For Such Were Some Of You -- How Are Christians to Treat Homosexuals?
The increasing acceptance in American society of homosexual behavior has resulted in two
disturbing trends, both based on lies. Lie #1 is the pervasive myth that there is nothing wrong
with homosexual behavior, that anyone who thinks of it as sin is ‘intolerant.’ Lie #2, ironically,
is many Christians’ intolerance of gays as human beings. The second is an extreme backlash at the
The second, while not as obvious to evangelical Christians, is ultimately more dangerous, because it fails to reflect God’s thoughts toward gays. It is certainly not in line with God’s demands of how a believer should treat fellow human beings, yet it often is done in the name of Jesus.
Yes, it’s sinFor the purposes of this study, let’s just get this out of the way: same-sex sex is sinful. We could go into all the verses, but there are plenty of books and sites defending this position, and concentrating on this one area would distract from the message that is central to this study. This study is aimed at Christians who already believe that homosexual behavior is at odds with biblical teaching. Of those, many are not reacting to homosexuals in a way that reflects God’s heart towards them.
Does God hate gays?A few years ago, I witnessed one of the most horrific sights I have ever seen. It happened while I watched TV coverage of the funeral of Matthew Shepherd. A group of professing Christians had traveled to Montana just to hold signs outside the funeral protesting the gay lifestyle. They taunted the victim’s parents as they came out of the memorial service. They yelled at the parents that their son is now in Hell. They held up signs that said “God hates fags.” Not only were they not representing the spirit of Christ, they were putting words in God’s mouth, a dangerous practice, to say the least.
Recently, I was relating this story to a Christian friend, and she cut me off before I could finish. She put her hand up toward me and said "Stop it. You're hurting my heart!" I would submit to you that hatred of gays hurts God's heart, as well. While most Christians don’t hold up signs with blatant messages, many do entertain hateful thoughts toward this group of people. This attitude is untenable and biblically unsupportable.
Why do so many Christians have such venom toward gays?The passage to which many Christians point is located in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11:
"Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God."Let’s examine this more closely. This passage makes no distinction of the degree that each of the listed behaviors is abhorrent to God. It lumps alcoholism with fornication, and homosexuality with covetousness. If God didn’t bother separating one sin out from that list, why do we?
Such were some of youOne possible reason that believers cull this one sin out of the list for special derision is that many of us, at least in 21st-Century America, can identify with most of the items on that list. We can understand how easy it is to fall into the sins of drunkenness or fornication, because we remember ourselves how it was when we were young. But most of us can’t say the same for homosexuality, so we make a distinction.
However, in this passage, God makes no such distinction. The listed sins seem to be all the same to Him. I believe this is what Paul means when he says “such were some of you.” He’s reminding the Christians in Corinth (as well as you and me) that we all have a past consisting of things displeasing to God. The fact that the Holy Spirit pulled some of us out of the mire means our role is to help others come out of similar (if not the same) sin, so that we all may enjoy a life-giving relationship with Jesus Christ. It goes without saying that being hateful toward any person does not help them come out of anything.
Practical applicationDo you have a co-worker or neighbor who is living with someone to whom they are not married? Are you friendly with them? Would you be as friendly if their live-in lover were of the same sex? This is really what it boils down to. Both types of sexual sin in this example are equally displeasing to God.
If it is commonly known at your workplace that you are a Christian, the fact that you are nicer to the straight co-worker who is living in sin than the gay one will be perceived by the gay person as typical of Christians, further driving them away from believers, and reducing the chance of their ever being receptive to the good news of the Gospel.
What does the bible say about how we are to treat gays?A better way to word this question is “What does the bible say about how we are to treat others?” The most important thing to remember is that we are all made in His image. An attitude of hatred toward anyone, believer or unbeliever, straight or homosexual, is inconsistent with the way we should treat any person that God has created.
Phillippians 2:3-5Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus
Paul spent much of the second chapter of Philippians explaining the importance of treating everyone with respect and dignity; even to the point of considering them more important than yourself. Is carrying a sign which says “God hates fags” in line with this passage?
WWJD?Paul punctuates his point by reminding us that this is how Jesus treated people during His time on earth. We’ve discussed Paul’s teachings about this, but what about Jesus? While there is no record of Jesus mentioning homosexuality specifically, we can see clearly in His teachings and actions as recorded in the Gospels that God’s heart is to draw all people to Himself.
John 3:16 is a very familiar verse, and in it, Jesus tells us that God loved the world full of sinners. So much that He was willing to pay a very high price to save those sinners. While this refers to God the Father, we see a parallel verse in 1 John 3:16 which says that the Cross was a demonstration of Jesus' love for us:
1 John 3:16"We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren."
Go and sin no moreAlthough Jesus is never quoted concerning the topic of homosexual behavior, we saw earlier in this study that in God’s eyes, sexual sin is sexual sin. Knowing this, we can look at what Jesus had to say to the adulteress in John 8 to get an idea of how He treated her. In verse 11, He said “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”
The modern church is referred to as the Body of Christ. Therefore, whatever He did, we are to do. We are to continue the ministry of Jesus while we wait for His return. Therefore, we are to treat people as He treated them. Time and time again, we are shown how He had compassion for sinners, while making it clear that He expected them to live holy lives. When we shun homosexuals in our workplace, are we showing them compassion? Are we demonstrating that God loves them just as much as He loves us?
Healing from hurtsOne final point to make is that many homosexuals have some serious hurts based on events in their past. When I say "many," I mean a much higher percentage than in the general population. These hurts have come as a result of events that happened to them, that they did not bring upon themselves. They need healing as much as any cancer patient, as much as any of the lame or blind people that Jesus took the time to heal. These are people who were created by God, in His image. How can we have any attitude toward them but compassion?
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