The next topic in my blog series on “church issues” is the (lack of) response on the topic homosexuals and bisexual in today’s churches.
Let me tell you a story.
I graduated from Southeastern University in 1996, a school in Central Florida, formally known as Southeastern College, and Southern Bible College before that. In the 90s Southeastern was well-known in the community for its music program.
One night I turned on the local news, and there was the Professor of Music. Local police arrested him right on TV for soliciting another male at a local park. He was caught with his pants down. Literally. It was a sting operation. That stung one of our professors! Quite the buzz on campus the next day.
But something about the sting bothered me.
It’s something I see prevalent in many church’s and Christian circles.
You see, it was later revealed that our music professor, married with children, music minister at his local church, and very loved by students and faculty alike, had been struggling with this issue for quite some time. He felt there was literally no one on the campus that he could confide in about his desire to solicit other men for sex. Especially not the faculty or administration members who admired him so.
Let’s be clear.
The college stance on homosexuality was extremely strict. Plainly, it was a sin. A sin for which a student could be expelled. A sin that no one didn’t dare mention or acknowledge, much less profess to entertain.
God Himself labels it a sin, too. You don’t have to be a Bible student to clearly see that the Bible, God’s Word, doesn’t condone homosexuality or the gay lifestyle.
We’ll examine those scriptures more in a little bit.
For now, back to what troubles me: how this sin in particular is treated in churches & Christian circles.
The silent sinners.
I bet church doors swing wide open each Sunday for murderers and thieves.
Think about it. I mean, how would anyone know if the visitor sitting on the front pew killed somebody just last night? Or robbed a bank that morning? Unless that person told someone in the church.
So yeah, doors swing open for murderers and thieves. Pedophiles and rapists.
But the same doors slam shut on homosexuals, if they are looking the part.
For example, let’s say a male shows up to church, and he’s acting “sweet,” that is, behaving in a more feminine way. Maybe he extends his pinky finger while sipping a cup or coffee, or he’s caught putting on lip gloss in the men’s room.
Some church leaders would treat such a person with a violent attitude and with great disdain. I’ve seen it. The vibe is that the person doesn’t belong there. In fact, it’s communicated, overt or otherwise, that the gay person had some nerve or audacity to show himself or herself in church.
It’s almost like there’s an unwritten rule that gay people aren’t allowed to express any interest in God.
Heterosexual males in the congregation particularly seem to get upset when another acts like anything but a man. Now, I understand righteous anger. Some sins can tick a Christian off. Big time. Jesus in fact displayed a righteous anger when He went to the Temple and witness gambling and all sorts of unbiblical activity going on. Jesus overthrew a few tables and what not.
Yet, we can’t imply to gays or any other sinner that the church has nothing to offer them unless they clean up their act first. No, Christ says come as you are.
Are churches for saved folk only?
The church is a place where sinners can go to hear the Gospel and potentially become saved.
The churches isn’t just for already-saved folk? Or is it?
Must sinners shave first, take a bath, wear nice clothes, remove their hat, stop smoking, become a heterosexual and *THEN* maybe they can be welcomed to hear the Gospel message?
Isn’t sanctification a process?
Now, back to the music professor for a brief moment…
The Music Professor’s secret sin
It’s a shame he felt that he had no one he could trust with his struggle. This not ought to be a case on an entire college campus of mostly believers. He also attended a local church in the community and apparently felt there was no one there either in whom he could confide.
Tragically, this is the reality in many church circles.
The Bible encourages us to confess our sins to one another (James 5:16), but many Christians are too often judgmental and condemning, especially with this sin.
So the people among them in their very midst who are hurting and struggling with homosexuality as their “thorn” in the flesh don’t dare go to anyone in the church. Instead, they hide it. They wouldn’t imagine confessing having an issue with this sin when it’s so radically and angrily spoken out against.
Jesus hates sin, yes. But Jesus shows great compassion towards the sinner. He will leave the 99 and go after one.
None of us are sinless or have a right to cast a stone. We pick up a stone, hold it tightly, and then wonder why folk with deep spiritual struggles are afraid to go to the church or church folk for help.
Saints and sinners alike
My story about the music professor illustrates that it’s not just sinners who deal with homosexual tendencies. In fact, sinners may not really struggle much with this sin because they don’t resist or fight it. Instead, they embrace it. Whereas a believer struggles greatly. Is tormented even. Because the fay lifestyle is so contrary to the very faith they have to come to know and endear.
Generally speaking, it’s not too terribly hard to spot those persons in the church who are struggling with this issue. Just about all of us can probably recall a choir director or two, males, who seemed to be a little on the not-so-masculine-side of the gender pendulum.
The model lover would do what?
There’s a popular saying, “WWJD,” which means, “What would Jesus do [in any given situation].” I believe Jesus would love persons struggling with this sin. And we should do the same. Christ tells us to love even our enemies (Matthew 5:44) so how much more should we love our fellow brothers or sisters in the faith.
Jesus is the “model lover” shall we say.
Let me tell you two more stories, both from the Bible.
Stories from the Bible
The Adulteress Woman
The first story found in John 8:1-11 is about a woman who was sleeping around on her husband. She gets caught and a crowd surrounded her ready to stone the woman to death when Jesus came to her rescue.
It is speculated that Jesus began to write the words of different sins in the sand because he says to the crowd, “He who is without sin cast the first stone,” and nobody threw a stone. Jesus then asks the woman, “Where are your accusers?” Apparently the crowd had dispersed. So Jesus tells the woman that he doesn’t accuse or condemn her either. He never condoned her adultery of course. In fact, He told her, “Go and sin no more,” but he surely didn’t respond the way the local rereligiousect of that did in cases like this.
Jesus here models love.
