Thursday, February 16, 2006

Make Love, not Culture Wars

It's been a longstanding complaint of mine that many evangelicals in America often express little respect or tolerance for homosexuals in society at large.

I'm thinking specifically here of a friend who casually uses the word "abomination" when he's discussing homosexuality, without regard for the people he's talking about. I'm thinking specifically of the parents of another friend who nearly disowned her after they learned she was a lesbian. Her mother actually tried -- she was going to repossess my friend's car, cancel her credit cards, and cut off her financial support at the dawn of her third year in college, all in the name of "tough love." I'm thinking of others who, through no choice of their own, have been driven from their churches, their families and their communities, all because they're gay.

Lost somewhere amid the rhetoric of "hating the sin but loving the sinner" is the character of Christ, who extends friendship not only to gays and lesbians, but to abortionists, prostitutes, and even sinners like me. Too often the message the church sends to gays and lesbians is "Stop being gay, then we'll love you."

No one is going to hell because they're gay. People go to hell because of sin. If you think someone is going to hell because of something you consider a sin, you don't change their course by yelling at them, passing laws and getting judicial rulings that you intend to stop behavior you consider sinful. You do it by introducing people to Christ, and letting him change their hearts -- which he can do, even if the behavior is as odious as demonizing an entire group of people over their sexual orientation.

I see from an article in Christianity Today that this view is beginning to catch on. Thank God. I've had enough of culture wars and seeing innocent people get gunned down in the crossfire.

I've had the good fortune to worship alongside believers who are gay. My prayer is that I be made worthy to come to the Communion table with them, and that I not shame them with my company.


Fortunato said...

Is this the article that got you shunned by "The Nefarious Institution Not to Be Named?"

If it did.... Geez. What is Christianity coming to?

I've seen this viewpoint expressed much more offensively by others, never this eloquently and non-threatningly.

It's thoughfully presented and should make anyone with half a mind and heart think, rather than condemn -- even if they disagree with you.

If this drove them to immediately consider you a false prophet, you might as well pull up the tent and move on -- and you'd do well to use Caller ID before picking up any phone calls in the future, in case they suffer another bout of amnesia and lead you on a third time...

Glad we're walking on the same road together. It's a little less lonely with you around...

marauder said...

Honestly, I don't know if this is the piece in question, because the editor never responded to my e-mail where I offered to correct any errors I had regarding his ministry founder's stated positions, link to his side of the issues, or take down anything he thought was ridiculing him unfairly. It probably is, although I also play down his status as an influential Christian elsewhere on the site.

A previous draft of the post -- and remember, this was never more than a shoot-from-the-hip, off-the-cuff sort of post, which is why it lacks a copyright notice and didn't go out over the list -- did mention the founder by name, described his reaction to SBSP last year as "apoplectic," and castigated evangelical leaders in general for fostering a climate of alienation toward gays and lesbians.

I rewrote the post somewhat after I got the editor's initial comments, to show that I wasn't picking on any one individual as much as I was taking issue with the attitude of disdain toward gays within the evangelical culture. Apparently, that wasn't good enough. Oh well.

As to where the church is headed, well, right now in America at least, I see it as being shaped largely by a series of personality cults, similar to what Paul complained about in his letter to the Corinthians, although there are places where the Revolution of God is still quietly taking place.

As I've said before, I wonder what's going to happen when men like Dobson and Robertson start to retire. Will we see a swing to the Left, or will we see something deeper and more meaningful, like a swing toward Christ and away from politics and power?

I'm not ashamed to be called a liberal, but what I'd really like is to wear no label at all, except "sinner clinging desparately to the Cross."