Who Ya Gonna Call? Sinbusters!

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My desire is to pull us beyond the question of “sin and no sin” and to the place of “now what?” What if someone you love tells you he or she is gay or lesbian? Where do you go with that? I’ve been writing on viewing this through a different lens, opening the possibility that it is not the slam-dunk we are taught, based on intensive study on both sides. I know some of you who are wrestling with this.

But many of you have no room for doubt that this is a sin, period. Now what? If you have been shocked by a son or daughter or cousin or sister or friend who has revealed he is gay, where do you go from there? I have seen the heartache parents have gone through. The years of talk about the wedding and the grandchildren, and all that you had in mind, now lies in a crumpled heap. To grieve the loss of your images is healthy and expected. But that is not the same as trying to change them.

We seemed to have the idea as Christians that we are supposed to address, convict and excise each other’s sin. When were we instructed that — and when has it ever worked? We can hear from gays, lesbians, college dropouts, pregnant young women, drummers, who have been shut out of their family until they change their ways. This is not biblical. And this is not Jesus’ heart. Let’s instead imagine this.

Your son Nick has told you he’s gay. You are sitting across from him telling him everything you can think of and Jesus walks in the room. Jesus says, “Would you like me to talk to him?” You turn to Him and say, “No, no, I got this.” How ludicrous would that be? Let’s say Jesus does sit across from Nick. His interaction will likely look quite different from yours (wouldn’t it?). Perhaps Jesus is just saying, “Hey, Nick, what’s going on in your life?” He’s engaging with him, but you are impatient. Finally you say, “Jesus, you are just not moving quickly enough. You’ve talked to him for three months now and I haven’t heard you tell him this is wrong, he’s wrong, and he has to stop it.” Jesus looks at you with that beautiful smile I always imagine on Him as He talks to His beloved and headstrong children! He says, “My child, trust Me. Let Nick be, and you trust Me.”

You wait another few months, maybe a year, but Nick is not changing. You come back to Jesus. “Perhaps I should talk to him again,” you find yourself saying, boldly. “If he’s not going to listen to You, maybe he’ll listen to me!” You hear how preposterous this is, but you can’t help it.

Jesus smiles again. “You think that if He won’t listen to me, he will listen to you?” You don’t talk. “And who says he’s not listening to Me?” You’re dumbfounded. This is not what you expected to hear. Or wanted to hear. He speaks again. “I want you to continue to come to Me, My sweet. Walk through this with Me. But leave Nick alone about it. He listening to Me more than you know.”

This is not an easy road, mostly because no one — least of all Christians — expects their child to be gay. It isn’t in our thought process. But the damage caused by requiring change, or secrecy, or celibacy is told in countless tragic stories.

If you have discovered that a loved one or you yourself has same-sex attraction, love them, love yourself, and bring it all to Jesus. Trust Him to do what He will do. Let Him take you wherever He wants to take you. And let Him bring you that peace that is beyond understanding. My thoughts and heartfelt prayers are with you.

8 thoughts on “Who Ya Gonna Call? Sinbusters!

  1. Jesus used imagination and storytelling to convey complex ideas. It’s a good model to follow. His stories have the great advantage of surviving the millenia because they tend to come with contexts spelled out so that we can still understand them. No one (of any faith) argues about what human behavior is taught by the Parable of the Good Samaritan, for example. If the interpretation of some other scripture is in question based on changing times and cultures, we always have Jesus’ example by which to limit our interpretation of it. He honored scripture, but he “limited” some old teachings that he saw others interpreting in an unreasonable way to serve their own notions of superiority, fanaticism, tradition, mob opinion, or whatever it was. For example, keeping holy the Sabbath was nonsense if it meant not healing (loving) others when called upon. If you compare it to imagining what Jesus would say about how we treat others: if anything, more imagination is usually required to interpret scriptural quotes selectively with an unChristian treatment of others as the end goal.

    • Bobby, love your great comment. You nailed it. Jesus took the “religious” (superior, fanatical, popular opinion, etc) interpretation and turned it on its head! At every turn. To the point that the religious people hated Him. And killed Him. We want to be extremely cautious if we sound like unloving religious leaders, given Jesus’ scathing remarks to them. He couldn’t have been further from what they expected as their Savior. Yet, He provided infinitely more than they could have anticipated. Remarkable. Thanks for your insight.

      • Personally, I don’t define “religious” as the religiousness of others exclusive of my own. (Case in point, all professed Christians without exception are religious by definition — even if some are orthodox and others are more modern or individual.) But I do accept that “religious” is neutral of merit or demerit: it’s no magic word for good or bad. We have semantic spins for most everything, right? It helps to be aware that we all have that vulnerability. This seems to have a profound impact on discussions of religious controversy. Never underestimate the power of labels, even when it seems so obvious to some of us what the love of Christ is supposed to mean in our treatment of others.

  2. Susan,
    How can I say thank you for thinking through this issue for us and with us?
    I found an old journal of mine from 1998 where I wrestling with a particular “sin issue.” Guess what? In 2013 I am still dealing with that issue. Do I love God? Care about my relationship with Him and others? YES! But it is still a challenge for me. And yet, I believe God is still at work in my heart and is still Author and Perfecter of my Faith.
    This Sunday I heard a message from James and Proverbs about the tongue, another area of huge struggle, one that has me particularly discouraged this week as I have been in a stressful time. It was a reminder that I have NO POWER over sin. Only God does. I have to realized that for myself. What makes me think I should take anyone else’s sin in my own hands, so to speak? You placed such a beautiful illustration before my eyes, inviting Jesus to do the talking.
    I had another illustration given to me yesterday by my Chinese daughter who is visiting. She was a having a relationship struggle with a guy that was really distracting her. The Lord invited her to look at Him standing up before her and see Him before she saw her friend. She should look at her friend Darren straight through Jesus presence as he was across the table from her. I told her I felt I should do that with all my relationships. Invite Jesus to stand between me and every other person I see, including even those in the grocery lines. Perhaps my eyes would be clearer, with better perspective. Because seeing through Him always gives me better acuity.

