It’s 2013. And if you haven’t noticed, you can’t turn on hardly any TV show without there being a gay character. Modern Family, Happy Endings, and Go On even have Main Characters who are homosexuals.
No matter where you look in American culture, homosexuality is not BECOMING commonplace, it IS commonplace.
Even one of the most wholesome pieces of our American culture, Archie Comics, now has Kevin Keller, an openly gay teenage boy, going to the prom with another guy.
There is just no avoiding it. It is here, and it is here to stay.
So, the question becomes, what do we, as Christians, do now?
CALLING IT LIKE I SEE IT
As a Christian who has grown up being taught that homosexuality is a sin, it is hard for me to not want to fight it.
People like to compare how Christians respond to gay marriage today with how many Christians responded to interracial marriage in decades gone by.
But we have to be fair here. The situations may seem similar, but they are not the same. You see, the anti-interracial marriage thing was brought on by pure bigotry, pure racism, pure prejudice. There is absolutely nothing in the Bible that says anything of the sort is wrong, immoral, or sin.
However, despite some people’s attempts to rewrite or misinterpret them, there are many verses in the Bible, both Old and New Testament that clearly list homosexual behavior as sinful.
Of course, that can also just be an EXCUSE for some Christians to be bigoted and hateful towards homosexuals. But still, the Bible is neither silent nor vague on the topic.
So, I find it impossible for me to say that there is nothing wrong with it. The Bible says it’s a sin, God says it’s a sin, therefore, it is a sin. No amount of tolerance will change this.
All that being said, we as Christians have tolerated sin since the dawn of time. It just may be easier for some things rather than others.
I’m an obese man. I’m trying to lose weight and get healthier, but pretty much ever since I got my first job and had my own money to spend, I’ve spent it on food.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve eaten an entire large pizza by myself in one sitting. And when you order take-out food for yourself and receive four sets of utensils in the bag, you know you have a problem.
I have been really fat for nearly two decades now. Bottom line, I’m a practicing glutton. Gluttony is a sin, just as much of a sin as homosexuality is, and yet I have never been pulled aside and told that the way I’m living my life is sinful.
I’ve never been told not to come to church. I’ve never been told that I can’t join a church or Bible study or be a Christian, and for nearly a decade, I was unashamed as I stuffed my fat face.
And I’m not the only one. From what I can tell, the obesity rate among Christians is just as high, if not higher, than the rate among non-Christians, and I bet nearly all of them have never had their faith questioned because of their weight.
Even some of this nation’s most influential pastors are overweight!
In fact, we Christians smoke, drink, gamble, cuss, overeat, look at porn, gossip, lust, covet, hate, and lie, and yet, even with these sins in our lives, we rarely feel like we won’t be welcome to church on Sunday morning.
So, why is it then that we don’t really let homosexuals into the church?
We’re afraid if we let homosexuals in, they will corrupt others, influence our children, spread their gay all over everything.
Isn’t that right? We’re afraid their sin will spread like a disease and our kids will catch the gay.
Do you realize how ridiculous that sounds?
Do you want to know why I’m fat? It started because my parents are fat. I learned my eating habits and my coping mechanisms from watching my parents. I didn’t see some fat guy in church and think, “Hey! He’s fat, so I’m going to be fat too!”
Kids learn their values and habits mainly from their parents, good and bad. And sure, there will be outside influences, but that can’t be helped. And as we grow up, they become our choices to make, our responsibility. I can’t blame my weight on my parents today, because I know better.
Fear is not a good enough reason to keep someone out of church. Church is supposed to welcome everybody.
IS THERE A DIFFERENCE?
I cannot deny that there is a difference, though.
The majority of homosexuals believe they were born that way, and therefore, they cannot change.
I might have been born with a predisposition to be overweight, but ultimately, it’s my choice to be a glutton or not.
In the Christian church, though, we largely accept that most of us have struggles with that list of sins above, and we also do acknowledge that they are, in fact, sinful.
Most homosexuals, however, do not believe their lifestyle is sinful, because they believe they were born this way.
THAT is the real difference.
Homosexuals expect us to not only tolerate their sexual lifestyle, but accept it as “just as good, just as right” as ours.
And, frankly, I don’t think we can do that. I don’t think we ever will.
Because the world sees our current stand against homosexuality to be the same as the bigoted stand against interracial relationships, they are just waiting for us all to come to our senses and change our stance.
And though some denominations and some Christian leaders are starting to do that, I don’t think Christianity will ever even get close to fully accepting homosexuality.
How can it? We can’t change what the Bible says. If we rewrite that part of the Bible, we could just change anything we disagree with! The moment we decide as a church culture that we know better than God, that is the moment we can no longer call ourselves Christians.
COME AS YOU ARE
When we come to a faith in Christ, God wants us to come just as we are. He doesn’t ask us to clean ourselves off first, to rid our lives of sin, to walk a perfectly straight path before we can be saved.
He wants us, warts and all, as broken and messed up as we’ve made our lives, He wants us.
This is why I have no problem believing that there are Gay Christians in this world and that they are going to the same Heaven I am going to.
Of course, the life and faith of a Gay Christian cannot be easy. It must be hard to fit in. It must be hard to reconcile. And what do you do when you read the verses that say homosexuality is a sin?
Imagine growing up gay, believing whole-heartedly that you were born that way, and then learning that God doesn’t want you to be gay.
If anyone thinks that a homosexual can just “turn off their gayness,” you are being ignorant.
