Homosexuality and the Fruits of the Spirit

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The LGBTQ issue has been something I’ve talked about a lot, not only on this blog but in many other places as well. By now, I’m sure you know where I stand on the matter. If you aren’t aware, however, I’ll simply say that it is a non-issue for me. I explain my reasoning here, here, here, and especially here. Agree or disagree, that’s where I’m at with things.

That said, in this piece I wanted to take a bit of a different approach than my usual LGBTQ-inclusive apologetics and flesh out a thought experiment I recently did. What I’ve been doing is focusing on Galatians 5:22–23, on what Paul calls the “fruit of the Spirit.” They are as follows: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Now, with these things in mind, when I then start thinking about the LGBTQ folks I know and love, I begin to see a pattern. What is it? They are just as filled with the Spirit as their heterosexual counterparts. In many instances, they are even more Spirit-filled. Let me offer some examples so you can see where I’m coming from, because if you haven’t noticed these same things, perhaps it’s simply because you aren’t yet looking.

Love

It is fairly clear to my mind that LGBTQ folks love others just as well anyone. To say otherwise is, well, starkly ignorant. You see, many—including the gentleman who runs my website—are in committed, long-term relationships, make terrific parents, as well as dedicated friends. Many go out of their way to bless others, even those who we would consider their “enemies.” Sounds quite Christlike, if you ask me.

If you haven’t noticed these same things, perhaps it’s because you aren’t yet looking.

Joy

In spite of all the bigotry and hatred spewed at them, many LGBTQ folks live joyous lives. They are, for the most part, content and happy—as much as straight folks anyway. Whenever they’ve entered a room I’m in, their joy has often become infectious.

If you haven’t noticed these same things, perhaps it’s because you aren’t yet looking.

Peace

I’ve not known one LGBTQ person who was violent. I’m sure they are out there, but that’s beside the point. Many are not. Many are peaceful: forgiving, merciful, non-retributive, and so on. Many are also dedicated to finding peaceful solutions to the world’s problems. Many are activists, seeking restorative justice even for those who’ve persecuted them and other marginalized people groups. Indeed, many—like my friend Brandan Robertson—preach the gospel of peace.

If you haven’t noticed these same things, perhaps it’s because you aren’t yet looking.

Patience

LGBTQ folks are extremely patient. At least the ones I know. Not only are they patient in their daily lives but they have also been patient with me as I deconstructed my formerly held views that they were “sinful” simply for being non-straight. I’m overwhelmingly grateful for this and owe them a debt of gratitude.

If you haven’t noticed these same things, perhaps it’s because you aren’t yet looking.

Kindness

When thinking about what it means to be kind, numerous LGBTQ folks come to mind: Ex-coworkers who went out of their way to show kindness to strangers, current colleagues who have kindly reached out to me to give me a word of encouragement, friends of my daughter who have been instrumental in her development, and on and on. In short, they’ve been the embodiment of what it means to be kind to others.

If you haven’t noticed these same things, perhaps it’s because you aren’t yet looking.

Generosity

LGBTQ folks are notoriously generous. I’ve seen it first-hand. The gay gentleman who runs my website, for instance, does so out of the kindness of his heart. I’m not sure how many hours he’s put into developing the site, but I know it’s a lot. And it’s pro bono, too! Any money he’s received was unexpected—I gave simply because I recognized his generosity and wanted to give back for how much time he’s given to me.

If you haven’t noticed these same things, perhaps it’s because you aren’t yet looking.

Faithfulness

Not only are LGBTQ romantic partnerships as faithful as their heterosexual counterparts, but so too are their platonic ones. Indeed, my gay friends have been loyal through and through. They’ve been the embodiment of consistency, and while their relationships of course experience the same ebbs and flows as all other relationships, so very many have remained faithful and true.

If you haven’t noticed these same things, perhaps it’s because you aren’t yet looking.

Gentleness

LGBTQ people are amazingly gentle. I’ve been touched by how nurturing they can be. When I’ve been at my lowest, I’ve had many gently remind me of my self-worth and the good I bring to the world. They’ve done this, furthermore, without condemnation in their hearts and judgment on their lips. And it’s been a gentle reminder to how amazing these folks can be.

If you haven’t noticed these same things, perhaps it’s because you aren’t yet looking.

Self-Control

LGBTQ folks exhibit a good deal of self-control, especially given the fact that they have endured an unfair amount of social scapegoating and marginalization. I don’t know about you, but if I had to endure such crap I am not sure I would have as much self-control as them.

If you haven’t noticed these same things, perhaps it’s because you aren’t yet looking.

