People trapped in the sin of homosexuality have a valid point when they accuse Bible-believing Christians of being unloving. All too frequently, we communicate the erroneous message that God has a particular disdain, not just for homosexual behavior, but for homosexuals themselves.
Don’t misunderstand me as softening my conviction that homosexuality is, indeed, sinful. Scripture uniformly condemns it as a violation of God’s intent for human sexuality to serve as a representation of Christ’s relationship with the Church (Ephesians 5:25-33, particularly verse 32). In my 33 years of studying what God’s Word says on this topic (including reading pro-gay theologians like Troy Perry and Sylvia Pennington), I have never seen solid Scriptural evidence that God endorses any form of sexual expression outside of heterosexual marriage. Okay, I’m politically incorrect. But I believe I correctly understand the Bible’s teaching on this subject.
Yet Christians can maintain a Scriptural position on homosexuality without treating members of the LBGTQ community like moral lepers. In dealing with these friends, family members and coworkers, we have the same responsibility to treat them with respect that we have towards everyone else on the planet. Consequently, let’s remember a few simple principles.
First and foremost, we need to keep in mind our own sinfulness. Recently, the Lord used frustrating circumstances to confront me with sins in my life that should have been dealt with decades ago. As frustrated as I was with the outward circumstances, I was much more frustrated by my sinful response to them. Although I’ve finally accepted the Lord’s forgiveness for falling (yet again!) into my pre-Christian behavior patterns, the episode reminded me that I’m definitely not God’s little darling.
Galatians 6:1 directs Christians to correct sinful behavior in others with an attitude of humility, remembering how easily we fall when we’re tempted. I may not be tempted towards lesbian behavior, but I’m tempted in other ways that grieve the Holy Spirit just as deeply. How dare I assume an attitude of moral superiority with people in the LBGTQ community when I need God’s grace every bit as much as they do! The Bible leaves us no room for sanctimony.
We also need to understand that people who experience same sex attractions or feelings that they were born with the wrong gender assignment honestly can’t distinguish between their sin and the essence of who they are. When we say homosexuality is sinful, they believe we’re saying that God rejects them.
Truthfully, I still haven’t figured out how to help them understand the distinction between their personhood and their sin. I sometimes try to explain that I often feel as if anger is intrinsic to who I am, the Lord has convinced me through His Word that I must confess anger as a sin (the sin of murder, according to Matthew 5:21-22) and repent of it. That’s actually the proper explanation, but it’s extremely difficult for them to accept. I can only pray that the Holy Spirit will open their eyes.
Someone who used to be close to me gave up his battle against homosexuality several years ago. Since then, I’ve read his various writings, which have helped me understand his perspective. While I believe he is completely wrong in embracing homosexuality as his identity, the Lord has used his writings to give me empathy for people who struggle in this way.
Empathy, of course, must never cause Christians to compromise God’s Word. On any sin, actually. We must proclaim the Gospel to everyone, assuring them that the blood of Christ cleanses all sinners, regardless of sexual expression.
9 Or 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 men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. ~~1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (ESV)