Homosexuality and Judgement

I just read a great article by Vicky Beeching, a recently out-of-the-closet Christian musician that I had the pleasure of meeting once. It was great because it was a deep, honest look into a person who truly loves God and has struggled with same-sex attraction. Her story, and those of many others, is a rebuke to the Church and it’s important that we understand her perspective. Though I disagree with Vicky’s conclusions, my heart goes out to her and the many people who are struggling as she has.

In many ways, the issue of homosexuality is *the* test of the western Church in this hour. It is exposing many of the deeply rooted problems in the Body. How devoted to the Scriptures are we? How far does grace reach? How well can we uphold God’s standards of love and judgment? These issues are at the forefront of today’s spiritual battle for America, and the manner in which we handle the issue of homosexuality will in some ways decide the future of America.

Firstly, I must say that I am absolutely convinced that the Bible clearly calls homosexuality sin. There is a great effort today to make the case that the Bible does not condemn committed, monogamous homosexual relationships, but I believe this is just not an honest reading of Scripture. For anyone struggling with this question, I highly recommend you read Michael Brown’s book Can You Be Gay and Christian? Brown is a serious scholar and has studied the arguments in depth and answers them with wisdom and compassion.

Even if we know what Scripture says on this issue, we must understand that lots of people (roughly 2% of the population or so) feel same-sex attraction. Can we understand these people, and speak to them and about them in such a way that brings freedom rather than bondage? Jesus appeared to be very gracious with those in sexual sin and most harsh with those in self-righteousness. We must understand why if we are to imitate him properly. Though I’m focusing in on homosexuality, let me be clear that all people are sinful and we all struggle with different sins.

I believe that sexual sin is generally tied to a struggle with loneliness. To the degree that we’re lonely, but don’t know how to get real intimacy, we will be tempted to turn to lust (which is improper sexual attraction). Lust looks like intimacy, feels like it, but is only an imitation. Nevertheless, people are drawn to it because they want the real thing but don’t know how to get it.

But why do some people struggle deeply with loneliness? The human heart was created to thrive in an environment of intimacy. Without strong relational bonds growing up, that person wonders deep down if he/she is truly lovable. We all struggle with this to a degree, but for some the wound is deep, especially if they’ve had strong rejection experiences. Struggles with lust, including homosexuality, are one manifestation of this type of rejection. This is why I think Jesus was generally very kind with those who struggled with sexual issues. He was communicating invitation and acceptance to them, because their struggle was with feeling rejected. It is important to note that he did not lower the standards – he told the woman in adultery to “sin no more,” for example. But he spoke tenderly to them because it was necessary. Conversely, he spoke harshly to those in self righteousness, because that was appropriate. Both these tactics must be used by the Church in this hour in dealing with homosexuality.

Most people who feel same-sex attraction struggle with feeling rejected by others. This is not necessarily because other people actually reject them, but the rejection wound will make them sensitive to it. As a Church, we must be wise with how we speak here. We have to pour out love and acceptance, and be personally devoted to those who struggle with sexual sin. It’s important that we keep our tone kind and that we be aware that those who struggle with this will easily feel rejected. In his book, Michael Brown says:

“when I’m asked by parents what to do when their child comes out as gay, I tell them this: Sit down with them and say, “You know that we don’t believe that God made you gay or that homosexuality is His will, but we want to make it clear to you that we love you unconditionally, that you are our child no matter what, that we will always be here for you, that we are totally committed to you, that we want to be involved in your life, and that what you shared with us doesn’t change your relationship with us or diminish our love for you in any way.” After that I encourage them not to bring the subject up to their child but rather to pray for him or her and demonstrate that unconditional love.”

The Church has to do a better job engaging people who are same-sex attracted. In the ways that people grow up with wounds of rejection, the Church is called to step in as spiritual mothers and fathers to embody the love of Christ in people’s lives. My spiritual father led a young man to the Lord in prison during an outreach there, and then continued to mentor him–visiting him in prison every year on his birthday–for thirty years until he was released. I think this is one of the most amazing testimonies of love that I’ve ever heard, but this father’s heart needs to be released in the Body in a general way. I believe it is an important thing that the Spirit is doing in our times. People have cravings for mentors, for a mature person to be personally devoted to them–not for a season but for life–and we must answer the call.

Though this kind of love and grace for the immature is essential, it’s equally important to understand the difference between immaturity and rebellion. Immaturity is recognizing that something is wrong but not knowing how to stop. Rebellion is refusing to accept sin as wrong, and leads to self-righteousness. There is great pressure in our culture to “come out” as gay, which is to identify with one’s homosexuality and declare that it is not sinful. This is the path to self-righteousness, and will harden a person to conviction and make them oppose God’s plans. It’s important that the Church defy the chorus that is declaring that homosexuality is not a sin. This is part of our God-given responsibility to be a light to the world. Doing just this kind of thing is what got Jesus crucified, because he testified to the world that its deeds were evil; it was the self-righteous that put him to death.

There is a great need in our time to know God’s glory as judge. Judgement gets a bad rap in many Christian circles, but I believe it is only because it is so misunderstood. Judgement is not evil, as nothing God does is evil, and if we are to imitate Christ we must understand this aspect of his heart. Christ came first as the sacrificial lamb to die for the sins of the world, but He’s coming again to judge the living and the dead and to rule the nations with a rod of iron. He is both lion and lamb, and it is a misrepresentation of God to point only at the lamb.

2 replies
  1. Artyom
    Artyom says:

    Hey Dennis,
    As usual well written post, good job on it. May I ask if you ve done any research to back up your point on connection between loneliness and lust and loneliness and homosexuality or more precisely loneliness and same sex attraction (where attraction is the core not the lust). You see, I started to feel same sex attractions well before I had sexual, lustful desire. Just thought I would share and give u some food for thought.

    Also, another things, you said that “nothing that God does is evil” – god of the Bible has killed millions of people including woman and children… Starting with the flood, when he drownd every one except for one family, to slaughtering first borns in Egypt and the genocide of people of Jericho. In Deut 13:6-10 God demands u kill ur wife and kids for worshiping other gods… And the list goes on and on… I mean… By, even, human standards that’s pretty evil.

    Reply
    • Dennis Cole
      Dennis Cole says:

      Hey Artyom! Thanks for reading; it’s always good dialoguing with you. I have not done any scientific research, though I have read several scientific studies on homosexuality (some ones I remember studied it as related to early sexual abuse). I take those with a grain of salt; I do not think that the science is really mature enough to speak authoritatively yet on many of these issues. I look forward to more studies being done, as I do believe in science, but I know that bias does exist. So all of these opinions are formed from my personal life and from working with others on a personal basis; I have been blessed to know and talk with several people who struggle in this area.

      Thanks for sharing your experience. I didn’t mean to suggest that same-sex attraction couldn’t precede puberty – I know that it often does. If I feel romantically attracted to a woman (or man) other than my wife, I consider that lust, as it is an “illegal” desire. I should probably edit the text to better reflect my understanding!

      I know that OT judgements are hard to understand in our culture. It would take quite a long post to answer your complaint sufficiently. I’ll just say that I can look on those things and honestly say that I do not believe they were evil and that in fact it was God’s love that caused him to do and say those things.

      Reply

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