28.7.09

Coming Out of the Judgmental Closet

They invited me to dinner. Dan and Laura were friends of the family and dinner was an excuse to talk. They needed to be heard. Other than my mother, I was the only other person they had told. With a quivering lip he said, “I can’t walk my daughter down the aisle.” The ice in our glasses began to melt and our soups began congealing. This was serious. Their 28-year-old daughter was a lesbian and she wanted to get married and have a baby.

Amongst friends, family and church members Dan and Laura felt alone. They are amongst the finest people in the world. Dan is an elder in the church and he serves and as a public defender in the world. Laura is an OBGYN nurse in the world and a servant in the church. My heart mourned for them. They couldn’t tell anyone. And most of all they feared the churches response. They thought that the church for whatever reason would remove Dan from his eldership and on top of that they felt that their family would reject, judge and shun them and their daughter. I tried to reassure them that this was not the case. But it was a hard sale. Let’s face it there is a lot of junk swirling around our churches regarding homosexuality.

With that said, I think churches have a very good understanding of morality. With hawk-eyed perception we distinguish right from wrong, which is, in its own right a very good thing. But here I want to incorporate compassion with our morality, which in the end might change everything but that’s what compassion does . . . it changes things. If you’ve been around the church at all then you know that non-judgmental compassion is delicate work. Few do it well. To see something wrong with someone and still have compassion for them is an art. Jesus and a few saints throughout history are about the only ones to do this with success. I am suggesting that in general that we have floundered in our response to sin. And in particular, especially in regards to homosexuality, we have struck the fuck out. It was now no more evident to me than in the lives of Dan and Laura. We broke bread that night but we didn’t eat much of it.

I took Dan and Laura’s situation and presented it to an adult Sunday school class at my mostly conservative church in Carthage, Missouri. I was a little nervous on exactly how it would be received. So I planed on using it as a one point illustration in the middle of a bigger lesson. And to my surprise it manifested into a four week discussion. The group would not be shut up. In Church, no one had ever talked about this before. Most of them were affected by homosexuality in one way or another and they needed to air it out. The cat was out of the bag and it was a fighting tom. Their ideas were being flung around the room much like a Jackson Pollock painting. I stepped back and listened.

It was suggested by various members of the group that the Bible ‘clearly’ states that homosexuality is wrong. Being a student of the Bible I wanted to know just how ‘clearly’ homosexuality was spoken of in the Bible. I came away with an almost skinless skeleton. The truth is; you can read for a long way in both directions and not run into it. And when you do, you run into a bunch of contextual issues that makes it difficult and painstaking to apply to today. I suspected that their “clearlies” were driven from our cultural nausea rather than Biblical thoroughness. Because it just wasn’t there. It’s only mentioned five times in all of Scripture. Although despite the lack of discussion of homosexuality in particular I still contend that the book affirms heterosexuality. And I am clearly not arguing any differently. I am pleading that we re-evaluate the way we think and talk about this topic. Let’s get rid of the overstatements because we all know that it is more complicated than that. Let’s face it this world is broken and complicated and we are the privileged ones who get to put up with it. Aren’t we lucky?

The way we talk about people affects us. Why do we have so much religious fervor against homosexuality and so little in regards to social injustice and poverty? Poverty alone is mentioned more than two-thousand times in the Bible. And yet for the most part we are un-jarring in our resistance to homosexuality. It should be just as nauseating to us when we see someone starving and shivering down on Burnside as it is when we see two men holding hands in the mall, or cuddling on a couch.

It is easier, safer and cleaner to stand aside and call a spade a spade, than it is to enter into that spade and transforms it into, let’s say, a heart? But naturally I think we are prone to standing comfortably on the sidelines in jest and call out names and chalk up offenses. That is our nature. Jesus says this much when he tells the crowds to pull the plank out of their own eye before pinpointing the sawdust in their brother’s. But this is hard to change because we are so used to doing this. I am. The Hebrew Prophets had job security because Israel was so fond of doing this. This is our polemic, the human polemic. It is pride that keeps us jesters jesting. But I think if we embrace proper humility and listen to the prophets and see the plank jutting out of our own eye than a whole host problems would be solved. This humility would give the Church and God a better name in the world . . . which is not such a bad thing after all.

