In my home town of Tracy, CA, a recent bruhaha has erupted around Richard Thompson, a 53 year old teacher at the local high school who mentioned in his high school classroom that he thought homosexuality was a choice. After protest from the high-school’s Gay Straight Alliance, he resigned.
"Earlier this week, Thompson told the Tracy Press that he was quitting to pursue a job in the technology industry, where he has spent most of his career. He said his resignation had nothing to do with his comments."
But that’s really not the story. For those of you who call my conservative Christian approach to homosexuality extremist, let me clue you in on the difference between my mainstream evangelical views and true extremists.
A church from Topeka, KS called Westboro Baptist Church is coming to my town to protest at the high school’s graduation. Not only that, they plan to protest at local churches here, even conservative ones that they don’t think are doing the job against homosexuality. Now, these guys are certified nut cases – I mean, what church of unchristian idiots would sponsor a site called godhatesfags.com? Next time somone calls me extreme, I’m going to send them over there for a lesson in the proper use of the word.
Our pastor notified us today that next week he is preaching on what the bible says about homosexuality, and that we should be ready to respond kindly to whatever happens. Now, I know him to be a pretty easygoing guy, so I don’t expect any condemnation or fire and brimstone, although I do expect him to teach that it is a sin that God can deliver and heal us from. So, I sent him the following letter as input for his sermon.
I am excited about your addressing the topic of homosexuality – one which I have a keen heart for, and some limited experience with. I would like to give you some of my input for consideration as you prepare for next week.
Here are the points that seem important to me.
What does the bible say?
I am sure you have a good handle on this topic. However, most people will not be surprised by the teaching that homosexuality is seen as a sin in the bible. However, it is necessary to cover it.
This is, however, a chance to look at it from a perspective that also puts us on the hotseat. How does God see homosexuality in relation to other sins? Worse than adultery? Gluttony? Lying? Jesus came for all sinners. Gays are sinners not just by behavior, but by nature like all of us (original sin). Even if they don’t yet see homosexuality as a sin, they need to repent of sin in general and believe in Christ or risk damnation, like the rest of us.
Great article at http://www.str.org/free
Argument from Nature
I am not sure how much this matters, but Romans 1 is basically the argument from nature, not just from a moral standpoint. See
Does God heal homosexuality? How?
First, some good links:
/05/is_reparative_t.html ("danielg" is me)
Reparative therapy, sometimes mislabeled Conversion therapy, is a branch of psychology that helps gays heal the source of their same sex attractions.
- their model for male homosexuality is that when boys are forming their gender identity, around 2-4 years old, may have an absent or bad male role model, and so fail to identify with the masculine, or reject it. However, since all men need a sense of maleness in themselves, they later try to get it through romanticized and sexualized relationships with men.
- the cure it to see the true, balanced masculine and appropriate that inwardly
But what I think is important here is that gays can be healed without conversion to Xianity by the above therapy. To link it inexorably with Xianity is a mistake, and handicaps or shortchanges the masculine work needed by saying "just be more devoted to God and he will help you stop sinning by the spirit." This approach is where the term "conversion therapy" comes from, and it really gives the science of gay recovery a black eye.
However, I want to add that experiencing the love and truth of God deeply is what is required for many people to heal from homosexuality, because the deep and fatherly, unconditional love of God is critical in healing of all of our deep sins and coping mechanisms.
How should we respond?
(1) Soften Your Judgmental Attitude
I think this quote from Yancey is a good one:
"I love evangelicals. You can get them to do anything. The challenge is, you’ve also got to soften their judgmental attitudes before they can be effective."
(2) Go and Sin No More
The best story that bears upon this is John 8:1-12, where Jesus says to the woman "Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more."
Are we more like the pharisees? Do we want to see gays punished or healed? Do we despise them and think of them as twisted and gross, or as people like us who need love, forgiveness, and truth delivered in a way that makes them desire God?
Notice Jesus told the adulteress "sin no more."
We want to be kind, and love them as people who are more than just a sexual preference – they are people who have many other good qualities, and like us, things they could work on. But they also need "mercy and truth" – we must continue to hold out the law so that people will see their need for Christ.
(3) Approach the subject with humility, try to avoid a fight
Those involved with ex-gay recovery are not interested in making global assertions. Rather than saying "all gays are that way because…" they say simply that "for those with unwanted same-sex attractions, therapy that works is available."
And rather than saying that all in opposition are wrong, they couch it as a right to self determination:
"We believe that clients have the right to claim a gay identity, or to diminish their homosexuality and to develop their heterosexual potential.
The right to seek therapy to change one’s sexual adaptation should be considered self-evident and inalienable."
If you want to spend time bouncing ideas or discussing this week, let me know. If not, that’s fine too. Enjoy, and we will be praying this week for God’s anointing of mercy and truth and protection. Go for it!