This is the second of three guest blog posts by Gary Buterbaugh.
Have you ever heard of being plutoed? We’re not talking about Pluto the proper noun, but the verb to pluto—the American Dialect Society’s 2006 word of the year. Many of you probably remember learning about Pluto as the ninth planet in your grade school science lessons. You may have even constructed your own model of the Solar System at one time or another. Well, you may need to climb back into your parents’ attic to yank out that last crumpled ball of aluminum foil, because on August 24, 2006 the International Astronomical Union demoted Pluto from the status of beloved ninth planted to dwarf planet134340 Pluto.
According to Max Lucado, minister and prolific author, to be plutoed means to be “demoted or demeaned like the former planet Pluto – one day you’re in, and the next day you’re out.”
Most of us – if not all of us – at one time or another have felt plutoed, but perhaps no group of individuals have experienced this more than those who struggle with homosexuality and same-sex-attraction. Young boys who may be more effeminate in their mannerisms, or more oriented to things on the soft-side, get used to being called faggot or sissy, and made to feel they are not accepted by their more macho friends. The same is true for young girls who are more athletic or masculine in nature, and are called dyke or lessie by other children. When a teen guy or girl comes out that they are gay or lesbian, or when anyone who struggles with homosexual feelings at any age shares with friends and family about their struggles, they are more often than not met with rejection and ridicule. It is difficult in our culture to go through a day without hearing a demeaning joke or comment about homosexuals.
But perhaps the greatest amount of plutoing is done by those who should demonstrate just the opposite of demoting and demeaning, those who are called to share and demonstrate the love and grace of Jesus Christ—the church.
On one extreme the fundamentalist church bombards homosexuals with the message that their actions are an abomination and that they, having no hope of salvation, will end up in hell. On the opposite end of the spectrum lies the liberal church in its proclamation that homosexuality is a God-given gift to be accepted and embraced. In between these two extremes lies the vast majority of Christians who simply try to ignore the subject of homosexuality, treating those who struggle with homosexuality and same-sex-attraction as if they simply don’t exist.
But to those who do wrestle with such feelings, there is good news! God is not a plutoer—even though at times the church may fail to show the true depth of His amazing love. As eternal as God’s holiness may be, His love continues to boldly proclaim, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NIV).
When we turn to Him He does not respond with rejection. He responds with love and the power to heal and forgive, and the redemptive power to change the way we process life.
The Lord continually calls those who have embraced Him, having given their lives to His control as Lord and Savior, to love the world’s plutoees with the love that sent His Son Jesus to Calvary. Are you willing to share that kind of love and the message of redeeming grace with those who struggle with same-sex-attraction, or will you continue to pluto them? I hope that my story somehow helps to influence not only your behavior, but also your motives.