"Do not be angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be."
~ Thomas A. Kempis
~ Thomas A. Kempis
Q: How should the church treat homosexuals?
First, God does not hate anyone. God is love, and no matter who you are, He loves you.
"The church" is people—people who have given themselves to Jesus Christ and received forgiveness of their sins through His blood, which pays the death penalty for all sin.
The authority for Christian belief and conduct is the Bible. [Next week's Q&A will explain belief in the Bible in greater detail.] For anyone who trusts it as God's Word, the Bible provides both the Creator's rules for how to live and answers for every question life poses.
The Bible says God created humanity, and created sex as the good and healthy means to not only reproduce human life, but also to bond together a man and woman in the vital relationship of marriage.
Homosexuality, or sexual acts between members of the same sex, cannot be marriage because God instituted marriage and defines it otherwise. God calls homosexuality an "abomination" (Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:27) because it perverts His original intent for sex.
But before you take that thought too far, consider that there are other, non-sexual acts which are so offensive to God that they are also called an abomination. Look at this passage from Proverbs 6:16-19 (NKJV):
These six things the LORD hates,
Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:
A proud look,
A lying tongue,
Hands that shed innocent blood,
A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that are swift in running to evil,
A false witness who speaks lies,
And one who sows discord among brethren [or, in a community].
The Bible therefore challenges us to understand exactly what might be defined as "abominable" sin. It also explains in Galatians 6:1-2 (TNIV) how to treat people who exhibit sin:
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Here is how I apply all that to today's question:
• The Bible's Number One commandment, in all circumstances, is Love.
• Christians must be mindful that every one of us has been guilty of sin which is an abomination.
• Any individual's primary problem is not one particular sin, whether it's homosexuality or pride or stirring up discord. Every person's first need is understanding that they need Jesus to save them from all sin.
• Concerning people who come to church, we should distinguish between: 1) people who come to church to visit, who are asked to respect us, but who don't understand our Bible's "house rules"; 2) newer believers, who need time to learn the house rules; and 3) those who have been around long enough to know the Bible and be expected to live by it.
• When people who have established themselves as part of the church display open immorality, Christians of sufficient maturity are obliged to address it, and to do so with the empathy which views sin as a burden. In cooperation with God's Spirit, we should sensitively work to help people see sin as a burden to themselves—reminding them of the cost for Jesus to carry its full weight to the cross—and help them find greater freedom from sin’s burden, with rebuke if necessary.
• Did I mention that the Number One rule for treatment of all people, whether outside or inside the church, is Love?
I'd like to close with an apology.
To homosexuals, and to every person who has been hurt by the misguided Christians who remember that sin is abominable but sometimes forget that love is far greater ...
On behalf of my fellow Christians, I admit we are wrong when we get our priorities out of order, or when we attempt to address sin of anyone else before we adequately address our own sin. I confess that we struggle against our own abominable sins, including sexual sins. I ask you to forgive us and be patient with us as we grow to be like Jesus our Lord and learn to live like He asks us. God loves you more than you can possibly imagine. I also love you, very much, as do a great many Christians who remember the importance of love. Please give us the opportunity to better learn how to show you that love.
© 2010 Anne Lang Bundy
Image source: tedsoqui.blogspot.com