2013 has been heralded as the gayest year ever. According to my worldview, this is indicative of a severe shift in the moral conscious of society. And while I often find myself wanting to engage in a meaningful discussion with others in our culture who disagree with me on this point, it seems to me that far too often their misconceptions of the Christian perspective creates a significant barrier that keeps this conversation from happening. In lieu of this, I thought mentioning a few of the popular misconceptions that have come to wrongfully caricature the Christian perspective might be the appropriate prolegomenon to handling such a discussion fairly and objectively.[1] In other words, you might consider this my plea for our culture of tolerance to avoid attributing something to the Christian perspective that it does hold. Below are five of these misconceptions (I repeat, these are misconceptions) that we must be quick to correct:

1. We believe homosexuality and premarital sex are the worst sins ever.

The truth: Ok, let me be unapologetically clear—we do believe that these are sins and are outside the bounds of what God has defined for the institution of marriage and human sexual experience. But, we do not believe that these sins are somehow worse than a number of others. These topics just happen to lie at the front line of the arena of disagreement between Christian ethics and social convention. We all can agree that things like adultery are unethical, but if society began to shift in its moral consensus on that point then that would be the issue that Bible-believing Christians would challenge. As it stands, this issue is one of the points of contention not because we weigh it as a greater sin, but because it happens to be one that we see brought up in public policy and in matters of church polity very often as of late.

Moreover, I personally believe that because of the emotion that this issue elicits, the media makes Christians appear to always be harping on this one issue. Controversy makes for good news… or at least popular news. Healthy churches do not typically harp on any one single sin.

2. We believe having same-sex attraction is a sin.

The truth: The argument often goes like this—“God made me the way I am, in His image even. I am attracted to others of the same sex. God made me gay. Therefore, it must be ok to be gay because God made me this way.” If I reject this argument on theological grounds, sometimes folks will assume then that I believe that having to struggle with same-sex attraction at all is a sin. However, this is not really accurate. I would be more inclined to argue that same-sex attraction is the result of sin, as it represents a brokenness in human sexuality that is consistent with my worldview.[2] I would suggest that in some cases—though I refuse to paint all homosexuals in all situations with the same broad brush—there can be a psychological predisposition toward same sex attraction. In these cases there is a psychological disorder. Of course, no one should then say that the state of having this disorder is a sin! The state of attraction is not the sin per se. Acting on it is. In the same way a married man might have the desire to step outside of his marriage bed but the Bible forbids it; he too is expected to adhere to the sexual restrictions of Scripture even when his biology says otherwise. The married man may struggle with lust, but the sin isn’t committed until he gives in to it (whether in mind, heart, or body).

3. We don’t care about your civil liberties because we only care about our political agenda.

The truth: On this point, I must concede that both Christians and those in the pro-LGBT camp are at times guilty of pushing their own agenda rather than trying to make a fair assessment of the policies at stake. Please don’t lump all of any camp into the same pot though. We are concerned with civil liberties. As a matter of fact, Christians have championed religious liberty for the entirety of American history.  We just also believe in upholding certain ethics for the good of society. Others may very well disagree with our ethics, but they should recognize, in the least, our good intentions. They may think we’re all a bunch of fanatics, but let’s have that conversation about government, ethical foundations, and civil liberty with a good and respectful understanding of one another.   

Please don’t lump all of any camp into the same pot though

4.  We are religious bigots and homophobes.

The truth: This is just name calling. The pro-LGBT camp doesn’t appreciate it when slang is thrown around in referring to them; so why is it appropriate to return fire with fire? Frankly, most of the time these terms don’t even apply. We’re not afraid of homosexuals, contrary to the “homophobic” label that gets used. We’re not intolerant bigots either because we believe they have the right to believe what they want about reality. This doesn’t, however, mean that we have to agree with one another. Simply because we disagree, that does not mean we are bigots; it just means we adhere to the laws of logic.

5.  We hate you and do not want you in our churches.

It means that we will speak the truth, but we will do it bathed in love.

The truth: Let me speak with some candor—I am deeply sorry for any instance that a genuine Christian has led those that struggle with homosexuality to feel unwanted in their church. While, yes, if you are a proclaiming Christian, you do fall under the discipline your church but that discipline is there to maintain the integrity of Jesus’ teachings and to see God’s people grow. It is not there to hurt people, but to help people. Sure, there are instances where church discipline needs to be enacted, sometimes seemingly in a harsh way. However, in general, the response of a true and mature church will be to love someone who is struggling with homosexuality. This does not mean that we will change our convictions nor does it mean that we will simply look the other way when someone is involved in an active gay lifestyle. It does mean that someone, claiming to be a Christian, is subject to rebuke if he or she refuses to stop living a sinful lifestyle. However, it also means that we will recognize that we all are sinners and all are needy, and yet God offers us grace and provides for our needs. It means that we will serve them and help them however we can. It means that we desperately want them in our church, which we consider our family, and we want them to have a healthy sexual relationship. It means that we will speak the truth, but we will do it bathed in love.

 

 

[1] I do realize that there is a growing movement in certain denominations toward a so-called “love hermeneutic” and there other denominations that have become increasingly “tolerant” of homosexuality in the church. While I am adamantly opposed to such movements, my intent here is not to provide my biblical case against them. Here, I am assuming what I consider the biblical view. Namely, that if someone is a Christian, he ought to believe that the practice of homosexuality is a sin. I would invite those who disagree with me on this point to a respectful dialogue. My (Josh) contact information can be found on the “Staff” section of this site.

[2] In a world free from sin, perfect sexual and emotional satisfaction will be found between a husband and wife. This is not a union best described in a sterile way as “one man and one woman for life,” but it would be better described as the blessed relationship of two complementary creatures that experience each other intimately and satisfyingly for an entire life as ordained in the good will of God. However, we live in a world that is broken because of sin. Therefore, there are ways in which thousands of years of man’s sinful decisions have perpetuated a society with all sorts of troubles—relationship issues, psychological issues, physical issues, etc.

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