“Homosexuality is a choice… Nobody is born that way…. They have sinned so deeply in so many other areas, one of the few things left for them to try is homosexuality… I could NEVER struggle with something like that….They are going to be the death of this nation.” I have heard all of these phrases. Sometimes from pulpits. Always from “believers.” This is the only sin I can think of where I have seen the color drain from someone’s face when mentioning it.
One Sunday morning in our small group meeting, this topic came up in our discussion. A man in our group said that homosexuality is the one sin you can’t talk about in church. He said you could get up and say that you used to be a drug addict and God saved you… “Praise the Lord!” You could get up and say that you used to be a murderer and then God saved you…. “Amen!” You could say you had been a prostitute and God saved you… “Hallelujah!” And you could say you used to be a homosexual…..dead silence.
You see, he is right. This is the one sin that you cannot talk about in church. On either side of it. And this is a huge problem. It is a problem because it will keep people who are in that kind of bondage far from your church and its members. It will keep your members far from these people. It will keep people within your church who are struggling with same-sex-attraction from ever talking about it and getting help before it is too late.
I know a girl who struggled with same-sex attraction for most of her life. She grew up in a Christian home and had very godly parents. She loved the Lord and prayed every time that this issue came up in her heart that He would take this away from her. She had no idea what to do about it. She didn’t understand how this could happen, or what it even meant. She prayed that God would literally take her life before ever letting her act on that temptation in any way. He didn’t. She almost committed suicide at one point because she felt there was no living this down. There was no forgiveness for this. Maybe with God, but not with his people.
I have seen two extremes that churches seem to default to now in addressing this issue, or should I say… these people. On one side, some churches are saying that it is not sinful at all. They are affirming this lifestyle and performing the weddings. They are not ruffling any feathers, and they come across as the good guys. They come across as the loving ones. And I agree. They are loving. But they are loving themselves… not gay people. At the end of the day, love does not refuse to speak truth when people are in bondage. Love does not quietly watch people give themselves to their sin and never try to warn them or offer hope. Love does not choose it’s own comfort and ease over the souls of men. Love does not pursue the approval of the world at the expense of the souls Jesus died for.
On the other extreme, there are churches that can’t even say the word homosexual without turning three shades of white and speaking in hushed, horrified tones. Because this is the sin of all sins. It is the worst of the worst, and some parents would rather have a dead child than a gay child (and sometimes that is exactly what happens).
There are churches full of people who see this as only a political issue. They see this as a war between conservatives and liberals, and one we must win for future generations. But wars create casualties. Wars create death. Am I suggesting that we not fight? Absolutely not. We must fight. We have to fight with all that we have. But we need to fight the right battle. We have to fight for people, not against them. We have to do battle for the souls of men and say to the enemy, “You will not have him. You will not have her.” These people in our lives who we relentlessly love like Jesus….the Enemy will not have them, because as long as there is breath in our bodies we will fight for their freedom. When you have given yourself over to your sin, whatever it looks like, and when you are under the absolute tyrannical control of your flesh, you.are.blind. You cannot see. You cannot act in your best interest. You are a slave, captive, in bondage. But the good news is that we, the church, are called to proclaim freedom for captives. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free…” Lk.4:18. There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain. Even the ones we don’t understand. Even the ones that make us uncomfortable. Even this chain…
My plea to the church, to the beautiful bride of Jesus, is that we see past our fear of what may come because of legislation, and that we see past our shock about the nature of this sin, and that we see the people in this kind of bondage. Until they have faces, we will be satisfied to look the other way and not wrestle with this. Until they have faces, we will be content to lump them into a category of people who we perceive as totally unlike us who can be written off as a political agenda or issue. Until they have faces, we will not engage with them.
We need to see the faces. They have names. They have stories. They have deep brokenness that brought them here. They have been deceived by the Enemy down to the very level of their identity, and most people cannot fathom that kind of confusion. We need to understand that people do not get to choose what they are tempted with. We don’t order our sin off a menu and decide what we have to battle through the Spirit for our whole lives. But as John Piper says, “Make it a battle! Regardless of how your flesh is bent, whether you have a bent toward anger, or a bent toward slothfulness, or a bent toward greed, or a bent toward narcissism, or yes…a bent toward homosexual desires…make it a battle.” Don’t ever make it your identity. And this is where we can make a difference. We can speak identity to the people God brings into our lives. We can remind them that they are more than the sum of their sins. We can tell them that they are more fiercely loved by God than they could ever imagine.They are created in the image of God, created to be in relationship with God and to worship Him and bring Him glory.
I believe that some the worst casualties of this “cultural war” will be kids in Christian homes, and kids in churches who are battling this very sin. They hear you. They see your faces. They hear your tone of voice when you talk about this over dinner with friends. They see what you post on Facebook. They see your red faced anger. They feel the force of your wrath about this particular sin, and I guarantee you, they are in turmoil. They do not know where to turn. Who do they go to to talk about this? One thing they know for sure, they can’t talk to you about it. So they keep it to themselves and try bear this burden alone. And they lose.
Church, I ask of you… for the sake of those doing battle against the full force of their flesh and doing it by themselves, in silence, with absolutely no backup or prayer support….please… in your conviction, don’t forget compassion. In your speaking truth, don’t forget love. And remember that beyond an issue, or a cultural war, or a movement…these are people, with names and faces. And they need our Jesus. They desperately need Him like we do. So picture their faces, and move towards them with love and not away from them in anger or fear. Remember that girl I mentioned before? I am that girl. So if it helps, next time this issue comes to mind, think of me. Picture my face. And remember that our God came to seek and save those who were lost. People like me. People like you. People relentlessly loved and pursued by an awesome and beautiful God.
*My blogs are written with the assumption that they are being read primarily by Christians. If you want to know more about what it means to be a Christian or about the gospel of Jesus Christ, click the link here: The Gospel