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Homosexuality
Brett Anderson ©2005

This week's thort is one that has been in my head for a long time, but because we all got caught up in the relationship thort and that morphed into a series, which I think was really good and helpful and I know touched and challenged a lot of people, I have put it on hold for a while. I want to encourage you to really try and see what I am trying to say and then see if perhaps you need to adjust or adopt your thorts or feelings or attitudes or maybe even behaviour on the issue.

I think with a lot of us, there are a number of beliefs we have, in various areas of our lives (not just spirituality/Christianity), that we hold to because we've always known them rather than because they are necessarily true. This can be quite dangerous as we can be found to believe something just because our parents or teachers or friends or church said so, and maybe some of those beliefs/understandings can be found to be untrue and even harmful.

I think often the sign/indication that you are involved in a cult or sect is if you are encouraged not to think for yourself, but just to accept everything as you receive it from those in the know. Yet the Bible clearly teaches us in 1 John 1 to "test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out in the world." 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 adds, "Do not put out the Spirit's fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil."

Thus, I always try to encourage people, when it comes to 'Thort for the Week' or your pastor's teaching or Christian books that you read, always go back to the Word of God and see if it agrees with that. And if it doesn't then let go of it and forget it because the Word of God, the Bible, is meant to be the foundation of everything that we accept and believe. Preachers are helpful and there are a lot of really good Christian books out there and I really think that God is using Thort for the Week as well to reach and challenge a lot of people in a lot of different areas, but ALWAYS take it back to the Word of God and check that it is legit, no matter who is giving the message.

WHOSE PROBLEM IS IT ANYWAY?

One area where I think a lot of people have preconceived ideas is in the area of homosexuality (which has been a topical issue recently in the wider church) where you grow up (and I'm speaking for myself here, but I'm sure a lot of people will identify) 'knowing' that 'homosexuals can't be Christian' and that's 'just the way it is' and they must 'turn from it to be saved' so that God can 'make them normal' or something like that.

But in the last little while, I've actually been thinking a lot about that and I have kindova different stance or perspective on the whole thing (and not AS different a stance as some of you are now very worried I might have, so like I said, be open!) and I want to share this with you as something to think about (hence the term 'thort').

BEHAVE - BELIEVE - BELONG

So the question I asked myself is, 'Can a Christian be homosexual?' and the answer is obviously 'No!'... BUT, having thort about it a little bit, my thorts at the moment are that in one sense, a Christian CAN be homosexual...

Now I'm dealing specifically with homosexuality as a sin because I think that it is a topical issue in the church, but the points that I am trying to get you to think about this week, relate to all areas of sin and I am just using homosexuality as an example. Another reason for using it is that so often the church has had almost a separate stance when it comes to homosexuality that it doesn't always have with other sin, as if it is far worse, or something!

So the thinking that goes along with the original question and answer statement of 'Can a Christian be homosexual? No!' goes something like this if played out to it's logical extreme:

Firstly you must stop being homosexual, then you must become a Christian and then you can come to my church. [Behave - Believe - Belong]

In that sense, using that equation/formula, you can never have a Christian who is homosexual, which is what a lot of churches and christians believe and live out.

BELONG - BELIEVE - BEHAVE?

In John 8, Jesus encounters this woman who has been caught in the act of adultery and the Pharisees and teachers of the law try to use her situation to trap Jesus by referring to the law of Moses that commanded that the woman should be stoned.

How does Jesus react?

Firstly he turns the situation back on the accusers by stating, "If any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone." The accusers gradually disappear and no-one is left accusing her.

What is Jesus' response to the woman?

Firstly, He forgives her sin (as the only one justified by His own statement and having the right to stone her if He chooses to) saying, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?... then neither do I condemn you."

Then He sends her off with a command related to her sin, "Go now and leave your life of sin."

So in essence, how does He treat the woman?

Firstly, He lets her know that she belongs - He shows her love and pity and compassion and refuses to join the crowd in making a spectacle of her.

Secondly He makes a statement of faith, giving her something to believe in. When He says that He does not condemn her, she has to make a call on that in terms of who she sees Him as, as to whether she will accept that or not and whether it's valid or not.

Lastly, He challenges her behaviour - "Go now and leave your life of sin."

When it comes to homosexuality in particular (although as I said before, this relates to all other sin) we as the church have too often got it upside down. What is the homosexual person's greatest need? To not be homosexual or to know Jesus? Obviously it is to know Jesus, because He is the One who has the capacity to forgive sins, of which homosexuality is one.

So when there is a homosexual person around, we as the body of Christ, should be giving them a sense of belonging - showing them love and compassion and treating them as Jesus would have. Then we introduce them to Jesus (well actually in showing the love and compassion we are doing that already) and at some stage they will hopefully come to the point of believing...

At that point in the equation/formula the person is still a homosexual hence my earlier statement of 'Homosexuals can be Christian'

Because THEN, once they are Christian, it is up to God (which may mean through us because God works through people) to deal with the sin of homosexuality. And that is when the behaviour is challenged as Jesus says, 'Go now and leave your life of sin.'

[Please let's not enter into the debate of what exactly is homosexuality and throw terms around like 'practising homosexual' and 'orientation' and whether or not God made them that way or not... because there is a lot of stuff I don't know or understand in that regard... buthe bottom line for me is if you do not believe that God is able to change any kind of person around or does not have the power to heal/restore/rebuild whatever is needed in a person, then I'm afraid we're talking about a different God. Let's please focus on the issue at hand.]

WHAT AREN'T I SAYING?

So when I talk about a Christian being homosexual, I am saying that it is up to God to deal with the sin of homosexuality (yes, I believe it's a sin because the Bible clearly states it to be such in a number of places and in the whole concept and pattern and design of the male/female connection and marriage description) - I am saying that a person who is a homosexual can become a Christian before they stop being homosexual. I am not saying that it is okay for that person to remain homosexual once they are a Christian. As they grow and walk in their relationship with Jesus, I fully believe that the Holy Spirit will target that and other sin in their lives and lead them to repentence in terms of 'turning away from' as they journey with Christ.

You know, sometimes this issue really gets me a little bit mad. I think homosexuality is often an easy one to pinpoint because it's usually so blatant or easily defined. So we can have special opinions and even rules about whether or not a homosexual can do this and that in our church.

What about the people in our church who gossip? Who talk destructively behind other people's backs? Pull down the pastor and the leadership because they are too scared to approach someone face to face and voice their concerns? When do we put some special laws or rules in place for them?

What about the guys on our leadership teams who blatantly are involved in dodgy underhanded practices at work? Or who verbally abuse their wives and kids? That's where I'd like to see some rules in place. What about those who are dishonest? The lukewarm, going through the motions of church but staying in a leadership position because of the pride/fame/prestige/spirituality associated with the role?

'Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, "Let me take the speck out of your eye," when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.' [Matthew 7:3-5] "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." [1-2]

CONCLUSIONARY REMARKS

I think a more apt question to pose than this week's subject line is 'What does God think about the people that think the things they do about homosexuality?' and I bet if God was human, there'd be a lot of shaking His head and sighing as He watched us live it out. It is not our job to save the world from homosexuality or to burn down abortion clinics or keep our distance from those who have gone through divorce or who are involved in questionable sexual practices and so on... Our job is to love God (with all our heart, mind, soul and strength) and to love people, and in so doing to introduce people to God so that HE can save them from their hurt and pain and sin and destructive practices and loneliness and rejection.

Take a look at your life and the people in and around your immediate world and see if there is any place where the principle of BELONG - BELIEVE - BEHAVE needs to apply. Apply it!