Now, given how obviously Spirit-filled many in the LGBTQ community are, what shall we then say? Well, Paul puts it perfectly in Galatians 5:23: “There is no law against such things.” Hence, should LGBTQ folks live in the spirit of love, then there shall be no law against them. Should they live with joy and give bring joy to others, then there shall be no law against them. Should they live in peace, then there shall be no law against them. Should they be patient, and kind, and generous, and faithful, and full of self-control, then again, there shall be no law against them.

I hope you seriously consider these things, not only for your sake, but especially for the sake of those whom we in the church have consistently marginalized and scapegoated.

May we all live in love and have peace with one another.

About
Matthew J. Distefano is the author of 4 books and a co-host of the Heretic Happy Hour podcast. He loves hiking, gardening, and soccer. Find him online at allsetfree.com You can read more about the author here.
"Thanks for your reply. Correct on the intersex. But, the article is more about the ..."

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"Mathew salutations to the Divinity Within You and thank you for a great article. As ..."

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  • Ellen Hammond

    I have said for decades that many LGBTQ folks I know are far more Christlike than many of the religious, judgmental, Christians who are condemning them. So nice to know that others see the same thing. Thank you, Matthew for sharing this.

  • I have so many gay friends, and the only thing different about them from my hetero friends is who they are attracted to. They love, they hurt, they feel, just as everyone else. Plus they have the extra burden of some people openly hating or discriminating against them.

  • Mathew salutations to the Divinity Within You and thank you for a great article. As a Christian I feel many Christians spend so much time dismantling, reinterpreting and rebuilding the teachings in the Bible that they have no time to love and serve the people around them as they attack Christians and non-Christians demonstrating their uncertain and confused matters in love and Christian doctrine. Christian leaders have led their flocks astray not because of Bible complexity, but because they are unfamiliar with the spiritual wisdom the words point to so they would rather concentrate on the fingers that point and the people they point at with disdain. https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B018AK0WKY/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0?redirectedFromKindleDbs=true

  • raven nevermore

    Can something or a person be Spirit filled when out of context? No. We claim that a Believer is filled with the Spirit in unique situations – those are particular. Otherwise all Believers have the Spirit of God, including those that are disordered, which I consider anyone with same-sex interest because it is out of context from the norm. Everything that you have said is right and true, except it lacks righteous context – you are wrong, in my opinion.

    See in Patheos, Tom Hobson’s “What Does Jesus Say About Homosexual Behaviour.”

  • Why does it matter if same sex attraction is not the “norm?” Intersex is not the “norm,” yet we wouldn’t say they are sinful for being intersex. Left handedness is not the “norm,” so should they all convert to right-handedness? The “norm” is nothing but a cultural/societal label we put on things so that we can continue with our divisive appropriations.

    And I literally have zero shits to give when it comes to you thinking I’m wrong. The old me would have thought I was wrong, too. But I repented and I’m not going back to thinking that gay folks are sinful or in error simply because they aren’t “the norm.” How can I think they are sinful when they do the exact same things as me: they love, they hurt, they show mercy, they are compassionate, they get angry, they shit, they cook, they eat, they drink, they purchase homes, they work their jobs, the raise children, they make music, and so on. Just because they share life with people whom you and your theology say they shouldn’t doesn’t mean anything, really. At the end of the day, if you don’t like homosexuality, don’t be one. If you don’t like bisexuality, don’t be bi. It’s pretty damn simple.

  • raven nevermore

    Thanks for your reply. Correct on the intersex. But, the article is more about the usual and average and normal exchange between people. That was the idea I wanted to convey, that such people in the LGBTQ do live very normal lives except for, what I think, is a disorder that is also connected to morality and therefore what constitutes sin. A Believer may be just that, but has the propensity to steal, has a disorder that is a sin, as example. Just because something is normal and natural and has genetic identifiers does not make it right or righteous; that sin issue you want to cover over with love and inclusivity ignores morality and sin. That is intellectual bigotry or willful narrow mindedness. I as a heterosexual married man does not have the right to screw around because of morality, values, and standards with biblical ideas of what is sin.

    How does a Believer with same-sex attraction discover they are that, without committing a sin out of the martial relationship? They have to sin to find their sexual identity? No. Its all on what you say: love and I’d add feelings therefore. No science, just feelings, is what you have. Moreover, I’m not phobic about homosexuality because such a condition is designed to put a guilt trip on other people by homosexuals and I’m not secure in my own sexual identity. However, you cannot base sex without the moral factor and the moral factor is not a science factor. As your last lines say it well in many ways: sex is a choice, to be or not to be, a particular condition of being. Therefore, morality and the biblical concept of sin “should not” be ignored for the Believer.