In each situation, I tried to maintain my composure as my friends came out to me. I knew what my church, my parents, my Bible, and my God said about this. But I love these people. I love them so incredibly deeply. I didn’t know how to react.
I’m going to guess I’m not the only Bible believing Christian who has been in this situation. Part of you feels obligated to uphold the truths of the Bible. But another part of you doesn’t want to hurt or lose this person that you love so much. Is there a way to do both?
While I know I have had posts that address people who have yet to trust the Lord, this post is not directed towards them. This is strictly to my brothers and sisters in Christ. The last thing I would want to do is judge a non Christian via something as impersonal as a blogpost. My first job is to love my God and my second is to love others (Matthew 22:37-39). The ultimate judgment should be left to God and I would never want to make someone feel condemned without feeling loved.
The purpose of my blogpost is also not to drive home the sin of homosexuality. I am not here to preach to the choir. Most conservative Christians know that God’s design for sex is within the confines of marriage between one man and one woman. Yet to be clear that this is not my idea, but God’s (so if you have an issue with it, take it up with him) the biblical references against same sex sexual relationships are as follows: Leviticus 18:22; 20;13; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 1 Timothy 1:10. While the Bible does speak out against it, it does not do more so than any other sin nor claims it as worse. All sin is equal in the eyes of God, and no sin is too powerful for the sacrifice of Jesus not to cover it should we allow it in our lives.
With this in mind, let us move on to how we as Christians are to act with the LGBT community.
The greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)
“So now I am giving you a new commandment: love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:34-35
Our job as Christians is to love others. Regardless of whether they share our faith, our skin color, or our views on sex and marriage, we are to love our fellow man. Jesus said this was the second and greatest commandment next only to loving God with our whole being (Matthew 22:37-40). Our duty as representatives of Christ is to assure that others feel loved.
While we know from the Bible that homosexuality is a deviation from God’s perfect design of sex, our main goal should not be pointing the sins of others out. Rather, our main goal should be to establish love. Without love, whatever correction we might give would fall on deaf ears. Paul elaborates on this idea in the beginning of the “love chapter,” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3. “If I could speak all the languages of the earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or cymbal. If I had thd gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others. I would be nothing. If I gave all I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.” No amount of calling sins out in others will make them realize their need for a savior if it is done absent of love.
Before Christians ever concern themselves with calling out the sin in anyone, we need to first be sure we are loving as Jesus does. It is not to be charitable to a “lower than me” person, but rather a commandment from God to love our fellow image bearers. Jesus can’t move through us if we are refusing to love as he loves us. If we choose not to love, we are, in fact, committing a sin that is equal to that which many Christians are so rudely calling out.
First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye. Matthew 7:5
One of the most well known and misused verses is Matthew 7:1 which states, “do not judge others, and you will not be judged.” From just this verse, it sounds as though we should judge no one at all! In one sense, yes. Jesus is the ultimate judge who the father has put in place to judge the world (John 5:22). But this passage in Matthew does not explicitly say we were not to judge. There is more in the context that we must take into consideration.
“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” Matthew 7:1-5
Do you see the whole picture here? Jesus doesn’t not say we are never to judge ever. In fact, later in this very chapter (7:15-20) Jesus gives us the measure by which to judge between true and false prophets. This is what I believe Jesus was getting at in this judgment passage: our standard by which to pass judgment must be God’s standard and we must first judge ourselves to be sure we are living up to it before we we require another to live up to it. If we make others, particularly unbelievers, live up to a standard of holiness that we ourselves are not pursuing, we are working at a speck in our brother’s eye while leaving the log in our own.
I believe we are to judge each other, even on hard subjects such as homosexuality, but in a gracious, humble manner. Once we become Christians, we don’t automatically start living a blameless life. It takes time to grow in obedience and let the Holy Spirit within us purify us. Paul said in Colossians 3:13, “make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you.” While we are Christians who know God’s moral law, we cannot expect others to act perfectly. For other Christians, after we have first judged ourselves, we can gently, yet firmly, call out the sin in others. But we need to give God some time to work in their hearts.
As for those who don’t share our Christian convictions, Paul states in 1 Corinthians 5:12, “it isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it is certainly your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning.” Please don’t take this as I am saying, “the biblical morals are what I believe but that doesn’t apply to others.” It isn’t just Christians who will be judged by an equal, godly standard on judgment day. All of us will stand and give an account for our transgressions. More so, how I believe we should treat the unbelieving LGBT community and other non-Christians is first and foremost with love. We don’t have to approve of their lifestyle to love them. We just simply love.
The word tolerance has lost it’s original meaning these days to assume that we should approve of everyone. Yet Christians are to be truly tolerant and loving. We are to “love the sinner and hate the sin” as the old church saying goes. We hate the sin in ourselves yet love ourselves. We can give the same courtesy to others. The sin of homosexuality is no worse than the sins in our lives. The ground is level at the foot of the cross. We can, and should, love those who sin differently than us while still not advocating for sin.
As Christians, we are first to love God with everything in us. Second we radically love our neighbor as ourselves. Then we are to remove sin in our own life judging ourselves by God’s holy standards. Lastly, we can help our fellow man out in their pursuit of righteous living. It breaks my heart that when my friends came out to me that I hesitated in reaction. I believed for a moment that I couldn’t simultaneously love them and disagree with them. Because of this polarizing ideology that unfortunately some Christians adopt, the church has the reputation of being judgmental without being loving in the area of sexual sins. While we are in a position to determine right from wrong, it should not be done void of love or detatched from humility. We can change the reputation to that which Jesus called us to when he said we were to be know by our love. It starts with you and me embracing others with love and tolerance.
For further reading and education, particularly for parents and leaders, I reccomend The Beauty of Intolerance by Josh McDowell and Sean McDowell.