“Mom, Dad a friend of mine at school has told everyone that he’s gay. Everybody thinks that’s great, that he’s brave and real. What do I say to him? What do I do?”
“Pastor, I want to join your church; but you need to know I’m a lesbian. I am a Christian and trying to follow Jesus. Can I be part of your congregation?”
“Fred, I guess you heard that your uncle has ‘come out.’ What do you think we should do? Are you going to invite him to the next family get-together?”
Maybe you’ve never faced a situation similar to what Fred or the pastor or Mom or Dad faced. But many Christians experience these kinds of situations frequently in our ever-changing world. So, how do you think we can help Christians who do have to respond to such questions? Do we need another sermon or Bible study or blog on biblical sexuality and God’s standards? And beyond answering questions, how do we treat folks around us who admit or demonstrate they are not “straight”?
One way to help is to make sure we don’t confuse sexual orientation and behavior. The Bible clearly identifies some sexual behavior as wrong in God’s eyes, ranging from lustful looks to sexual slavery. Male or female, confessing Christian or unbeliever, the Bible is clear on the behavior. But, while the sexual-identity confusion surrounding us today can lead a person into immoral behavior, not every person acts out their identity in an immoral fashion. There are in our midst Christians who are unsure about their sexual orientation, straight or not, yet they live godly lives.
Another way for us to help is to recognize there are two enemies we have to face—and neither one of those enemies are those persons who themselves have a different sexual orientation. They are not the enemy.
One of the enemies is the Devil himself. I am not referring here to some “the devil made me do it” alibi for sinful behavior. But it is the Devil who attacks individuals, communities, churches, our whole culture. He champions freedom with his “anything goes” motto. He makes sexuality a commodity. He robs his victims of any hope of finding an identity they can live with. He convinces people that morality of any sort is just a human convenience that may be redefined daily. Sadly, he has made headway in “dismembering” the body of Christ as he enlists church leaders who add to the confusion.
The other enemy we face in this conflict is an enemy that often inhibits our willingness and ability to care for folks with a different sexual orientation. As a Pogo cartoon put it in 1971, “we have met the enemy and he is us.” We Christians are too often that other enemy.
How can it be that we who are trying to be the salt and light for our world seem often to be an enemy of folks who need us? Is it because many of us have a long tradition of prejudice against “____” (insert the word you or your friends used to make fun of that boy or girl who was different). We act as if sexual orientation other than what we call normal is contagious. As a result of our loathing of some kinds of sexual immorality, we have ignored our pride, envy, injustice, and self-absorption; sins the Bible so often condemns. Granted, the “in your face” attitude of some persons and organizations who champion the rights of the sexually challenged makes it easier to push back in anger. But, we must not let intolerance directed toward us as believers encourage anger, fear, hatred toward others.
We need wisdom to deal with this whole issue of sexuality. But we need love as well as wisdom. We need to love folks that we think are unlovable. Jesus told the Good Samaritan parable (Luke 10:30-37) to make the point that we are to love folks we think are unlovable..