It pains me to think that we as Christians need a biblical case for being respectful to people, but as I interact through social media with members of the LGBTQ community, and watch Christians interact with them in general, this seems more and more to be the case. One of the questions that consistently comes up for me is why on earth we as Christians treat them the way that we do. There are any number of groups out there that we disagree with, and while our responses to different groups have ran the gamut from polite to insane, this particular community is one that we tend to have trouble even being civil with. What I’ve been pondering the last few months is why, and I think I’ve finally come to the place where I can articulate a reasonable explanation.
In my interactions, I’ve noticed one thing in particular that may explain this stance among Christians. In short, we’re afraid. Let me explain a little. The Bible, as we can be very quick to point out, states that homosexuality is a sin. Those who identify as LGBTQ, as I’ve found out, are quick to point out that their sexual orientation (or whatever term they want to use for it), is part of who they are. It is, more often than not, at the core of who they are. The end result is a disconnect. Conversations between the two groups in general are not going to happen when the views involved are so directly opposed to each other. (That being said, the opposition of these views has made for some unfortunate and spectacular arguments on social media.) For Christians, and here I speak from my own experience, the dilemma is in how to respond to these opposing views. We can either accept LGBTQ individuals for who they are, or we can stick to our guns that it’s a sin and they need to change. The problem is that accepting LGBTQ individuals for who they are would require us to compromise our belief in the authority of Scripture, and we would never do that. We therefore respond in the only way that our fear says remains open to us. In short, we’re not willing to give a little.
I am not talking about giving up on the authority of Scripture. As a Christian myself, that is a belief that I hold to as well. What I am saying is that this situation is not as black and white people on both sides may say, and there is a hell of a lot we as Christians can do just to be respectful to the LGBTQ community while maintaining our respect for the authority of Scripture.
For example, Romans 1 is one of several passages in the New Testament that touch on the issue of homosexuality. The gist in this case seems to be that homosexuality came about because people rejected God. (If you’re reading this and you’re a member of the LGBTQ community, please hear me out before you jump all over me. I am not trying to comment here on whether or not you were born the way you are or whether it’s a choice or to comment on any other aspect of that particular discussion. That is a conversation for another time, and also one that I don’t have all the answers to. What I am trying to do here is simply show other Christians that we need to change the way that we respond to you.) Romans 2, in contrast, opens by pointing out that anyone who judges another for these things condemns themselves because they are also guilty of rejecting God. As the King James Version poetically puts it, “for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself” (Romans 2:1). The bottom line here, and the first observation that needs to be made, is that as sinners ourselves saved only by the grace of God, we have no place whatsoever to justify responding to the LGBTQ community in condemnation. Our response as a whole sucks, and it needs to change.
How, then, should it change? The second observation that needs to be made is that all people everywhere matter to Jesus. As we read in 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not willing that any should perish but that all should reach repentance.” The word “all” pretty much tells you everything you need to know here. The Apostle Paul touches on this as well in 1 Timothy 2, when he says in verse 3 that Jesus “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” It’s not wrong to say that you’ve never met a person who doesn’t matter to God, LGBTQ or otherwise. These people matter to him as much as any other. (Again, it pisses me off no end that we seem to need a reminder on this one, but that appears to be the case.)
Finally, I want to observe that if these people matter, and they do, then we need to accept them and treat them with love and respect. Furthermore, doing so doesn’t require us to change our own beliefs. I think we’re afraid of this more than anything else, that by accepting them we have to admit that the Bible is wrong on the subject and therefore could quite possibly be wrong on every other subject contained therein. In all honesty, that fear could not be farther from the truth. In Romans 5:8, the Apostle Paul tells us, “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” In other words, Jesus took us as we were. There was nothing that we could do to make ourselves acceptable to him, and we didn’t need to make ourselves acceptable anyways. (That’s not how this whole Christianity thing works.) He took us as we are. Why, then, can we not offer the same grace to others?
We have, I think, become so focused on “defending the faith” and maintaining the integrity of our theology that we have, in essence, written off the entire LGBTQ community. That, my friends, is about as un-Christian as it gets. All we have to do is give a little, set aside our differences and focus on the things that matter. It is in many ways the simplest thing in the world, and yet we just can’t bring ourselves to do it. And why? Like I said, we’re afraid. If, as 1 John 4:18 tells us, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear,” then maybe we don’t know the love of Jesus as well as we think we do.