How Should the Church Respond to Homosexuality?

Defending the sanctity of marriage with a scandalous love

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I am deeply saddened when I look at the moral decline of our nation . . . not just because I am concerned about our children's future, but also because I see the pain and brokenness in the lives of so many people. Many are searching for love and acceptance, and the last place they are finding it is in the church.  This should not be! Churches were not meant to be Country Clubs where like-minded people gather; they are supposed to be safe havens where the hurting and the outcast are welcomed with love. Jesus said, "I desire mercy . . . For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners" (Luke 5:32). 

Have we forgotten this refers to ALL of us?

Though I believe in the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman, I am disturbed that things have somehow degenerated into an "us" against "them" mentality. I find myself wondering where Jesus is in the midst of this battle.  If He were walking the earth today, I do not believe Jesus would be at the picket lines defending holiness - instead we would find him eating in the homes of the very people our churches “fight” against.  

If the Church truly wants to take a stand on righteousness, then they should do so inclusively (which mean treating other sins with equal importance: heterosexual immorality, jealousy, pride, gluttony, the love of money, etc). However, as a faith community, we need to learn that “speaking the truth in love” does not mean pointing fingers at someone else’s sin. Jesus did not come to judge the world, but to save it . . . so how can we do anything different (John 3:17)?  The gospel is good news, after all - which means we carry a message of hope, not one of condemnation.

We can learn a great deal from the way Jesus faced the controversies of His day. Jesus had this amazing ability to separate the value of a person from their sin. Instead of judging them, He befriended them . . .  and then simply let love do its’ work. It was the Lord’s kindness that drew us to repentance, and it will be His kindness through us that draws others to that same place (Romans 2:4).

According to Kris Vallotton in his book, The Supernatural Ways of Royalty

We only have as much influence in the lives of others as they have value for us. When we carry honor in our hearts for others, our value grows in their eyes and we gain a place of influence with them.  Judging and labeling groups of people usually promotes dishonor.  If others believe we don't really value them as people, they won't believe we love them and will hold our offer (of salvation) suspect.

In reality, we shouldn’t be shocked that Jesus ate with sinners; we would expect this of a loving God. The astonishing fact is that the sinners wanted to eat with Jesus! I wonder how many of the sinners who ate with Jesus would actually want to eat with us.  

So how can we walk in holiness as Jesus did, yet in a way that draws the outcasts to us instead of alienating them?

Most people with same-sex-attractions have wrestled with their identity and place in this world - some have even taken their own lives because the inner turmoil or persecution from society became too much to bear. If the Church is ever going to reach this community, it will be through our compassion, not our sermons. We will have work very hard at loving them as much as the gay community does, which means laying down our agendas and befriending them as they are.

We need more people who are willing to bind up the wounds of the gay community, religious approval aside. Alistair Begg said it well . . .

Until the church learns how to cry, it loses any right to shout.

In Brennan Manning's book, "Souvenirs of Solitude," he points out something profound about the passage in chapter 8 of John's gospel.  This was the story about the woman caught in adultery.  The Pharisees and crowd dragged her before Jesus and asked what they should do with her.  The Law of Moses said she should be stoned, but the Romans wouldn't let them stone people.  Jesus began to write in the sand and then said, "If anyone of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her."  The people left one at a time until only Jesus was standing there with the woman.  He asked her, "Is there no one here to condemn you?"  She replied, "No one, Lord."  He answered, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more."  

Manning expounds on this and says, "Get the picture.  Jesus didn't ask her if she was sorry.  He didn't demand a firm purpose of amendment.  He didn't seem too concerned that she might dash back into the arms of her lover.  She just stood there, and Jesus gave her absolution before she asked for it.  That particular passage was so scandalous in the early church that though it is certainly part of an ancient gospel tradition, it didn't get included in the gospel story for almost a hundred years.  The early Christian moralists had a much stricter idea of good and evil than Jesus did, so they tried to hush up this incident because it made Jesus look too lenient.  And that's the nature of God's love for us - a love that is positively scandalous, a love that's embarrassing." 

