legislate it. Adultery is far more common and far more accepted by the world than homosexuality, and yet I don't see the church trying to make a law against adultery. Why so much focus on a less accepted and far less common sin? That does not add up in my mind.

Scott
Scott

And conversely, those who have friends, colleagues, and family members who are gay are less likely to see homosexuality as an "Us-Them" issue defined by dogma, precepts, and distorted beliefs about what we suppose "They" believe.

Rick
Rick

I think Paul brought something up that needs to be said over and over again..There is a sizable portion of the "Church" that have a very biggoted view of anyone different. I've seen it in the apostolic church, the evangelical, the pentacostal, indeed all mainstream denominations. This is a direct result of religion and not the body of Christ. It is also a direct result of culture, a learned behavior. Until the Church wakes up to see themselves in the mirror, as an individual saved by the Grace of God, then there is no way they will ever see the error of the we versus them attitude so prevelent. Yes there is a war out there that we must fight. There is the legions of Hell and the Saints of the Most High and we must do our share of the fighting. But it is a war of ideas and the spirit. Not a war of people. Didn't Christ come to set the captives free? Isn't that what we should be doing? It is kinda hard to set the captives free after you have blown them to bits, isn't it? We can't stand by and watch evil be done, so we must do what we can to changed the hearts and minds of those set upon doing it. That is our part of the battle and what we are equipped for. We must look towards winning the war and not just the battles. And sometimes that means giving up some ground in order to buy time, fighting for all we are worth to keep that ground but understanding that we can let it go if need be. One, by one, heart by heart, living our lives with integrity so that those whose hearts are not hardended will see. Let's start each day praying that God will soften the hearts of everyone we meet today and that we will be the example He needs us to be. Miracles happen that way you know!

Rico
Rico

Sorry, I'm a little confused by your usage of "protest" - I don't see many Christians (short of Phelps' group of loonies, who aren't Christians by any real standard) out marching in protest against homosexuals. Defending the legal definition of marriage? Sure, but even then it's only "protests" online and via state ballots to keep the definition as it has been for centuries. If you can point to an actual "taking to the streets in protest" by genuine Christians, I'd be interested to see it. (not being sarcastic here) Are you saying we should just ignore the issue in the public sector? That is a dangerous precedent. Our first amendment is in as precarious a situation as it has ever been... look at other nations that have allowed pro-gay marriage. Churches that don't go along with that are quickly reprimanded. I know this has happened in Canada, for example. Look at the couple in the UK who were removed from the foster care system because they refused to say the homosexual lifestyle is acceptable. Even in the US, Illinois Catholic Charities has had to shut down their adoption services because their religious liberties were being trampled upon by the state. And I disagree that the Church's anti-homosexuality stance is driven by "hate" - that word (along with "bigot" "homophobe" "intolerant" ,etc.) is a convenient weapon the pro-gay lobby uses to shut up those who disagree with them. Indeed, after the UMC's latest General Conference where they upheld the no homosexual marriage or ordination doctrines, Twitter exploded with some of the most hateful, intolerant rhetoric towards the conservative, orthodox Christians who voted to maintain those standards. And who was lobbing most of the verbal firebombs? Leaders in the church! I saw very few people on the opposing side flinging such barbs before or after the voting. Are there some Christians who are truly "hateful" against homosexuals? Sure, I won't argue that point. But the vast, vast majority would gladly welcome homosexuals into the church, on the condition that they recognize the Biblical standard of marriage, and not try to change or ignore the parts they simply don't like.

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

NJ - For a couple of centuries of Western civilisation, and for several more of Judaism, marriage has ALWAYS been between a man and a woman. This would be true for the other groups you mentioned as well. Even in societies that openly accepted homosexuality, the idea of same-sex marriage did not exist. This is a radical redefining of a very old concept. Such a redefining is bound to generate far more resistance than adding something new (civil unions) along side marriage. Choosing the more difficult road tells us something. This is not just about equal treatment, but about being seen as the same. I get that, who wants to be seen as different?

Rico
Rico

"Greg–if “most homosexuals aren’t religious” it’s because they’re not coming to our churches, where they know they’re not welcome." I disagree. I have been close to this issue for a better part of a decade, and my observation is that even "religious homosexuals" (for lack of a better term) are more interested in their own lusts and social upheaval a la the civil rights movement than actually being faithful followers of Christ.

