Friday, December 12, 2008

Should Christians be hateful towards homosexuals?

Should Christians be hateful towards homosexuals? The answer to this provocative question is: no. Should we swing to the opposite end of the spectrum by accepting the homosexual lifestyle as good and valid? I believe the faithful Christian can do neither of these things. But if so, how should Christians respond to the gay community? This issue has become very dear to my heart because I have family, friends and coworkers that are actively living a homosexual lifestyle. It is my conviction that how the Church chooses to respond to the issue of homosexuality will either bring glory or shame to Christ’s reputation.

This past Sunday my pastor began his sermon by pointing out that fifty years ago there were some behaviors that were considered socially unacceptable and even disgusting. One such behavior was homosexuality. It was considered taboo, and was something people whispered about. Consider the stark contrast we face today with gay pride parades made up of thousands upon thousands of people boldly demanding their sinful behavior not just be accepted but approved by all.

The gay and lesbian community, as well as that of the political Left, argue their case for same-sex marriage as though they are being denied civil liberties. I have to ask those making this argument: do you believe the founding fathers of this nation believed that marriage can be defined any which way? Of course my question becomes irrelevant to the one who doesn’t believe we need to have a consistent basis by which we interpret the Constitution. Instead today, the U.S. Constitution is a “living document” that can mean whatever the audience wants it to mean. This danger was well known by our nation’s founders, and it was their hope that this aspect of the Enlightenment mentality which led to the events in France would not be replicated on American soil. In more subtle ways we have experienced the same tragedies of France, although this was greatly slowed by our strong Puritan and Evangelical influence.

Americans, like the rest of Western Culture, have openly embraced the Enlightenment philosophies which led us toward Post-Modernism (which is really just a form of Modernism repackaged). It is time that we recognized the sad state of our culture so we can better respond to our neighbors. We are not becoming less Christian. No, our society is unashamedly anti-Christian.

I have memories from my childhood that seem so very different from today. I grew up in the 1980’s and 1990’s, but even then I vividly remember teachers in the public schools I attended advising us to pray during our official “moments of silence” set aside at the beginning of each day. Could you even imagine something like this happening today??? This would be considered an outrage today followed immediately by a-historical cries of “Separation of Church and State! Separation of Church and State!” My point in this blog is not to defend the idea that we should begin fighting for prayer in our schools (though this would certainly be a good thing), but rather that we should turn our attention to an even greater issue: the godlessness of our society.

The rampant homosexuality in our society is one evidence of how godless America has become. One of my elders, James, has pointed out many times that we are not waiting for the wrath of God to come upon America … we are presently experiencing God’s wrath. The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 1, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (1:18, NASB). Did you catch when the text describes God’s wrath being revealed against ungodliness? The Apostle uses the present tense, which means that the wrath of God is presently being revealed against sin. In fact, Paul’s argument later in the text is that homosexual behavior is an expression of God’s wrath. Verse 24 begins, “Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity…;” verse 25, “For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie;” and verse 26, “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions…”

When men utterly abandon true religion, we are not waiting for God’s wrath; this is an expression of God’s wrath.

Having said all that, I still firmly believe that we are to love all kinds of men, including gays and lesbians. But my motivation for loving homosexuals is not primarily for them. My foremost reason is to bring honor and glory to my God so that I might further increase His reputation and fame. Jesus put it this way, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16, NASB). If we consider that we are to love even our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48) then surely this includes the homosexual community. By loving homosexuals we are in agreement with God’s non-redemptive love that He has for all of His creation - expressed by God as He gives blessings to the righteous and the wicked - but our good works directly bring glory to God the Father. This should be our primary goal.

The very idea of loving gays and lesbians is not commonly disputed among Christians. What is, however, are the ways we should love them. In my experience, most who call themselves Christians believe that our love should be limited to simply expressing a kind attitude towards them, and hopefully maybe someday they will ask why the Christians are so different. This has only been asked of me twice … maybe three times in my entire life.

The goal of these Christians may be to have a positive influence towards homosexuals for the gospel of Jesus Christ. The problem with this self-limiting perspective is that the only way the Holy Spirit has chosen to reveal Himself to sinners is by the proclamation of the gospel. It saddens me that I feel I need to mention that a true proclamation of the gospel includes words … “How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard?” (Romans 10:14, NASB).

Christians ought to preach the full gospel to the homosexual community. This is the only solution to the wages of their sinful behavior and lifestyle. We cannot fall into the trap so many have given into - the belief that it is better to preach a gospel expressing only the love of God. While it is true that God the Father loves His people so much so that He sent God the Son to die as a substitute to completely atone for their sins, this message of unending love is meaningless if we do not first clearly explain the depths of man’s sinfulness. I would even suggest that when talking with homosexuals we raise the issue of homosexuality. There are two reasons for this: (1) Homosexuality is their defining characteristic, much like those who faithfully practice a non-Christian religion; and (2) because Jesus told us to consider the cost before coming to him in faith. Christ is calling every man under the Law of God to repentance, “In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31, NASB).

The good news about Jesus Christ is a message of repentance from sin to Christ. Any proclamation that is lacking a serious discussion of sin and repentance is not a gospel proclamation.

Our attitude towards gays and lesbians should be one of sympathy because we share an important quality with them: sinfulness. All men are born with the guilt of Adam’s sin imputed to them, and all the days of our life we accumulate personal sins and guilt. Even though not all sins are of the same degree, all sin leads to physical and spiritual death - whether it be lying, stealing or homosexual acts. What’s more, many Christians today were formerly practicing the gay lifestyle, “And that is what some of you were. 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 6:11, NASB).

Why am I making such a deal about homosexuality??? Here is why: “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, NASB). A person must sacrifice the entirety of their lives to God by turning from their sin - the essence of true repentance - to faith in Christ … which is only possible through the power of the Holy Spirit. I don’t believe that what Paul meant here in 1 Corinthians 6 is that if you commit one of these sins, like slander, that you prove yourself to be an unbeliever. Rather, the sins being discussed here are a defining mark in one’s life. This is the reason we must be faithful to boldly and clearly proclaim the gospel of repentance to homosexuals.

God, in His wisdom has decided to use the foolishness of preaching (1 Corinthians 1:18) to save sinners. It is our greatest honor to be messengers for our Lord to all men, including the homosexual community. The message they need to hear is one full of God’s perfect ability to save those to the uttermost through the gospel of repentance unto life. As Alpha and Omega Ministries regularly teaches: it is our job to preach the whole gospel, not to edit it.

And that’s a wrap =). Thanks if you stuck with me through that.

Because of Christ’s perfect ability to save sinners,