By Jeff White
You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who isn’t accepting of homosexuality in this day and age. The awareness of homosexuality is something that has been on the rise since the early 20th century and has boomed in the last 20 years. It’s such a societal norm, it seems, that anyone who speaks out against it, be it with good intentions or not, seems to be immediately labelled a “redneck,” “bigot,” or “homophobe.” This isn’t to say that the LGBTQ community doesn’t still face hardships, but are Christians one of those hardships? Should they be?
The Bible is explicit about homosexuality (for example, Lev. 18:22; Lev. 20:13; 1 Cor. 6:9; Rom. 1:26-28; 1 Tim. 1:10) and there’s no doubt that the act is a sin and that we live in a world full of sin, be it homosexuality or anything else. The issue is intrinsically emotional, largely because many people in the LGBTQ community associate it with who they are; it becomes their identity. When you address the issue, you in turn are attacking them as a person, or at least that is how it is perceived. How should Christians respond, then? I’d like to focus the rest of this article on discussing just that.
I wasn’t raised in a Christian home. It was a home where we were taught that simply being a good person was enough. I embraced this ideology and in turn rejected others, like Christianity, because it seemed to me that organized religion brought out the worst in people. Later on I discovered that a close relative was gay, and while at first, admittedly, it was strange, I got used to it and embraced it. Years later, after going through some struggles of my own and after years of rejecting Him, I finally found Christ. It was amazing; I had felt a wholeness I had never felt before and knew I was in the right place. I started reading the Bible every day, and then—bam! It hit me. I started reading these verses which deal with homosexuality, relating it to my relative, and it broke my heart. I was lost and confused and unsure how to proceed with the issue. I decided the best course of action was to pray about it and give it some time. I was blessed that over time a biblical response started to develop.
The first piece that started coming into place was that we are all children of God, His creation, and He loves us all (John 3:16). This should be our identity and the identity we encourage others to have. When we put our identity in Christ instead of what we do, who we know, or what we own, it changes our whole being and how we relate to the world. It’s important to remember that Jesus died for everyone’s sins, not just yours, mine, or some sins but not others. One thing I’ve noticed among some Christian groups is what I will call “Sin Aristocracy.” We need to watch and make sure we aren’t glorifying or putting some sin above others. God hates all sin, and because of His perfect holiness, the sinner as well (Psalm 5:5; Psalm 11:5; Lev. 20:23; Prov. 6:16-19). We need to look deep inside of ourselves and see our own depravity and need for Christ (Matt. 7:1-5) before we can help others with theirs in a truly gracious way.
The second is lifestyle evangelism. We need to strive to emulate Jesus 24/7 and not just for a few hours on Sunday or during certain events. When we emulate Christ we also emulate that special attractiveness that He had. Our goal should always be to bring others the love that Christ has for us, and ultimately an eternity with Him in heaven, and we cannot do that on our own (1 John 4:19). This is important because as Jesus so rightly pointed out in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 7:15-20), a tree will be known by its fruits. If the majority of Christians propagate an untrue, unsavoury idea of what Christianity is, it will have a negative effect and turn others away from Christ and gain all Christians the title of hypocrites and bigots. It is also important because our actions teach others what Christianity is and it is my belief that when people truly know Christ and not just some secularized version of Him, they will hunger for His presence in their lives as well.
Thirdly, and what I think is the most important part, prayer, patience, and trust. It’s important to remember that we can only control our own actions and thoughts. Any attempt to control others or change their hearts will almost always blow up in our faces. We need to continue to love each person, regardless of their sin, for who they are, creations of our Heavenly Father and His children. Love doesn’t mean accepting the sin, though, but it certainly means accepting the person. It is important to pray for those around us that they can and will be delivered from their sin, but it’s also important to include ourselves in that prayer, that we might be like Christ and be the salt and light of this world (Matt. 5:13-16). Finally we must trust in God and have patience that our prayers will be answered and the lives of those around us will be changed to glorify and please God, in His time, not ours (Matt. 6:25-34).
This was not meant as a bash on Christians, but rather a reminder of what we need to do in order to treat our LGBTQ brothers and sisters with grace and respect. After all, we can only control what we do. This also isn’t to say that Christians are the only ones to blame; there are certainly other religions, and the LGBTQ community itself, who are also at fault. There are always two sides to a story. Equality is never equal; it’s a condition that plagues us all. We all want just a little more than someone else, to be treated extra specially, and it’s not until then that we see ourselves as equal to the other. We need to go beyond that plague and follow Christ, humble ourselves, and serve others. I truly believe that this formula is the key to treating our LGBTQ brothers and sisters with godly love and respect.
In closing, pray steadily, always emulate Christ, and trust in our Heavenly Father.