Wednesday, August 11, 2010

are christians homophobic?

here's the link to audio of the message i preached this past sunday - are christians homophobic?

during my preparation, i began to realize just how many people's lives are touched by this issue, both because of their own struggles and those of loved ones. and i was reminded of the fundamental truth that christians are sinners saved by God's grace and still being transformed by it. may we embody that grace in word and deed in a broken, searching world.

here's the insert we included in the bulletin with additional resources for study, outreach, and help:

Are Christians Homophobic?
Additional Resources

Look for yourself: Scriptures that speak directly to the issue of sex between members of the same gender
  • Genesis 19 – The story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, in which a group of men had attempted to rape a male visitor to the community. Question: is this really comparable to loving gay relationships today? Compare Ezekiel 16:49-50.
  • Leviticus 18:22, 20:13 –Verses that prohibit sexual behavior between members of the same gender, in the context of a broader call to live completely committed to God and therefore differently from the world.
  • Romans 1:26-27 – Describes the descent into same-gender sexual relations as part of the outcome of rejecting God.
  • 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 – Says that those involved in same-gender sex (and others, including drunkards, revilers and the covetous!) will not inherit the Kingdom of God – but also notes that this is exactly where some of the Corinthians had come from, so there is hope in God!
  • 1 Timothy 1:9-11 – Verses that say that same-gender sex does not conform to the Gospel.
In addition to these verses, one will want to look at passages on creation and marriage, asking the question, “What is God’s design and intention?”

What Christians Can Do (a few suggestions from Love is an Orientation by Andrew Marin)
  • Don’t cut short the conversation – look for opportunities to build trust and relationship. Don’t reduce gay people to their sexual orientation.
  • Prepare to not preach at, argue with, debate, or fight gays and lesbians, especially when visiting their world. Go as a learner, and pray that you will be full of God’s love.
Words matter
  • Ditch the phrase, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” Since gay sexual behavior is closely aligned with gay identity, hating gay sexual behavior is interpreted as hating gay people. A common reply: “Matthew 7 says not to judge while you’ve got a log in your own eye. Isn’t it hypocritical to single out this one sin and make it worse than the others? Straight people ___________ , yet they are still accepted.”
  • Calling someone a ‘homosexual’ is derogatory – so don’t do it. ‘Homosexuality’ carries a different cultural meaning and is apparently not as offensive.
Actions matter
  • Address your own issues
  • Do your homework – which may open doors to service and being a living witness, not just a talking one.
Noticing matters
  • Seek out those who don’t fit easily.
Where to Look for Additional Information

Warning: as always, read with discernment. Pray! Compare all things to God’s Word. Ask questions. Don’t just accept what is said because it’s in a book or on a web site.

Love is an Orientation (Andrew Marin, IVP, 2009). A fantastic challenge to Christians to build bridges of loving relationship with the gay community by a guy who is walking his talk. However, his reluctance to speak directly to certain questions about homosexuality makes me… nervous.

Straight and Narrow (Thomas Schmidt, IVP, 1995). A clear presentation of the biblical Christian view of homosexuality. Described on Amazon as “the most comprehensive, persuasive and readable Christian book on the subject.”

Where Does a Mother Go to Resign? (Barbara Johnson, Bethany, 2004). Recommended by a friend of mine who has a gay son, this is the story of one mother’s journey of loving her gay son and what she has learned about God’s faithfulness along the way.

What the Bible Says – and Doesn’t Say – About Homosexuality (Mel White, Soulforce, 2007, online here). This is written by an author (he ghostwrote books for Billy Graham, Pat Robertson, and Jerry Falwell!) and pastor who is now actively gay. This is a good summary of the case for gay theology – the full affirmation of gay identity and lifestyle in the church. I am not persuaded by his biblical interpretation (especially, see the charitable, clear response by scholar Daniel Wallace here).

Articles on homosexuality by Mario Bergner online here. Once an avowed gay man and active in the lifestyle, he is now married and the father of five children. He is currently an Anglican pastor and serves as the director of Redeemed Lives, a ministry that provides pastoral care for those overcoming same-sex attraction.

Articles from Desert Streams, a Christian ministry offering “Christ-centered help for those struggling with sexual and relational problems,” online here. Also, consider Living Waters, their ministry for the sexually broken, gay or straight.

Friday, August 06, 2010

bend us, Lord

n flies out to houston in three days. she and m will meet m's mom and spend the week there, shopping for the things she'll need to set up house and having a chance to get to know the city. b will join them on wednesday, and i'll fly in late on that saturday. we'll move her into the dorms at rice the next morning, have lunch together on campus, and say goodbye at 1pm.

just like that.

this departure is hitting me differently than when b headed out to nyc. that's a long way away too, and we knew we'd miss her. but in one sense, it felt like life was still more the same than it was different. we could play board games at night. we still had a high schooler. we were still parents.

i know it's an emotional reaction -- perhaps combined with my aging mind -- but it suddenly feels like the last 20 years or so is a blur. i don't remember when my daughters became adult women. i still remember being able to hold them in one arm. i still remember holding them up in the air (roots style) to offer them to God every night when i prayed for them. i remember us teaching them to read and add. it's strange to think that now, they can school us on ancient literature and global justice issues and physiology. it's strange to ponder the kinds of conversations they can have about guys. and it's strange to realize that they can live on their own, so far away, for most of the year.

don't get me wrong. i'm so proud of them and excited about the opportunities that are before them. and in particular, at this time, i'm cherishing these last days with n before she starts a whole new life. i can hardly wait to hear the tales of her first year on her own.

but as with so many things, the cost is upfront -- we only know what we're giving up, not what we'll get back. that reality is feeling more grievous than it has in times past.

lebanese poet khalil gibran once compared parents to bows from which living arrows are launched. the bow does not aim or provide the power; that's the role of the archer. nor does the bow control the flight path of the arrow. its role? to "let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness." his reasoning?

for even as he loves the arrow that flies,
so he loves also the bow that is stable.

true, i know. yet there are tears.

those who sow in tears
shall reap with joyful shouting.
he who goes to and fro weeping,
carrying his bag of seed,
shall indeed come again with a shout of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him.

psalm 126:5-6