I want to leave a residue of grace here. No doubt about it homosexuality is as old as we are. And in the book of Romans chapter one Paul explicitly mentions homosexuality amongst a grotesque list of sin – read the list – we are all guilty. But remember that Paul doesn’t only tell the Romans that they are screwed-up, no, he goes on further and offers an apostolic remedy to the human problem of sin. After accurate spade-calling Paul reminds them of what changes people’s hearts. Paul bolsters that the only thing worthy of repentance is the kindness of God (2:4). And as imitators of God, I think Paul wants Christians everywhere to respond to sin with tenderness, patience and compassion. And we must know by now that this compassion can only be precipitated and empowered by the Holy Spirit. I mean because sometimes we a weary and feeble people who couldn’t muster compassion if we wanted too.

It is a bit ironic but it is the kindness of God that pierces and cuts us and makes us bleed into mystical transformations. I pray for the day that the Church and all her saints bestow this kindness upon a broken and confused world. Especially in the midst of the turmoil brooding in hearts of people like Dan and Laura. They need to know that the Christian response is far different than the world’s response. It is real and it is redemptive.

It appears as a no-brainer to me that the homosexual community will always be convinced of where the church (in general) stands on this issue. And I think it would be absurd for Dan and Laura to think that their daughter would some day wake up and think, “Mom and dad and the Church now accept my lifestyle.” That’s absurd. The point has been made and the point is clear. The church has belabored her stance on this. We have taken our cues from the world. The world tolerates this problem better than we do but toleration is not our goal. And the world often ignores it, tries to legalize it or laugh at it from behind its back. This is not what I am advocating. I am advocating a response that radiates with dignity and respect. I don’t want to ignore it and push it under the rug. I don’t want to secretly make fun of it and be scared of it when encountered. I want to confront it with truthfulness and goodness as God himself has intended sin to be confronted throughout all of human history. I want to confront it as modeled by the words and mantra of the homeless Messiah from Galilee . . . the true God dressed in our skin.

Now I usher you to the virtuous high ground of 1-Cornithians chapter 13 and the accolades of love that are nestled into this formidable syntax. Relationships and weddings are built upon these words of love. All societies have applauded couples when they are faithful, loyal, kind, patient, sacrificing, and brave, playful and serious. That is a fact. So we can’t help but kneel before love and call it good. Seeing these things gives us proof that a “healthy” relationship still exists in a world devastated with break-ups and divorces, confusion and chaos.

From that let me spring board and say that I can’t help but think that a “healthy” homosexual relationship is closer to 1-Corinthians 13 than a promiscuous, manipulative or abusive heterosexual relationship. Are we not starring love in the face? When Dan and Laura’s daughter starts planning her wedding, I suspect that she is going to pay as much attention to the minute details of flowers and candles and vows as much as any girl that I know. I can’t help but see joy and excitement and hope in her eyes as she picks out her wedding dress. I hope she has something to celebrate. She has found love. And love is the most formidable concept that mankind has ever come in contact with. Can a union that displays these divine virtues be wrong? Why did some of us stop applauding?

In that same vein I hate it when people compare homosexuality to other sexual sins such as; adultery, rape, bestiality, masturbation etc… I argue that homosexuality is far different from all of these. It is unique. It stands out. I mean adultery tears and tugs at an existing relationship. Rape dominates over someone else. And masturbation is far too self indulgent to be called love. Bestiality is well, bestiality. But homosexuality is far different. There is no tearing away, no domination, no self worship. We are talking about love and commitment that is there through richer or poorer. I think making this distinction is crucial to how we start talking about this. It will prevent us from demonizing this and will give us a new look at two people who are embarking on this scary and wonderful journey called love.

To go with what I am saying let me quote C.S. Lewis when he says that Plato was right after all when he said that “Eros (love), turned upside down, blackened, distorted, and filthy, still bore the traces of his divinity” (Surprised by Joy). I am convinced that this divine spark of love will go on blazing in the corners of our world even if we fail to understand it. It will flicker with as much intensity as it did when the world was spoken into existence. Aren’t the fairytales right in suggesting that love is stronger and brighter than all the sin and evil in the world? And Peter reminds us that love covers a multitude of sins. So, can we dialogue and interact on issues?

We are better than to be hesitant with people who have the same concerns and fears as us. In the end I don’t see myself calling homosexuality acceptable, but because of these thoughts and many others I will resist the temptation to judge and shun Dan and Laura’s daughter. I will openly have conversations with people on both sides of the issue and I will urge couples like this to seek reconciliation with their daughters, sons, family members and Churches. Always remembering that God’s kindness is the only thing that can changes people's hearts and brings them together. I don’t want to be na├»ve about the situation, I told them that their daughter was probably going to be a lesbian for the rest of her life (they didn’t want to hear that) but I also told them that they better love her and be there for her regardless.