I mean, I’m just trying to imagine how I’d react if I opened up First Corinthians right now and found a verse that clearly says we are not supposed to eat pizza. Just giving up PIZZA forever seems like an impossible action to me. But to find that being gay is wrong, that the love you felt for others in your same sex was wrong, that the entire culture that comes associated with homosexuality that you’ve embraced your entire life is encouraging sin, can you imagine the conflict? The turmoil? The pain?
I have met only one Gay Christian in my life so far. His parents were not Christians, he came to the faith on his own. He read the Bible on his own. He was not indoctrinated, he was not thrown in a special camp to “pray the gay away,” he developed his faith his way, on his time, in his late 30s.
I had a frank discussion with him one evening as to how he reconciles his faith and his sexuality. He told me that he still considers himself gay and he’s not trying to change that. But he also told me that he fully believes that the physical act of homosexuality is a sin and he doesn’t have sex or romantic relationships with men anymore. Basically, he told me he had decided to practice abstinence indefinitely.
I don’t know if that is the right way to handle this, and it certainly can’t be the easiest way either, but it’s the perfect illustration for just how difficult it can be, on a personal level, to be a Christian and a Homosexual at the same time.
To the credit of the church the man I met attends, he told me that they never made him feel unwelcome or unloved and that he feels like a part of the family there, despite being gay.
And I think that is how it should work.
I don’t have all (or really any) of the answers when it comes to Homosexuality and the Church, but it’s definitely something we are going to have to deal with in the years to come and something we should be talking about.
But what about Homosexuality and the Culture?
SO, THIS MARRIAGE THING…
When Christians are talking about church, it’s their home turf. But when it comes to the culture we live in, we have to view things a little differently.
I think it’s time we accept homosexuality as a thing that exists and isn’t going away.
But at the same time, we need to know the facts we’re not being told.
If I were to ask you what percentage of the population you think are practicing homosexuals, what would say, especially given the amount of time we hear about them and see then on TV?
If I had to guess, I would say 20%, though some would guess higher, I’m sure.
In reality, practicing homosexuals make up between only 3 to 4 percent of the American population. And of those, we have to assume a good portion of them are not looking for marriage.
So, the obvious question is, do we change what marriage means for 100% of the population to accommodate the wishes of, at most 4% of the nation?
Looking at it from a purely logical standpoint, of course not. That’s ridiculous.
But we can’t be purely logical because this whole debate is DRIPPING with emotion.
We hear stories of a woman whose girlfriend is in a car accident, and because they aren’t married, the woman is never allowed to see her girlfriend in the hospital, and the girlfriend died.
That is tragic, it pulls at your heart strings, it would make a powerful movie, but at the same time, tragedy happens every day for one reason or another, and sometimes it is because of a rule or law that gets in the way, but if something works 96% of the time, it is not considered broken.
But this is what these kind of debates do. They ultimately come down to emotions instead of logic.
It the same with the debate on abortion. The only stories we ever seem to hear are the ones where a mother is raped, asking the question, “Would you FORCE a woman to carry that rapist’s baby to term?!” But in reality, abortion cases involving rape or incest account for just 1% of all abortions.
Emotions are the big player in debates today, because that is what sways public opinion. And suddenly, it’s not a very small subsection of society trying to change a law, it’s a horde of evil intolerant bigots telling two people who love each other with all of their hearts that they are sinful and going to Hell.
In this light, Homosexuals are underdogs, fighting for what’s right. Brave heroes in the fight against injustice.
In many cases, I think they just want to be heard. Often times, I think homosexuals as a group aren’t so much fighting FOR gay marriage as much as they are fighting AGAINST Christianity.
And of course, we don’t have a great track record when it comes to standing up for what we believe either.
WHAT WOULD IT HURT?
This is a serious question. What would it hurt to just let gay couples get legally married?
I’ve heard the “slippery slope” argument, and I think it’s a bit ridiculous. “What’s to stop people from marrying their horse, their car, their children, their Basketball Team?” I’m sorry, that’s just a bit overdramatic.
But I do know that there are some valid arguments against it.
However, I think many Christians are against it simply because we want homosexuals to go away. We don’t want them to exist, and we hope that if we ignore them long enough, they’ll fade into obscurity.
But again, we reach that point of, if we legalize gay marriage, are we saying that homosexuality is “just as good, just as right” as the Biblical definition?
You see, what I would hope that homosexuals would understand is that changing our minds on this issue does have the potential to undermine our entire worldview. Should we have to compromise our morality for sake of 4% of the population?
But then, emotions kick in. I have no doubt that there are homosexual couples who love each other as strongly as I love my wife, and if everyone was telling me that I wasn’t allowed to marry her, I would fight it tooth and nail.
THE GREAT GAY DEBATE
I labeled this article as a debate because the debate I’m talking about is in my own mind.
As I’m sure you could tell, I am confused, at best, as to where we should go from here both when it comes to allowing homosexuals in the church and allowing them to legally marry.
But one thing is clear: These issues are not going away.
And one thing I absolutely know to be true is this: We, as Christians, are not allowed to hate homosexuals.
We’ve all seen Westboro “Baptist” “Church” out there spreading some of the most hateful, disgusting, Hell-spawned verbal sludge imaginable.
We can never become like them. We can never spread hatred. We can never spit Bible verses from our mouths with bile on our tongues. God is love, and we are all His children.
So, stop treating them like they are your enemy, even when some of them treat us like theirs.
Hate solves nothing. Love endures.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
I would love to hear what any of our readers has to say on this topic, please leave it in the comments below.
Matthew Coker is a Media Director at a church in his hometown, where he also is a leader at a Celebrate Recovery program. He’s a huge comic book nerd, Whovian, and Greendale Human Being. Matthew and his wife live in New Mexico.