How Should Christians Interact with Homosexuals?
For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections:
for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against
nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman,
burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is
unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which
Christians who don’t know their bibles like to claim that the idea of homosexuality being a sin is antiquated and only present in the Old Testament. However, as we see above, that is clearly not the case.
In Romans 1 Paul is talking about people whom God gave over to a reprobate mind. As shocking as it may be, these people had once been Christians! I defy anyone to read this chapter and still believe in eternal security. If they still do I can only conclude that they are delusional, and it’s probably because God has given them over to a reprobate mind (Titus 1:16 KJV). Not to get off the topic, however suffice to say, those who cling the tightest to eternal security likely do so because they are living in sin and know they would be in big trouble without it.
When trying to delve into deep spiritual matters we must be open to hearing the Holy Ghost’s voice of correction with our hearts, and be obedient to Him. It is very easy to get bogged down in the muck slung at us by those who do not hear from God, but instead vehemently regurgitate the bad teachings they have absorbed. We must not allow this to happen. Scripture must always be the final authority to settle all debate.
I believe that a significant percentage of Christians are in error as regarding to how we should view and relate to homosexuals. On one end of the spectrum we have churches that are welcoming homosexuals into their midst. Some even claim that homosexuality is accepted by God, while others merely wink at their sin. Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum we have men like Steven Anderson who are poster boys for what can only be called Christian homophobia. My goal here is not to find a position of compromise, but what God’s mind is on the topic.
As it turns out, the matter of how we as Christians should relate to homosexuals is not always as clear cut as it might initially seem. My thinking on this matter has become nuanced as the Holy Spirit has convicted my heart. The more I draw closer to God, the more I see that we must be willing to change our hearts and bring them into alignment with the mind of God. At first it will be difficult, but if we resolve to do this it gets easier.
Before we can take the speck out of another’s eye we must first remove the plank in ours. Once we have the correct attitude towards our own sinful natures only then can we address the sins of others. As usual, we delve right into scripture for all our answers.
Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a
Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with
himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners,
unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I
give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off,
would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his
breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went
down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that
exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be
The above scripture passage is one I turn to quite often because it literally drills deep down to the ‘heart’ of the matter. What God has shown me is that if we substitute ‘homosexual’ for the word ‘adulterer’ in this passage, it describes a whole bunch of people who profess to be Christians. You see, the true servant of Christ could never look down on another person because we have come to recognize our inherent wretchedness. That does not mean we tolerate homosexuality, or any sin for that matter; we merely recognize that although our pet sin may not be as abhorrent as sodomy, it is still sin.
For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet
offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
When God gives us understanding of the parable of the Pharisee and Publican, it shakes our whole world. If it doesn’t, something is terribly wrong with our relationship with Christ. We can plainly see that to look down upon any fellow sinner we become hypocrites as the Pharisees were. Scripture make it clear that our righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees in order to enter Heaven (Matthew 5:20 KJV). What does this mean exactly?
The Pharisee was self-righteous; he was rattling off to God how he was better than others. He bragged to God how he fasted, prayed gave tithes etc. But God had dealt with the Publican’s heart and showed him the inherent wickedness that remains in all of our hearts. The Publican did not attempt to rely upon his own righteousness, but pleaded with God for mercy.
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves,
and the truth is not in us.
My friends, if God has never dealt with you on your inherent wretchedness I am afraid to say that not only are you unfit to comment on the sins of others, but I dare say that you’ve never had a genuine salvation experience! How so?
Because it is only the understanding of our own inherent wretchedness that creates the correct motivation to follow Christ. We must recognize we have a terminal sin problem that we cannot remedy on our own (self-righteousness), no matter how hard we try. If sin is the disease, salvation is the cure. The recognition that we are all born sinners and cannot enter Heaven of our own righteousness is the only correct motivation to make a decision to walk with Christ. It is only through the blood that Jesus Christ shed for us on the cross that His righteousness is imputed to us. You see, if we don’t first understand that we are sinners we cannot make an informed decision to walk with Christ. If we think we are basically pretty good people we clearly don’t understand why Christ needed to go to the cross for us.
For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and
stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.
Once we have the correct attitude towards our own sinfulness, only then can we see even the vilest of sinners the way Christ wants us to: as fellow sinners. We must recognize that any attempt to discount our sins by comparing them to those of others (“At least I’m not as bad as that guy Lord”) for what it is, sin! We have come to understand the meaning of the phrase “There but for the grace of God go I”.
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time,
Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh
on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his
heart. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from
thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish,
and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand
offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for
thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body
should be cast into hell.
The above passage is one of those that is pretty much universally accepted as being purely symbolic by the churches, but is that really the case? It is obvious at first glance that Christ is addressing just how seriously we should take sin. In the world today, so many professing Christians seem to treat their salvation as a 'sin all you want, get out of Hell free' deal.
