Christians and Drag Queens: Reflections from a Gay Pride Event

June 22, 2009 — 19 Comments

lancaster-pride

Christians vs. Homosexuals. Us vs. them.  This seems to be the attitude of many conservative Christians and the homosexual community.  In fact, 91% of young people outside the church (ages 16-29) believe that Christians are antihomosexual and 80% of churchgoers subscribe to the same perception.  Further, 87% of people who do not call themselves Christians identify the word “judgmental” with present-day Christianity.  Let’s start by admitting there is a problem here.

Before I share of my experience of attending a PRIDE event this past weekend, maybe we should get some background information.  I have grown up in an open, but conservative Christian home and have never experienced any sort of gay. lesbian, or bi (GLB) gathering.  Starbucks was giving out free coffee at the event, and since I work part time for them, I decided to go volunteer.  When I put this up on my twitter/fb status, I received all kinds of messages.  I had some in joking manners questioning my sexuality (I should add that I am straight), some praising me for being a “light on a hill”, and one who said, “Way to go Siggy! We all know ya love the women….besides who could look at a man’s hairy butt and…..???? well, you know….”.  The problem is, I do know.  I do know that I worked with someone at Starbucks who chose a homosexual lifestyle because his parents were so overly-religious it pushed him to rebel in that manner (still his choice, but the fact remains this was his driving force).  I do know that other homosexuals I’ve talked to and have found out that I am a Christian immediately believe that I think they are going to hell.  What??? When I first meet someone, the last thing I’m thinking about is whether or not they will be going to heaven or hell.  I want to know what they do for a living, what they enjoy doing, what makes them live and breathe, how their weekend was, etc.  It is unbelievable how many walls you have to break through when trying to have a simple conversation with someone about faith. Or how their day is going.

So I decided to head down to Lancaster PRIDE with a few girl friends from Starbucks and give away free Starbucks.  The event itself was like a small fair-type gathering (minus the animals and rides).  There were different vendors selling all sorts of products (I was actually given free men’s shaving cream and condoms), food, and any types of musicians performing.  Some of these musicians were from churches singing about love (“Seasons of Love” from Rent) and even speaking of the Lord, while some drag queens actually were lip syncing and dancing to popular pop songs, having the time of their life.

pride1

Ms. Pride (drag queen) performing

rethink church

“ReThink Church” Stand

So this was a group of people that I was not used to interacting with, which was very good for me.  When I see Jesus, I see him comfortable with the prostitute and with the religious leaders (although it would do us well to remember who made our Lord in the flesh upset).  The day was pretty straightforward.  I talked to people about anything, connected with other Starbucks employees from other stores, and ate some french fries.  Pretty uneventful outside of watching drag queens parade around a muddy park in high heels.  That was impressive.

Then, when I was leaving with the two girls I had carpooled with, we saw the protesters.  Ah yes.  My favorite.  I told the people I was with that I had to get pictures, but that I did not want to be rude about it.  Thankfully, they were gracious and chilled about the whole thing.  Before I even could pull out my camera, a 40 year old man with a shirt that read “JESUS SAVES” in large, bold letters stopped me.  His opening question to me was, “What did you think of your experience in there?”  I was taken back by the question, but responded with, “I was handing out free coffee.”  Before I could carry on, the man started asking me all kinds of questions.  I interrupted and said, “Hang on here man.  Let’s just start by saying that I am a follower of Christ.” He said, “Awesome! So you were evangelizing in there?” I responded, “Well, I didn’t talk to anybody about Jesus if that is what you mean?” After finding out I had attended a Christian college, he asked what my goal was for attending.  Finally we got to a good question.  However, I was having trouble focusing on the conversation because multiple people were yelling Scripture from a huge, King James Bible, spewing verses of judgment.  So, I responded to his question, “I have to be brutally honest here with you.  One of my reasons was just to see what the event was like and to connect with people.  Another reason was to talk with people who have a different sexual orientation than I have.” Mark, the “JESUS SAVES” guy, interrupted again and said, “Well do you think that homosexuality is a sin?”  I uncontrollably rolled my eyes and reluctantly responded that I thought that homosexuality was not God’s best plan for us, but that I thought the bigger issue was that over 50% of marriages in the church are failing and that I have sexual sin in my own life. He said, “Well, you aren’t sleeping around are you?” I said, “Well first off, that is none of your business (to which he apologized) and then I said no I was not, but the point was that I was not without sin, so I cannot cast the first stone.”  Conversation continued and I was trying to wrap up as my friends (who do not profess faith in Christ, although one is very, very interested in His way) were waiting across the street.  I told Mark, “I honestly believe that you are doing more damage here and putting up walls towards Christ than helping point people towards His Kingdom.” He did not buy it. “What if someone who is here overhears the truth being spoken, even if the guy delivering the message is old and decrepit looking (he acknowledged the strange looks of the man speaking…not me for the record).  You never know if someone could reflect on this and later understand the truth.” I said, “Really? How about just having a civil conversation with the people you are already in relation with.” He said, “We are being civil”. I said, “Yes, I appreciate you guys not getting violent, but you still are just putting up more and more walls for these people who are different from you to come to Christ.  I understand that you think you are showing love, but the important thing to realize here is the perceptions of your audience.  I think we would agree that the actual message and the presentation of that message are equally important, right?” He agreed and I said that I had to go.  He concluded with, “Well I really hope I challenged you and that you will think about what we talked about today.”  I’m not sure that one can end a conversation more ignorantly, but I walked away after taking a few pictures of people he called his friends.  I will add a final note as well that the group, “Silent Witness” who help control the violence if anything happens at these events, overheard the entire conversation and I could tell they were very appreciative of what I said to Mark.  If I was “witnessing” to anyone, it was those overhearing our conversation and showing that you do not have to be a self-righteous zealot to be a Christian.

judgment-on-you

Another man protesting that I did not get to talk to

judgment sign

A man walking home midway through the event with his ridiculous sign

Let me conclude with this.  There is a problem with how we as Christians are dealing with the homosexual community.  Let’s stop being scared and grossed out by this particular “sin” and recognize that anything not in God’s plan should make us disgusted.  But it doesn’t.  Let’s stop putting more weight on this sin than others.  Let’s put our signs down and show God’s love to a hurting world, no matter what their sexual orientation.

Jonathan Sigmon

Posts

19 responses to Christians and Drag Queens: Reflections from a Gay Pride Event

  1. Thanks for your article. We live in an interesting time of transition and the question of how to properly address sin while loving others has perhaps never been more prominent or difficult to answer. I appreciate any Christian who is willing to step away from the shouting masses and say “wait a minute! This isn’t right!” Jesus, indeed, spoke stern words to the Pharisees concerning their judgmental hearts, calling them “White Washed Tombs.” What a terrifying moniker to be given by the God of Creation.