Rick
Rick

Hi Paul, Thanks for your reply. What you wrote is true and at the heart of the point I was trying to make. Around that my purpose is to illuminate the distortion of the definition of showing the “love of Christ.” The world’s definition (and now much of the church’s acceptance of that definition) is dead wrong. The Church and those calling themselves Christians would do well to remember that sin exists, sin is wrong, and if we are party to it in any way we are far more guilty in front of God than the person whom we are enabling to engage in that sin. To that end we need to start calling our own to account and clean our own house to shore up our integrity so that we are in a better position to speak of the good news. In other words, showing the love of Christ means speaking truth, not ignoring or discounting sin in our lives or others’ and not swinging the club of legalism. That is how Christ loves friend, acquaintance and stranger alike. There are myriad examples of Him doing this with public figures, friends, those who came to Him and to random strangers such as the woman at the well. The thing He demonstrated that the Church has abandoned is that after He confronts a person or community they are always left free to choose. The hard-handed Church is not so inclined to do that anymore; something we must change and guard against. I agree with you wholeheartedly that it is critical to have relationships of integrity with people so that we ourselves are free to speak into their lives. Therefore we can, and should, associate with all sorts of folks on a regular basis. Loving people includes being part of their lives, breaking bread together, working together on a common goal, being there to help them when they are down and being there to help them celebrate their success. And when the relationship is deep enough, helping them remain true to their course. We can love everyone this way and we should still have healthy boundaries. Even the world agrees on this. But as Believers we need to include boundaries against sin; we don’t have to be party to the sins of those we love. For example our friends can be alcoholics and we don’t have to serve booze or tolerate drunkenness. We can have adulterous friends and not make an alibi for them. We can have sexually active underage children and not rent a hotel room for them. We can have a brother who pulled a Kind David and Bathsheba yet not stand up and say, “This is a good thing!” by celebrating with them. We can have friends who worship pagan gods and not participate in their rituals. An example from our own walk is the many gay and lesbian friends we have. They all know that we ascribe to the Word of God and that the Bible speaks against their lifestyle. They all know that we do not support the gay community’s political agenda. They also know that we cannot celebrate their marriages as they do. Yet, we have deep and loving relationships with them simply because they also know that we will not abandon them. We are there when they need us, we are there to laugh and cry with them, and they know that above all else they can trust us. Is that not a prime example of how we can, and should, show Christ’s love, speak truth and not be party to their sin; all without swinging a club at their heads? Yet, according to the world’s definition of the Love of Christ, we fail and are being judgmental because we have set such boundaries. So the ultimate point of my post is that if we truly want to show the love of Christ we, the Church, must always love others, speak truth in that love and stop being party to others’ sins. That is something the world and Church are loathe to do. To love and speak truth we must first acknowledge truth, recognize sin, not participate in other’s sins and then we need to be free and prepared speak such truth as each situation requires. And we should never forget that how we live speaks greater truth than any words. We must also clean our own house, holding the Church accountable and acknowledging boundaries. Then we will have the integrity to build better relationships and speak into the lives of other who have not yet come to the throne.

jason patten
jason patten

Or we will be judged as we have judged others? The hardest thing for me is to realize that my own past sexual sins are No Different than homosexual sin. Or in God's eyes, any sin. Though sexual sins seem unique in their capacity to cause hurts to ourselves and other in deep emotional and spiritual ways. I do think a lot about it as there is growing evidence that homosexual orientation is not entirely choice but a complex interplay of environmental, possibly prenatal, and at least indirectly, genetic influences. There is choice involved, but for many the foundation was laid down when they were very young, long before any sexual choices were made. Honestly, I do not know the best answer to how the church should handle homosexuality. Walking the line between loving them and not affirming the sexual sin. I do know we have failed so far.

jon
jon

I do support gay marriage but also just think it is silly to believe that homosexuality is a sin, regardless of what one thinks the Bible says about it. There are many things in the Bible that are not adhered to today because, well, we would be committing deplorable acts if we did. It saddens me that our society has not learned anything from intolerance over the years.

