Homosexuality and Christianity: Part 3

Image: Homosexuality and Christianity: Part 3

Loving the homosexual community

It's been said that homosexuality has become so embedded in modern society that if one disagrees with it, they run the risk of being labelled homophobic or intolerant. That’s something I’ve often heard, but it’s a little unfair. For example, SMH journalist David Marr recently commented on the ABC programme Q&A in response to a Christian’s view on homosexuality;

"You people have no idea how unspeakably cruel you are… I have no patience with it anymore. It is just bigotry and cruelty and hatred."

It’s almost as if Christians are not allowed to speak about homosexuality anymore, which in a way is ironic, because a generation ago, it was homosexuality that was not allowed to be spoken of freely in society. Thankfully that time has passed, however, it’s equally tragic that Christians are now ‘gagged’ from speaking about their view.

So while we may disagree with homosexual practice, that’s not to say we are not to love those who are homosexual. You might remember Jesus telling us not only to love our friends, but also those who hate us!

 

"bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you". (Luke 6:28)

 

So while I hope this is not your experience, if this does happen, don’t be surprised, and don’t stop loving those who talk negatively towards you!

If you have a relative or you know someone at school who’s gay, I would say it’s not only great that you’re a friend to them, but even if they don’t like your opinion regarding their behaviour, you’re still to love them, and treat them better than they deserve. That’s how God treats all of us!

 

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us". (Rom. 5:8)

 

It’s totally ok to disagree with someone and still love them! I disagree with my friends on lots of things, some of them very significant issues, but we are still very close mates. However, it often seems, that as soon as it comes to sexuality, if we disagree, we can’t speak anymore. That’s completely wrong.

As I conclude, I must say that throughout the ages, Christians have often treated all sorts of people badly. This is something we should deeply regret. We should endeavour to love everyone around us irrespective of their lifestyle or their treatment of us. If there are people at school who tell you they are gay, they will already feel somewhat ostracised. Why not make it a personal mission to befriend and care for them as Jesus would?

Comments (20)

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    Caitlin

    I definitely agree that christians often do get criticised for even mentioning that homosexual practice is wrong. because whenever you say just that statement alone people jump to conclusions and say that we are hateful and that we are criticising people that cant change who they are. so therefore i reckon its doubly important that as christians we do show our love for other people so that other non-christians friends/family can be inspired by how we act.

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    James

    Information regarding sexuality from the American Psychological Association http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/sexual-orientation.aspx

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    Emily

    That site is really good! It lays out the facts very nicely and simply. It stuck me that ‘coming out’ is an important identity shaping experience for LGBT people, and that trying to suppress or change one’s sexuality is actually harmful to mental health. I’ve heard 1 Corinthians 7 used to condemn homosexuality, but I’ve also heard this verse from it: ‘7For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.’ used to suggest that God gives us all different sexualities, and that this is not a bad thing. I don’t know if that’s what is really meant by the verse, but it certainly seems to fit with the science of the issue.

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    James

    Yes I completely agree about coming out, the experience some have reminds me of the slogan ‘Some people are gay. Get over it!’  I think that reference also shows how we often prefer people who are similar to ourselves and who are familiar, but it says that we cannot be bigoted and exclude those who are merely different from us.

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    Matt

    Hi Emily,  Thanks for your message. No, that’s not what 1 Cor 7:7 means. When Paul writes that, he’s speaking about those wh have been given the gift of a spouse, and those who haven’t. It really has nothing to do with different sexualities.

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    Emily

    Yeah, I thought that probably wasn’t right. What would your opinion be of the mental health issues I mentioned? (that suppressing one’s sexuality is harmful, etc)

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    Emily

    Oops, that posted multiple times for some reason. Sorry about that. :/

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    Matt

    Hi Emily,  I guess the mental health issues of which you speak arise because our society has made too big a deal of our sexuality. Like I wrote in my article, sex is not the most important thing which defines us. That’s hard to believe in our culture, but deep friendships are much more important. Non-sexual intimate relationships, like those between family members, would go a long way to help those struggling with same-sex attractions.  I think those who struggle with this should confide in close friends and share their burden, which would then enable the friends to care for that person appropriately. However, my view of ‘coming out’, would be in order to seek help, rather than to ‘come out’ so as to start engaging in homosexual practice.  Hope that helps,  Matt.

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    James

    I appreciate you stating your beliefs more fully Matt, but I think you’ve got things the wrong way around. It is precisely the view that people shouldn’t come out that is dangerous, and the very openness of many people in society that is beneficial. The psychological, psychiatric and sociological associations agree that homosexuality or bisexuality are not illnesses, and do not require treatment or help.  Sex is not to be prioritised above all else, but sexual orientation ‘is an enduring emotional, romantic, sexual, or affectional attraction toward others’. It is a huge part of being human to deny, don’t you think? As I know I keep repeating, this is how we love other people, and we are supposed to love each other, so it seems crazy to condemn one harmless part of it.  There seems to be a considerable degree of overlap in different relationships anyway - acquaintances, deep friendships, loving partners - in terms of emotional/affectionate/romantic attachment so that homosocial attraction is already widespread and normal.  Should I seek help for affection towards my male friends, and for caring about them? Or for locker-room bonding?