On the other hand, I also sense that He is addressing those who would attempt to keep the law instead of repenting. The reason I say that is because if even one of us were able to keep the law perfectly then His sacrifice on the cross would have been in vain. Continuing the line of Jesus thoughts here, we may reason to ourselves that perhaps it would be better for say, the pedophile to have himself castrated if he cannot control his urges. But if we are honest with ourselves, shouldn’t we be applying that same standard to serial adulterers, and really all fornicators for that matter?
This is just one reason why I am against the hatred directed at homosexuals by many preachers. Yes, of course it is an abomination to God, but honestly, all sin is. Considering what James 2:10 (KJV) has to say on the matter, who are we to say that our sins are any less dirty? Jesus taught us there is no difference between the adulterer and the man who merely looks upon a woman with lust. So, if we are indeed truly guilty of all sins if we offend in just one, why would that not include homosexuality?
His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be
so with his wife, it is not good to marry. But he said unto them, All men
cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. For there are
some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are
some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which
have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is
able to receive it, let him receive it.
By skipping over to Matthew 19, as surprising as it may seem, we can surmise that it is perfectly scriptural to take Christ’s suggestion to cut off any offending member literally. But no pastor is ever going to preach this, because it just isn’t good for business. For someone to make themselves a eunuch for the sake of the kingdom of Heaven seems to me to be a last resort for those with zero self-control. What’s problematic about this passage for the Eternal Security crowd is that it leaves no room for doubt that salvation can indeed be lost based upon our actions. I also believe that one can become a virtual eunuch by choosing to remain celibate if they are able to do so.
Christianity needs to fundamentally change how we view ourselves, and come back into alignment with the Word of God. The difference between the Publican and the Pharisee is that the Publican realized he was still a sinner. Not once, a long time ago, but a sinner right now. And so are we. The only difference between the vilest of sinners and the Christian is Jesus’ sacrifice applied to our sins. As distasteful as it may be, we need to recognize that we are just like the homosexual, the pedophile or whatever vile sins we may conjure up to compare ourselves to.
For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and
bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O
wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I
thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself
serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
The error of the Pharisee was thinking that he was any better than the man standing next to him. This thinking must stop! Look at our brother Paul who called himself the chief of sinners and a wretched man (1 Timothy 1:15 KJV). He understood the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican. Being a Pharisee himself, Paul yet identified with the Publican by recognizing his own inherent sin nature. Once we stop thinking in these terms, we can clearly see the sexual deviant for what they really are, fellow sinners who are lost and need to turn from their sins and apply the cross to them, just as we did.
On the Other Hand…
It is reported commonly that there is fornication
among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the
Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife.
Just because we recognize homosexuality as being on the spectrum of our common propensity for sin, it does not mean that we should tolerate it when the church meets. The word ‘fornication’ is interesting, because it seems to be a catch-all to describe all manner of sexual relations with a person that we are not married to, including incest. It seems to me that this word could be argued to also encompass homosexual relations, and perhaps even masturbation (we can’t marry ourselves). In any case, those who attempt to attend church services with any person they are fornicating with must be turned away.
Some will argue that we should allow them to join with us so that we may witness to them. However, this is a matter that should be dealt with outside of the assembly of believers. Only those who have renounced their former lives should be allowed to participate with the church. The same standard should be enforced against all known fornicators, not just homosexuals. Truth be told, if this standard were strictly applied, a whole bunch of pastors, church office staff and choir members would be loitering in the church parking lot on Sunday.
I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with
fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with
the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go
out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if
any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an
idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no
not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do
not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth.
Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.
This begs the question: what about those whose sin is done in secret? Wouldn’t it be unfair to those whose sins are open? The answer to this is simple. We don’t bar those living in sin from joining the church’s gathering in order to punish them, but to make sure that we set a Godly example for the remainder of the church. Those whose sin is done in secret are dealt with directly by God. Now some of you may be saying this is all fine and good, but how do I deal with that gay relative during family gatherings? As we see in the above scripture passage, we are not to company with fornicators. However, I don’t believe that God would have us forego family gatherings for the sake of one or two fornicators that may be present.
These matters must be considered on a case by case basis, because this is where things can get nuanced. Our relatives should already be fully aware that we are servants of Jesus Christ. If they aren’t, now would be a good time to make a public confession. It also depends on how many fellow Christians are in your family, and whether the family that are hosting the gathering is saved, simply because we should be respectful of their wishes.
Of course, we should always treat all of our fellow sinners with kindness. Just the fact that everyone knows you are a Christian is most important. It would not be wise to provoke a potentially uncomfortable discussion in a family gathering. Most important is to listen for the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit to guide you in these situations. If you decide to join in, pray for a while beforehand that God opens up the opportunity to witness to them. Because in the end it is their salvation that is most important. If you feel God has given you a word for someone, pull them aside. Never discount the power of the Holy Spirit to break through even the vilest and most powerful bondage to get a message through. Prayer changes things.
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