If you’re just joining this conversation, you might want to pop over to the first post on this topic here: https://ineedanewman.wordpress.com/2012/08/24/god-hates-gays-and-other-christian-bull-hooey/(And someday I’ll figure out how to arrange all this webby stuff so that you can just click on the word “here” and all that http mumbo-jumbo will be invisible.) If you read through the comments on that post, you will see that I’m floundering around trying to answer questions that I already admitted to being ill-equipped to answer. God help me, I am trying, but I still feel like I’m skirting a couple of the big issues. So here comes my attempt to slap a second coat of paint on the barn.
The expected (but no less terrifying) question has been raised: Is homosexuality a sin?
I’m going to paint with a broader brush for a moment. The Bible makes it pretty clear that sex (heterosexual OR homosexual) outside the context of marriage is sin. I think that’s fairly standard doctrine in most traditional Christian churches. But it’s also a huge blanket statement.
Let’s take a step back from the gay/transgender/etc. layers of the discussion for a moment and look at a slightly simpler situation.
Imagine a commonlaw couple. By conservative, Biblical standards, they are living in sin. I could get in their face and tell them they need to repent and stop their immoral behaviour. There may be an element of truth to my words, and some people feel that’s the only justification needed to proceed in such a manner.
I feel differently.
I feel my first response should be to show love. We are called to be like Jesus. He came and built friendships with people and ended up dying for them (us) while they (we) were still seeped in sin. He didn’t expect anyone to clean up their act before He embraced them – and neither should we.
Once I express love and acceptance for this couple just as they are, perhaps we will begin to form a friendship. And as our friendship deepens, I will begin to see layers to their relationship that complicate the aforementioned blanket statement that condemns their life of sin. Maybe one of the partners is growing in their faith such that they want to change things about their relationship status, but the other partner isn’t on the same page. Maybe they have children. Maybe one or both of them have been traumatized by former marriages and divorces and they are terrified of re-entering that institution.
There are a whole lot of ‘maybes’ that can only be counselled, comforted and healed by God through His Spirit and His direct work in their lives. Any blanket statement of judgement (whether it’s true or not) would hinder that, and possibly destroy it. Some of those ‘maybes’ could involve an issue of personal sin, but some of them are issues of injury inflicted by someone else, or heartaches and vulnerabilities that are really hard to work through. It’s not up to me to categorize and place blame.
Now we come to even more complicated layers: homosexuality, gender reassignment, polygamy, interracial relationships, divorce, plus any number of other issues that divide liberal Christian from conservative Christian from agnostic from atheist… The barn is too big for me to paint!
Maybe I’m still skirting the issue of sin, and you are welcome to call me a coward if you feel you must, but I just can’t make a broad, condemning statement to the whole world-wide web.
Am I saying there’s no place for person-to-person confrontation of sin? Absolutely not. There is great benefit in having trusted friends to whom you can say, “I don’t understand what God is trying to tell me in this. I have a problem with what the Bible says about that. Where did I go wrong and where do I go from here?” Mentoring relationships can be mutually beneficial as an opportunity to grow and learn in your journey with God. But trust has to be firmly established in the relationship long before sin can be discussed and addressed.
I don’t have that established, personal, trust-founded relationship with the faceless masses of the blogosphere. I do not know the various layers that make up your personal conflicts and confusion. That is why I refuse to make a blanket statement of condemnation.
With that (and with fear and trepidation), I hereby open it up for further discussion. Go.