I pray that we will be like Christ when he encounters the misfits of this world, realizing first that we are misfits ourselves. When a prostitute washes Jesus’ feet in Luke chapter seven he chastises the host of the party; the teacher of the law. He tenderly deals with the promiscuous Samaritan woman at the well in John four. He tells the story in Luke fifteen of the father, who with a quivering lip tackles his son on a Palestinian hill. Our response has to be in step with this kind of kindness. I encouraged them to attend and even attempt to help plan the wedding. I want to see her face when she turns around wearing her dress or tux and sees her slightly reluctant but loving father with an arm extended down the aisle. The Kingdom of God is swiftly advancing and it is because of acts like these that it will continue.

20 comments:

  1. Eric, depending on which paragraph of yours I read, I either think you believe gay sexual activity is sin or it's not. The rest of your post, and the general topic of how Christians are to deal with homosexuality, has to have that question answered: is it sin or not?

    This is vital. It's foundational to the entire conversation. The question isn't: Is homosexual sex as strong a sin as ignoring the poor?

    If gay sex is sin, which you seem to imply that it is, in paragraph 1, but not so much in later portions of the blog post, then I would suggest to you that it's not unloving to point that out. Because sin is destructive to the person who's in it. It's as wrong to pretend it's not sin as it would be for you to not tell me an 18-wheeler is coming toward me if I'm playing in the street.

    If we care about someone, we don't simply accept their sin and move on. One may argue about whether or not gay sex s sin, but this cannot be argued by anyone who claims to believe that Scripture is true. I could cite dozens of verses if you want 'em.

    One of them is in 1 Cor 5, posted on the "Closet Cases" post yesterday. Note that elsewhere in that chapter, Paul says 2 things that are important, and especially relevant here: 1. We are not to judge the specific sins of non-christians, and 2. we are not to ignore the sin of fellow believers.
    Many people, especially who post here, have no problem adhering to #1, but aren't comfortable with #2. But the language is strong, and it didn't originate with Paul.

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  2. "It appears as a no-brainer to me that the homosexual community will always be convinced of where the church (in general) stands on this issue. And I think it would be absurd for Dan and Laura to think that their daughter would some day wake up and think, 'Mom and dad and the Church now accept my lifestyle.' That’s absurd."

    Maybe in our lifetime. Perhaps we should go back to women wearing head-coverings and keeping silent in the church too, though.

    Also, not all homosexual relationships are good examples of "love." Of course, there are many promiscuous homosexual relationships (as there are promiscuous heterosexual relationships) of which we do not condone. But the kinds of relationships which are seeking marriage and which we are seeking to destroy (Prop 8, etc) are exactly the kind of love relationships that you are talking about that God blesses and which we should encourage and be encouraged by. But in our haste to judge and condemn we have helped create a society of people afraid to open up and be honest with their closest friends and families and communities and which instead many of them end up living secret lives which they know are judged as wrong anyway so they hardly consider the love/promiscuity choice before them.

    That passage in Romans is talking about homosexuality and the other sins only in relations to their worship of "idols" and/or others gods before God himself.

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  3. " It’s only mentioned five times in all of Scripture." This can be a flawed approach to biblical concepts. For example, I've heard that the word "disciple" is not used after Acts 21 therefore some argue that making disciples or discipling the body is not important in our time. The Law is mentioned many, many more times than grace in the Bible, so does that make it more important than grace? And remember, the trinity is never once explicitly mentioned in the Bible.

    As to how we view sin, to justify one sin by the lack of attention to another is not wise because the wages of all sin are death. However, the regenerate believer is justified by Christ but should be making a sincere to turn away from his or her sin. They should hate their sin. We should be concerned anytime we see someone trying to explain away the sin of homosexuality or adultery or divorce or cowardice or false witness or any other thing on the list.

    But I also strongly believe above all, we are called to love God with everything we have and love our neighbors as our selves. This does not mean that we explain away sin (especially our own), but that we understand it, see it for what it is, and still love our neighbor.

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  4. That Lewis quote is right on, love, however tainted by sin, still retains traces of divinity. We ought never forget to respect those traces, even in the most messed up relationships.

    But if you love them, don't forever ignore the mess. Focus on the priorities, relationship with Christ being chief. Speak with love and compassion. But eventually, speak.

