A few years ago a girl I knew remarked that she felt strange visiting her particular hairdresser because she was a lesbian. Knowing that this woman was attracted to women, not men, made her uncomfortable, and eventually she moved on to someone else. She meant no ill-will towards the hairstylist. She was a solid believer, valued God's word, and prayed fervently for lost people to come to Christ. But when it came to the homosexual hair stylist something just didn't sit right with her. I think her response is quite common for many of us within the conservative Christian community. While we all agree that God doesn't hate homosexuals, when it comes down to actually ministering to them we simply don't know what to do. Our response to those in the gay community tends to be similar to our reponse to the person in the throes of grief--in fear we either don't say anything or say way too much of the wrong thing. We don't intentionally treat homosexual people with contempt, but our fear of the unknown tends to overtake our desire to do good by them. I know I have seen it in my own life way too often.
I had the opportunity this week to listen to the panel discussion from T4G on gay marriage. It was basically a question and answer session with Mark Dever asking questions and Dr. Mohler answering. And true to his form Dr. Mohler was extremely helpful in addressing the reality of homosexuality in our churches and communities, while also providing a course of action for the church.
One of the things Mohler said that really stayed with me is that all of us, post-puberty, are broken in our sexual orientation. We live in a post-Genesis 3 world, and as a result we have all sinned sexually in some way. Our sin just manifests itself in different ways, from the guy who is enslaved to pornography to the girl who likes other girls. Sexual sin is sexual sin, and sin is the great equalizer. We are all equally fallen, but by God's abundant grace we all have a way of escape from the sin that entangles us. Homosexuality is not the worst sin a human being can commit. Rejection of God is (Mark 4:22-30). While Romans 1 reminds us of the heinousness of homosexuality, it also tells us that wrath, envy, slander, gossip, disobedience, impurity, and the like all fall under the condemnation of God. Every one of those sins is stemming from a heart that does not believe that God is good and worthy of our worship. We want to worship the creation, rather than the Creator. That idolatry manifests itself differently in our varying personalities and sin tendencies.
The problem with our arguments against homosexuality is that so often they are framed in the context of human behavior rather than concern for the souls of lost people. We think the behavior is gross and so we treat it as such. But what we have to remember is that the people we speak of are image bearers just like us. They are living, breathing human beings who are enslaved to sin and the worship of the god of this age. In Romans 1 the issue is that we worship the creation, rather than the Creator. This leads to a whole host of sins that condemn us. Yes, homosexual behavior needs to change. But so does slander, gossip, murder, jealousy, and even heterosexual immorality. It is all stemming from worshipping something other than God.
Our response to homosexuality must move away from the ideological and political, and move more towards dealing with the hearts of people. Within all of us is a God-shaped void that in our sinful state we will fill with everything but God, because left to ourselves we hate him. What people need is a bigger view of God and of his great love for us in sending us Jesus, who can take away any sin we struggle with--including homosexuality.
Jesus went to the sexually sinful, broken, despised, and rejected of his day, not because he wanted to endorse their behavior but because he wanted to show them that they were worshipping the wrong thing. But the point is that he went to them, regardless of how gross and strange his culture thought they were. And as Christians we have an answer to the guy or girl struggling with same-sex attraction, his name is Jesus. By God's grace, we must be a place where no person struggles in their sin alone, but finds an answer for their sinfulness and hope for change no matter what sin they struggle with.
For a more thorough assessment of this and for some practical instruction on how the church can help homosexuals, you can listen to Dr. Mohler's interview here.