    The important thing to remember is that Jesus both dealt with sin AND dispensed grace, and scripture teaches us to emulate that. There is a disconcerting push from some Christian circles to abstain from truth telling on the pretense of “who are we to judge?” I Challenge that notion on the basis of what I believe to be a crucial semantic conflict; Namely, there is a difference between “judging” and speaking truth. Jesus did befriend Mary Magdelene, the prostitute -but he also called her to leave her life of sin. Now, Jesus is Jesus and we are we, but the point remains the same. No one wants to hear that they are in sin, and certainly no one wants to hear that they are going to hell, however you interpret it. The fact remains that Biblical theology pivots on the choice everyone must make between two paths, and the consequence of each. In fact, when put that generally, you can apply the same basic dichotomy to almost any religion. Very seldom in the realm of religious or spiritual thought is there a desirable middle path.

    Concerning the issues surrounding homosexuality, I’d say the American Church is having a *major* identity crisis at the moment, and that philosophy derived from this semantic conundrum is the beating heart of that crisis. We want to love others. We want desperately to shake the yoke of stigmatism we Christians have born for millennia. We want to be accepted. We want to receive approval from our friends and coworkers and peers. If we’re honest, we’ll admit that we want to feel as though we somehow break the mould, that we are intellectually/culturally/spiritually superior to other believers who are stuck in their country church ways. Some people call this “hipsterism.” Historically, it’s been known as “narcissism.” I believe that the church worldwide is in an epoch of narcissism and that this is *not* solely the mark of the current generation. Perhaps it will be the last epoch, the one that ultimately precedes final judgment. Or perhaps “all of this has happened before, and all of it will happen again.” Either way, it means that Christian theology –which is always filtered through myriad lenses- increasingly reflects a human, image-centered ethos.

    Practically, this means that I have a very hard time understanding how to have a healthy relationship with my homosexual friends *primarily because* I don’t want to offend, don’t want to look bad, don’t want to be thrown helplessly onto the cultural burn pile. True –it does also reflect some uncertainty as to exactly what the scripture intends to say concerning homosexuality and all of the attendant issues. But why even revisit them in the first place? Because I am looking for a way out of saying things that make me look foolish, perhaps. Of course I want to love people, and I’m sure that many Christians who are on the fence are motivated by love at least as much as they are motivated by social self-preservation (if not much more). And that we should “love the Lord [our] God with all [our] heart, soul, mind, and strength” also goes without saying. But what, in either case, does that mean? If I am to love God, then I must obey Him and seek to conform to His image. If I am to love others, I am to do all that I can to bear His image to them. This means choosing to obey God as much as possible by the power of the Holy Spirit, who indwells and seals and empowers believers to do good works.

    Ours is the era of interventions, and we sometimes show others our love by refusing to allow them to carry on with destructive behaviors, right? Rarely do you hear of someone being crucified for not allowing their friend to leave the house to score coke. And yet your article clearly passes judgment on a group of “lesser’ believers who are obeying their conscience, and I think that is contradictory to the principles you are espousing.

    Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not equating homosexuals to addicts or the protests of certain people to interventions. I am not endorsing the activities of these protestors or their signs or their proof-texting de-contextualization of scripture.

    What I am suggesting is that there is a whole generation of believers who really think that they are taking the middle road, the Christ road, the road where they love without passing judgment –but they are not actually accomplishing love. And in contrast to this group is the one represented by your picketers –ones who think that they *must* “past judgment” *in order to* accomplish love. In your article I hear familiar strains which remind me of the first group. I am often a part of this group. We say things like “homosexuality is not God’s best plan for your life.” Why do we say it that way? Are we afraid to say what we believe? What other plan might God have if homosexuality is neither His best nor sinful?

    To pass judgment is to give sentence. To love others is to reflect God. To reflect God is to reflect Truth. Can we reflect truth without meting out a sentence? Yes. It’s easy, in fact, because the sentence has already been handed down for those who do not believe. Why would we usurp a job that’s already been done? It doesn’t make any sense. The issue is not whether a person has sinned and thus deserves judgment. If you are a Christian, you answer “yes” to that question. The issue concerns only the gospel, and whether one has believed it by grace through faith.

    On the other hand, can we reflect God without reflecting truth? If you are a Christian you must answer “no” to this question. God is truth, contains all truth, claims all truth. To speak of loving God while denying truth is false (to wrestle with truth is not the same as denying the truth) and to speak of reflecting God to others without reflecting truth is false.

    If I read you correctly, you are making a wise statement about the way in which we reflect God to others. It is important as humanity turns ever further from God that we maintain –as Paul demonstrated in his speech on Mars Hill- our ability to communicate wisely and clearly the message of Christ. Where I take issue with your mode of thought is with the hesitancy to deal truthfully with the scripture and with others. If I do not believe that there is anything wrong with homosexuality then there is no issue of conscience. But if I believe that homosexuality (whether choice or nature or whathaveyou) is sinful, then I am responsible to say so plainly when asked, and as a pastor/leader I must confront it the same way that I would confront any other sin. For some of us (for me, most definitely) this is social suicide. We will most definitely be mocked, hated, reviled. But being those things only takes us a few steps farther down the path of Christlikeness. And Jesus promised that he did not come to bring peace, but a sword. Some Christians in ages past actually got the sword, so I suppose being excoriated on someone’s blog or not being invited to a party isn’t so bad. The way we act sometimes, though, you’d think it was worse.

    Perhaps it’s best not to think of it as a middle path at all. Perhaps it is better perceived as a giant pendulum, this culture of ours. I’ve made this point elsewhere because I think it is important. Those folks with the signs, picketing Pride fest –they represent the pendulum swung one way. They misunderstand God and the scripture and, ultimately, their own design. Some have good intentions and truly believe they are saving others with their rhetoric.

    Believers who deny the truth for sake of saving face represent the pendulum swung the other way. They also misunderstand God and the scripture and their own design, but for different reasons and with different motives. Some have good intentions and truly believe they are saving others with their rhetoric.

    Christ(likeness) is the middle, the center, the place of balance. Jesus, knowing the Father and knowing the scripture understood humanity the best, and gave the best example of love by dealing with the truth of sin through an act of grace.

    To follow his example, therefore, means both confronting sin and dealing graciously with others. Since everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, I see know logical reason for why that man was picketing Pridefest. For him it’s the same as standing around with a sign that says “rain is wet!” He is a lifeguard throwing bricks to a drowning boy.

    But it’s just as senseless to believe that someone is drowning and do nothing at all.

    I don’t know if I have the right answer or even any good ones. I include myself among those who many times choose comfort over truthfulness. I don’t know that life is about coming to one single point where we figure it out, though, and so am resolved to keep looking to Christ as I go. I will fall and it will hurt, but when my day comes I will not regret having obeyed and I will not regret having really loved.

