Is Homosexuality a Sin and Why Does it Matter? — Part 3

keep calm

My friends… your response to these posts has been wonderful. Some of you have found these posts hard, especially if you came into it certain homosexuality is a sin. I urge you only to consider this is not as clearcut as you have believed… and I’m glad you’re still reading.

But many more have found here a fresh breeze – long-awaited permission to rethink not only our understanding of those passages but more importantly, our whole relationship as Christ-followers to the LGBTQ community. You’ve sent tender-hearted messages saying you’re uncomfortable trying to “tough-love” gays into being straight, or making this a dealbreaker for coming to Christ by withholding fellowship until they change.

justanothermom captured my heart for this whole series beautifully: I can’t possibly KNOW the heart of God on every earthly issue…and since the Bible is relatively soft spoken on the issue, I feel that leaves room for the heart of God to move among His people. ALL of whom (male, female, straight, Gay…etc..) belong to Him and it is His job alone to judge, instruct, and intervene. Thank you. That’s it exactly.

As God diverted me onto this path a few years ago, I needed to know what the Bible said and meant on this subject, if homosexuality is a sin. The two links below answered those questions well for me, with an excellent analysis of exactly what the bible says. I will let them handle that instead of trying to restate it here. I hope you find them illuminating. And if you disagree, that’s perfectly okay — that’s what makes it a disputable issue!

The stakes are enormous if we continue to be at war. The casualties of depression, bullying and suicide, are staggering. Christians have been hateful to the LGBTQ, and LGBTQ have been hateful to Christians too. Both have suffered and inflicted many wounds. To let Jesus reframe our thinking in the conversation is not only right but strategic. Those who don’t will go the way of the corded phone – iconic, but irrelevant. If you claim Christ, your job is to be love to a world that sorely needs it. That’s what we signed up for.

When we continue in the great debate of gays vs. Christians, we are distracted from The Great Debate: Who is Jesus and what have we done with His incomparable offer of salvation?

When the world sees our hatefulness and judgment, they don’t trust us. They want to shut us down. If they hate us because they hate Jesus first, as He says, then I can live with that — that’s the price of being a follower. But if they hate us because we’re hateful and condemning (of something that feels intrinsic to them), then we have made it much harder for them to come to Christ. Far be that from me. Our hearts should break that anyone thinks from listening to us that He will not accept them. Whether it’s a gay person who does not believe it’s a sin; or whether it’s a Christian who believes it is: we have to find common ground. Jesus is the only common ground that matters. Read the life-giving story of Shane Windmeyer and Dan Cathy, if you haven’t yet. Beautiful.

To come to Christ can be deeply challenging. You must realize your brokenness, humble yourself, and admit you need someone else’s help. Let us not add behavior to the mix when Jesus didn’t tell us to. We can instead heed Paul who says: “Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this — not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way” (Romans 14:13).

Again, I love how justanothermom said it: I know that the Lord instructs us to be fishers of men and go forth and make disciples, I don’t recall ever reading in the Bible that it was my job to “clean up the fish” that I catch. Bring people to the Cross, the glorious, wonderful Cross. Love them right where they are. Let Jesus clean up the fish. He is far better at it than I am…and maybe His idea of “cleaning them up” and mine are different… When did we go from “Come just as you are” to “Come and fit the mold or be shunned”? Our Cross is an all access backstage pass to the throne of Jesus. Gay. Straight. And everything in between.

With love, Susan

* Matthew Vines, founder of The Reformation Project has made an excellent and well researched video. As nomorefreerent commented: If you are curious about what the bible says specifically about homosexuality watch Matthew Vines’ The Gay Debate: Homosexuality and the Bible. It’s on Youtube, and yeah, it’s long but thoroughly researched. Matthew is a Harvard student who put in over 4000 hours of work on this project. He learned Greek and Latin so he could study the text better and has read hundreds of books and articles on the subject.

* Justin Lee, author of Torn, founder of The Gay Christian Network, has posted several enjoyable and informative videos on his site, covering the common arguments. I highly recommend his beautifully told story in Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-Vs.-Christians Debate

CLICK HERE TO READ “To Christian Parents of Gay Children.”

20 thoughts on “Is Homosexuality a Sin and Why Does it Matter? — Part 3

  1. Thank you for your work! As a gay young adult who grew up in a very Conservative home, I’m just still not sure how to feel comfortable around people who firmly believe that homosexuality is a sin (my parents included). What happens (in my experience) is that there’s sort of a gag order on gay issues. Things are ok unless “the issue” is brought up–then the divide becomes evident again. “Agreeing to disagree” about something so fundamental to me is so difficult. I know we should not covet our neighbor’s things, but I can help but envy gay friends who’s parents are so accepting…What, after two years, can I do?

    • You’re most welcome! A gag order is a great way to put that. All I know is to abide in Christ like a branch on a vine, and let Him fight your battles for you. Imagine Him carrying you every moment you’re with them… or just every moment!… and you will find that He is sufficient. Also, maybe you can enjoy time with those gay friends’ parents. And — I honestly didn’t set out to give you advice but it’s an occupational hazard, ha!! — the third option is to let them know how you feel, that you feel like you can’t be you around there. Ask them if they could just trust Jesus with whatever you need to know, and just accept you as you are. To lay aside, as a conscience choice, the responsibility of disapproving of you, and let the Holy Spirit do His job, and just love you. Ask them if they might be able to do that. Let me know how it goes! Best to you.

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  3. I was raised Catholic, but I drifted away from faith when I realized that I was not straight, because it was too painful to be “bad” just because of who I love. Your posts fill me with hope for a resolution, and a future in which I can take my kids to church without worrying that they will feel unloved and unwanted by God.

