Recently, I was asked if there is a place for Homosexual lifestyle to be affirmed within Christianity. Wouldn’t Jesus have accepted gays, aren't they too God's children, do we need to assume they are sinners rather than variations of God's great creation, did God really need everyone to reproduce, and at the heart of the issue, can't there be a place in Christian ideals for gays to flourish, should these people really be repressed and ashamed? Do Christians believe they really aren't gay and just need to be saved?
It’s a big question. In some ways, the way a church responds reveals their fidelity to the scriptures more than any question of out age. Yesterday I looked at the subject in relationship to our identity as people of the book and God’s design for sexuality. Today, I will look at love and repentance. Tomorrow, I will look at sexual brokenness, identity, and witness.
Love and repentance. Wouldn't Jesus have accepted someone who is gay? Great questions, especially in light of the way that some “Christians” act. The Westboro Kansas group would tell you “God hates fags”, and just stop there. Some in many churches just want to throw a rainbow on the sign and forget that the passages in the bible about homosexuality exist. But this is more thoughtful. How would Jesus have acted, since He is our savior and model for all of life?
Lets try it this way. Yes, but…. First the yes. Jesus absolutely met people where they are at. We see him sitting and eating with tax collectors (who were the worst of traitors). He went to parties. He ministered to the sexually broken. Time and again he welcomes sinner, hangs with sinners, accepts sinners. He sits and talks with the woman at the well in great length. The thing that irritated the religious leaders the most was that he rubbed shoulders with those they thought of sinners.
So that’s the yes…Here’s the but. He doesn’t leave people the same. Encounters with Christ lead people to turn from their sin. Sometimes He confronts the sin in people’s lives, sometimes they know it instinctively.
Take the woman at the well in John 4. He sits and talks with the woman at the well in great length. He’s traveling, he comes to this village, and he and his disciples decide to stop at about the sixth hour, early afternoon. He stays by the well, while his disciples go into town. While he is there, a woman comes out to get water (this tells us allot about her- because this was usually done in the morning or evening, when it was cooler. She’s an outcast on some level). She and Jesus strike up a conversation. He asks for a drink, and she asks, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water." "Sir," the woman said, "you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?" Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (here Jesus is speaking of salvation. Living water is a metaphor for salvation) The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water so that I won't get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water." Look at what happens when she says that. They are talking about salvation. Suddenly, he changes the subject to sex. Out of the blue. She says "Sir, give me this water so that I won't get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water." And what does he say, be saved? No. Verse 16 tells us that “He told her, "Go, call your husband and come back." "I have no husband," she replied. Jesus said to her, "You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true." He confronts her with her sexual sin. He points out that there are things that have to be dealt with in her life.
Or take another example, this one having nothing to do with sex. Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus is a tax collector (which means he’s a thief and a traitor- the Romans would make a contract with a tax collector, you give us X, whatever you get over that, you can keep. It was completely corrupt, and meant selling out your people, to the Romans- Jews hated tax collectors). Jesus comes and says, “I must stay at your house today.” So he (Zacchaeus) came down at once and welcomed him(Jesus) gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, "He has gone to be the guest of a 'sinner.'" But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount." Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." (Luke 19:5-10) Now, is there a confrontation? No, but the result of meeting Christ, is that he turns from his life of sin.
From the very beginning of Jesus ministry, he preached repentance. He say “The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" (Mar 1:15). Now is God’s grace free. Absolutely! Grace is free, but an encounter with grace brings change in your life. It causes you to turn from sin, to God. It calls you to trade one love for another love.
So, the church has a responsibility to show love to all. Absolutely! It has a responsibility to reach out to all, but to gay and straight, no matter what the sins, we call for repentance. And here’s the thing. If someone comes into my church that is gay (and they have), I’m not going to kick them out, I’m not going to say, you dirty homosexual. I’m going to welcome them. I’m going to seek to get them to think about Christ and the resurrection, and only then are we going to deal with the issue of homosexuality. And that’s how I would deal with anyone’s sin. Be it sexual sin, theft, lying, greed, gossip, or you take your pick... One of the pastors who’s influenced me allot is a guy named Tim Keller (I think people in the church get sick of hearing his names I invoke it so often). He has a great statement. He says that people come to him, and they have this objection, or that objection (and one of them is homosexuality- he pastors in Manhattan NY), and he says that he points out that “If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said; if he didn't rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead.”
Does this resonate? Chew on it. Think about it. As Christians, have a responsibility to show love to all. But to gay and straight, we say the same thing. Figure out the gospel and the resurrection, turn to Christ in repentance, flee from sin and live lives that glorify him.