  2. Sig, great thoughts
    Dave, you definitely outlined some points that helped me understand things more clearly and Thank you for that. I am curious though, realizing that christ was christ, and his ability to have a balance of grace and then to also turn the person from sin, this is where it is a very constant struggle for me concerning the homosexual community. Is this to say really we should be having this same reaction to any non-believer we meet who is presently in some form of sin? I guess my thought here it would seem, is especially concerning homosexual community, is just first showing them love and getting to them as people before telling them are true feelings, wrong? I agree with you entirely about how we are toe emulate Christ, but it seems Christian perception today has driven any homosexual soo far from any relationship with a professing christian to the point that if we initially stated are true feelings they would immediately turn and walk away. I think the same could be said for really any sin, a nonbeliever who we are talking about Christ to can and would have much the same reaction unless we had a developed friendship and trust had been formed. This is where I certainly agree with Siggy on his disappointment in the protesters. They entirely write off each and everyone of these individuals with no real clue who they are or what their story is. Some of my thoughts though

  3. Good thoughts, and I agree with you. I don’t walk up to a fat Christian (I live in Lancaster, there are lots of us) and wave a picket sign in his face with some Levitical verse about gluttony and meat sacrifices. By extension, I don’t go to food festivals -the chosen cultural expression of the rotund Redeemed- and shout protest chants. Why would I begin a relationship that way? If that were the right method, then we would all have to be protesting each other all the time without ceasing. I’m pretty sure the Bible mentions doing something without ceasing, and it’s not protesting…

    No, ministry goes best in the context of relationship as you say, and good relationships don’t usually begin with protests. You’re right on. The thing we have to be careful of is not to be fake or become liars once we get “in too deep” just for the sake of preserving relationships or saving face. That was mostly my point.

    Keep the conversation going!

  4. Dave and Brandon – I appreciate both of your thoughts in dealing with this tough issue.

    The big questions I see arising is “How do we tell someone who is not living in ways that glorify God that they are not doing so and do it in a tactful manner?” as well as a statement from Dave saying that it is not love if you do not tell the truth.

    Let me start with a story. I have a homosexual, Christian friend who I used to be very close with a few years back. She ended up being kicked off of her college sports team because she admitted to the administration that she was a homosexual. She told me how she did not realize how many scars this had left for her and that she is very hesitant to go to any church or listen to Christians. “I still have a deep and real love for God and I still pray about and seek ways to be more of a follower everyday.” The beauty of our God is that he let’s all of us eat at his table. There is no Jew or Gentile, Gay or Straight, Atheist or Believer. He died and rose again for each one of us to be able to have a relationship with Him. A relationship with the Creator of the entire universe is a humbling thought for me.

    Now, this girl talked about how when she was at a Pride event recently, people yelled all sorts of things about how she was going to hell, spewing all sorts of judgmental words at her. After thanking me for this post and sharing of my experience, she said to me, “[The protesters] had no idea that I was a believer who had a deep and burning love for the same God. I wanted to tell them but figured they wouldn’t believe me.”

    Dang. My heart breaks in these situations that are happening all over. This is a huge lesson the homosexual community needs to be hearing LOUDLY from us: You can be a homosexual and enter into a relationship with God. We are all sinners in communion with a real, loving God. Of course, he wants us to be pure in every realm of our life, but one of my main points I want to get across is that we are all sexually broken beings in need of a Savior.

    As far as addressing the homosexual community, I think everyone reading this is going to agree that holding up a sign at an event is ignorant (although you are welcome to disagree). However, because the radically irrational Christians are the one’s shaping the perception of the homosexual community, how are we to respond as followers of Christ? We need to start by realizing that we don’t need to be telling anyone who is not a follower of Christ about their sin. They don’t care! And why should they? Second, we need to err on the side of love, to the point of ridiculousness. Most of my Christian friends find it very hard not to write off someone who is a homosexual or even to try and not make fun of them. As I responded to the guy on facebook who made the joke about how of course I would never “like guy’s hairy butt’s”, I told him to be careful and “I wouldn’t make fun of someone for anything they are doing wrong (i.e. ‘yeah so I heard you slept with your neighbors wife’).” It’s not funny. I tried address him in a firm yet gracious manner, but these are the kinds of things we need to change in our hearts and minds as believers. God is gracious. Let’s emulate that.

    I agree with the notion that if you lie to someone about what the truth is (or at least what you are perceiving as truth), you are not loving them, you are simply trying to dodge what needs to be said. However, first we need to wait for them to ask the question. We as Christians are always answering questions that people are not interested in our opinion. One point I got the impression Dave was trying to nail me down on was my use of the language of saying “homosexuality is probably not God’s best way for you” as opposed to “homosexuality is wrong and it is a sin.” This is the kind of ridiculous grace I am talking about. Simply saying the same thing the same old way puts you in the group with the religious zealots, whether you like it or not. How we say things is SOOO crucial. Communication is so much more than the actual words you are saying. It depends on the person’s subconscious at that moment, their past experiences in their own life, their assumptions about you, the response they are trying to come up with in their brain, etc. The levels that go into a conversation are limitless. We need to realize that the perceptions going on of what’s being said with our language is so crucial to trying to change this message that we do indeed love every person, regardless of what sin or holiness they have in their life.

    And yes Brandon, you are right on in saying that trust has to be formed. I can’t think of many situations I would be comfortable sharing my faith unless someone was choosing to listen to me and had the desire to learn what I had to say. This also assumes that we would be making God’s way look attractive to someone who does not subscribe to our faith practices, which is an area we could all work on.

    Can I just throw it out there that I hate the phrase, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” Woofta. Glad I got that off my chest. Any more thoughts from the gallery?? 🙂

  5. Hey, Jonathan. Dave really summed up a good amount of my own line of thought with this. I think this balance of love and offense is a great issue to explore.

    This post left me questioning where exactly you stand on the issue of homosexuality and what the biblical foundation is for that particular stance.

    I agree with Dave, if you find yourself staring down the barrel of a gun in the form of a dear friend asking you the hard questions you’ll need to deliver the truth in as loving way as possible; pending the variables as you’ve pointed out.

    Jesus is certainly not for peace at all costs. The fact that the gospel exists screams that God isn’t concerned with peace at all costs. That doesn’t mean we go beating everybody up with it (ahem, like some protesters). But I think you understand my point.

    Struggling with sin is one thing, it’s a whole other thing when someone embraces their sin. I’m not sure Mary embraced her prostitution as most homosexuals have embraced their homosexuality.

    Sin is here to destroy – there is no way around this. If one chooses to embrace their sin (whatever it may be) it will ultimately destroy and damn them. It shakes me just thinking about it.

    I understand there’s a balance when you have a relationship with your friend, but I’m curious as to if you’ve shared the biblical answers with her and how receptive she was to that? If you haven’t, when you do she may turn against you. But then again would you be surprised by this if she did? Are we not called to suffer for the sake of the gospel?

    I respect your struggle. It’s something every Christian can relate to. It’s easy to be hateful and it’s easy to give in to sin; however, it’s very hard to work through it and fight it out. Whatever we do, we should never compromise the truth laid out for us in God’s word.

  6. I agree with Justin, and so will not repeat what he has said well.

    Sigs, thanks again for being willing to dialogue with me on this. It is hard for Christians sometimes to truly have fellowship through disagreement, and this particular issue stirs a kettle of very strong emotion. I know that my responses are long, but I respond thoroughly out of respect for your thoughts and not because I like to hear[read] myself talk[write].