    • Dear Margaret, thank you for your kind comment. I’m grateful for any hope that comes from this! My great concern with this line the church has drawn pushes people away from Jesus. They think the church that rejected them equals Jesus but it does not. My heart goes out to you and I pray that he bring you his peace. Best to you, Susan

  4. Just discovering your blogs and am reading with interest, trying to digest and think. I don’t quite follow your logic re: the 3rd choice…leading of the Holy Spirit. Would you say that if someone is following Christ and feels led to co-habitate with their boyfriend…it doesn’t seem a sin to them….then it isn’t a sin? Are you making that point about action? And if so, how is that different from relativism? Thanks for challenging our thinking.

    • Hey! Relativism means doing what’s right in your own eyes. But following the Holy Spirit means speaking to the rock instead of hitting it (like Moses), or not checking out your own power by taking a census when you’re supposed to be depending on God (like David). It means loving God and loving others in ways only He can show us! We see where following the rules “religiously” gets you by looking at the Pharisees. But to follow Jesus will get you walking on water! It’s all the difference in the world. 🙂 Thanks for the kind words. I hope you continue to enjoy as we go deeper!

  5. You have some very interesting thoughts on this subject, different than I have heard elsewhere. But I would caution you against the mentality that Scripture is completely subjective. The number of times a sin is mentioned in the Bible does not make it more or less sinful. Comparing homosexuality to alcohol is a drastic comparison, as the Bible doesn’t say “alcohol is a sin”, it says “getting drunk is a sin” (Eph. 5:18), but to some simply drinking is indeed a stumbling block, sinful (1 Cor. 8).
    Scripture is important! And I wish I had seen more in your posts. I find that Christians who support homosexuality often don’t refer to scripture, probably because it is firm on the subject. If verses such as 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and 1 Timothy 1:8-11 aren’t clear as to God’s view on homosexuality, than how can verses like Colossians 3:5-6 and Galatians 5:19-21, which include – among other things – that idolatry is a sin, be taken seriously. Maybe they to – according to your position – depend on how the Holy Spirit leads and idolatry isn’t a sin for some people. This is dangerous thinking!
    I agree that Jesus calls us to come to him as we are, no matter what sin-struggles we have and that we need to love everyone – Christian, non-Christian, straight, gay, prostitute or policeman. I love how clear your love for God and His people is in your posts, but it is important to remember that loving God and His Word is more important, always.
    I’d love to hear your thoughts, as they are always interesting to read 🙂

    • Thank you for your kind comments. 🙂 First, my goal in these posts is not to break down the hermeneutics of these verses. This is not the uniqueness I bring to the table, and it has been done very well by others — for more information, try looking at my Resources page. But the short answer is that my understanding of the verses that seem to be about homosexuality are actually in the context of temple prostitution, rape and pedophilia. The condemnation we read there is not nearly as clear cut as we have believed. Scripture IS important and supports our relationship with God, but it is not black and white on all issues. (1 Corinthians 11:2-16 clearly says that women should wear head coverings, yet we don’t because of the context.) Scriputre is clear on some things, like loving God, which idolatry always falls outside of, but in His amazing wisdom, He arranged it so we could NOT depend on a book alone but must go to HIM for life and right-relatedness. The true dangerous thinking is focus on behavior instead of Jesus. The law (behavior) brings death (Romans 5:20-21), but Jesus is the way, the truth and the life! I hope you stay with me as we go deeper into these conversations! I am so glad you’re here 🙂

  6. Pingback: Is Homosexuality a Sin and Why Does it Matter? — Part 2 | FreedHearts

  7. Susan’s posts on the topic are excellent. There’s a mountain of previous writings on this topic from the Christian perspective — the Christian perspective of imitating Christ by accepting others, I mean; typically labeled ‘liberal.’ I think hers are the first I’ve read that give me some hope of the same common sense reaching biblical literalists. I’m sure she’ll see mixed responses, but diverting even one other family from destruction over this makes every word worth it.

    • Thank you, Bobby. That is my hope, to reach people beyond this false dichotomy we’ve set up. The commonality among people who are Christians needs to be Christ! Not where you stand on homosexuality. That’s a slim reed to hang so much on. Thanks again.

  8. I submit that homosexuality is dissimilar to meat and wine issues in this way: 1. They are circumstantial instances. 2. They can be abstained from. 3. They are issues of being stronger or weaker, the stronger brother always being the one who has and abstaining circumstantially for the one who has not(the freedom in Christ). If such was the case then it follows that as people became stronger they would become homosexuals, or if we are lenient, perhaps bisexuality would suffice: this is not the case.

    Thoughts? N.W.

    • True. And they are similar in that they were huge issues that people stood on their understanding of scripture to disapprove of. Not every issue will be the same in every respect, but giving freedom to respond to one’s own conscience is another commonality — the one Paul was pointing to.
      Interesting that you put homosexuality as dissimilar to something that can be abstained from — you seem to underline that homosexuality cannot be abstained from. I agree, practically speaking. That is, one can abstain from behavior but not attraction. Practically speaking, those who disapprove ask that gays abstain from not only sex for the rest of their lives but, more importantly, from lifelong companionship. That’s a high price to require of anyone based on 6-7 arguable passages, isn’t it?

  9. I too, love the Dan Cathy story. I’m fascinated by it because of the mutual respect that is offered and most importantly accepted by both parties. Shane doesn’t label Dan’s feelings and proclaim what Dan “really means and feels” and Dan doesn’t try to change Shane. There is a living love and respect between these two and it doesn’t get more Christlike than that.

    • Thanks, Audra. I so agree. Not everyone is going to see this as a disputable issue as I’ve suggested in my posts, but we don’t have to. Christians can have their own convictions about homosexuality, as Dan Cathy does, and still be the love of Christ. That’s the challenge before us.

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