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March 31, 2014 | by  | in Features |
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God Hates Fags?

The relationship between homosexuality and Christianity has long been contentious. It’s often the elephant in the room, the friction in a friendship, or simply a strictly don’t-go-there topic. But why the dissension? Are they truly incompatible? Is there an alternative viewpoint to fiercely favouring either religious freedom or gay rights?

When questioning whether Christianity and homosexuality are reconcilable, there are many subtopics within the issue that could be explored in their own right. For the sake of brevity and getting to the practical heart of the subject, I am going to skip over convoluted questions that could lead us down a bunnyhole.

The intention here is to articulate the three most prevalent positions when addressing homosexuality and Christianity, and show how, from a biblical perspective, each view holds partial aspects of truth but misses the bigger picture. These three main positions being:

  1. From some church-goers: Homosexuals go to Hell for being gay, burn them!
  2. From some church-goers: Homosexuality is no sin, let’s fully embrace gay love!
  3. From pro-gay, anti-Christians: Homosexuality is an expression of human rights; those religious nutbars are closed-minded, joy-draining bigots!

I’m willing to bet you’ve heard each of these opinions voiced loud and proud, and without a doubt, Christians have managed to do an immense disservice to their homosexual neighbours and friends when addressing this issue. In believing either of the first two aforementioned positions, Christians not only trivialise the grievous hurt that the church has caused the homosexual community, but they also completely misrepresent the Bible they claim to live by.

I didn’t always see the complexities of this issue. In fact, until recently, I sat staunchly in the third position. As an atheist, I scoffed at the ‘Christian’ view that homosexuality on its own earns a road trip on the highway to hell. And when, after 19 years of being an atheist, I became a Christian – I still scoffed at it! As The New York Times Best Seller Tim Keller articulates so directly, you go to Hell for being homosexual like you go to Heaven for being heterosexual, i.e. no correlation, no causation, no contention. To raise up homosexuality as a primary issue like so many outspoken churchgoers do is to manipulate Jesus’ purpose not only for sex, not only for sin in general, but also on the most critical issue of all – the purpose of Jesus’ existence.

Jesus’ purpose is not centered on the redemption of our sex lives, and it’s not concerned with redeeming our morality so we could obey the Ten Commandments and be a “good person”. It is centered wholly on redeeming us to himself. No strings attached. When someone comes to Jesus admitting that they are less than perfect (falling short of perfection is named sin in the Bible), and that they need him to be their perfect fulfilment of all that God calls us to, this is when we are free. Free to live in perfect relationship with the eternal, sovereign God of the Universe who loves us no matter what imperfections we have because they were all cast on Jesus on the cross 2000 years ago. No matter who you are or what type of sin you choose (homosexuality included), Jesus is willing, able, and overjoyed to have died for you so that you can be reconciled to him.

So we can live out the Christian life in love, not in some judgmental, anger-filled attitude towards those who live differently. We are all born with sin in us, though it presents itself in different ways. You may have been born gay, or bitter, or with a predisposition to depression, and I may have been born jealous, lustful, or with a predisposition to crippling anxiety. What is important to know when thinking about Christianity and homosexuality is that the Bible doesn’t talk about homosexuality as if it is the single most affronting sin. While it does affirm that it is sin (throughout the Old and New Testaments), there are other things that are mentioned ten times more often, and frequently with weightier language. One of these things is pride, or self-righteousness. The task of identifying people who are often associated with acting self-righteously doesn’t need a prolonged game of ‘Guess Who?’, but take one guess…  Christians? That was easy.

Certainly, Christians have earned themselves a bad rep, even those who aren’t as clearly rage-fuelled from incorrectly handled scripture like the Westboro Baptist Church. What Christians miss in dealing with the issue of sin, and particularly homosexuality, is that there cannot be truth without love, or love without truth. Watering down the Bible to say it does not call out homosexuality as one sin among many (while forgetting that Christians sin every day so are no more morally upright than anybody else) is to speak a lie masquerading as compassion and progress. But preaching condemnation purely because of one’s sexuality is manipulating truth without compassion, and fails to comprehend that the playing field is level at the cross and nobody can earn a moral high ground.

In all of this, what is the big “so what?” Do we learn anything from this biblical perspective of how to reconcile Christianity and homosexuality? For a start, as author Trevin Wax points out, “to differ is not to hate”. While we may differ in how we think about homosexuality, we can respect one another and continue to discuss how to pursue the knowledge of truth.

To the Christian reading this, remember that Jesus calls you to love your neighbour and seek his good, even during the times you don’t see eye to eye. As Paul the Apostle writes in his letter to the Corinthian church included in the New Testament: “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?” When Jesus died for you on the cross, he forgave all your sin, and because of this unsurpassing act of love, it is infinitely worth forgiving others and treating them with a glimpse of the compassion that Jesus showed you.

To the person reading this who identifies with the third position put forth, know that I feel your frustration with the anger that you have received from the Christian community. Realise that the Bible does not condone the hate speech you may have received, but also that it does not shy away from calling homosexuality a sin, alongside plenty of things that Christians forget are sinful.

So can Christianity and homosexuality be reconciled? Perhaps we are asking the wrong question. The question is wider than just homosexuality. It is whether, on the whole, we can have a relationship with God that is not conditional on our lifestyle. Most relevant here, it is whether Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins was all encompassing enough to include homosexuality, and how we should, both Christian and non-Christian, respond to that.

To raise up homosexuality as a primary issue like so many outspoken churchgoers do is to manipulate Jesus’ purpose not only for sex, not only for sin in general, but also on the most critical issue of all – the purpose of Jesus’ existence.

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