    I don’t know what your view of scripture is, exactly, although because you are a follower of Christ I assume that you reverence it in the same way that he himself did. I’ve tried to include it where possible in my response to you. All of that said, here are my responses to some specific things you said that resonated with me.

    “The beauty of our God is that he let’s all of us eat at his table. There is no Jew or Gentile, Gay or Straight, Atheist or Believer. He died and rose again for each one of us to be able to have a relationship with Him.”

    It is more than ironic that you reference the Pauline language “there is no Jew or Gentile,” which is taken from the his letter to the Romans, chapter 10:12-13

    ***”For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”***

    This language is repeated/reinterpreted in Colossians 3:11

    ***11Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.***

    If I read you correctly, you are using this language to support your belief that God “accepts” everyone including homosexuals into relationship with him through Christ. You go as far as to add your own words to Paul’s/God’s when you insert “gay or straight” into the phrase.

    From the standpoint of Biblical Theology, I have to hold you accountable for this –especially since I agree with your general sentiment. You are decontextualizing these passages and completely divorcing Paul’s language from his intent. In the Romans passage, Paul is discussing the nature of God’s people concerning covenants. Although the nature of Israel v. The Church is wildly debated and disagreed upon based on his words in this particular text (even Paul admits that these are “hard things” and ends his rhetoric with a doxology), I think most scholars would agree that Paul is not talking about both believers and unbelievers being “invited to the table” here. He is talking about God’s rejection of Israel, who have rejected Him, and the subsequent transfer of his blessing to the world:

    ***“ 11Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. 12But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring!” Rom 11:11-12***

    Paul essentially demonstrates that God has given a new covenant promise to the “gentile” world as a result of the rebellion of His chosen people, a covenant that both brings the blessing of salvation to all who believe and serves to draw a remnant of the Chosen People back to God in the end. Paul is not making the statement that you are making, which is that anyone can have relationship with God regardless of sin.

    In the second passage (from Colossians), Paul is talking specifically to those who have been “raised with Christ” and “put on new selves.” This refers to the redeemed in Christ (the Church) and thus begun the transformative process of conforming to his image. Again, he lists several groups of contrasting people and unites them under the banner of salvation and transformation in Christ, but he does so with an eye to cultural divisions and does not include “believers and nonbelievers, those who embrace sin and those who do not.” You add that (perhaps unknowingly) to the text so that it may become a proof of your overall sentiment, but it is not the author’s intent in any way.

    The irony of using Paul’s words to defend the inclusion of the unrepentant at God’s table can be found at the very beginning of the same letter to the Romans:

    ***“21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Rom. 1:21***

    And:
    ***“24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
    26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
    28Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.”***

    Hear me correctly, please: I am not saying that God does not wish to save homosexuals. I am not even necessarily disagreeing with your point that everyone can come to the table through Christ. Where I take issue with your statement is with its convoluting of scripture to make a point that it is not making. I take issue with the notion that we can sit at this metaphysical table regardless of our own repentance or lack thereof. I’ll say the same thing I said in my first post: Jesus loved the prostitute but also called for her to repent. He did not allow her to continue being a prostitute while waiting for her to ask him what he thought of it. He did not say “prostitution is not my best plan for your life.” He said “leave your life of sin.”

    You said:

    “This is a huge lesson the homosexual community needs to be hearing LOUDLY from us: You can be a homosexual and enter into a relationship with God. We are all sinners in communion with a real, loving God. Of course, he wants us to be pure in every realm of our life, but one of my main points I want to get across is that we are all sexually broken beings in need of a Savior.”

    Do we, who are redeemed, truly cease to sin once we become believers? Of course not. Until we have shuffled-off the mortal coil, we will continue to sin. But we are called to “be holy, as [God] is holy” and must wake each day with a heart of repentance and thanks. To enter into a relationship with God means confessing and repenting of sin, acknowledging our inability to save ourselves, and crying out for Christ. Can a person name the name of Christ and yet embrace sin? The water gets muddy here. Even David –a man described by God as being “after [God’s] own heart” embraced sin over a long period of time. In that time he rejected God’s commands, committed adultery, and murdered a longtime friend to cover it up. A man such as that would be locked up and sent to get a lethal injection these days. And yet God favored David and made him the very progenitor of the King of Kings. The difference is that David confessed his sin and turned from it to the Lord. Until that happened, David endured destruction and tragedy among his people, even losing his own son as a result of God’s judgment on his unrepentant heart. David did not embrace his sin and expect to continue on with God’s favor.

    Does this mean that the LGBT community is not welcomed at our church gatherings? Absolutely not. All are welcome to the table if by that we mean all are invited to hear Christ’s message of redemption. But it does mean that we must continue to practice and teach repentance for this and every other area of sin within the body. This applies as much to the LGBT community as it does to any other. We simply cannot allow each other to embrace sin while pretending to be conformed to the image of Christ.

    You said:

    “We need to start by realizing that we don’t need to be telling anyone who is not a follower of Christ about their sin. They don’t care! And why should they?”

    This is not a good argument against preaching repentance. The scripture is absolutely brimming with examples of men and women who were called to faithfully proclaim God’s judgment despite the fact that no one would listen. These prophets were ignored at best, but more often they were beaten, stoned, spat upon, crucified, and even sawed into pieces because of their message. Are the prophets of the Old Testament or the Disciples of the New Testament given as examples of the foolishness of preaching about sin to those who couldn’t care less? Absolutely not. The complete opposite is true; the stories of these men and women exemplify faith, obedience, and sacrificial love. To return to Paul and his letter to the Romans:

    “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race” Rom. 9:2-3

    Paul would himself willingly go to hell if it meant that Israel could be saved. What a stunning and, quite frankly, devastating indictment that is to those of us who, for fear of being socially rejected or of pushing people away, refuse to speak frankly about sin, repentance, and the message of the Cross.

    You said:

    “Second, we need to err on the side of love, to the point of ridiculousness. Most of my Christian friends find it very hard not to write off someone who is a homosexual or even to try and not make fun of them.”

    I think you are creating a false dichotomy here based on anecdotes. Maybe I am misunderstanding you, but it seems that you are giving two options; 1) I “love” my LGBT friends by never engaging in spiritual dialogue with them concerning sin, repentance, and the gospel unless they ask for my opinion or 2) I mock, judge, and hate them. I really think that there is a third option where I, recognizing my own sinfulness and brokenness, enter into relationship with others based on honesty and truthfulness in every area. If you and I are friends and I notice you stealing or fooling around or whatever, I would be loving you if I help you stop, repent, and turn to God. I would not be loving you if I allowed you to continue stealing until you got caught, went to jail, and saw your whole life fall to pieces.

    Again, all of this hinges upon whether you believe that homosexuality is sin (or “not God’s best plan” :0) If you don’t see any biblical evidence against it, then everything I’ve said is probably meaningless to you.