    I have gay neighbors. Really nice guys, seem to have a good relationship too. I don't ever want to give them the idea that their homosexuality needs to stop for them to come to Christ. But i wouldn't want to mislead them either, that if they ever became followers of Christ that it's no problem to stay homosexually active. Their love and friendship is great and needn't go, but the gay sex would grate, just like the sins i've carried with me into relationship with Christ. But He's working on them, and when i fail again, i'm forgiven. They will be too.

    Oh, and sin's strength is *only* in relationship to much you are failing the great commandment to love God. Considering Genesis and Eph. 5 and such that point out the spiritual significance of marriage, sex outside of that beautiful example of diversity (hetero) in unity (lasting, loving commitment) is nothing to ignore. But only God really knows the heart.

    Last comment, Prop 8 and such all miss the point for Christ followers. The laws of the state do not and never have defined marriage. I frankly don't give a shit whether the government calls a couple married or not, homosexual or heterosexual. As Christians, we should not be confused on this. If you made your vows before God and community and someone misfiled your "marriage license", does that mean you aren't married and you should wait to have sex until the government figures it out? Hell, no. If you are married in God's eyes, then you are married. If you don't fit that pattern (and i think it's pretty clear that homosexual couples don't), then you're not.

    So why on earth do we, as the Church, suppose that there's a point in opposing the legal rights of government-recognized "couplehood" to gay couples? And why on earth do gay rights activists claim that government-recognition has anything to do with love? It doesn't and never did. Look at the laws on the books. It'd probably be best if the government(s) abandoned the word "marriage" for all couples and just called all of them "legal civil unions", with all the legal benefits that come with that.

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  5. So, I was in a Christian school and a friend was assinged a paper on a moral topic. He chose bestiality, then argued he'd write about how it was wrong. The teacher said that might be a little too much, so why not write about homosexuality. My friend shouted about how gross that was, and abandoned the idea entirely.

    I had some weird friends.

    Seriously, this is the problem with most Christians who call homosexuality a sin. This post has a point--there may be more love apparent in the marriage you mentioned than in most of the attempts to point out "the" sin. If I'm struggling with masterbation and porn (as long as it's not gay porn) I could always find a safe place in my church where friends could help me deal with it. I'm lucky-many are not.

    This spirit of hatred is still very much alive in many churches and needs to change.

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  6. After the big bad list of sins in Romans 1 Paul says in Romans 2:1-4 (NIV): 1You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment? 4Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?

    That said, I talked to the daughter the other night (sweet girl) and I asked her if she ever talked about this with her parents. she basically told me no. I told her that I was sorry about that. She said that from her parents were great and that from their perspective they were trying to save her from eternal hell and damnation with all the fervor they could muster so that means they love me. I told her that I didn't doubt their love. No doubt about it I could see it. I told her that their sentiment was brilliant but the problem was not with their sentiment the problem was with their theology. It was marred and twisted. For the life of me I just couldn't see Jesus handling the situation that way.

    Please hear me on this; I don't claim to have a monopoly on theology or Jesus or anything like that. This paper has been more about correcting the parents and their approach than changing the daughter. And again, I undesrtand that this is complicated and hairy. But sometimes that's the way things are. Their is a lot of work to be done here. Their is pain and wounds on both sides that will takes years to mend.

    And James, stop saying 'gay sex'

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  7. Eric, I chose my words carefully. I said gay sex, or homosexual activity, to distinguish it from "being gay". Having a tendency or weakness for a particular sin is not sin. The act is the sin. I have been in these conversations before, and didn't want to allow anyone the option of creating a distraction by saying that I was slamming gay people.

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  8. Thanks everyone for your comments.

    A few qualifiers:
    I think the Bible emphatically affirms a man and woman relationship (heterosexuality) over homosexuality. And by affirming that, it might appear to some to be negating/judging the homosexual relationships. But before you jump the gun and call it a sin, you have to remember that inherent in the biblical affirmation of a man and woman relationship that there are the ideas of fidelity, loyalty, monogamy and yes love. Which I think Tyler made a great distinction of when he said that a homosexual relationship that failed to live up to these platitudes was in fact sinful in the very exact way that a man and woman relationship that failed to live up to the same platitudes would be. So the object of the biblical affirmation of a relationship may not necessarily be just man and woman as much as it might be the manner of the relationship (love, faithfulness, commitment etc…). So I am now suggesting that maybe the rubric to which we critique a relationship should be more internal (about the things of the heart) than external (things like penis and vagina). What really matters in the end? The heart does, the commitment, the love. I think I just said something that changed my whole view on this and it sounded way liberal and that scares me a bit but it also sounded really really biblical. Anyway, I failed to make that distinction in the paper and I swayed back and forth because of it….so thank you Tyler for pointing that out.

