If you read some of the comments from my previous two blogs, you’ll quickly notice that my perspective of homosexuality in relationship to Christianity puts me at odds with the gay community. You’ll also see that with this hot-button issue discussions can quickly become inflamed arguments, even among friends. And it’s entirely possible we’ll disagree on these things for a very long time to come. But there is one thing I am confident we do agree on. Our world is overflowing with refugees and not all are the result of wars between world governments. Vulnerable people, often the young, are continually being caught in the crossfire between the GLBT and socially conservative battle lines.
Imagine yourself as a 15-year young man who begins to feel an attraction to other guys. What would go through your mind? Seriously, take a minute to consider the inner turmoil that you might feel. Where would you turn for help in processing your struggle?
If you look toward the GLBT community, the message might be something like: “This is your identity! Embrace it! Accept who you are! Come out of the closet and quit living a double life!” But maybe you don’t want to go there.
Turning toward the conservative Christian community, you could hear a very different message. “What’s wrong with you? How can you call yourself a Christian? If you were a real Christian, you wouldn’t have such thoughts!”
Then, of course, there are the bullies. Those who prey upon weakness and ridicule anyone different from themselves. Their torment can be absolutely brutal!
So, if you were in this situation, where would you turn? You certainly didn’t ask to be physically attracted to other males. Maybe you have even prayed extensively that your desires would simply go away. But they haven’t. Where does that leave you?
Although I’ve never wrestled with same sex attraction, I’ve had my share of struggles in life. There have been times when unwanted feelings and desires wouldn’t go away no matter how much I prayed. Times when I tried turning to Christians for counsel, only to receive hollow, pat answers. Times when I avoided speaking openly because of the judgmental murmurings I heard around me. Breaking my silence would have been tantamount to drawing a bullseye on my back. Such times are lonely, painful, confusing. You feel as though you’ll be sprayed with arrows if you let down your guard even for a second.
It’s here that I think the sin of the conservative Christian community is grave. Rather than lending a hand of love, encouragement or strength to those struggling with same sex attraction (or any other issue), we tend to create a judgmental environment, complete with off handed comments and contemptuous jokes. In the end we push people toward the gay community, which they often find much more accepting. Those who desire to stay connected to conservative Christianity are compelled to a turtle-like existence. Feeling inferior as Christians they pull inward to hide their struggles. Sometimes the pain of the plight leads as far as suicide. This really is a life and death issue.
The Apostle Peter once wrote, “Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king” (1 Peter 2:17 NASB). It’s such a simple and powerful command—one that truly deserves our attention. God doesn’t call us to agree with everyone or to put a stamp of approval on everybody’s actions, but to treat all men and women with honor and respect. It’s amazing how something so simple can be so life-giving, and yet mostly ignored! Until we learn how to honor even those who oppose us, the best of our arguments ring hollow and our witness ineffective. And worst of all, spiritual refugees will continue to suffer and possibly die in isolation. Brothers and sisters in Christ, the Holy Spirit of God dwells within us. We can do better than this!