    If I am to err ridiculously on the side of love, as you say, what am I risking? If I follow your thinking correctly, the other option is to err on the side of pedantic truth-telling. So if, in the end, I am wrong in my approach and I have erred on the side of “love,” I risk seeing people I “love” spend a Godless eternity of despair. If I am wrong in my approach and I have erred on the side of honest transparency, I risk my own reputation in this life. Which loss is greater?
    You said:

    “Simply saying the same thing the same old way puts you in the group with the religious zealots,”

    Contextually, you seem to be referring to me directly in that statement. It is ironic that most people who would reject the marginalization of one culture are so quick to pigeonhole others. You began the original post with a discussion of the “us v. them” mentality, and yet you repeatedly connote that anyone who believes differently is a part of some undesirable group of sign-waving Pharisees, ignorant and culturally helpless.

    Do you perceive zeal as a negative trait? Does being zealous for the Kingdom of Christ mean that I am a failure as a believer, or that I am unloving, or that I have somehow missed the message?

    Does telling someone to leave a life of sin make me a zealot?

    If so, would you say Jesus was a zealot when he told others to leave their lives of sin?

    If so, would you say Jesus was missing his own point?

    Again, hear me correctly: I love my friends in the LGBT community. I have been very honest with them about my own struggles as a believer and my struggle to get a grasp on this issue. I have been honest about my uncertainty as to how this all should look. I have been honest about my interpretation of Jesus’s message as it is written in scripture. Yes, my position makes it nearly impossible for the deepest kind of connection to be made in some cases, because being gay is more than just a daily choice to be gay and more than a “lifestyle.” However it works, my gay friends identify themselves completely with their sexuality and to tell them that the scripture rejects that as sin is hard. Christians who don’t know better believe that they could tell a gay man that he is in sin and he could just suddenly have this epiphany and become straight. I don’t think it works that way at all.
    Have I been rejected by my gay friends because of my belief? Not really. I’m sure if it came right down to it we would have conflict, but I feel acceptance from those circles of people most of the time.

    Going back to your original post, I say again that picketers are just confused (but passionate) people who, for whatever reason, completely lack cultural sensitivity and have missed the part in Christ’s message about love, grace, and forgiveness. That is a broad generalization, but I’d guess it’s true.

    But the same thing can be said for the generation of young Christians (self included) who are struggling to teach the whole gospel message out of fear that they will be rejected or scare people away. Cultural sensitivity is great. The Gospel is unbelievably wonderful. The scripture teaches us to focus on the latter through the lens of the former, but it does not give us permission to redact the undesirable bits, like some of the so-called “Christian forefathers” of our nation did (that’s a whole other topic) or like some very prominent church leaders are doing today (see Osteen, McClaren, et al). The moment we remove the message of “repent for the Kingdom is at hand” and make the gospel about prosperity or liberty or inclusivism, we become disobedient and we bring judgment upon ourselves.

    The picket-sign method is terrible. The dishonest, sugarcoated message is worse. Let us repent for being whitewashed tombs and for building them for others. Let us repent of our generational narcissism. Let us repent of our faddish, PC evisceration of the Gospel narrative and let us speak always the truth in love.

  7. Thanks for joining the conversation Justin and Dave – I appreciate your thoughts and agree that it is very difficult to disagree and dialogue in the body of Christ. The part that I like is that at the end of the day, we are both trying to get at the heart of what Jesus and the Bible are telling us is the best way for us and others to live. You both bring up great points of challenge to me and I respect that. Probably the issue we should be focusing on is helping those in need, since it is much more important, but I will not digress down that path and stay focused. Thanks again guys (and thanks for everyone reading and desiring to learn more – feel free to jump in, educated or not – “all are welcome at Siggy’s table” haha!).

    Let me start by saying that some of my ambiguity in this whole conversation is intentional. I know this gets rough when we are trying to nail down people’s stances on issues, but it stems from my philosophy and perception that the homosexual community already knows that we think what they are doing is wrong. So yes, when someone asks me my opinion on whether or not homosexuality is a “sin” I would still respond with “It is not God’s best plan for your life just like me lusting after my neighbor is not either” therefore putting myself on the same level as them. However, if I am asked me to be more blunt and directly answer, I would say that “yes it is a sin.”

    So why wouldn’t I just go there to begin with? Am I not just dodging the question and therefore not loving them because I am not telling the “whole truth”? If someone asked me, “Is murder a sin?” I would respond with a resounding “Yes!” Wouldn’t it seem that I am then negating my own thought of not putting more emphasis on one area that displeases God than another?

    Yes it would. My reason for this is not because of the Scriptures, but because of the monster we have created in pushing the entire homosexual community away from the body of Christ. I go back to the story of my girl friend who is sitting there watching these people un-tactfully tell her of her sin. What about her story and her experiences? What about each and every one of these people’s stories and experiences? Even if we aren’t holding up protesting signs, how are we pushing people away with our language that could otherwise be avoided?

    Maybe it is irrelevant because the Gospel is indeed offensive. I agree that it is offensive to say that there is only one way to God (through profession of a belief in Christ), but I also think that we can do everything we can to not be offensive in HOW we say it. With the social extremes people of the Christian faith and the homosexual community have created (by which I would say both sides are guilty), I want to engage the conversation and say that they are welcomed into the Kingdom of God while still having sin in their lives.

    I love stories, so I have to go to another one. My freshman year of college, I ended up choosing to live with someone who had many of the same interests as me (i.e. sports) and who told me at the college preview weekend that his reason for choosing Geneva College (Christian school in Pittsburgh area) was that he wanted to find out more about God. I prayed like crazy for him that he would come to know the love of Christ. After talking through almost every night my first week of school (great way to start off academia…), he prayed to our Creator to save him from his sin. I was stoked! Then, three of us grew together throughout the year in finding out more about God (i.e. two of us were discipling him). Right when he became a follower of Christ, he was still sleeping with his girlfriend every weekend (the same girl who herself would end up coming to know Christ, as well as her whole family…ridiculous story…). Through this all, my other friend and I who were trying to teach him Christ’s way had a decision to make. Do we tell him right away that he should stop having sexual relations with his girlfriend or do we wait a bit and make sure he is fully certain he wants to head down this path? We prayed and decided to wait. He ended up coming to us and asking us about it a few weeks later after hearing something indirectly in his classes. Once he learned that, he was convicted and after a long process of trying to explain to his girlfriend (who was not a Christian at this point) that he did not want to have sex anymore, they stopped. But the point is that it was a long and messy process. Did my friend have to repent from all his sin before accepting Christ into his life? Of course not, none of us do that. Did he need to start turning from his old ways as he grew in the knowledge of God over time? Yes. And he has. He is now a loving husband and serving God in all sorts of ways in North Carolina.