Doug
Doug

Paul - We are not called to react to the world, but to be 'salt and light'. Although I agree that the tactics and misplaced emphasis of the Church vis a vis the political realm is not working, I do believe that proclaiming the truth of God's word, regardless of the medium or venue, is an appropriate calling of the Church. Again, with grace and absence of malice. To my point insofar as adultery or other sin. Although accepted by many in society, I have not seen any attempt by an organized group of adulterers to advocate for legislation protecting their right to sin and attempting to make it off limits as a criteria that private individuals can use in making decisions regarding employment or education, to name just a couple of areas. I believe that we are already seeing the beginning of attempts to prevent churches and religious organizations from discriminating based upon sexual orientation. Just look at what has happened recently in the contraception arena. I don't believe that the recent history of the Church shows any attempt to outlaw homosexuality, something I believe would be as foolhardy as passing any other law against a specific sin of the heart. Rather, the political and legislative thrust has been to prevent a redefinition of marriage to include the homosexual relationship, something that I believe does have negative consequences for society at large. Unfortunately, this has largely been spun by the opposition as hatred and bigotry toward homosexuals while at the same time linking the stance against homosexual marriage as an attempt to promulgate legislation against the practice of homosexuality. I don't view the two as connected, although I am sure there are many who believe that they are.

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

Rick - well said all around. Jesus went out of His way to conform bigoted thinking. The woman at the well is a perfect example. She may or may not have been a prostitute, as some suggest, but she was most certainly Samaritan. What existed between the Jew and the Samaritans was something like the worst racism of the American South. Most Jews went around Samaria, even though it took longer. Likewise, we have the "Good Samaritan" - a slap in the face of any Jew.

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

Rico - Yesterday I was pointed to a You Tube video of a pastor of a sizeable church saying he thinks we should build two walled cities - on for all the homosexuals, one for all the lesbians. He says we could fly over and drop food till they all died out. He also said that it would end homosexuality because they can't reproduce. Was he hateful? Sure seemed he was. And he was getting some amens. I used to live in the Bible belt, and there is some unabashed hatred for anyone different in that part of the country, with homosexuals being at the top of the list. There are plenty of people who claim to follow Christ who would gladly kill homosexuals if they thought they could get away with it. Is this the norm? No. But neither is it unheard of or nearly as rare as we'd like to think. As long as these people claim to follow Jesus, I feel a need to say their actions and words do not represent Jesus. Will we be hated by the world for expressing the truth? Of course we will, it's a give. But I'd rather be hated for the truth of God's Word than for a gross distortion of that Word.

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

Rico – I may be taking this totally out of context, so I will preface it by saying I saw it and decided to share what I think rather than suggesting you said anything in particular. Among other things, what you mean by "the civil right movement" may not be what I think of. So ... I see the civil right movement as a very restrained protest against a situation that must have grieved God greatly. It blesses me that some Christians “got it” and grieves me that so many didn't. I think being a faithful follower of Christ obligates us to stand up for those who are oppressed for something like the colour of their skin. All this to say I don’t see this as being anything like the civil rights movement.

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

Scott - As with any "movement" a few radicals take the lead, and become the face of the issue - even though many or even most do not agree with those radicals. We have the same thing on the church side of the issue - those who get news reports for spewing hate are not a true representation of the whole, but that is what people outside the church think. I am a HUGE believer in dealing with your own. If someone who claims to represent you says something, and you don't let it be known you do not agree, you have allowed them to speak for you. If a group does not protest those who speak wrongly in their name, the group is giving tacit approval to what's said. Rather than whining about being seen wrong, we need to change how we are seen by saying "They don't represent us" and then sharing what we believe. That is a significant part of why this post was made - I am taking a stand against those who speak lies and hate in the name of Jesus, and proclaiming what I think is His truth.

Scott
Scott

Really. Because most of my gay friends are more interested in going to work, raising their kids, and having "normal" lives than they are with "lusts and social upheaval". And they're asking the same spiritual questions I do: Does God love me? Does He answer prayer? Is there any hope in this f-ed up world? I think instead of getting "close to this issue", you'd do well to get close to some normal gay people.

Jason
Jason

Rico... But That can be said of a LOT of straight men as well. THey are far more interested in their own lusts than the cause of Christ. It is not a failing unique to homosexuals.