Zacchaeus from Jericho
The second story found in Luke 19:1-10 is about a short man named Zacchaeus who lived in Jericho. He was a tax collector. Now, back in New Testament days, tax collectors were some of the most despised and unliked persons by all, particularly the religious sect of the day, because tax collectors overcharged folk and made a killing being crooked (hmmm… sounds like today’s tax collectors too… aka Uncle Sam or the IRS! – LOL).
Well one day Jesus came to his town and was preaching to a large crowd of listeners. Zacchaeus wanted to hear what Jesus was saying, but he was so small that he couldn’t see over people’s heads, so he climbed into a tree so that he could hear what Jesus was saying. As it turns out, Christ sees him in the tree and gives him a special shoutout, almost like a “I see you” type response, calls him by name and asks him to come down from the tree, that he wants to go to his house and eat.
Jesus looked up and said to him,
Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.
Can’t you just hear the people in the crowd gasp?
Verse 7 says,
All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner.’
“Giiiiiiiiiiiiiiirl, did you hear that? Jesus is going to eat with that sinner Zacchaeus, the tax collector?!?!? How repulsive for him to sup with someone like that.”
Sound familiar? I could see Jesus today calling out to the gay and lesbian person, some of the most despised persons of our day and totally shocking the crowd by saying,
Hey Pedro, I see you over there in the corner trying to listen to what I have to say. I must eat at the House of Darion today.
We’re so busy being offended or pretending that we “don’t see” or notice that many gay persons feel isolated, living with massive inner conflict and ultimately they give up their “struggle” altogether. They decide to leave the church altogether and fully engage in the homosexual community full-fledged, perhaps to the degree of publicly marrying someone else of the same sex.
Why is it so hush hush?
It’s a shame that Christians and churches in general frankly don’t talk about this subject, except to say how wrong the lifestyle is from the pulpit.
The same is true on school campuses.
Bible colleges nationwide seem to attract males to their music programs who struggle with this issue, yet because school authorities stay quiet on this subject, this leaves room for the whole “marriage cover-up” scenario where men struggling with this issue marry women hoping to “overcome” their feelings for other men or hoping to be “accepted” in church circles where they desire to become music ministers or choir directors.
The “marriage cover” scenario is a devastating reality.
The problem is that the males in these type of “cover-up” marriages often end up leaving the marriage when the kids are all grown up, citing that they are going to “stop pretending” and pursue their attraction to other men. Needless to say, a lot of folk get hurt in a scenario like this: certainly the wife and kids and the congregation where he led worship.
There are many ideas we can explore as to the reasons people struggle with this particular sin (e.g., men growing up in homes with no fathers, men who were raped at a young age, etc), but this blog isn’t to address whether the homosexual lifestyle is right or wrong. The point is that gay people and persons who struggle with homosexuality should be treated with dignity and respect.
There are persons at my job who are openly living a gay lifestyle, and while I don’t agree with it, I treat them with respect.
God hates homosexuality, the sin itself.
Now, don’t get it twisted, God hates sin, and the Bible (in every version) very clearly and directly addresses homosexuality as a sin, as something displeasing to God.
For example, Romans 1:24-27 says,
24 So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. 25 They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. 26 That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. 27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.
Another scripture I will cite is Genesis 19:4-6:
4 Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. 5 They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”
6 Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him 7 and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing.
No matter what version of the Bible you read, those two scriptures along with several others are quite clear on the topic. There’s no “grey” area here.
The actual word “homosexuality” isn’t used in the Bible, but we all know what it means when it says “the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other” and “Men did shameful things with other men.”
God’s plumbing by design
The Bible also tells us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. It doesn’t take a genius or medical doctor to realize that the human bodies are simply incredible in their design. God our Creator is a master designer indeed. He first created man, then He created the woman from the man’s rib. And judging by the plumbing alone, God designed it for the human male and female to fit together. This natural union can procreate, by God’s design. People of the same-sex can’t procreate, nor do their bodies naturally fit together the way a man’s and woman’s does.
Yet despite this, the reality is that literally thousands and thousands of person are forsaking God’s natural design and doing their own thing. For example, two women get married and they both want children, so they adopt. Because two women can’t naturally have children. It takes sperm to fertilize an egg. But because two women want to be together, they will make “their way” work and say it’s their right to live their way in contrary to the way God setup. Like Burger King, they want life “their way.”
God loves sinners, see John 3:16
But check this out, and this is redundant but bears repeating. God still loves those persons who live contrary to his law. Even though He hates sin, He still loves the sinner. In fact, God so loved the sinner that He sent His only Son to die on a cross to pay the price for our sins (John 3:16). And despite what I believe, or you believe, all people, even those living against God’s law that is outlined in the Bible, deserve the dignity and respect to be afforded human rights that we all share (e.g., being able to have loved ones at their bedside when they are ill or dying in a hospital bed).
Christians aren’t sinless, they just (hopefully) sin less. So saints, I ask you, if sanctification is a process, and if God hates sin but loves and embraces the sinner, why can’t we?
Some churches are caring to all
It was refreshing to learn that a growing number churches are including ministries that target persons struggling with these issues (i.e., homosexuality, bisexuality, trans gender issues).
For example, there’s a church in Atlanta that has a ministry specifically for transsexuals, person who get saved after having a sex change operation. We need to have more ministries to help people in these and similar type of situations.
It’d even be nice for there to be recovery groups for persons whose spouses left them for same-sex relationships. We are living in modern-day times and the church ought to be addressing modern-day issues, even though truthfully, as Ecclesiastes tells us, there’s really not too much new that hasn’t always been going on in the world.
The world will know us by our love
I leave you with this thought.
Jesus says in John 13:35 that our love for one another will prove to the world that we are Christians.
Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.
So where’s the love?
Where is the love?
Please feel free to comment below.