    My impression of Scriptures and Jesus’ message is that he is inviting everyone to this metaphorical table. Maybe I should throw it in there that I think that Jesus died for every sinner (although I do not want to get into a Reformed pissing match at all – that debate is for elsewhere). When I was referencing Romans 10:12-13 indirectly with my language and said, “The beauty of our God is that he let’s all of us eat at his table. There is no Jew or Gentile, Gay or Straight, Atheist or Believer. He died and rose again for each one of us to be able to have a relationship with Him.” Do I mean that everyone ends up going to Heaven regardless of what they believe? Not at all. I believe that salvation is through faith in Jesus of Nazareth alone. However, I also do not think that Jesus segments his creations here on earth into categories of our sins like we always do (nor do I think we have the right to announce who is in and who is out). Understand I say that with the clear understanding of the salvation message of the Bible (to which I believe is divinely inspired).

    As far as your challenge to me saying that I am quick to identify with the people who are showing what I would perceive as grace and write off the protesters is valid. As I was writing the post I knew I was doing that, but did not know how to get around it. I believe that their hearts are in the right place, but that their actual message is being heard differently than what would be considered gracious in our culture. I also wanted to be firm in letting people know that you don’t have to do that to be a Christian (half the readers of this blog are Christians, half are not, which also changes things…).

    You are correct that we cannot sugarcoat the message of hope that lies in Christ. I would also agree that the false gospel of prosperity or inclusivism is wrong (although I would not throw the word liberty in there because I think there is an unbelievable freedom in Christ personally). My point and challenge remains that we can say that we disagree with what someone is doing in a much more gracious manner than jumping right to “calling it sin in their life”. This immediately puts up walls in their hearts. I know, it is what it is, but the semantics of how we say things in a rough climate on this issue would be good for us to focus on.

    I was talking to my pastor at how thankful I was that we had created a culture at our church where we could have a very small community and have multiple people who were professing homosexuals (coming with their partners) and feel comfortable. Is it about creating places of comfort in our churches and not challenge? I would say that it is both. The “condemnation” can come from God to all of us, but I’m focused on just hearing the person’s story and growing closer to God WITH the person. I never like it when we get the attitude that Christians have everything right (the complete and whole truth) and someone who is “living in sin” cannot speak truth into our lives. We can learn from all of God’s creature as we are all made in His image.

    Man – there is so much meat in your argument Dave I don’t have time to address it all. It’s good! I’m out to work. Stupid bills. 🙂

  8. Dave brings up an excellent point in unpacking the verses in Romans and Colossians for us from a theological standpoint. It’s of utmost importance to not embrace a message that those embracing sin have a place in God’s kingdom – it contradicts the gospel.

    This is a hard issue as Paul says. Obviously there are heart-strings involved, dear friends, possibly family and other loved ones. I have a family member that is homosexual. I understand what it means to be staring down the possibility of being asked the hard questions.

    If Mary had not left her life of sin when Jesus asked her to do you think they would have become such close friends or that their story would have been recorded in the Bible? Jesus loved her enough to be honest with her. He didn’t shift his way around their relationship and look for an open spot of opportunity to make her sin known to her. He simply said for her to leave it behind up front. This is a love story.

    And if Mary had spit on Jesus when he rebuked her would he have been surprised? Would he have wished he had said it some other way or waited for the right time?

    Jesus’ actions with Mary tell a very different story than what we would deem culturally acceptable today. We live in a culture of individualism even among Christians. We’re careful not to judge others, that sort of thing. It’s not loving, it’s negligent and it works against us.

  9. Hello all.

    I am going to refrain from commenting on all the points here but I did want to hit one. I’ll use Justin’s quote as an example but I think Dave touched on it a little too:

    “It’s of utmost importance to not embrace a message that those embracing sin have a place in God’s kingdom – it contradicts the gospel.”

    Justin, this would mean that almost NONE of us have a place in God’s kingdom, Jesus or no Jesus. Based on Jesus’ teaching (my standard), let alone the rest of the Bible, the way almost every member of the church in the United States uses its money is a sin. Not all the time but in some way. A sin embraced and therefore a lifestyle of sin. Will some of us admit to this? Yes and some will not. Some will even change their ways a little or temporarily, very few will drastically seek and enact righteousness in this area, and most just will refuse.

    What consequence does this bring? In theory it should be the same. Assuming you were correct. There are many more examples if this one doesn’t quite do it for you.

    Great discussion folks.

  10. Hey, Chris. I understand, but that’s not exactly what I meant. I’ll be more clear. Nice to see you on here.

    “For God so loved the world …” (John 3:16) The word world here includes everyone because we are all born with imputed sin. But even though Jesus died for the sins of the world not all will inherit the kingdom of God. The dividing issue here is one of repentance.

    Paul explicitly states in 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11 that those who are “unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God”. He then goes on to describe the unrighteous which includes homosexuality. And that was not the first time Paul condemned homosexuality in his letters either.

    To love God is to hate sin. What makes us righteous is God, but he will not accept an unrepentant heart. People embracing a life of sin are contradicting repentance and therefore cannot inherit the kingdom of God.

    Repentance is not saying you’re sorry and then continuing to embrace your sin. If that were the case Mary could have continued to be a prostitute, but instead we see that she obeyed Jesus when he asked her to leave it behind. If there was no reason for her to leave it behind he would have never asked.

    She stopped being a prostitute. She repented. This washed her, sanctified her and made her righteous before God.

    As Christians we should represent the Word of God for better or for worse. We hope that it’s mostly better and seldom worse. We strive for better and that’s where I admire Jonathan’s struggle. But I am suggesting we be careful in saying all sinners have a seat at God’s table. Since we’re speaking metaphorically, sinners definitely have a seat at our table (we should not treat them differently) but God’s table is reserved for the righteous. In our effort to create a message that’s inviting we should be careful not to create a message that’s false lest we inadvertently lie to those we’re called to love.

  11. well said, and I agree.

    Repentence is at the heart of the gospel message, not love. God loves the world, and so has given a means of redemption through Christ. All we must do is repent and receive that redemption in the context of a relationship with God through Christ, the High Priest. The good news is not that God loves us! For as Paul says, God’s invisible qualities have been present and clear for all to see from the beginning so that no one is without excuse. If the gospel were simply the message “hey, God loves you” then it wouldn’t exaclty have been much of a revelation. No, the good news is that, because God loves us, we are able to repent and receive entrance to His kingdom. God’s love for us does not open the door, the act of repententing and accepting the gospel message does. You cannot accept the gospel without repentence, for this type of faith is called dead.

    There are many reasons for why people try to make Jesus about peace, love, and inclusivism. It’s much nicer to think that everyone is ok, that all we have to do is at one time or another be what we believe is decent or “good,” and the deal is sealed.

    The reality is that Jesus himself was murdered in a most heinous way for his message, and so one can hardly expect to be well liked while being faithful to him. Yet we are called to do just that.

    What I am NOT saying is that you cannot be gay and Christian. What I am saying is that we must repent of our sin daily and seek God’s righteousness for our life.

    I feel like the semantic issue of “embracing sin” is where we are missing each other, Chris. There is a difference, in my mind, between embracing the fact that we are all sinners in need of saving and embracing/lauding a particular area of sin in our lives.