    Thanks again, Susan. Please keep writing.

    • Sweet Marta, thank you for writing. Knowing God is using these posts is what keeps me going in it. :). I love the illustration from your hi near daughter. How true that is. My friend and teacher Mike Wells used that idea: if you look straight your problems, they will overwhelm you. But if look at Jesus up close, all your problems recede. Beautiful. Love and blessings to you.

      • Hi Susan,

        Instead of telling people what Jesus would say (as you see it in your imagination), why don’t you listen to what He actually said about it…..

        Jesus IS the Word (John 1:1)

        The Word (Jesus) said, “They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved. Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done.” Romans 1:25-28

        Does that sound like a smiling Jesus sitting at the dinner table? It sounds to me more like an extremely grieved father (much like the parents you are attempting to encourage) who is having to make the tough decision to separate Himself from someone He dearly loves because of their refusal to abandon their immorality. No where in the text does it say He quit loving them- but He had to set appropriate boundaries because he loved them. Boundaries with your children are good- they are difficult and often cause conflict and pain but they are necessary for the well-being of your child I learned that while sitting in your Bible Study class. It is CERTAINLY within the role of a parent to address their child’s sin and get them all the help they can.

        Readers:
        If you have been or are currently attempting to help your child walk away from a sinful lifestyle, please don’t be discouraged….. that is your job as a parent. However, the greatest work toward that end will be done on your knees. Ultimately, your child belongs to his/her Creator who is grieving right along with you. Set appropriate boundaries on behavior and let Jesus’ love shining through you win them to Christ and His path for them.

        Susan:
        When I read the closing verse in Romans, it immediately reminded me of your blog….

        “They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. WORSE YET, THEY ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO DO THEM, TOO.”

        • Dear Shannon,
          There is a whole controversy of this Romans passage being in context of horrific temple worship and cult prostitution, so it may not be as clear as it appears. 1 Corinthians 11:5 says very clearly: But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved. Yet, you don’t cover your head when you pray. Why not? Because that verse was written in a context in which the women who did not cover their heads were prostitutes. Paul is really saying, Women, don’t dress like prostitutes. Paul may be saying in the Romans verse, You have given up your relationship with God for lust in temple orgies. This is not an open-and-shut case. The church has interpreted wrongly before at extremely high cost (to Galileo when it insisted the sun revolved around the earth, to women and men burned at the stake as witches, to those persecuted in the Crusades).

          But whether it is right or wrong, Jesus will not “make the tough decision to separate Himself from someone He dearly loves,” when Romans 8:38-39 says, For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. So how can He “abandon them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done”? I believe that is just like the prodigal’s father, who did exactly that. He let his son do what was in his heart to do, because no amount of reason was going to take it out of his heart; only to let it run its course would bring about a real change. If the son is indeed foolish, then the thing will fall apart. You cannot imagine a smiling Jesus talking calmly to the gay son without grieving, but neither could the Pharisees imagine a father’s response to the terrible insolence of his son demanding his inheritance so he could take off to live frivolously as he wanted. The requirements included in loving well are extraordinary: submitting to unfair masters; going extra miles; turning the other cheek. Jesus’ words for us to love were outrageous to the status quo, the religious. My point to parents is that their child who discovers he is gay is already going through rigors in their own heart. Every story I’ve encountered confirms this; no one says, “I realize I’m gay – yippee!!” It is virtually always an extremely difficult a discovery. Rejecting that person is exactly the wrong thing to do at that point. The Bible NEVER tells us to do that. Church discipline in Matthew 18 (waaay to long to cover here) does not apply to family. The family is never told to excommunicate a family member for their sin. You talk about parents drawing appropriate boundaries, yet as you learned in my parenting class, our job from the day the baby makes his appearance is to transfer the reins over to God, for Him to guide our child, not us. By the time a son or daughter reveals sexual orientation, usually as an adult, it is far beyond the time that we are to lay down disciplinary measures. We may not like it, but we cannot “parent” a child out of their sexual orientation. But I love that you encourage parents to pray. That is the best things anyone can do in this situation.

          You will not agree with me, but I have talked to family members who did what you suggest, and it does not lead to repentance of that person saying, “Oh, okay, the price is too high, so I won’t ‘be gay’ anymore.” It may for a time, but it does not resolve the underlying drive.

          Shannon, I understand the closing verse of Romans reminds you of my blog. 🙂 But I’m going to stick with Jesus here and the adulterous woman who “deserved to die.” Yet, He let her go. (His parting remark, to leave her life of sin, is another whole topic, for another post, but at the very least, it came after He let her go, not as a condition of her release.) The Bible contains some “hard sayings” (John 6:60; Hebrews 5:11; 2 Peter 3:15-16). I simply look at what is going on in Christian families with a gay family member, and I know that “drawing the line” has not really worked.

          Since Jesus’ main command was to love God and love others, which He said summed up the law and the prophets, that is my primary conviction.

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