“Oh, you’re a Christian?” Six pairs of eyes widened. The laughter died. The flamboyantly gay couple at the end of the table dropped hands. “We’re so sorry… we didn’t mean to offend you.”
We were in a crowded restaurant, yet you could have heard a pin drop. I stood there with a pitcher of water in my hand, feeling awkward for the first time that night. I could have said so many things. I wish I had said so many things. Instead, I squeaked out, “No, I’m okay. I think… I think you guys are awesome. You’re my favorite table tonight.”
I walked away, blushing. By the time I came back, the awkwardness was gone. The jokes returned. The group gave me a hefty tip and even shared some of their birthday brownies with me. After they left, I’m sure they never thought of me again. But I still think about what I wish I had been able to convey to them.
I’ve never been offended by homosexuality. Perhaps I’m a product of my generation, but it’s never occurred to me to be grossed out or offended by someone else’s (consensual) sexual choices.
Because of this, and my strong desire to see as many people in heaven as possible, I’ve wrestled with the Biblical evidence against homosexuality for years. Life would be so much easier and less combative if Jesus agreed that love is love. I really want that to be true.
Unfortunately, the Bible contains damning evidence such as 1 Timothy 1:8-11, Romans 1:18-32, and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. However, that doesn’t mean that the church doesn’t have a place for people who are openly gay.
Being gay is not a sin, it’s a sexual orientation. We aren’t sinners because of earthly labels, we’re sinners because of what we choose to do. While Paul certainly states that having homosexual sex is a sin, being tempted by homosexuality is no different than being tempted by any other sexual behavior. Yet the history of the church shows an unbiblical hatred towards the LGBTQ community, while showing more leniency and understanding towards other sinners.
Here’s is a small list of sins that lead us to hellfire: drunkenness, swindling, greed, idolatry, lying, and stealing. If we played Never Have I Ever, how many of you would still have five fingers up after this list?
Let’s try again. This time, let’s only list some sexual sins: adultery, lust, premarital sex, and intentionally tempting another. How many fingers are you holding up? There’s this book called Every Man’s Battle, which discusses how Christian men can overcome struggles with sexual sin, and it’s sold over a million copies. Women (myself included), how many times have you dressed yourself up provocatively in order to elicit an inappropriate reaction? If you tell me you still have five fingers up, you’re either a saint or you’re lying.
Between those two rounds, chances are every person lost at least one finger. I lost six. That’s certainly enough to send me to hell, if it wasn’t for the grace and goodness of Christ.
The good news: Church isn’t for the people who have it all figured out. Church is for the people who are hurting, confused, and searching. If you’re gay and you choose to come to church with me, I promise not to preach at you. I promise not to be offended by your temptations or your failures. I promise there is a place for you here, an honest place for you here, where you can become the best version of yourself. God wants you with Him, regardless of your sexual orientation.
The bad news: Should you choose to be saved, it may not be an easy life. God doesn’t like bench-warmers, and tends to place high demands on those who wholeheartedly follow Him. He will most likely call you to step away from certain aspects of your lifestyle, including active homosexuality.
The great news: Salvation ensures you an incredibly easy eternity with Christ. One where our differences aren’t noticeable and our earthly struggles no longer exist.
It took me a long time to accept that homosexual acts are sinful, and I’ve never struggled with homosexuality personally. So I can only imagine how it might feel for someone who is homosexual to wrestle with these concepts. When I did finally accept it, realizing the following truths made it easier:
- Having homosexual desires is not a choice. Once upon a time, conflicting views discussed whether or not gay people chose to be gay. To me, the concept of choice defies logic. Why would an intelligent individual ever choose to be gay? Being a part of the homosexual community will make your life harder. You will have to face prejudices that straight people simply do not have to face. I recognize that it probably wasn’t easy to accept or announce your sexual orientation, and I recognize that it will be even harder to attempt to control it.
- God did not make you gay, but he allowed it to happen. If you’ve ever read the book of Job, you see an example of Satan at work. Satan heaps tragedy upon tragedy into the life of Job, while God sits back and allows it. This is the world we live in. Before you lament that this is unfair, read Genesis. God made His perfect world, exactly as He intended it. He gave His perfect world to humans, who then turned the world over to Satan, forever separating us all from the perfection of the Creator. This means we are all born with predispositions to certain afflictions and temptations, but God will never allow us to be afflicted with anything that He cannot use for his glory. So yes, you may be gay, but God can use your sexuality for His glory.
- Jesus loves you as you are, but he still wants you to be better- for YOUR sake. God is aware of His own greatness. He doesn’t need us to proclaim His Majesty. When He gives us instruction, it isn’t for His own enjoyment, but for the benefit of mankind. Satan likes to plant seeds in our brain that cause us to question God’s reasoning. You may be angry that God allowed you to be gay, but is now restricting your behaviors. Don’t feel singled out, as He also places restrictions on heterosexuals. Not for His sake- but for ours. (See 1 Corinthians 6:12)
- Don’t bury the temptations and sins that affect you. I have a theory that our church is riddled with scandal because we refuse to confront real issues before they blow up in our face. There’s this fallacy that the church should have overcome its problems because it is like Jesus. But read Paul’s letters– the church is made up of imperfect people who are just doing the best they can. 1 Corinthians 6:8 clearly states that the church includes people who engaged in homosexuality. The fact that Paul felt it was necessary to write about this indicates that some were still engaging or struggling not to engage. Don’t pretend you aren’t struggling. That just makes it easier to run from God and embrace your sin. Don’t be ashamed of temptations, give glory each time you are able to conquer them and ask forgiveness each time you fail.
I know the idea of homosexuality is controversial. I have friends and family who are openly gay. I love these people dearly and publishing this piece, at the risk of offending them, terrifies me. But the idea that they might avoid God terrifies me more. I really don’t care if you’re straight, lesbian, bisexual, or gay. There’s always a seat open next to me, if you’re interested.