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.


Anonymous said...

I think you should watch this video. It explains how the verses you mentioned are indeed not anti-homosexual at all.

gr8god said...

thanks for your reply and the link. vines has attracted quite a following, but not among biblical scholars. his arguments are too long for me to address in any detail, but here is one link (among many) in which a number of theologians and biblical scholars discuss -- and refute -- them.

fwiw, i agree with you that the scriptures cited (and the bible generally) are not anti-homosexual. they are pretty clearly in opposition to same-gender sexual relations, but i believe (and i think the bible teaches) that God loves ALL people and gave himself for them that they might be free -- not just from the punishment for sin but also from its power. iow, people can be forgiven and released into a life of freedom from this sinful behavior the same as any other.

finally, if you listen to the message linked in the blog post, you'll find that it is not a long rant against gay or lesbian sex, but mostly a call for christians to weigh the question carefully -- does the charge of homophobia (or more precisely, hating homosexuals) have some substance to it? do we need to repent? what would it look like to love LGBT people, even if we can't affirm the rightness of same-gender sex?