I confess to having been a sinner my entire life, revealed by my own actions, always in danger of being smashed like a gnat by someone big enough to demand retribution . . . but always in hope of being picked up and set free again by someone big enough to forgive. I’ve often perched on the top of a magnificent peak, foreboding with the potential for destruction, but dazzling with its view of hoped-for restoration. Better there, though, than down in the valley where those who refuse to acknowledge their own worldly shortcomings mingle with those who don’t believe they can ever be forgiven and lifted out of the chilly shadows of darker days. All of their energy goes into trying really hard not to bump into each other in the limited space such ignorance allows, so they slowly drift into motionlessness.
I would rather need rest from the drain of repeated bouts of attempting to conquer than from the weariness of aimless wandering.
When I was about 10, I remember walking into the living room where my stepfather had fallen asleep with a cigarette in his hand, his limp wrist a few inches from the amber-colored ashtray on the end table. Ashes had already fallen onto the table and onto the carpet, both of which bore burn marks from past days of dangerous dozing. I took the cigarette from his hand and placed it in the tray and he didn’t so much as move a finger or release a grunt. Perhaps I saved an apartment building, or even a life. His perhaps.
That was a good thing.
Before I turned away, I noticed his wallet sitting on the table. Contemplating the alcohol-aided deepness of his breathing, I saw an opportunity. With the insight of a pre-teen sinner, I plucked the wallet from the table, took a few steps away and sifted through it. Mainly one-dollar bills, but plenty of them, and some bigger bills too. I took only what I needed for the moment, knowing he would never notice, or if he did, he would only wonder if perhaps he had stopped at the corner bar on the way home and had one more drink than he could remember.
So, I stole a few bucks, hopped on the bike, headed to the U-Totem a few blocks away and bought an ICEE for myself and a friend.
That was not a good thing.
I’ve never confessed that before. I’ve justified it, of course. He was mean and stingy, self-absorbed and really bad at parenting. He never understood me. He was extremely sporadic with weekly allowances. He always had money for a shot of whiskey but never for an ICEE. And I think he just didn’t like me very much. So . . . there you go. I couldn’t help it. It was all “he’s” fault.
Really, the only justification now that seems even slightly acceptable is that I was simply 10, wishing I had a normal dad and a normal life and a pocket full of change to share with friends who would never ask where it came from. I saw a temptation that could be fulfilled easily and with little chance of discovery due to the ignorance of the one being perpetrated, one who was fast asleep while the world moved on around him.
Here’s the big leap of the week: gay culture is like the 10-year-old who perceives he has not much, but has easy access to a whole lot and will take full advantage of the ignorance of those who sleep, robbing them blind as they drop their ashes on the floor in silent slumber. Gay culture glides into the room, leaves the wallet of life as we know it a little bit lighter and we think we did it to ourselves somehow. Which is, in a sense, the truth.
And gay culture’s list is endless as they point fingers of justification at the less-enlightened: They don’t understand us. They are mean and stingy. They don’t want us to be happy. They are ignorant, Bible-toting scaremongers. They are homophobic. They are behind the times, rebelling against reality. They like power and want to keep us down. Bless their little-bitty backward souls, theyjust don’t know no better.
I’ve been writing about “sexual brokenness” for a couple of years now, focusing on the sin nature that causes many of us to stray from what God intended for us sexually, finding ourselves lusting for same-sex encounters, or transfixed in pornographic fantasy, or lusting after a co-worker or “friend” into full-blown adultery. I’ve also focused on the truth that God can restore us and put us on paths to righteousness. With His help — and way-too-often with His help only — we can maneuver that path, ignoring the spring-loaded temptations that pop up like wildflowers in the median, preening to be plucked if you dare to dash through the lanes of oncoming traffic.
The righteousness of the redeemed should be roaring like a mighty waterfall and the echoes of the healed should be reverberating in our churches and our homes, celebrated as proof that God does indeed love us all, each and every one, never gives up, holds us in the palm of His hand and gives truth to all the words we sing and pray.
That would be good.
But the little pipsqueak roar of the mouse that is gay culture is drowning us out while the ignorant sleeping church just finds a more comfortable position in the worn and cozy recliner. Most Christians wont take the time to arm themselves with the truth of scripture nor acquaint themselves with the truth of culture. So, we snooze while the world as we know it reshapes itself to quiet the mouse.
A recent study by the National Center for Health Statistics and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows that only about 1.4% of the U.S. population actually consider themselves to be homosexual. Another study from UCLA put the figure at about 1.7%. Though it’s a small number, we know and believe as Christians that there is not one soul unworthy of Christ’s death on the cross. God bless the 1.4.
The issue is not whether to love those who identify themselves as gay. We should, just as much as we love our own grandmother who probably conforms a little more closely in our minds to what we think God created His people to be. But, loving someone does not mean we conform to their world, which is what is happening.
Christians are way too much like the cowardly lion whose courage vanishes in the presence of a louder voice. We’ve become the “let’s just not go there,” bunch. Pretty soon, we won’t have much choice . . . or actually, we’ll have to make a lot of choices to remain untouched by the cultural backwash.
Instead of fortifying our faith, we’re fortifying our walls.
Instead of seeing the homosexual as one of God’s children who needs to hear the truth in a compassionate way, we turn all shrill and say “they’re after our children” and we turn away.
Instead of seeing the homosexual as one who needs to be beside us, we mutter beneath our breath, “get thee behind me.”
And then we turn on the TV and watch young women liplock after singing songs of broken love. And we turn on a legal drama and find ourselves observing lady lawyers discussing legal options while sharing a pillow. We re-define marriage, re-manufacture the military, re-shape anti-bullying to focus on sexual identity, re-phrase references to avoid bring re-painted as intolerant, refrain from sharing the truth because if we keep our thoughts to ourselves we can avoid being regarded as uncool. We cower in the shadow of the mouse.
Homosexuality is not the real enemy here. It is sexual brokenness, rising out of empty or abandoned relationships, broken homes, unprotected children, disregarded vows, weak wills, ever-better-presented temptations. The apple is even more polished now than when it was in the perfect garden and we are frenzied in our efforts to take a bite.
In his craftiness, Satan has made homosexuality both a jewel and a demon. Those who embrace it will give their lives for it. Those who bedevil it will spend their lives running from it.
And those who are broken — not gay, but so wanting for a good relationship with someone of the same sex or so fearful of one with the opposite — move closer to disaster while we marvel at the decibel level of the mighty mouse that keeps on roaring. And our daughters pose provocatively, seduced by emptiness and longing, while our sons invest their souls in pornography like a temporary sedative for an unsatisfied and distorted desire. And our marriages fail as we fall into others’ beds.
As I wrote in Surviving Sexual Brokenness: What Grace Can Do: “Honestly . . . would it hurt that bad for us to just be honest with each other? Sexual brokenness — whether it manifests itself as homosexuality, sexual addiction, pornography, idolatry, adultery, self-satisfaction through masturbation or another form — hurts. It wreaks havoc. It can destroy the broken one and devastate the lives of those who are close enough to feel the impact of the personal implosion. In the meantime, while we debate whether it is too painful to be truthful, we let culture administer so much anesthetic that all affected become numb.”
If we take our naps and leave our treasures unguarded, we will lose our hearts as well. Without our hearts, we fail to love. And without love, we fail at everything. The mouse’s roar cannot be drowned out by a clanging cymbal.
Gay culture is a mighty mouse . . . and it has not come to save the day.
(Thom Hunter’s latest book, Surviving Sexual Brokenness: What Grace Can Do, is available at Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com, www.westbowpress.com, www.thomhunter.com, or through your local retailer.