The Topic I Try to Avoid – Homosexuality and Faith

Sometimes I don’t know what to say to people. Does that happen to you?

I’m well-versed in my faith and I’m not ashamed of the gospel but some topics are just harder than others. They don’t lend themselves to calm dialog. They carry the certain threat of disintegrating into sound bites and accusations as quickly as a family values debate between Sarah Palin and David Letterman.

So, usually I avoid them. In social settings and on my blog.

But then I have to wrestle with wondering if I’m serving the gospel well, serving others well, succumbing to chicken-hearted fears.

Then again, if I do speak up, I’m afraid that I’m creating division, focusing on debatable issues rather than Jesus, or causing hurt to someone who doesn’t need more hurt in his or her world.

Yes, people, that’s what it looks like backstage here at Deeper with Jesus in Rhode Island.

So, as the topic of homosexuality fills the airways, of course I want to add my voice but then, of course, I don’t.

I’m not the only Christian wrestling with this ambivalence. It’s a hard, hard conversation to have in public these days for at least three reasons.

First, because people are usually already polarized on the topic and walk into it with their fists raised.

Second, because so many Christian spokespeople who get media attention have handled the subject badly, so it’s hard for their opponents not to continue to shadowbox with them.

And third, because there’s a plethora of bad information on the Biblical teaching on homosexuality, so that now even reasonable Christians disagree about how to approach it.

It’s a natural survival reflex to avoid walking casually into minefields. But, into the minefields I will venture for the next several posts to explore the struggles everyday Christians have in discussing homosexuality and faith . . .

Years ago, a friend called to complain that she was going to boycott the TV sitcom, Cheers, because that night, they had introduced a gay character. Back then, it wasn’t yet a casting norm to include lesbian or gay characters in prime time programming and she was, “frankly shocked.”

I chuckled at her response and this offended her until I explained my concern. “You realize, don’t you, that we’ve been faithfully enjoying a show that revolves around a man revered for his myriad, casual sexual partners and that all of the characters spend their days carousing, completely self-absorbed or consuming mass quantities of liquor. But NOW, for you, they’ve crossed a line?”

“Oh, right.” My friend responded. “Why wasn’t I bothered by the show’s sinful characters until now? What’s happened to me?”

The same thing that happens to all of us as our culture creeps inch by inch further away from Biblical standards. We compromise, we waiver, we yield, we barely see it coming.

Like Tevye, in Fiddler on the Roof, Christians wrestle with a changing culture measured against our understanding of God’s standards. There are times it makes sense to give in – like allowing drums and electric guitars on the altar or respecting women as co-heirs of the kingdom.

Other times – well, other times – there can be no compromise and that’s when it gets hard.

Something to understand about serious Christians is that when tradition or man-devised religious conventions are offensive, we can entertain compromise and change. But when the basic teachings of the Bible, the words of scripture, are offensive, compromise is not within our authority.

We believe that God created the world, designed humans, set up rules with an eye to wisdom, love and holiness and that if those rules offend, it’s us who is the problem, not scripture, not God.

You see, in order to come to Christ in the first place, we were all offended at one time or another by His truth. We felt judged. We heard we were wrong.

But we also heard that that information was not intended to destroy us but to save us. We acknowledged our offense, accepted Christ as the payment of our sin debt, and now, we expect to have to change every day. We expect to learn we have to be different, that we must change in very core areas as we become more and more like Christ.

God offends me all the time with the truth but the truth is also my salvation.

And part of what we’re called to do is tell others about this whole offensive Jesus truth. Not because we think we’re so smart and cool and righteous but because we believe that humans need to be saved and Jesus is the Savior.

We’re clumsy at communicating. Sometimes we get it wrong.

But most of us are trying to do more than get it right, we’re trying to be loving as we stand firm on our understanding of the truth. But when it comes to this topic, homosexuality, the love often gets lost in the truth.

I’m tired of hiding in the Christian closet about this topic and the strenuous nature of it. I want to write about the issues and the way we talk (or don’t talk about it) with others and hear your feedback as well, no matter where you stand.

So, walk with me for a ways down this path. I don’t have all the answers and nothing will expose that more than reading what I write about this topic but I trust the power of the Holy Spirit to work. He does His best work in the light so let’s open this door and let the light shine in. (Well, let’s crack it open a bit and light a candle, anyway.)

(This is a series of popular posts that ran last summer. Click here to read what others commented: )

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