Rick
Rick

Thanks again for another reply Paul! I knew we were coming from the same page, just that I sometimes don't articulate it coherently! ;-) Your comment about those whom we should not break bread with is spot-on. Matthew 18 is one of those conversations the church is also truly loathe to speak of and yet because of that resistance the Church's house is falling apart. In fact it is my belief that the very reason the church is looked at as hateful and intolerant is because our own ranks are rife with folks who do not believe in sin much less believe the church should speak on such matters. The Church must look in the mirror and pray for truth to be revealed and then begin our housekeeping. The Spirit convicted me heavily on this account when I was first introduced to Casting Crowns. They are right something happens to the church between the altar and the door. Humility, Grace, Love & Patience. Great traits, hard to hang onto, even harder to give away. We won't always get it right, but so long as we endeavor to make amends when we get it wrong then our integrity grows stronger and people know we can be trusted. It has oft been said, "I trust him enough that I would follow him to storm the gates of Hell!" How much better when those of the world trust us enough to follow us to the throne. Peace Brother, I appreciate your ministry!

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

Rick - Well said all around, I agree with you. As to who we eat with, the Bible only prohibits us from eating with one group - so-called Christians who walk in sin and refuse to repent. Among the lost there is NO prohibition. Jesus ate with those who in His day were even more hated and outcast than homosexuals are in our day. If Jesus lives now, Zacchaeus the tax collector might well be Zacchaeus the openly gay man. You spoke of your gay and lesbian friends. You said they know you think their lifestyle is unbiblical, and yet you have deep relationships with them. I get that - totally. You said: "Is that not a prime example of how we can, and should, show Christ’s love, speak truth and not be party to their sin; all without swinging a club at their heads?" This is exactly right! I had a friend, an ordained minster, who felt called to drive a cab full time in a large city. The area he was assigned to happened to include a couple of apartment buildings where a number of strippers lived. These women used cabs to get to and from work. Female cab drivers tended to treat them like trash, while male cab drivers expected to be paid, or tipped, with something other than money. My friend became the preferred cabbie for these women because he treated them well. They all knew he was a pastor, and that he did not "approve" of their line of work, but they felt accepted, safe, and loved in a way most of them had not felt in a long time. Over a period of a couple of years several dozen of these women got saved. One of those started a ministry for women in the sex industry. The end result of this man's treating sinners with Christ like love was that hundreds of them were set free from the sex industry, and most of these found the ultimate freedom that comes from following Jesus. When we do it the way Jesus did it, we see people set free, we see them become followers of Him. When we don't do it as Jesus did it, we see people get angry at us, and reject Christianity as a religion of hate.

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

jon - I assume you mean things in the OT - things we are free from because of Christ. It can be confusing to divide what in the OT was ritual law and what was moral. However, given that Jesus clearly supported God's original design of one man and woman as marriage, and Paul clearly calls homosexuality wrong, I see no way to abandon that and say we are truly following Jesus. That said, I know those who I feel are following Jesus who disagree. Sorry to lose you, go in peace.

Tony
Tony

Actually, No Fault Divorce does just that. You cannot consider adultery in a property or custody hearing. In other words, adultery is "off limits" in such discussions. The whole notion of No Fault Divorce was to keep such unsavory discussion out of the courts. Protecting the sin of adultery from scrutiny in the courts. Just because it happened 40 years ago doesn't mean it didn't happen. I've long said the church is missing the boat, being focused on Same Sex Marriage when No Fault Divorce has already done grave damage to how Americans view marriage. There is little to protect as long as we have divorce on demand for any reason someone wants to divorce.

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

Doug - I agree 100% with your first paragraph. Sadly that's not what I see most of the time. As to the second, with the exception of the military, if you tried to fire someone for adultery I am sure you would be sued and lose. IOW, we are long past that with adultery. I am all for keeping marriage a man and a woman. If that was all that was being said and done, it would not be a problem in my mind. What is a problem is all the hate that is seen. Fred Phelps may be the over the top example, but there are plenty of others who are doing the same thing. This is what makes Christians look bad. There is a great deal of it, and very few of us are saying it's wrong. There is no need to spin to get stories of Christians who are bigoted against homosexuals. BTW, there are those who are advocating outlawing homosexuality in this country. It takes very little Googleing to find them. A few of those are referenced in this article from Christianity today. We don't hear about it much because they know it will never happen, but there plenty who would push for it if they thought they had any chance of getting it passed.

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