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    Mark

    I guess I’m joining the conversation late but all the debate aside, it seems like most of the things said come from approaching the scriptures from the world view that we are currently in.  e.g. Accepting people for who they are, leads to us interpreting that what we feel is who we are, thus we are discriminating against someone and a bigot if we say we don

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    Emily

    Hi Mark. I don’t have time to reply properly right now, I might when I’m not at school, but this site addresses all those verses fairly well: http://www.soulforce.org/resources/what-the-bible-says-and-doesnt-say-about-homosexuality/

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    James

    Thank you for your comments, Mark. I do appreciate that I am using current world perspectives as well as interpretations of the Bible, and certainly could have been more thorough in finding those passages you cite. However, the problem is that most people seem to justify Biblical interpretation with reference to common sense. If we cannot bring in humanistic or intuitive perspectives, we cannot judge or think about what the Bible says, we must simply go with it. While what I’m saying agrees with much of current western culture, I am referring to scientific studies to inform myself of the nature of sexuality. As I alluded to elsewhere, we don’t take the Bible as a scientific text, so we should be aware of where it contradicts scientific findings.  My other problem is with the internal consistency of this position against homosexuality. Moral acts are supposed to be done by free will, but homosexuality is unchosen, and we are supposed to love each other in all manner of ways, which homosexuality achieves.  Given these issues I’m raising, and given the damage done to homosexual people by prejudice and bigotry, I think Christians should be more flexible and deeper in their thinking. At least recognise the complexity and contradictions. Otherwise it is a support for the worst sorts of stigmatisation.

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    Bec

    Hi all, also now joining the debate a bit late :) Just wanted to add a few points ... the Bible is not contradicting the scientific theories about homosexuality but it is just saying that these feelings should not be acted on, like if someone is angry although it is a natural feeling it doesn’t mean the anger should be taken out on someone or something, but I know acting in anger can clearly hurt others but the negative effects of acting on homosexuality are not as obvious but it just comes down to what sin is which is rejecting God and his purpose for life, God created man and woman to complement each other (which is evident throughout Genesis) and he created sex to be shared between a married man and woman because like a number of other things that God has created that is how it works best, we can’t understand God’s infinite wisdom because he is just so amazing but we can trust he has a plan and his purpose for life is the best one because he designed the world so he knows how it works best. I am not at all saying we shouldn’t love homosexual people nor should we judge them, I am also not saying that homosexuality is a sin worse than any other because all sin is the same and as Mark emphasised I know I am deserving of punishment for my sin but it is through Jesus that we have been saved even though we are all unworthy but God loves us so much that he wants to save us and be with us forever. :) So yes, these are my opinions :)

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    Emily

    I often hear the ‘men and women compliment each other’ argument, but I just don’t get it. Gender is not the biggest divide between people and a woman can be just as different from another woman as a man could be, etc. Same-sex couples can compliment each other, not only emotionally and intellectually, but also physically. The complexities and variations of sexuality seem to me to be a beautiful part of God’s design. Especially when I find no scripture to condemn it (I know many of you will think that there is, but when taken in context I don’t believe those verses do condemn homosexuality). And when, as James said, I can see no ‘common-sense’ reason for it to be wrong then I have to question interpretations of the Bible which say it is. I do not believe that God makes rules for the sake of rules. He makes them to help and protect us. When following a ‘rule’ will cause people to suppress parts of their identity in ways which have been shown to be harmful, then I think I must question that rule. When I do so and cannot find any basis for the rule, I think I am justified in disregarding it.

