In a previous post I discussed the false dichotomy that the world presents the church concerning this very contentious issue. So, how can Christians respond in a way that is neither condoning nor condemning? Here are five biblically loving ways Christians can respond to the LGBTQ movement:
1. Love your gay neighbor more than you love your position on sexual morality.
This is a direct quote from our current Southern Baptist Convention president, a pastor out of North Carolina named J.D. Greear. When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, it wasn’t “Love your positions and your arguments,” it was “love your neighbor.” I recently listened to a message from a seminary professor and public speaker who used to be gay, I love how he said it: unconditional love is different than unconditional approval.
I’m not asking you to condone behavior that doesn’t line up with Scripture, and at the same time, I’m not asking you to do the job of the Holy Spirit and condemn the world. I’m asking you to love your neighbor, even your gay neighbor, more than you love your position on sexual morality.
2. Save the selective outrage and take the plank out of your own eye.
Have you ever noticed that we have a tendency to call out and condemn sin that we don’t struggle with, but we show compassion and understanding for those who’ve walked through what we’ve walked through? We need to take the plank out of our own eye. This comes from Jesus himself:
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:3-5
So, what does that mean for this issue? Well, I’ll read you a verse that if you love to throw truth bombs at other people, this is your verse. Well, at least part of it is. Let me read the part many like:
Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither . . . men who have sex with men . . . will inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
Hook, line and sinker right there, right? That’s the part we like. That’s where the outrage comes from. But it’s selective. Let me read the rest of the list.
Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
Where’s the outrage against pornography? Where’s the outrage against consenting heterosexual adults having sex who aren’t married? Where’s the campaign to make sure people stop stealing from the government, paying all their taxes and to make sure people tithe and stop stealing from God? Where’s the outrage against alcohol abuse? We don’t struggle with the line between drinking in moderation and drinking to excess, do we? Selective outrage. Our selective outrage on the issues we don’t struggle with looks like pure hypocrisy to those on the outside and to the millennials leaving the church.
3. Share a cup of grace from the ocean God has provided for you.
This is just another way to say love your neighbor, even your gay neighbor. How much has God forgiven you? How much grace has God shown you? Can you spare a cup of grace and kindness from the ocean that God has shown you towards someone you might not agree with?
4. Connect your gay neighbor to community.
The seminary professor that left the gay life said that the most powerful thing that drew him out of that was Christian community, having Christians in his life that loved him. Does that mean that gays are welcome in church? Here’s what I’ve said before and will say again to a person who asks this question: Am I welcome at your church?
“I’m not at liberty to change Scripture to say what is culturally acceptable at the moment. God has a very strict standard of sexual morality that doesn’t just affect homosexual but heterosexual behavior. It’s strict for all of us. At the same time, as a pastor I preach to people who don’t line up with God’s standard of sexuality every single week. I’ve got people living together who aren’t married. I’ve got guys addicted to porn. I’ve got women who are cheating on their husbands. I welcome them all and love them all and try to point them all to Jesus. We’re all sinners and we all need Jesus. Being gay is not the unforgivable sin. Come to church and let me introduce you to Jesus.”
5. Embody both grace and truth.
When the world presents you with two options (condone or condemn), choose option three. This is option three. When the two options given to us are to condone (full grace) or condemn (full truth), we need to do what Jesus did.
For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17
Jesus chose option three, and so must we.