Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Five Truths About Homosexuality Every Christian Needs to Learn

1. There's No Such Thing as a Homosexual

Homosexual is an adjective not a noun. There are people with same-sex attraction, people who engage in homosexual acts, but there are not homosexuals. See what I did there? I identified them as people, because that is what they are. People who happen to be attracted to others of the same sex.

Who was the genius who decided sexual orientation was a person's defining characteristic. I don't go around identifying myself as a heterosexual as that one thing can define who I am. I am a husband, a father, a teacher, a writer and a follower of Jesus, a child of God. I certainly don't identify myself by my sins, I don't introduce myself by saying, "Hi, I'm Zach, a luster and coveter."

Rather than identifying themselves by the full majesty of their God image and all that it entails, people who are homosexual often identify themselves by something as trivial as sex. And we (Christians) help push them to do that. We have so marginalized homosexuality apart from all the other "socially acceptable" sins that homosexual people feel they have had no choice but to band together, to form a community and a culture based around their attraction and their practice. A culture full of marches, rainbows, sweater vests, and a hundred other things that have nothing to do with sexual orientation.

People with same sex attraction are so much more than that. They are people made in the image of God, with potential to do any number of wonderful, almost miraculous things. Many of them engage in constructive things for society, working in essential jobs, making beautiful art, volunteering to help the poor, and giving generously.  And until we learn to see them as people, we will continue to isolate them and marginalize them. And they will not want to listen to us either.

2. Homosexual People Are Not Destroying Our Society

We did that long before gay marriage became part of the national debate. We destroy society with our greed and our lust, and most importantly by our denial of God as the Maker and Sustainer of all things. At least, that is how I read the Bible.

The first chapter of Romans explains the downfall of a society. First people suppress the truth about God (Romans 1:18). They do not thank him for what He has done for them (1:21). Then they worship other things, created things (1:22). As a result of their evil, God gives society over to unnatural things like same sex acts (1:26-27).

Homosexual acts are not the cause of evil, they are the effect. People do it because we've already ruined society, because we've already been unfaithful to God. They do it because we worship money, possessions, nature, and ourselves instead of worshiping God

When we look at sins that do the most to destroy society, we should look at divorce and heterosexual irresponsibility which leads to millions of fatherless children, broken homes, increased poverty, higher crime rates, These children face more learning difficulties, emotional and behavioral problems and are more likely to do the same thing all over to their children. That is the kind of thing we should be getting offended about, not whether or not gay marriage is legal.

3. The Causes of Homosexuality are Complicated and not Fully Known

Here is what we do know. There is no "gay gene" no genetic predetermination to homosexuality, although some evidence indicates certain genetic markers correlate to homosexuality. Statistical correlations have been found linking homosexuality to sexual abuse, paternal involvement, and birth order. But for every identified "cause" of homosexual attraction, there are innumerable exceptions, people who don't fit the stereotype.

So it would be irresponsible to say you're gay because your dad didn't love you or you are lesbian because you were abused.  It would be equally irresponsible to say someone engages in homosexual acts  because they were genetically predetermined to do so, as if they are an animal with no control over what they do.

Homosexuality is complicated just like people are complicated. There is no easy fix to make someone stop having same-sex attraction. We must hold up the truth of God's word without denying the complexity of homosexuality, and the complexity of the people it affects.

4. Homosexual Acts Are Sinful

I'm sure this will be the most critiqued point, especially with a certain segment of my readership. I don't mind if you disagree, just make sure it is for the right reasons. A lot of people are reevaluating their stance on homosexuality, not based on the Bible or what they believe God actually wants, but based on popular opinion. Jesus had no trouble taking an unpopular view from time to time.

I'll admit that I am not a theologian, and I don't have a mastery of New Testament Greek. But here is how I see the Bible.  It's not like homosexuality is mentioned only one or two places in Scripture. It comes up a lot. It is assumed and condemned as wrong every time it comes up with no exception, from Genesis to Revelation. It goes against the fabric of how God created the two sexes to interact. I don't buy argument that it is not a merely cultural wrong based in the society of that day. Look at the context it comes up in.
We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine  that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me. (1 Tim 1:9-11 NIV)
According to the Apostle Paul (and inspired by God's Spirit according to how I understand Scripture) those practicing homosexuality are in the same boat as others who practice anti-gospel behavior such as murderers and liars and heterosexually immoral people. We would not say murder is a cultural issue that is no longer relevant to us in the 21st century, why would we attempt to say the same thing about anything else on the list?

And if people practicing homosexual sin are in the same boat as murderers and liars and heterosexually immoral people, no one of these sins is more evil and defiling than the rest. And as I look at this list, I see a couple places where my name could be added. I am no less guilty than they. I thank God for His grace to not destroy me for it.

I think it's worth noting that homosexual acts are sinful, but same-sex attraction is not. God does not hold us accountable for feeling a certain way, but for what we do with those feelings. At the end of the day, we are all sinners, and all dependent on God's grace. Let's extend the grace given to us to people who are homosexual, fellow sinners, fellow humans.

5. God Demands We Love Homosexual People

"Love your neighbor.. love your enemy." However you view gay people, the response is the same. God demands it.

It is easy to love people like you. It is easy to love people you agree with. If we did not believe homosexuality was wrong, it would be no great feat to love gay people. It would be a given.

Our love is best demonstrated in accepting people we disagree with, loving people we believe are wrong, sitting at the table with people we believe are sinning. That's exactly what Jesus did. He was a friend of tax collectors and sinners (Luke 7:34), the kind of sinners that religious people in his day thought were too evil to associate with. Jesus did not condone their sin, but he never let it come between himself and them.

Following Jesus in a culture where homosexuality is becoming normalized means associating with homosexual people. And in associating with them we change too. We don't have to change our beliefs about sin or the Bible, but we will change our attitudes toward homosexual people. We will realize they have legitimate concerns about discrimination and dehumanization. We will learn to empathize with them, to work toward common goals, and to see the good in them. We will see them as Jesus does.

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