    The original intent of my responses to Siggy was to say that sin must be dealt with honestly. This does not preclude loving people, it (in part, at least) defines it. Too much of today’s Christian culture centers on a diluted social gospel that centers around being “loving” and accepting and service-oriented. These are all good things in their context, but for me this is one of the big problems of anabaptist theology. Christian culture should center instead on the gospel, on repentence and the pursuit of Christlikeness. I don’t mean to make enemies with that statement, I’m just stating my observation. I would be happy to be proven wrong.

    The message of the scripture is essentially twofold, and is summed up best in the great commandment: love God with your whole being, and love others as you love yourself. But to love God requires repentence, which requires an honest evaluation of our own sinful helplessness. Therefore, if we are to love others as we love ourselves, we must also not hesitate to be honest at the appropriate time and in appropriate ways. In so doing, we enable others to make the choice to repent and also love God, and so on ad infinitum.
    I agree that a picket sign is not an appropriate method, and Pridefest is probably not the right time. We are 100% in accord on that one.

  12. I invite everyone who is chatting here to a Sunday evening conversation at our spot (IMG) for some good ‘ole theological back and forth. You can state your positions and others can state their own. You can argue your positions, in charitable fashion, and others will argue theirs in the same fashion.

    I for one would love to unpack all of this and debate more than a few important points in a public setting.

    Justin, Dave? Care to represent your ideas in a public forum/debate?

  13. Justin – Yeah, this is good stuff. I see what you are saying about repentence being the key to sitting at God’s table, as we are calling it, or inheriting God’s Kingdom. My point was, and is, that based on your definition of that key, and of what I perceive your defintions of sin to be, none of us would be there.

    Here are three scenarios all of which I suggest each of us have a hand in that all end the same, with no seat at the table:
    1. Sin is NOT recognized as sin by the actor, no repentence is made, and so it goes unchanged.
    2. Sin IS recognized as sin by the actor, repentence is made, and STILL it goes unchanged.
    3. Sin IS recognized as sin by the actor, repencetence is NOT made, and so it goes unchanged.

    At this point we need to decide what inherit the Kingdom of God means. Do you think in this example and yours that it would mean that all those who have not changed 1) do not go to heaven / go to hell, 2) do not get to participate in the enacting of God’s Kingdom on Earth, or both?

    Do you agree that based on the standard you are holding to that this lack of inheritance is what all of us get? Wrapping up this point is kind of essential to move this thing forward in discussion.

  14. Dave – I appreciate your generosity in tone and taking time to clear up your view and any misunderstanding. Hopefully I will get to more of what you say with the same care. For now there is this:

    “I feel like the semantic issue of ’embracing sin’ is where we are missing each other, Chris. There is a difference, in my mind, between embracing the fact that we are all sinners in need of saving and embracing/lauding a particular area of sin in our lives.”

    I agree with this. I suppose applying this to what we are talking about depends on one’s definition of sin / right and wrong, but for now we’ll run with homosexuality as sin for a “Christian”. As a follower of Jesus we expect one to do what the title says, follow Jesus. Following Jesus would mean not only having, the best of our knowledge, the same regard for God and His teachings as reflected in scripture, but also (most obviously) following the teachings and example of Jesus Himself.

    Right? Right.

    So what are we to make of the Christian soldier? We can say what you have about Jesus not always being about making figurative peace among people because His teachings are/were controversial as they shake the foundations of our worldviews. But His version of the Kingdom of God was/is not achieved through violence EVER and in fact He is explicit about returning good for evil. And no the examples aren’t only for one on one disputes, Jesus kept his Zealot-minded(that is a group of violent against-Rome-activists in Jesus’ time that DOES have a negative connatation for the Kingdom) disciples from pursueing their own vision of the Kingdom. Even as the Jewish people were being often unjustly ruled by Romans Jesus suggested they should serve even more than they were required to, never to rise up in violence against them. He had the change to do that and the power. He did not use it.

    So to be blunt, day in and day out Christians commit themselves to the proclaimed cause of the USA while in uniform while simultaneously, at least in theory, rejecting a major tenent of Jesus’ way and teaching. They do it figuratively, with premeditation, and sometimes with brutal deadly force. Is this commitment to something like the good idea of this country (USA) admirable? Absolutely, but it is not Jesus following in the way I understand it. At the same time I understand it and honor their sense of commitment and duty.

    Here’s the question: Are these Christian soldiers at the table since they embrace and, often, celebrate their sin of violence and the inspiring nationalistic idolatry?

    Put another way: Is the taking of life not at least as much of a sin if being romantically involved with someone of the same sex is (based on the definitions we are working with)?

    These are tough and uncomfortable questions.

  15. Chris, yeah I understand. My definition of sin is that we are all born with imputed sin (Gen. 3). And that the only way to the Father is by Jesus Christ (John 14). But what does that mean and what does God require of us? One example is the case with Mary. He tells her to come away from her life of sin in order to that she may be sanctified, washed and made righteous before God. This sanctification is something all Christians battle. It’s a war of the flesh and Spirit that we must battle daily. The Bible promises there is no temptation we will not be able to endure (1 Corinthians 10).

    Here’s my thoughts on the 3 scenarios:

    1. Sin is NOT recognized as sin by the actor, no repentence is made, and so it goes unchanged.

    This is a sin of omission where we sin but do not know we are sinning. I often pray for forgiveness over the things which I do not know I am committing before the Lord. I do believe God forgives my imperfectness.

    2. Sin IS recognized as sin by the actor, repentance is made, and STILL it goes unchanged.

    This is a sin of commission, and also what typically we would all deal with. An example is a pornography problem where one knows that it’s sin but they fail to heed the temptation and fall into sin only to repeat the cycle of repent and repeat. The community around this person would judge them by their fruits. I think this is a complex issue and not one we can draw lines on – it could be as unique as the situation itself. I could see this type of person overcoming this sin, I could also see where church discipline is enacted. I’ve actually witnessed it going both ways. I think there’s a whole other discussion here too, haha.

    3. Sin IS recognized as sin by the actor, repentance is NOT made, and so it goes unchanged.

    This is also a sin of commission; however, the actor is obviously ignorant to what Jesus asks of them, literally refusing to change anything about their lives, and therefore will not inherit the kingdom of God.

    The definition of inheriting the kingdom of God is seen all through the NT but illustrated in 1 Corinthians 6 too. Paul is actually praising the church there for coming away from their sinful natures. He describes the unrighteous (or wrongdoers, includes homosexuality) and tells them that they used to be that way, but that now they are washed, sanctified and therefore justified as righteous before God. Clearly there is a need to contend for this, to battle our flesh or Paul would have no need to write rebukes to these churches just as Jesus would have had no need to condemn Mary’s prostitution.

    So why did Jesus condemn Mary’s prostitution and why does Paul condemn all sorts of things specifically within the churches? Why did they condemn the sin in these Christians’ lives if the Christians were already believers? Because we must repent in order to receive righteousness and not only that but change our minds about our sin – come away from our former lives of sin. To repent is to recognize God. It is an essential part of confessing Jesus as Lord of our lives. When we do this we enter into a battle of the flesh and Spirit; instead of going with it we now fight it.

