Sunday, February 8, 2009

Christian Response to Homosexuality

There are several asppects to the issue of homosexuality.

One aspect is personal: between me and the Lord, what is the right context for sex? It seems as though the consistent message of the Bible is that the only context for sex which God blesses and approves is within marriage, a lifetime union of one man and one woman (this appears to be the ideal).

If that is the consistent message of scripture, and if scripture really is God’s word, and if I love God and seek to do His will, then I realize that sex for me will be blessed and approved by God only within a marriage between me and a man (since I am a woman). That rules out every other variety of sex available and approved of today (and in the New Testament days too, let alone the surrounding cultures of the Old Testament).

The next aspect is societal. If I believe that sex within marriage is God’s only right and appointed way, and I also am responsible for guiding the laws and mores of my society (as a person in a democratic state would feel), then I am going to press for laws which protect sex within marriage of one man and one woman, and discourage sex outside of marriage, as defined above. It is a matter of conscience.

The next aspect has to do with the church. If I believe that sex within marriage, as defined above, is the only blessed-and-approved-by-God kind of sex, and I know that those who teach (and lead) will be “judged more strictly” (James 3:1), then I will want my leaders to follow this sex principle, and will not want my leaders to follow any other sex principle.

A lot of damage has been done in people's lives in this one issue, I think everyone can agree on that. Christians who, as a matter of conscience, based on study of God's word and prayer, seek to exercise their rights and responsibilities as voters and voting church members should not be slammed by people who do not agree with them.

And I am talking about people who stand on both sides of the homosexuality issue, the abortion isse, and any other issue you can think of.

At the macro level, society and church leadership, it seems appropriate to follow one’s conscience and sense of responsibility, and trust God with the outcome.

At the micro level life gets a little more messy. There are many, many kinds of sins, as we all know. Pretend illustration: I might wish this person over here would be convicted of gossiping, but she isn’t. She feels perfectly fine about gossiping and yet claims Christ. Because I am frustrated about what I see as a lack of movement towards holiness in her life, I move in and try to be the Holy Spirit, convicting her. A lot of damage happens at this point. And this is not a new problem. I believe Jesus addressed this problem in the Sermon on the Mount, and Paul addressed this problem in Galatians.

In the case of homosexuality, this swings both ways, folks. Someone can be as militant about homophobia being a sin (and defining that word to suit their own purposes) as one can be militant about homosexuality being a sin.

Lack of conviction on a matter does not mean that the person is not sinning. It just means they don’t feel convicted. The Pharisees did not appear to feel convicted about their behavior. But they were still sinning. Leviticus actually has almost two chapters devoted to sacrifices that can be offered for sins done in ignorance.

What we do in a case like this, when we feel very sure that a person is sinning, yet they insist that they are not, and not even the whole body of believers with whom they are in community can convince them otherwise, then the Lord says we are to treat that person in the way we treat a pagan or a tax collector.

Interestingly, it was a tax collector who recorded Jesus’ words in Matt 18:15-20. The way Jesus treated tax collectors was to honor them above everyone else by going to their house and eating with them. He called them to be close to Him. He hung out with their friends and went to their parties. He gave them love, friendship, respect and, most importantly, the whole gospel. Jesus was the friend of sinners.

And as to pagans, the only two people Matthew records Jesus commending for their "great faith" were pagans -- A Roman Centurian, and a Cannanite woman.

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