It is considered almost a truism that conservative Christians, who believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman and that homosexual behavior is sinful, are hateful, cruel, homophobic, intolerant and just plain evil. And, unfortunately, that has perhaps been the case with some churches, some pastors in some situations. At times, our rhetoric has been intemperate.
The liberal orthodoxy is clear: conservative Christians are homophobic, hateful bigots.
It is, in my opinion, a lie that is not founded in reality. Those who accuse us of bigotry and hatred are engaging in lazy and sloppy arguments. It has been my experience and my observation that biblical Christians and their churches are remarkably affirming and welcoming to homosexuals, even if we believe that their lifestyles are sinful.
It is true that
1) We believe that the Author of life created a man and a woman, and that he designed marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
2) We believe that homosexual activity is sinful, contrary to God’s design and destructive to human lives.
It is NOT true that:
1) Our position on homosexuality is driven by hate or fear. It is driven by the study of the Scriptures which we hold to be divinely authored and authoritative for our lives.
2) Conservative Christians treat homosexuals with cruelty or disrespect as a norm.
I am constrained here from being specific, but I have had ministry contact with several self-declared homosexuals. In my discussions with them and in my dealings with them, I have done two things. I have affirmed that I care about them as people and that I am not going to reject them or ostracize them. I also affirmed that I cannot compromise my convictions based on the Word of God.
But there is not a homosexual in this world who could pass a lie detector while accusing me of cruelty, derision, or any kind of unkindness. Could one say they have heard me preach against homosexuality? Yes, they could. But on a personal level, I have been welcoming, friendly, open and kind. I cannot name names or tell specific stories, because of the privacy that these folks and their families seek, but I can give testimony before you knowing that one day I will stand before God.
In reality, the opposite tends to be true. In my dealings with people who disagree with my views on this topic, and in the national debate I have observed, it is the liberal left that is engaging in bigotry, hatred, and intolerance in this debate.
Conservative Christians treat homosexuals far better than the left treats conservative Christians.
The Intolerant Left
NOTE: I’m not sure what term to use here – liberal, left, homosexual advocates, gay-rights lobby. I’ve settled on simply using the term “left” here as a descriptor. Perhaps a better term could be found, but for now, I will use the term “left” to describe those who oppose conservative Christianity on this issue.
1) The left misrepresents our motives and beliefs.
I do not hate homosexuals. In fact, there are several whom I consider friends. I believe that their behavior is wrong, but that doesn’t mean I hate them. My kids did a lot of things wrong as they grew up. I did not “affirm” their sin, but I remained their father and continued to love them. All of us are sinful, in different ways. I preach against self-righteousness, gossip, unforgiveness, heterosexual promiscuity and other sins as well. That doesn’t mean I hate gossips (actually, I probably dislike gossips more than most of the homosexuals I’ve met – but that is a different post altogether!).
We believe that the best life any human can have (not the easiest perhaps) is the life lived in obedience to God. We are called to leave behind our sinful existence and to participate in the glorious transformation wrought by the Holy Spirit as he conforms us to Christ. That is true of sinners of all stripes. We preach a transformational love. It is not that God says, “You are perfect just as you are.” That is the affirmational love that the left demands. We must accept people exactly as they are and never demand that they change. But Christianity is transformational, not affirmational. We proclaim the power of God to not only love sinners, but to CHANGE them. God’s love is shown in the fact that he says to us, “I love you so much I sent my Son to die for your sins, and now, if you believe, I will take you as you are and transform you to be like Christ.”
The left refuses to accurately portray our views. They refuse to accept the transformational concept. They will not accept that we can both call something a sin and love the person who commits the sin. Even when Sam Cathey or others demonstrate this concept, they refuse to accept it. If we do not affirm people’s lifestyles, choices, and behavior, we are hateful.
