You are either for or against gay marriages.
My concern is whether these lines will turn into barriers that could have a stifling impact on the Gospel.
But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. – 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8
This issue has always been personal for me. My dad’s uncle was gay, and we all loved him. He was especially helpful to my mom when she immigrated to the United States from South America.
A first cousin of mine, a dear and beautiful young man, died quite young due to the effects of HIV/AIDS. I visited with him before he died, and he made a heartfelt confession to me.
My eyes fill with tears as I write this.
There are other members of my family and close friends who are practicing homosexuals, and a couple of others who are trying to lead faithful lives in accordance with God’s Word.
I cannot fault my family and friends if they scratch their heads and wonder about my anti-gay marriage views. For many years I held the unbiblical world view that supports same-sex sexual relationships and marriage. It has been an evolution for me.
I want to sit down with my relatives and patiently tell the story of my change of heart and mind.
One of the inherent challenges in this whole discourse about homosexuality, gay rights, same-sex marriage, and biblical teaching and interpretation is that the discourse is carried on in a cultural milieu and set of intellectual assumptions that are not biblical.
Of course, honest conversation is not helped when reactionary forces on either side do not approach discourse humbly. Humility and compassion certainly do NOT exclude faithful conviction.
One of my points is that I think that to engage in conversation about these topics with people, who do not hold an orthodox biblical world view, is a deep challenge.
It requires a rather large reservoir of biblical and philosophical tools to begin to show why and how the culture has arrived where it is on these topics, and how it is not faithful to God’s plan for creation.
Of course, the most basic starting point for me is the answer to these two questions:
- Does God’s Word, revealed in the Bible, have authority and dominion over my life?
- Do I interpret and guide my life through the prism of the Word, or do I interpret the Word through the prism of my life?
My second point is that I expect myself to walk steadfastly in my biblical conviction as a disciple of Jesus, but in a way that is compassionate, kind, and humble, while not swerving from the truth (Colossians 4:5-6).
In our contemporary cultural climate it is not enough for orthodox Christians to recluse themselves in the sanctuary of their churches in a self-satisfied way.
The verb “go” has the meaning in Greek of taking a journey, walking, and traversing. That all sounds to me like journeying out and encountering others: As we “Go…”
I suspect that what will convert hearts and minds in regard to this issue is this combination of commitment and steadfastness in the Word, along with patience, humility, gentle perseverance, compassion, joy, friendship, and a heart guided by the knowledge that the Lord is Lord and I am not.
This leads me to my last point.
I have a challenge for our churches. Many times I think that our faithful churches have only done half of the work in this area with people with same-sex attractions.
On the one hand, we have been faithful to the biblical teaching, yet what have we positively done to find an explicit space in our churches for our brothers and sisters who are struggling with homosexual attractions (or any other sexual temptation, for that matter)?
For those Christians who continue to feel they have a persistent and life-long same-sex attraction, they need to live a life of celibacy, and it can be quite lonely if not supported by a loving church community.
There will be others whose experience of healing in Christ will lead them to find faithful married lives with the opposite gender. We all desire and thirst for community and friendship.
We need to name the elephant in the middle of the room: sitting in our churches are homosexuals who worship with us every Sunday, and we may not realize they are there because it remains a hidden or closeted topic. Spiritual health is not helped by such hiddenness.
- What have we done as churches to support our celibate brothers and sisters?
- Have we developed a spirituality of friendship that is modeled on the communion of the Holy Trinity into which we can invite all people, especially singles?
- How have we included our fellow sinners into the ministry of the church, all the while remaining steadfast to the truth of biblical teaching?
Of course, this is not easy, but the Gospel life is not easy.
May we experience an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on our hearts and on our churches that we may faithfully be ambassadors of Christ in a broken world that desperately needs the renewing waters of the Spirit and His Truth while walking in love.