So it happened. The United States Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states, and people are calling it a victory. We knew it would happen at some point. But now that it has, are we equipped to respond the way Christ would have us respond? Are we prepared to answer the difficult questions that will be and are being directed at the church?
As much as we want to say that what happens in the American legal system does not affect us here in Malaysia, it affects us. Not so much with the legalities, as we are not faced with the complications of lawsuits the way the American church is. Nevertheless, the Church—in every country cannot run away from the fact that this is a very real and very critical issue to address in our society and yes, in our churches.
For those who have no relational ties with anyone who identifies or struggles with same sex attraction, the issue of homosexuality has the tendency of remaining quite obscure. Being able to remain emotionally detached makes it easier for individuals to affirm the sin of homosexuality and the condemnation of its practices.
The idea itself may appear to be foreign, incomprehensible, and even repulsive. Such individuals may be more vocal in their stand against homosexuality, and may even come across as “homophobic” or “intolerant.”
For those who have had a first hand experience with friends or loved-ones who came out as gay or revealed their struggle with same sex attraction, however, the desire to reevaluate and question the legitimacy of the Christian stand against this “sin” may become more appealing.
Many, in order to preserve the relationship or in attempt to be accepting and loving end up giving up their personal convictions and begin to compromise their values—to the extent of becoming fervent supporters for the LGBTQ movement. Others, while being able to sympathize yet unwilling to compromise their beliefs, may have to go through the strain of a damaged relationship.
Regardless of which camp you are more inclined to fall into (if at all—obviously there are many gaps in between), too many Christians are ignorant of the fact that homosexuality is very real and prevalent in our own society and among our own social groups.
Unbeknownst to many of us, many Christians struggle in secret with same-sex attraction and are probably going through a particularly difficult time right now. Some continually battle against the inclination to be attracted to members of the same sex, some accept and therefore identify themselves as gay, while others fully engage with the homosexual lifestyle.
Within the Christian community and especially in societies like ours where homosexuality is not as accepted as it is in America, full out engagement obviously risks condemnation and ridicule. Needless to say, many Christians who struggle—and I say struggle because they, having the Holy Spirit in them, understand and recognize it as a sin and really do struggle—with same-sex attraction are more inclined to keep this to themselves and are often afflicted with loneliness, guilt, and shame, with no one to turn to.
Now, I will go ahead and say it. Homosexuality remains a sin. There is no way to lace it—to make the blow any less difficult to swallow. No court ruling—no amount of debates, forums, or memes on the Internet can change that. God called out homosexuality as a sin in the same way that He called out adultery, idolatry, and thievery as sins (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
Does this mean that all homosexuals are condemned to hell? God forbid. They are no more sinful than the next person. In God’s eyes, sin is sin. But do we condone the practices of homosexuality? Absolutely not. Just as we do not condone any other sin—whether it is another form of sexual sin, or greed, or alcoholism.
What we should be doing is this: We should be doing everything we can to affirm individuals with homosexual tendencies that we are more than willing to come alongside them and to support them through their struggle so that they may come to a point in their relationship with God where the temptation will cease to become a temptation because we believe in a God of forgiveness and restoration.
Our message should not be one of approval of homosexual practices, but neither should it be one of condemnation against the individuals who have engaged in them. Most people who wrestle with their sexual orientation do not ask to be the way they are, and Christians must acknowledge that. They face enough contempt from other sources. They do not need it from us as well.
We also need to bear in mind that not condoning or not endorsing homosexuality does not in any way diminish the struggle against same-sex attraction. Homosexual tendencies stem from a variety of (arguable) reasons from absentee fathers, to divorced parents, to bad experiences with failed heterosexual relationships, to biological reasons, and they are valid.
Just because we may not understand or identify with them does not make it any less genuine. Our part is not to question why, but to present them with how: “How can I continue to honor Christ with my life and my body despite my struggle?”
Several months ago, I wrote an article about why I will not engage in premarital sex for one reason and one reason alone: my love for God. Today, I go back to that same principle. I will not engage in or endorse the practice of homosexuality, because of my love for God.
It hurts my heart to even say this, but #lovewins is, in reality, #sinprevails. We live in a fallen and perverse world. People are falling away from God at an alarming rate. Marriage is being redefined over and over again, and mankind will continue to validate and rationalize sins as normal and acceptable.
But again and again, I will say thanks be to God! Thanks be to God for His unfailing and unconditional love for all of us. Thanks be to God for His unbridled acceptance into His family regardless of who we are or what we have done. Thanks be to God for His call to repentance and His solution to holiness through the precious blood of Jesus Christ so that in Him, we can be washed white as snow, and be able to stand blameless before our King! Love does win! It’s just a question of whose definition of love you would rather follow. God’s or the world’s?
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