    Bryan, I was pitting the propensity of poverty mentioned in the Bible (2000x’s) to the lack homosexuality mentioned (5x’s). . . as I was trying to point out how wrong the Sunday school class was for saying that the Bible “clearly” states. It doesn’t “clearly” state, there are not a dozen passages…there are only five. And yes, as you pointed out that is not a bullet-proof argument…but it was never intended to be. It was obvious that the group was more passionate about homosexuality than poverty . . . which I could see God scratching his head over and wondering how the Church (his people) got that message from Him and Jesus . . . that’s all.

    Nathan, I don’t know if the Church should care about banning gay marriage. In fact I think we should be for it. Historically, marriage has been a sacrament of the Church…so let’s keep it that way. That’s how you keep things sacred. For example in India the Christian minister doesn’t marry the Hindu . . . and the Hindu doesn’t marry the Christian.

    Mattmm, you did have some weird friends! And yes, judgmental attitudes are rarely productive. We are better than stooping to this. I’m not saying we can’t call something right or wrong. Let’s just move past this and graduate to creatively dealing with problems. Most people know they are wrong and they know that everyone else knows . . . so why waist time finger pointing. Sometimes I think Christians are silly when they try and act like the God.

    And James, please stop saying “gay sex.” I am homophobic. :-)

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  9. straight sex straight sex straight sex

    Eric:
    Seriously, if you want to argue that homosexuality (or the various physical acts which accompany such tendencies) is not sin, that is another debate entirely, and I won't get into it here.

    What I was arguing in this post and the other one, was that among those who do believe it's sin, I see a danger in ignoring it when involved in the lives of other believers who are engaged in such behavior, if they claim to be believers. I can confidently make the claim that the bible is clear on that.

    To pretend that sin is not worth mentioning is the most unloving thing you can do, for at least 3 reasons:
    1. Sin is destructive to the person doing it. Nobody here would not tell me if I walked into the room and my hair was in fire. I'd be appreciative, and wouldn't condemn you for being judgmental.
    2. Sin is usually the result of some wound or past hurt. Jesus offered healing of hurts when he quoted Isaiah 61 in announcing His ministry.
    Isa 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners;
    Isa 61:2 To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn,

    3. All of life is about God, not us, and certainly not about our comfort. If we blow off God's opinion about sin for our own desires, or because such things make us uncomfortable to talk about, then we have our priorities out of whack, and have forgotten who God is.

    We had an amazing electrical storm the other night. We all sat on the back porch, which is covered, and watched the display, and listened to the loud thunder. My wife went inside, and came back out with her bible. She read to the kids that passage in Ezekiel about how God is currently sitting on a throne, with thunder and lightning all around Him. Four powerful creatures never stop saying how Holy God is. Angels who fly around and use wings to cover their eyes because they cannot stand to look directly at God.

    This is who God is. This is what He's like. When we look at His directives and decide that our will is preferable to His, we are not seeing Him as He is. We are, astoundingly, elevating ourselves above Him.

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  10. James, your hair is on fire. I mean you're a sinner and you're going to hell.

    But what does that solve? It creates safe theological boxes that I don't think you can support in the ministry of Jesus. Sure, Jesus was never shy about telling people they were wrong but he did it in such a different way.

    And that in this particular case let me reassure you that the girl's parents and the church have belabored the message that says "you're hair is on fire." She has heard nothing else for God's people. WTF?

    And to complicate things again. We are not talking about a scandalous girl who has illicit liaisons with other women in the park. We are talking about someone who has found LOVE, faithfulness, fidelity, loyalty, kindness. Just like you and your wife. It's not a perfect relationship but i suspect that neither is yours. So what are you calling a sin?

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  11. Eric, I'm confused about your opening sentence about being a sinner and going to hell. I thought we were talking about professing Christians. I have said repeatedly that Scripture tells us emphatically not to be judgmental of the sins of the ones who don't know Christ.

    But for those who do, other Christians are absolutely to say something to them. This is clear. I agree with you that several other topics are not clear in Scripture, but this one is.

    Proverbs 24:24-25
    "Whoever says to the guilty, 'you are innocent'—peoples will curse him and nations denounce him. But it will go well with those who convict the guilty, and rich blessing will come upon them."


