Listen to the podcast
You may want to read:
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. – Galatians 6:1
Paul was asking us to watch ourselves when interacting with anyone that sin has captured. His point is obvious: if you do not watch yourself, you will be tempted to sin in response to those who are in the trap of sin.
Isn’t this the case with any problem? Doesn’t the sin of others easily tempt us? It most certainly has been the case with me. I feel the force of sin’s temptation as much as anyone because I spend my life helping folks who have a hard time untangling themselves from their problems.
I am too familiar with the temptation to become self-righteous when people do not see things my way or refuse to change according to my expectations or timetable. I also understand how easy it is to judge others who sin differently from me.
I have counseled the gay person, porn person, crack person, the depressed person, and the gossiping person. And they are all the same in that sin has captured them. It takes a lot of grace to overcome these sins, and it takes a lot of patience to help restore the ensnared.
My gratitude goes out to all those who are willing to navigate the choppy waters of sin with grace and courage. I am grateful that we can mortify self-righteousness while coming alongside those who are stuck, especially for those who struggle with same-sex issues.
Part of the reason why you can come alongside them is that you understand how they are no different from you. This idea is a vital point in helping the gay community because they have been attacked by too many Christians, as though their sin merits an extra thorn or two in Christ’s crown. It does not. It makes no sense to me why some Christians are so hateful toward the gay community.
With that said, each time I write on the gay issue I receive a few hate reactions from a fraction of the gay community. This article will be no different. While some (not all) of these emails have angry tones, I understand why. They feel attacked.
Though I am not attacking them, they feel as though I am. It is a challenge to bring honest, firm, gracious, and biblical observations to any people group who ties their identity to anything other than Christ.
Because the gay community has felt the sting and harshness of some unkind Christians, it is hard for them not to feel attacked when anyone calls their lifestyle a sin. The gays believe they are biblically right, as they bring their hermeneutic into how they interpret the Bible. Of course, they say we do the same thing, and they are right about that. I have a hermeneutic, which I do not hide or apologize for having.
While I am not angry toward or uncharitably condemning of the gay community, it is apparent to me that a gay or lesbian lifestyle is a sin. Though we will not agree on this matter, by the grace of God, I do not plan on being disagreeable with them.
Though I see their lifestyle as sin, it is equally valid when I look at or think about a gay person that I do not see someone worse than I am–apart from the grace of God. Whenever I counsel someone, gay or not, I try to be transparent with them at some point during the process about their sin and though they may be living in a particular sinful lifestyle or caught by a sin, I do not see them as the worst sinner in the room (1 Timothy 1:15-16).
This worldview is not spiritualized nonsense or a counseling philosophy to make a person feel better about our time together. It seemed to be the position Paul took when he thought about his condition. He purposely never got over the depth of his sin, which is a good thing when understood biblically.
Paul discerned, appreciated, and maintained a biblical gap between what he was before Christ came to him and what he was after Christ came to him. This kind of biblical self-awareness did two things for him:
From my perspective, there is no doubt as to who is the worst sinner that I have ever known, and it is not a gay person. Paul saw himself as the foremost sinner. I understand why he saw himself that way. He put Jesus Christ on the cross–the worst sin of all.
We all were unbelievers once upon a time, and because of our unbelief, Christ had to die to pay for our sin. A man who sees himself as the worst of the worst–like Paul–will have a hard time condemning another human being.
Though I see myself as the worst sinner in the room, it does not mean I cannot bring biblical observations to someone who is living in sin, if their lifestyle is held up to the light of Scripture and it is clear they are sinning.
As far as a gay lifestyle is concerned and God’s view on that lifestyle, the Bible is quite clear. It is no different from the Bible’s perspective on my anger, laziness, and anxiousness or another person’s stealing, murder, and lying. The Bible does not waver on God’s view of such things.
One of the arguments that have been put forth in the gay community is, “I was born that way!” It is a strong argument. And, truthfully, it could be an accurate argument. It could be that the gay guy was born with a temptation to be gay. That is not an argument I am willing to go to war over with anyone.
Though God fearfully and wonderfully made us (Psalm 139:14), sin entered into us and death came by that sin (Romans 5:12). We were born in sin (Psalm 51:5). We are all broken beings.
