Many churches fail in their approach of addressing homosexuality. The liberal response embraces and celebrates sin. The fundamental response typically shuns and condemns sinners. The way of Jesus is neither of these approaches. The Christian response speaks truth in love and offers Gospel hope to sinners.
Here are 12 considerations to keep in mind in this day and age:
- Scripture is clear. Homosexual practice and behavior is sin. Both the Old and New Testaments are crystal clear on this issue. It is interesting that Jesus never mentions homosexuality, but he warned against sexual sin (porneia). Homosexuality was not tolerated in Palestine, so Jesus did not need to address this issue specifically. The apostle Paul warns against homosexuality on several occasions as he writes to Gentile churches.
- We have a minority view. The clear Biblical stance on homosexuality is now a minority view in America. Over half of Americans approve of gay marriage. There is no longer a prevalent Judeo-Christian worldview and ethic in our country. Younger generations are more tolerant and heavily influenced by friends, peers, media, and culture. Most Americans do not care what the Bible says about homosexuality. Christians thumping the Bible is falling on deaf ears. Satan is at work and having a heyday with this issue. While Christians must stand on Biblical truth, we also need to stay current on research and present rational arguments for our perspective. We also need to understand that most homosexuals in our culture tend to tie their identity to this inward struggle. This is a controversial, intricate, and challenging issue to unpack, understand, and address.
- We must become Christ’s ambassadors. Our nation no longer legislates morality in regards to adultery, divorce, homosexual practice, and abortion. We probably cannot legislate morality regarding gay marriage in post-Christian America. Even if we did, laws cannot change hearts. John MacArthur says, “Overly politically-active Christians make enemies with the lost.” He writes, “Rather than concentrating on political issues and debates, believers should be consumed with their responsibility as Christ’s ambassadors. That is the church’s mandate. When other priorities and pursuits crowd out the Great Commission, both the message and the mission get confused.” In our efforts to be responsible, voting, politically-active Christians, we can easily lose sight of eternal Gospel priorities. Satan is our enemy, not people. Homosexuals are not our enemy. We need to adjust our expectations, prepare for persecution, pray for revival, and become Christ’s ambassadors.
- This world is not our home. Our priorities must shift from an earthly focus to a heavenly focus. What is now seen on earth is only temporal, and what is unseen is eternal. America is not “God’s special country.” No country has ever been perfect or fully Christian. All nations are corrupt, and no nation will last. The earth will one day be destroyed. The Christian is not to ignore the political arena of the world nor his cultural identity for that would be irresponsible and disrespectful, but earthly politics and patriotism must be seen as secondary. It is essential that a believer prioritize the kingdom of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Living as an alien and stranger on earth, the Christian life is one of expectation and yearning for heaven—the better country to come.
- Never enjoy confronting homosexuality. There should be no applause or rejoicing in condemnation of sin. All too often, our preaching against homosexuality is a disgusting spectacle. Older generations tend to be too harsh when addressing homosexuality. The heavy duty of preaching against sin should be discharged with reluctance. Pastors should take a fatherly approach when addressing this sin, as if pursuing a wayward child. There is no joy in confronting homosexuality. We should find this difficult and heavy. We must shed compassionate tears for those who struggle with homosexuality. We must be humble and broken.
In the book, God in the Dock, C.S. Lewis presents some dangers in preaching national repentance. He writes: “Is it not, then, the duty of the Church to preach national repentance? I think it is. But the office—like many others—can be profitably discharged only by those who discharge it with reluctance. We know that a man may have to ‘hate’ his mother for the Lord’s sake. The sight of a Christian rebuking his mother, though tragic, may be edifying; but only if we are quite sure that he has been a good son and that, in his rebuke, spiritual zeal is triumphing, not without agony, over strong natural affection. The moment there is reason to suspect he enjoys rebuking her—that he believes himself to be rising above the natural level while he is still, in reality, groveling below it in the unnatural—the spectacle becomes merely disgusting. The hard sayings of our Lord are wholesome to those only who find them hard.”
- Homosexuality should not be singled out as the only sin or the worst sin. The apostle Paul mentions homosexuality within lists of many sins (1 Cor 6:9-11; 1 Tim 1:9-10; Rom 1:18-32). We should be honest that we are sinners and each of us are battling different sins. We should speak of homosexuality as one of many serious sins including premarital sex, adultery, pornography, etc.
- Hope must be offered. The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church regarding homosexuality as something of their past that had been washed and cleansed. If Christians in Corinth could be cleansed of former homosexual sin, there is hope that anyone can be washed, sanctified, and forgiven (1 Cor 6:11). We do not write anyone off. There are people attending your church every Sunday who are struggling with same sex attraction and homosexuality. Many are carrying pain and guilt. They need to know that they are accepted even as they struggle with this issue. All sinners need encouragement to struggle against sin, no matter what kind. Individuals should not be penalized in the church for struggling with same-sex attraction while living a life of holiness. We offer real Gospel hope to sinners knowing there is substantial healing in Jesus Christ.
- Love must be paramount. Jesus said we will be known by our love (John 13:35). Remember that it was God’s kindness that led us to repentance (Rom 2:4). Love and kindness must be communicated in every conversation on this issue.
- Every word counts. Always be ready to give an answer (1 Pet 3:15). Our words can be easily misunderstood and twisted. Jesus said we will give an account for every careless word (Matt 12:36). We must guard our words carefully, especially in this day and age.
- There is a time to be silent. Pray for wisdom when to speak and when to be silent. There were times that Jesus did not open his mouth (Isa 53:7; Acts 8:32; Matt 27:12; 1 Pet 2:23). Sometimes we talk too much. Jesus cautioned Christians to “be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16). The apostle Paul recommends that we not judge those outside the church (1 Cor 5:12-13).
- Some of our approaches are different.Christians are forced to make difficult decisions when close friends or family members pursue an active homosexual lifestyle. When invited to attend a gay wedding, a Christian has to prayerfully consider his response. There should be opportunity at some point to verbally speak truth in love. Once the Gospel has been shared and concerns voiced, it is important to show respect and love. Some would argue that attending a wedding would show complete support and approval of the marriage. Others would argue that avoiding the wedding would cause offense and irreparably damage a family relationship. These are difficult decisions. Each individual must count the cost. There are repercussions to either approach. Godly men and women have freedom in Christ to prayerfully approach these hard decisions and make wise choices. Be respectful of those who may have a different approach than your own.
- Do your best to avoid hypocrisy. Yes, the church is full of hypocrites. None of us have arrived. We must admit that some of the accusations we receive are well deserved. Our attitudes and words often cause unnecessary barriers. There are times to set clear boundaries. Pastors and clergy have to draw real lines when officiating weddings. If it is possible, as much as it depends on you, try to live at peace with all men (Rom 12:18). In our efforts to stand for the sanctity of marriage, we must be careful to not show partiality and favoritism. Homosexuals are sinners like us created in the image of God who are worthy of dignity and respect. Christians in society should not have a vendetta to refuse business and services to all homosexuals. For example, suppose you own a cake-making business. If you refuse to make a cake for a gay wedding, do you also refuse to make a cake for those who had premarital sex? Try to be consistent. Otherwise, you are showing partiality and favoritism to “certain sinners.” This does not communicate love. This shows hypocrisy and gives Christians a bad name. Philip Yancey’s new book, Vanishing Grace, laments how Christians have lost respect, influence and reputation in our culture. Some of the disdain we receive from the lost is self-inflicted.