I am not encouraging believers to compromise truth for the sake of keeping the peace (or being "politically correct"), but we should not hold truth to such a high value that it outshines love. This is what the religious leaders did in Jesus' day, and He ruthlessly spoke against it (Matthew 23:1-4).   So if our actions are imprisoning people instead of setting them free, we need to take a second look.

If we can speak in tongues of angels, have the gift of prophecy and great knowledge, have faith that moves mountains, give all we possess to the poor, and die a martyrs death . . . but have not love, we gain nothing. Yes, we can even die for a cause and gain nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).  Even if we are correct in our convictions, anything we do outside the motive of love is in vain.

I was saddened when I heard a church in my state put up a billboard that simply read, "Homosexuality is a sin."  How in the world does this further the kingdom of God? Honestly, what individual is going to read that billboard and suddenly become convicted that they need to change their ways?  Or suddenly realize that their lifestyle is a sin, but that God still loves them wholeheartedly just as they are?  Zero.  Maybe we could better understand the impact of this billboard if we imagine instead this church put up a message that read, "Gluttony is a sin."  Such a billboard would only lead people to feel condemned about their struggle with overeating . . . and certainly would nullify the church as a safe place to find help.  

Or what about the time Chick-Fil-A came under scrutiny for funding an organization that helps homosexuals who are struggling with their sexual identity, and Christians decided they needed to show their support by all going to the restaurant a certain day?  I am sure many Christians had good intentions, but this act was interpreted as an anti-gay stance of some sort . . . so gay couples countered the gesture by claiming their own day to go to Chick-Fil-A and "make-out" in the restaurants.  I later read about some Christians who decided to go to Chick-Fil-A and purchase the meals of all the gay couples who were protesting.  My heart smiled so big at this, because as Christians, THAT is the impression we should leave with the gay community. A message that we are not fighting against them, but that we love them and are FOR them (just like God is), irrespective of any difference in sexual identity or religious beliefs.

Christian love should always be characterized by a desire to see others rescued from their sin . . . but we need to remember, "Love covers a multitude of sins" and "Mercy triumphs over judgment" (1 Peter 4:8, James 2:13). It was the Lord's kindness that led us to repentance, and only when we extend the same kindness to others will they ever care what we have to say (Romans 2:4).  

I believe there is a way to love and accept the LGBT community while still standing true to the heart and Word of God . . . but in order to do this effectively, we need to stop being so “sin-conscious” of others, and remember that He also died for us WHILE we were sinners (Romans 5:8). Jesus entered the trenches of our suffering in order to lead us to a place of victory, so let's shower the same scandalous and irresistible love toward others today, not a poor "religious" counterfeit.  May we strive to love others with reckless abandon, as God has loved us (John 15:12).

As Tim Keller’s says, “You are more sinful and flawed than you ever dared believe, but more accepted and loved than you ever dared to hope.”

This applies to ALL of us.

Related blogs worth a read:

In my article, "How Should Christians Face The Controversies Of Our Day," I discuss how Jesus responded to sins and cultural challenges of His day.  He sets the prime example for us to follow.

"9 Reasons Why Sinners Went to Jesus But Don't Come To Us"

"Will I do Gay Weddings?

Carey McNamara

I am a wife to Bob, a mom to Connor, and a physician assistant who is passionate about beating heart disease. As a devoted lover of Jesus, I am on an unending quest for more truth, love, and wholeness through Him. I have come to a place in my life where I realize God is not afraid of my questions, and I have learned the joy of pursuing Him until I discover His heart. As a result, I created a blog to encourage others in their own journey towards Life, Liberty, and Love in Christ. I am passionate about doing life authentically in community, and am thrilled to share a bit of that with you here.

*Please comment respectfully. I welcome honesty as you share your thoughts and feelings. However, since many of these subjects are controversial, I ask that you take care to honor others in the process. I reserve the right to delete any inappropriate comments.