Every person was born to be sinful, but not the same kind of sin or sinful temptations happen to all of us (Romans 3:10-12). We are depraved entirely and fallen uniquely. There is no escaping this biblical perspective. To say I was not born gay as though that gives me something to gloat about is intellectual dishonesty. I was born a sinner.
That is like two bums arguing over how many holes they have in their clothes or how dirty their clothes are. Really? You are a bum. Why would you want to parse out your bum-ness?
Some people will try to press the issue further by saying it is about genetic determinism, which means there is no hope or grace for change because of preordained pre-wiring. There is no such thing as a “gay gene.”
The only kind of genetic determinism I believe in if you want to use that term is that we all are determined to sin and to sin differently. Again, does it matter in the context of what I’m saying here as to how we sin? Does it matter what kind of bum you are?
“So, you’re saying the gay person can be born that way?” Yes, why not? How were you born? Righteous? Holy? Sinless? I would say any person could be born with certain temptations, though no person is born with all evil temptations.
For example, I have never been tempted to drink alcohol. I could build my house next to a bar or install a bar in my home, and it would not be a temptation for me. I do not like the taste of alcohol, and even as a weed smoking teen, alcohol did not lure me.
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. – James 1:14-15
I am not bragging about my lack of temptation to alcohol because there is nothing here worth boasting. That would be like bragging that I do not like Mayonnaise. I do not like alcohol or Mayonnaise because “I was born that way.” It is not a work of grace in my life at all. It is the way I am.
But I am tempted in other ways. I was born those ways. To not sin or not give into specific sins is a different fight than fighting against alcohol, which is no fight at all. Though I sin differently from you, I am not willing to say,
This condition of mine is just the way I am. It is the way God made me. You need to quit condemning me because you’re no better than I am. You’re a hypocrite. Who are you to judge me for being this way when I have been doing it for as long as I can remember. There is no doubt God made me this way. Get a life, you narrow-minded bigot.
Dear friends, we are all born “that way.” We are all sinners in need of God’s grace. He did not come to save perfect, sinless-born-people. He came to save and fix broken, sinful, bent, and worthless people (Romans 3:10-12). We all fit into this category. Gays and straights are all crooked.
Do we have predispositions? Of course, we do! We are predisposed to sin! We are born into sin. We sin, and we love our sin (for a season). We justify our sin. We sometimes even blame others for our wickedness.
It is God’s mercy to intervene in our lives and regenerate us so He can begin a process of change. God mercifully saves us from ourselves. In this sense, the straight guy and the gay guy need God’s mercy and grace.
This commonality is why I do not understand a Christian bashing a gay person. It misses the entire point of the gospel–a bum bashing a bum for being a bum is bum-foolery. It is self-righteous and theologically dishonest.
A Christian who bashes a gay person has forgotten the gospel. Christ came to die for sinners so that they can be saved and sanctified. God has rescued the Christian from his sin, and when he gets heady or cops a bad attitude toward a gay person, he has forgotten from where God found him.
Frankly, this is biblical ignorance. We need to pray for the gay community, by asking God to give us opportunities to reach out to them. We need to hope God will help them overcome their caught-ness.
God chose to relate to you while sin had captured your soul. If a gay person becomes a Christian, he or she will more than likely be struggling with the gay lifestyle–most do. This reality brings us back to the thrust of what Paul taught us in Galatians 6:1-2.
If sin has caught a person, they need your love, grace, mercy, insightful patience, and biblical counsel to help them walk through their struggles. You can help them live out their repentance on a daily and weekly basis.
I know several Christians with same-sex attraction temptations. It is not unusual for a Christian to struggle this way, just as it is not unusual for any person to be regenerated and not be entirely sanctified.
We all bring “our peculiar sin struggles” into our walk with the Savior. For the struggler, the issue is not whether he is struggling under the weight of temptation. The real problem is the heart attitude of the struggler.
Are you trying to overcome your sin or are you trying to justify your lifestyle or blame it on something? To defend or excuse your sin away is something every Christian has done to varying degrees.
It is hard for anyone to honestly, transparently, and humbly own their sin. I have attempted to justify my sin many times. Self-deception is part of the nature of our fallenness. We all need to guard our hearts when it comes to the gay issue.