By Nic Bertsch
The tide of the culture has changed, and there is no denying it. There was a time, not too long ago, when the topic of homosexuality was hardly on anyone's mind, especially within the church. But today, the ground has shifted so much that it seems like the only time the church is even newsworthy is when this topic is up for debate. Things have changed so fast, and so aggressively, that many Christians have been left with no idea how to even approach the issue, for fear of being labelled a bigot or a homophobe. The reality is, however, that the church has been dealing with the issue of homosexuality for the last two thousand years. In this post I want to lay out some of the necessary tools for approaching this issue from a Christian perspective. I have named it the 4 C's approach (patent pending).
The first C is Courage. The fact that the issue has become so politically charged means that it requires courage for anyone to involve themselves in the issue if they refuse to adopt the politically-correct view. In many cases, you will be called a bigot or a homophobe, regardless of your motivation or tone, simply for saying that homosexuality is not what God—or evolution for that matter—intended for humanity. Jesus predicted this for those who stood with Him, and we should not be surprised or deterred by it. Courage is also so vital, because that is what our friends, co-workers and family members who identify as LGBT need. They need someone who will have the courage to love them unconditionally, in the true sense of the word. There are enough people in the culture who are going to celebrate their chosen lifestyle, and push them even further into it. To truly love someone requires having the courage to tell them the truth. It means telling them what they need to hear, not what they want to hear, but loving them as a human and not a project.
Second, Compassion. While traditionally holding a strong stance against homosexuality in the past, the church has many times had zero compassion. It has, in many ways, failed to reach out to the LGBT community, and has damaged many people in the process. Every single human being, regardless of size, ethnicity, capability, identity, or attraction, is created in the image of God. The intrinsic value of human beings is part of what makes the Christian worldview what it is—the best explanation for reality. However, it has been rare, especially in the past, for the church to act like they really believe that. There have been many that have looked down their noses at the LGBT community, self-righteously condemning the entire group without the slightest hint of compassion for the truly horrible struggles each person must have gone through.
There are sadly many members of the LGBT community that are former Christians, utterly rejected by their communities simply because of attractions that they did not choose. We as the body of Christ are called to be better than this, to love better than this. We must be more intentional about creating an environment where people can talk openly about their struggles, without fear of condemnation, and where loving fellowship and accountability are readily available for all who seek to deny themselves and follow Christ—whatever their struggles may be.
Third, Consistency. We as Christians, while affirming the Bible's clear teaching on the sinfulness of homosexual behaviour, need to be equally consistent in condemning everything else the Bible calls sin as well. Pornography addiction is a massive problem in the church, even though few Christians are willing to speak out against it, admit to their struggles with it, or be held as accountable for it as I am sure we would demand of someone struggling with same-sex attraction. Divorce rates in some churches are virtually the same as amongst non-Christians. Sex before marriage, cohabitation, immodesty, and lust are rampant within Christian circles, and the Bible condemns all of these behaviours. Christians are called to crucify all aspects of the depravity and brokenness that we struggle with, and we need to be as forgiving and patient with those who are battling with unwanted same-sex attraction as we are with everyone else. Homosexual behaviour is not the worst sin, but rather one of many.
Another area where the church has not been consistent is in promoting the value of singleness as much as marriage. There are many within the church, both heterosexual and homosexual, who have chosen, or been forced by circumstance, to remain single. While we preach continually on the virtues of marriage, those who are single are often left behind, convinced more and more that they are missing something or are less than what they should be. It is this dynamic, along with the radical individualism in our culture, that has made the idea of celibacy for same-sex attracted individuals a non-option in their minds. In reality, Christ has the ability to fulfil the needs and desires of all who seek Him, and those who are single can be much more fruitful in their service to Him than most married couples often can.
Fourth, non-Compromise. Jesus demands something from every single person that wishes to follow Him: total devotion.
And He was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me . . ." (Luke 9:23 NASB, emphasis added).
Self-denial is expected of anyone who wishes to follow Jesus, gay or straight. There is no reason to adopt the pro-gay theology being pushed on the church. The Bible is clear, and it always has been. For thousands of years, it had been understood that openly and unrepentantly practising homosexuality, like many other things, was unacceptable for professing Christians. The Bible gives no exceptions, and there have been no new textual, historical, archeological or any other kind of discoveries that should change that. We must not compromise on this issue, even if we are hated for it at the moment—and let's face it, we are. We must not begin to call good what God calls sin. As the culture continues to promote sexual anarchy in so many different ways, the body of Christ will end up being the place of refuge for those who have tried to redefine reality and been damaged in the attempt. We are called to be counter-cultural, and to be persecuted for fidelity to Christ is to be expected. He is worth it.
When we approach this issue with the attitude of Jesus, full of grace and truth, we can have a lasting and meaningful impact on the lives of those who identify as LGBT in our midst. We must have the courage to reach out, the compassion to unconditionally love, the consistency to demand of ourselves what we demand of others, and the fortitude to not compromise in the face of cultural pressure. We must not try to convince anyone that heterosexual attraction is necessary to follow Jesus. God requires holiness, not heterosexuality. Changing people is God's job, not ours. Our job is to be ambassadors for Christ, and show those in every walk of life that He is worth whatever sacrifice they have to make.
Nick Bertsch is a 31 year old husband and father of two from Calgary, Alberta. He is an electrician by trade, but has been an avid student of Christian apologetics for many years. He is in the process of obtaining a Certificate of Apologetics from Biola University, and runs a blog site called Defending Truth Apologetics which can be found at defendingtruth.ca