We’ve been talking about whether or not people are born gay.
The other morning I woke up full of conviction of how selfish I am. I had dreamed that a close friend ended our friendship because of my blog. Suddenly everything felt very tender and close to the surface. As I began to read John 18, I was flooded with my own selfishness. People have been helping me nonstop to meet writing deadlines. But I’ve been so focused that I have been more demanding than grateful.
I was born selfish – no doubt about it. It’s all our tendency from the fall of humankind. But I also grew selfish, starved for nurturing in a family with no mother and a preoccupied father. Both are true. But knowing why I’m selfish does not in any way fix my selfishness. It is a God-sized job. Period. Here’s what I am infinitely grateful for: that God has been extremely patient and healing with me. He has allowed me to grow as I needed to while He healed age-old wounds and filled in broken places. I am also endlessly grateful that my family and friends have loved me through my mistakes, instead of rejecting me or pulling some kind of ultimatum or church discipline. No matter what my issues, they have loved me fully and unmistakably. If they had rejected me until I got my act together and renounced my selfishness, I would be a puddle somewhere, a complete mess. I would never have made it.
We know some people are born LGBTQ, with no choice involved. We also know that environment (abuse, family issues) are influential but not causal. (How many men have been abused or have overbearing mothers and absent fathers but do not turn out to be gay?) But so-called tough love, threatening, rejection, ultimatum and excommunication do not have any legitimate track record of actually changing anyone’s attraction. No one who has been rejected turns around and says, “Okay, you’ve shown me how important this is; now I’m no longer same-sex attracted.” Even those who have changed (that’s another post) did not do so because they were rejected by those who loved them. “Now that you have shown me what I stand to lose, I’m at peace about this issue I’ve been struggling with for years.” It doesn’t work that way. It works no better than it would have worked for my selfishness — and my selfishness I know for sure is a sin.
Carla has always been attracted to women. She found a church where they “accepted gays and lesbians” — it was part of their doctrinal statement. She taught bible study. Then she got into a relationship with a woman, and the church said she had to leave. Not only quit teaching but leave the church. After four years. She said, “Even if I’m celibate?” “Yes,” they said. She noted that they don’t ask if the straight dating couples are celibate — how many of them are having sex? Now, she wants nothing to do with the church. Any church. Can you honestly blame her? Her experience has effectively turned her off to the whole church and God experience. Some of her lesbian friends found a different church where they accept gays, and Carla said, “Don’t trust them. They’ll turn on you. No matter how long they say they accept you, at some point they’ll burn you.”
Jesus needs to be the focus of all of us who claim His name, lest we get distracted by what Christians and churches do. As Mike Wells wonderfully said, “Glance at men and gaze at Jesus.” But the church and Christians together provide an effective fortress on this issue that requires a lot of independent thinking to move beyond. Especially when the love of Christ in us is meant to be the real draw. (“But it’s not love to let people stay in their sin.”) I can’t say that, because that’s their Savior’s job, but to reject people like Carla for their sin or perceived sin is definitely not love.
So what do we do?
A friend sent me a link to a sermon at a huge church. The pastor gave warm reception to whatever gays and lesbians may have been in the congregation, saying, “You are welcome here. With open arms.” I listened with interest, because this is a departure. Churches often avoid this controversy, and I’ve never heard gays and lesbians welcomed like this. Props to him. Then he said that every single one of us has sin, in a multitude of ways, and he began to give examples as if this was a new concept. But I already knew where this train was headed. I knew the verses he was going to pull out, that the bible says it, that there’s no getting around it. So whoever was sitting out there with this weight of discovery already on their hands now had to hear the pastor’s opinion about something they already feared, something over which they had no control, nor could they see the light at the end of the tunnel. As one young woman put it, “I don’t care how young and hip they are, if it’s just a cooler package of the same old rejection.”
His talk, in my opinion, brought them no closer to resolution and definitely brought them no closer to Jesus’ loving compassion for them. They were given the rules, again, instead of the loving, abounding, tidal wave of love of Jesus into whose arms they could sink and rest and let Him rule their hearts and minds. Let Jesus bring the solution the pastor lacked.
My position all along has been to point people to Jesus; let Him guide their hearts. We don’t always guide hearts well, do we? And even when we’re certain we’re right, can we possibly guide them as beautifully and intimately as Jesus does?