This misunderstanding is clearly willful. They do not want to understand or accept that we could both love homosexuals and call their behavior a sin. But that dichotomy is fundamental to Christianity. God showed love to sinners (Romans 5:8). The church’s mission is to love sinners – heterosexual, homosexual or even metrosexual!
2) The left is intolerant of our views.
There are few people less tolerant of dissent than passionate left-wingers. I saw a poster the other day. “We must never tolerate intolerance.” Do they not see the irony, even the oxymoronic nature of that concept? European countries and Canada have moved to limit freedom of speech and religion by criminalizing preaching the biblical truth about homosexuality.
The simple fact is that the left is intolerant of our views and does not want to allow us the freedom to hold our views or to promote our views. They hate what we stand for and will not tolerate our convictions. As the left (on this issue at least) becomes more and more the norm, their intolerance and marginalization of the Christian view of homosexuality will only increase.
3) The left is aggressive in their condemnation
I have a friend who is a passionate atheist and a strong supporter of gay marriage. Frankly, interactions with him are at the core of much of what I am saying here. For years, he has sent out group emails to me, some of my family members, and several of his friends. I asked repeatedly and respectfully to be left off his list, but he ignored my pleas and continued to send me his little “blessings.”
They were a constant stream of caricature against Christian views, hatred spewed against what we stand for and misrepresentation of our beliefs, motives and habits.
If I sent him gospel messages regularly, he would have grown incensed at my aggressive evangelistic ways. (He has heard me preach, and preach he gospel, dozens of times, so I don’t fill his inbox with evangelistic messages). But in spite of my repeated requests, he just kept sending me his atheistic evangelistic messages.
My point is that he treated me with an aggression that he would have condemned if I had treated him that way. That kind of aggressive, hateful and intolerant approach toward Christian views is becoming much more common today.
Of course, there are crazies like the Westboro Cult, but Christians condemn them with as much force and passion as non-Christians do. Here is my conclusion after long observation of this cultural debate.
In general, in the homosexuality discussion, the actual bigotry, hate and intolerance is not coming from the church against homosexuals, but from the left toward the church!
What Do We Do?
Here’s where you probably expect me to recommend some sort of political action, a lawsuit, or some other reparative act. I’m going to go in another direction.
1) That we are hated should not surprise us.
Jesus actually spoke directly to this situation in words too clear to miss, yet somehow we still forget them!
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. John 15:18-20
The sinful world hated Jesus. The only way for the church to get the world’s approval is to be “of the world.” But if we remain faithful to Jesus, because we have been chosen out of this world to serve his kingdom’s interests, the world is going to hate us.
Why is the hatred of the world such a surprise? When you shine the light in the darkness, people recoil and cover their eyes. Sinners (of any kind, including those engaging in homosexual behavior) are going to dislike our message.
Get used to it!
2) That we are hated should not deter us.
We cannot live for the approval of the world. To get the approval of the world requires that you sacrifice the approval of God. You cannot serve God and man. So, even if we are hated, misrepresented, treated intolerantly, we continue to follow the Word of God.
- We proclaim the truth about sin.
- We love homosexuals with the love of Christ.
Our duty is not to gain the world’s favor but to proclaim the world’s Savior. And that we must do no matter what the response!
3) Stay on the right side of history!
That is the mantra of the gay-marriage movement. “Get on the right side of history.” And they are right that history seems to be moving, in the present, toward the affirmation of sin. But there is a greater plan being worked out in this world. God is working to establish the kingdom in the hearts of men today, but one day there will be a kingdom here on earth. Jesus Christ not only the Savior of sinners, but he is culmination of history.
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Oh, right now the tide of evil might be rising and the tsunami of sin may seen to be sweeping away our moral foundations. But the ultimate ending of history is going to be written by God and in that history, Jesus rules and reigns and every knee bows before him with every tongue confessing him as Lord. In the end, there are the saved and the lost, but there are no more skeptics or unbelievers.
So, we need to just keep on proclaiming that Jesus died for sinners and that he can change lives. We do so knowing that at the back of the book, we win!