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    James

    Yes I absolutely agree that neither gender nor sexuality define the biggest differences between people.  On the science issue, Bec, research is both implicitly ignored and directly contradicted by many perspectives on homosexuality. There is quite a bit of info on this site: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/sexual-orientation.aspx When it is considered fully, you get a plain contrast between the rich appreciation of human association and love it supports, and the simplistic condemnations of sodomy in the Bible. In fact, it seems as if hetero/homo/bi sexuality are all a part of God’s plan, because they are natural and an integral part of loving one another.  One thing research shows is that gay sex is not possible to isolate from homosexual or bisexual orientation. What causes the desire to have gay sex is homosexuality, which itself contains romantic, affectional and emotional inclinations towards others. It is not as simple as loving the sinner but disciplining the sin, in reality it comes down to condemning a large and vital part of someone’s being. How would I be able to love a woman with all my heart, knowing that my very attraction to her is regarded as sinful? If it is not the attraction, but the act of sex that is ‘wrong’, how can one accept the attraction but not one of the most significant ways of expressing it?  Further, the state of a person’s sexual orientation is not up to their choosing. It is not possible to choose to be straight, gay, or bisexual. This is something we already implicitly recognise, but it is also confirmed by research finding that neither therapy nor efforts systematically affect sexuality. Sexual development is caused by a range of biological, genetic and social factors, none of which have been cited as permitting choice. As such, we cannot praise or condemn people for something they cannot choose to do or avoid. (Which, incidentally, is also not harmful to others). Therefore, the arguments that we went against God by desiring gay sex do not stand up, as ‘we’ were not acting with free will.  It is harrowing to think that someone referred to in another article here (about whether being gay is a sin) has been praying and abstaining, repenting, acknowledging that they think they’re sinful, trying to act otherwise, hoping for intervention from God… To no avail, all the while suffering greatly. Does this agree with the idea that homosexuality is a free choice? Is she suffering because of herself, or because she’s been persuaded that she’s sinning? Her experience agrees with the evidence that she’s trying to go against her own nature.  So, because of the essential, unchosen, and often very beneficial presence of sexuality in human nature, it seems we are designed to be this way. If God did not intend us to show this variety of love, He would not have created it in us, surely?  Whatever you think about second-guessing God, for now we cannot forget our duty to other people, so I believe the evidence of our eyes and hearts cannot be rejected in favour of an awkward condemnation.

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    Sean

    Wow! Big convo! Anyways, this topic is not black and white and there are many views, but we should love those who have different views and respect that. Congrats to the author for tackling a topic that treads on unsteady ground.

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    James

    Matt, I would like to add more to this discussion but don’t want to burden people with a really long post. I have come to a more concise overall reaction to your articles and would appreciate the chance to send it to you and see what you think. My email address is .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  If it’s better posted here, that’s fine by me! (About 800 words)  Thanks. Best wishes to everyone =)

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    Luke

    The compatibility thing is not just a physical fit between a man and a woman - God has given men and women different roles. The man is to lead as Jesus leads - this does NOT mean that he is to be overbearing and demanding - but to serve as Jesus did. Women are to accept the leadership/service of the man as christians are called to accept the leadership/service of Jesus. In a same sex couple those roles do not work.  Also - I think a lot of what has been mentioned is that people have an innate preference for either the opposite sex or the same sex. I think it would be more helpful to think of this as temptation and the actual act of same sex relationships are submitting to that temptation which is a sin. It is possible for a person who is attracted to someone of the same sex to abstain from homosexuality with some help from the Holy Spirit.  It’s also important to remember that gay people are not beyond the redemption that can be found in Jesus when they repent of their worldly ways and follow Him. Exactly the same as heterosexuals.

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    Witney

    Hello all! Very late to participate in this article, but for those that will be reading from now on.

    If you believe in Jesus, you believe what the Bible says and you trust it. It is not like “if it doesn’t fit with what I think, then I disregard it”. What’s written there is God’s Word.

    If you believe in Jesus, you shouldn’t try to find a scientific/logical explanation to everything. That’s not faith.

    If you believe in Jesus, you ought to know that people won’t want to listen anymore to Christians and what the Bible says. The “light” hurts in the eyes when you’ve being too much in the “darkness”.

    If you believe in Jesus, you should love the sinner but not the sin. You gotta tell the sinner his/her condition for s/he to open his/her eyes and repent but don’t condemn him/her. That’s what Jesus does with each of us every day.

    If you believe in Jesus, you need to stand firmly for what you believe and for what it says in the Bible. Homosexuality is not from God. That is sin, just as infidelity, robbery, disobedience, etc. No one is born gay or lesbian, as no one is born thieve or adulterer. These are sins that you decide at some point in your life to commit. This is not natural.

    How is it that being attracted to someone of the same sex is not natural? If you were raised with the right principles/examples you will overcome temptation, just like a teenager tempted to robe some chocolates or tempted to have sex not married. You will be able to take the right decision.

    So, how come I should not let my feelings go forward? One of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control, what do you think is this for? We humans tend to do bad, “All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one” (Psalm 14:3), and we’ve lived for many time led by what we feel or what we want to do, but we were meant to do God’s will. As the teenager shouldn’t take those chocolates, those with homosexual tendencies shouldn’t allow themselves go for it. Ask God to help you and he will. 

    God loves all of us and He wants us to repent from our sins. Don’t get things wrong. I encourage you to read the passage below.

    God bless you all ;)

    Romans 1:18-32 (NIV)
    God’s Wrath Against Sinful Humanity

    18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
    21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
    24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
    26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
    28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

     

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    Katie

    I think the world say christian shouldn’t talk about it or you’ll be labeled. But, don’t forget your, your own person. You can speak, it’s just if you have enough courage. I don’t think same sex should date, It not my choice though. God gave everyone their own choice. How we use them is our choice. I have family members that date opposite sex. I don’t hate them, I love them even more. I know god loves them to, God loves sinners but, hates sin. The world doesn’t want to hear a negative side to what they think is right but, it doesn’t necassarily mean we can’t put in our perspective. We all have choice how we use them is up to us.