    “Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” (Luke 17)

    Inheriting the kingdom of God means to be righteous. And to be righteous means to repent continually in the battle against our flesh. It’s a new mindset. Luke 17 alone shows an ongoing need for repentance in our lives. The buck doesn’t stop simply believing in God or loving the idea of Jesus. We must continue to repent and fight the battle of flesh and Spirit.

    Sin is sin. There are no differences. Homosexuality gets the same attention as a pathological liar. I don’t see the case for homosexuality any different than I see the case for murder or lying. It’s all a sin according to Scripture. And sin is no different if you’re not a professing Christian. Christianity is not a club where you’re able to merely believe in God and be sanctified. One does not love Jesus and love sin. To love Jesus is to hate sin. We must hate sin and in that repent.

  16. Everyone – Great stuff! This kind of dialogue is refreshing to read, so thanks for taking the time to engage.

    @Dave – I thought that your observation that this is coming down to a semantic difference in how we are viewing the Greatest Commandment (“Love God and Love Others”) was wise and pointed out where we are differing. I want to clear up what the debate is at this point since we have covered a lot. I think that Dave and Justin are saying that we must be very clear in telling people that they must repent and I was being more “accepting” and not telling them to repent right away, but instead just saying that God loves them and leaving it there (to start). I could be wrong, but assuming my observations are correct, I think this is a valid difference. I do believe that repentance has to be preached as well, but again I come back to recognizing the social climate of America and the divisiveness that is perceived between Christians and homosexuals. So do we need to tell people about their sin once they have committed their lives to Christ? Yes. Do we need to announce their sin to them without them knowing the other side that God really, truly loves them as they are? Yes. I am making the assumption as well that we would communicate with someone who is not a follower of Christ differently than we would someone who has just become a Christian, than we would someone who has been following wholeheartedly for many years. I definitely do.

    Another question for all is if homosexuality is worse than other sins (or worse than other sexual sins)? If not, would someone who would looked at pornography once a month (i.e. continuing in their “sexual sin”) be able to enter the Kingdom of God? What if you continued to struggle with lust for the rest of your life? What is God’s level of righteousness in order to enter His Kingdom?

    I like Justin’s answer that he just posted as I was typing this: “Inheriting the kingdom of God means to be righteous. And to be righteous means to repent continually in the battle against our flesh. It’s a new mindset…Sin is sin. There are no differences…Christianity is not a club where you’re able to merely believe in God and be sanctified. One does not love Jesus and love sin. To love Jesus is to hate sin. We must hate sin and in that repent.”

    My answer would be that it is at no level of how many or how severe your sins are, but instead completely based on where your heart is. We will all die as people who are not completely sanctified and therefore continuing to live in our sin. So, when the crowd comes to stone the woman who has just committed adultery and they have pride and hate in their hearts, Jesus says, “Let any of you who is without sin throw the first stone” (John 8:7). Culturally speaking (or maybe Biblically speaking), homosexuality and adultery would be on the same “level” in our “tiering of sins”. I would say that the level of sin is irrelevant. We see example of this in the sinful man hanging on a cross next to Jesus and believes in Christ at the last second and enters the Kingdom. Those kinds of stories of grace are the things I want to advocate to the homosexual community. In the case of communicating with the homosexual community, we should stop throwing our stones and let the overwhelming love of Christ let them be drawn to Him. Then as they actually see the love of Jesus coming through us, their hearts will desire to be changed and repentance will occur. I suppose what I am advocating is to preach repentance later rather than at the front end of the conversation, with full knowledge and belief that entering into God’s Kingdom and accepting Him is an act of repentance. I hope this makes sense.

    I don’t want to get too deep into it, but I think a helpful question would be to ask the question of what the definition of what Scriptures is referring to with the talk of the “unrighteous not entering the Kingdom” (such as in 1 Cor 6). It is confusing to me because I feel that everyone here obviously has repented from their sin and is trying to follow Christ, yet we are all still living in sin. Drawing these lines of the Kingdom is hard for me even after reading much of Scriptures talk on it.

    Chris – I liked your thoughts as always. As I have told you in person, your faith has been one of the most challenging one’s I’ve ever had to wrestle with and you do it without ever even saying anything to me. Your life of love is inspiring. With that said, I appreciated your questions and scenarios you gave to Justin and the rest of us. I would say that all of us who have accepted Christ as truth, and even those who do not profess Christ as their savior but simply reflect Kingdom values as creatures made in God’s image, can bring forth the Kingdom.

    Also Chris, I would agree with your tension with the scenario of the military (extreme nationalism and violence). I would also advocate for never taking the life of another, but also would challenge you that showing ways we are continually living in sin (i.e. finances of our church, nationalism) and not recognizing it just points to sin in our own lives that we don’t see and doesn’t mean we are ’embracing sin’ as Dave is saying (this would fall into your scenario #1). I think it is safe to say that we all have pride, lust, and other sins like you are pointing out that we have in our hearts that will be there for our whole lives (some recognized and some not as you pointed out). So, I would say that your argument of the American soldier or how we use our finances are right on (and a message we should all start spreading), but it is different than this “embracing of sin”. However, once we are aware of these things (and maybe this is your argument, Chris), what do we do? Do we throw away Jesus’ emulation of non-violence to kill Muslim extremists? Most Christians would embrace the death penalty as well. Will these Christians enter the Kingdom of God? I would say advocating for killing someone (guilty or not) over two men who love each other would be a worse thing. But then again, any sin separates us from God. We all need a Savior and a rescue and it comes through Jesus.

    Does anyone have a definition of the Kingdom of God being different than pursuing righteousness?

  17. People who overthink the simplicity of the gospel can be more dangerous to the church and to society than homosexuals who want to be followers of Christ while battling their desire to give into their homosexual attraction.

  18. Dr. Rogers (Westminster Presbyterian Church) preached a little bit on this subject this past Sunday. The sermon was in large part about prayer; it’s called Devote Yourself To Prayer. You can download it here: http://www.westpcamedia.com/audio/rogers/2009/DevoteYourselftoPrayer.mp3

    At the end of the sermon he touches down on how we should relate to those outside of Christ. I particularly liked it when he said this:

    “Approach people with the understanding that we need to learn their needs. We need to listen to them. We need to authentically care for them. And maybe unselfishly serve them even for a good period of time before we will have their authentic trust and open ears to our witness. Witness has to be won in a sense. It’s an opportunity and you earn it with outsiders.”

    He also admonishes Christians that disrespectfully state the terms of their relationship with an outsider up front. He encouraged answering outsiders with gentleness and respect in accounting for the faith we have in Jesus.

    Thought that was a timely tidbit for the discussion here.

  19. Hey man, great article. I didn’t know you had this site, I will be sure to keep checking in on information you write down here. I loved your point behind this article and I agree that those listening to your conversation were the ones being “witnessed” to. I appreciate your boldness and ability to express yourself on the spot like that. I’m out.

Leave a Reply

Text formatting is available via select HTML. <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

*