    Ephesians 4:25
    "Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth, each one of you, with his neighbor, for we are members of one another."

    2 Timothy 3:16: "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work."

    Acts 11:22
    "they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch. Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith, and much people was added unto the Lord."

    Proverbs 12:15
    "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel."

    Colossians 3:16 NIV
    "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God."

    2 Timothy 4:2
    "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables."


    Ezekiel 3:18-19
    "When I [God} say to a wicked man, 'You will surely die,' and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will have saved yourself.

    I gotta be honest, Eric. In my daily life, I choose which of God's commands I will honor and which ones I ignore. I'm a bad example. But truth doesn't depend on the failures of someone who's saying it. And I'm not really saying it; just pointing to the One who said it first. Take it up with Him.

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  12. James, it was tongue and cheek, sorry to offend. I was just trying to say that we are all sinners. But we both know that so let's move on.

    I agree with you whole heartily that the ministry of the Gospel and his people exists to help, console, comfort, exhort, inspire and all those other things good things. We are to build each other up. We are to teach the father how to love his children. We are to teach the business man to love the homeless man etc...

    So why in this case are so many of us different? Why aren't we helping this girl foster love toward her lover. Helping them get through the tough times, always encouraging faithfulness with each other, loving them and championing the love that they've found? If they decide to have a kid help them raise that kid. Why aren't we standing with them when the world shakes it's head at them? Basically, why aren't we the Church to them as we would be to any other couple?

    I think we agree on this.

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  13. I wasn't offended. Sorry if I made it sound that way. My opening statement was one of confusion.

    I think we agree that over the past several decades, Christians have been disproportionate in their condemnation of gay sexual activity as opposed to other sins. I think we (the 21st-century church) are often guilty of swinging the pendulum too far the other direction by maintaining that same-sex romantic relationships are not sin and should be tolerated or encouraged among Christians. On that, I suspect we disagree. If someone is in sin, we are not to encourage it, but to help that person out of it.

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  14. I enjoyed this article and agree that the church puts far too much emphasis on this issue as opposed to poverty, homelessness, orphans, etc. The question is, how DO we engage those living in sin or those in need? I've had a startling realization over the last few days as I walk the streets of San Francisco where I live and work and encounter someone in poverty begging for change.

    My normal tendency is to say I'm sorry, I can't spare any change. But then I've started thinking about what Jesus would do. Thinking back to all the stories where he encounters a sinner, a beggar, a crippled person ... he ALWAYS tells them to DO something. Get up. Go home. Pick up your mat. Walk. Your sins are forgiven. I don't recall him ever giving anyone money. Or for those living in sin, he didn't lecture them. He simply spoke healing words and sent them on their way... the point is, he engaged them. He gave them PURPOSE. And they obeyed what he said and their lives were changed.

    Just a little external processing of some thoughts I've been having and I wanted to share them publicly. Why aren't we engaging those around us that are in sin, or in need? The bottom line is that we're afraid to let our hearts become involved.

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  15. I read somewhere in some old book in Ezekiel 22:30 that God calls us to stand in the Gap. I am personally touched by this issue so it has a deeper meaning now. I think with what was said above, we are not to hold non-christians to a christian's standards. However, Christ calls us to love our neighbor. To stand in the gap for them before God. We should do this. And if we are loving our neighbor, we are sharing the Gospel of repentance and forgiveness like we are sharing oxygen. This goes across the board for all people. Christians to Homosexuals etc. By this, by love, they will know we are His people. If we are planting seeds like he tells us, it is God that will convict the hearts of people, not us. I've made that mistake before. We are the harvester's, he's the Vitamin D. And when we've fulfilled our commitment to share his Gospel, we continue to stand in the Gap by prayer and love.

    Thank you for writing this. It was a good article.

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  16. Actually, Dina, Jesus chastised people about their sin quite often in Scripture.

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  17. Tara and Dina I appreciated your comments...thanks.

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  18. Thanks so much for this post.

    G-d made my mother left handed. She is inherently within her biological being attracted to used her left hand for things - it feels natural to her, whereas trying to use her right hand feels uncomfortable. She is left handed. And tries, as we all do, to be a better human on this earth in G-d's eyes.

    G-d made me a homosexual. A biological anomaly, no different than my mother who is left handed. I too, try to be the best human I can be.

    G-d loves us both.

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  19. For what it's worth, nobody here thinks God doesn't love you, or any homosexual.

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  20. Anonymous commenter, G-d made me a pasty-skinned redhead.

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