Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Is There Anything Wrong with Homosexuality?

I saw this article yesterday, and it raises a point Christians really need to be paying attention to. No, not the claim that the Bible tells us to sell our daughters as slaves. That is known as “eisegesis,” taking a piece of Scripture out of its context and forcing it to say what you want it to. The point of the group that put up this billboard was to create a strawman argument by giving a novel meaning to a passage of the Bible, accusing Kim Davis of not living up to their new definition, and then accusing her of hypocrisy for not doing so. At its base, it is a misunderstanding of what we as Christians believe, purposeful or not. I covered the general concept here.

Although, it may be worth some response since there might be people who allow this claim to form their opinion of the Bible, and it would be good to put a clarification on the record. I suppose if anyone wants me to do so, I can try. But there is a more important point, and it is the one I am writing about today.

A statement from Planting Peace, the gay-activism group that put up the billboard, says, “Our message to our LGBTQ youth is simple: You are loved, valued, supported, and beautiful…. There is nothing wrong with you, and we will stand by you. You are not alone.” This is important, because it is the message of the entire homosexual community. And it should matter to Christians, because it is supposed to be ours.

Not in every way, of course, and certainly not the way they mean it. But with the exception of one phrase, and the addition of another, it is what we are meant to offer the world.

The problematic phrase is, “There is nothing wrong with you.” When you look at the Bible, you find it saying that this is not at all true. The word “sin” occurs 446 times, “sins” 197 times, and “evil” 485 times. There is clearly a lot wrong with us. The key word being “us.” All the ways we act selfishly are ways in which there is something wrong. Homosexuality is just one example among others, no better and no worse. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

So Planting Peace is wrong about there being nothing wrong. And yet their message is one we yearn to hear. Young homosexual people want to hear it most of all, because they are too often (and unfairly) bombarded with how especially evil they are. They just want to know that they are lovable. I think that is why they are getting such broad social acceptance, too. We all want to know we are lovable.

The problem comes in with not being able to distinguish between the person, and the person’s behavior. There is a distinction, though a difficult one to define, between what we do and who we are.

Let’s stick with homosexuality, though this is true of everyone. When a person engages in homosexual acts, he can be called a homosexual. However, that is not the only or even primary thing he is. It marks him, but does not make him. He is so much more. Still, the marks change him. He is still a human being, valuable by nature, but the marks of homosexuality, along with any of his other sins, become scars. They separate him from God, and what God intended for him to be.

It is a lie, then, to say there is nothing wrong with us, though we are not only wrong. We are still also the good that God created. The point is that the good is alienated from Him, and broken. People can offer a certain level of comfort in the face of this reality. They can try to deny it, as Planting Peace is doing, even though they also know that nobody is perfect. They can highlight the good in people, help them feel a little less guilty about the bad, and offer them a sense of belonging and love.

But none of it is real, ultimately. No one truly loves unconditionally. We all have different expectations and desires, and we all eventually hurt and are hurt by, disappoint and are disappointed by the people around us. And when we are, it points us back to just how much is wrong with us.

It is here that Christians need to be better about offering the correct message. It is not, “There is nothing wrong with you.” It is, “Jesus can cure what is wrong with you.” The Church needs to be better able to say, “You are loved, valued, supported, and beautiful.” We have to let people, even homosexuals, know that we will stand by them. Our message is supposed to be that no one has to be alone. In Christ, we are meant to be an unbreakable community of love. Jesus wanted that to be our defining characteristic (John 13:35).

There is something wrong with lying, theft, envy, homosexuality, and murder. There is something wrong with liars, thieves, the envious, homosexuals, and murderers. There is something wrong with all of us. But we should not bury our heads in the sand as a result. We should confront the truth, and take hope from the knowledge that God does not want to leave us as we are.

Earlier, I quoted Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” But Paul, who wrote this book of the Bible, follows by saying in Romans 3:24-26 that we can be:

Justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

In other words, what is wrong can be made right. Jesus paid the price. It only takes acknowledging what is wrong, and asking for forgiveness. This is indescribable love. It is what the world needs to know from us, and about us. Not that we are miserable people with a long list of rules, but loving people with words of life. Not that we condemn, but that we speak of mercy. We ought not to hide the truth from people, but we should not be bludgeoning them with their wrongdoing, either. If we want to save the world, we need to put love first. And that is what we are supposed to want.

Christianity, in its purest form, offers an accurate picture. It does not deny the reality of imperfection in this world. It does not call evil good. But it should not be known for having nothing more than evil to say. Until we can remember that, and incorporate it into every interaction with the world, we will be losing people to the blind optimism of the gay community. Let’s give them clear-eyed optimism instead.

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