Homosexuality is sin. Gay marriage is an oxymoron. Transgenderism, and all that is associated with that movement, is found to be contrary to the natural order of things; a gross distortion of reality. To say such things is to throw a match into a vaporous pit filled with gasoline. The explosive ignition is a given, considering our current cultural climate.
The question Christians are faced with is how to respond? An individual that I have known and care for recently proposed the following question: “Would you accept a homosexual couple in your church?” Initially, I wanted to answer the question in a defensive manner. The knee jerk reaction was to state very clearly that I “do not” hate individuals like that, but after stumbling over a few words my thoughts began to compose and I asked a follow up question: “What do you mean by accept?”
I asked this, because in order for me to answer the question accurately, I need to know what is being meant by “accept.” Some would understand the term in a very broad way, others more narrowly. For me as a Christian my standard has to be “What does the Word of God say?” That’s the foundation that I have been called to stand upon. That is the standard that has been set which determines how I think, and how I live. Though I readily admit that I fall well short of God’s perfect standard, I must always strive for that goal. Failures are a part of life. No one who shoots a bow will always hit the mark perfectly every time they fire an arrow, and neither will a Christian live perfectly within the boundaries that God’s Covenant in Christ’ blood has established for those who profess faith in Him.
Now the concern of the individual who asked me whether or not I would accept a homosexual couple in my church was, would I be consistent with them. Christians are called to love their neighbors, even more so, we are called to love our enemies. If they are thirsty do I give them a drink? If they are hungry, do I give them something to eat? If they are cold, do I offer them clothing? If they are cut off from society (i.e. in prison), do I visit them (that is associate with them)?
Jesus ate with sinners and tax-collectors. He allowed a known whore to wash his feet with her tears, dry them with her hair and anoint them with oil. He touched lepers and had a drink in people’s homes. Things that his contemporaries in Israel would not do and even sneered at. So, how would I respond to a gay couple who came into my church?
I would try to love them as Jesus would love them.
Many people make an appeal to love in American culture, but few seem to know what the word truly means. True love is selfless, not selfish. True love is committed to the Triune God who created us, and treats all human beings with respect. All human beings are valuable, because all human beings have been molded after the same image; the image of God. Granted we are also all sinners, but that is the beauty of Christian love versus a worldly love. Christians are called to love people enough to share with them the truth of who they are and are therefore, unafraid to point out what they do is wrong. Since we are all sinners, we all need salvation. We need to be saved, but if someone does not love enough to tell the truth, then how will they know salvation is what they truly need.
Imagine a doctor that knew you had leukemia or pancreatic cancer, but refused to tell you because he/she didn’t want to upset you. They liked their conversations with you, and didn’t want to risk ruining the relationship they had with you. They wanted things to be joyful and lighthearted, and so they refused to tell you that your disease was terminal. That you had received a death sentence. What would we say about that kind of doctor? At the very least we would say they were unloving, but the way our current society is set up we would probably try to sue that doctor for malpractice.
Now apply that to a Christian who refuses to call sin, sin. Is that person really being loving? Are they loving God? Are they loving their neighbor? Sure, they do not hurt the person’s feelings, and they most certainly get to keep up appearances that their relationship with them is good and fine. But, honestly, how real is that relationship? Isn’t it superficial?
Imagine if I treated my children that way. I let them eat and drink whatever they want (and sadly some parents do this). Some of my kids think that a diet entirely made up of sugar is good for them. That caffeinated drinks are the only way to go. If I took the position of the person who is afraid to speak the truth out of love, what would be the result? Not only would my child be unhealthy and more than likely develop life altering, even life threatening, diseases, but I would be demonstrating my lack of love for my child.
A good parent will do what they can to protect their children from harm. They will warn them of unseen dangers. Even at the risk of making the child upset at them, possibly even resentful.
As a Christian pastor, I would most certainly accept a homosexual couple in my church. I would even have them in my home. However, I would also explain to them, because I love them as God’s creatures and a fellow human being, that what they are doing is wrong. They are living sinfully. I would warn them of what fearful judgment awaits us all, if we fail to repent and completely trust in the atoning work of Jesus Christ. As long as they were willing to hear the truth spoken in love, then I would welcome them in.
My goal is not to harm such people, but to save them from unseen consequences. My desire is for them to hear the gospel of Jesus in all its wonder and beauty. The fact is that though we are all sinners, and were all at one-time enemies of God, Jesus willingly laid His life down in order to save His creatures from their sin. That is true love. To lay your life down for those who hate you, in order that you might save them.
This short passage from 1 Corinthians illustrates this point. It details what people in sin are, and what they shall not receive; and yet, at the same time shows a radical change has taken place in the lives of some who have heard the gospel.
“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor passive homosexual partners, nor dominant homosexual partners, nor thieves, nor greedy persons, not drunkards, not abusive persons, not swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And some of you were these things, but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1Cor 6.9-11; italics added).
Jesus offers hope. We are all guilty of at least one of these things, and so too were the Corinthians to whom Paul was writing. Not all will get granted access into God’s Kingdom–i.e. heaven. However, hope remains for those who turn from their sin. “Some of you were these things…” What changed? People’s hearts were (and still are) changed through the hearing of the gospel. As a Christian if I fail to love even the least of these, then how will they ever hear about my Lord. How will they ever get an opportunity to embrace this everlasting hope? For this reason, I accept all manners of people, because I desire that all be as I am in Jesus; minus of course my own faults and frailties.