January 12 2011
106

I was nearing seven when I realized my great-uncle wasn’t married.

My grandfather’s much-younger brother, he was in his late forties and had never had a wife, no children.

But he had friends.

And sometime around 10 or 11 years old, the puzzle pieces formed a picture for this rather sheltered girl and I realized my uncle was gay.

I’m sure my parents mentioned it at some point, and I’m certain my inquisitive mind thought up a few questions. But I don’t remember a specific conversation. I don’t remember being told he was evil, to shun him.

I remember holidays and funerals and occasional visits. And I remember phone chats and birthday cards filled with pocket money. I remember the night my grandfather died and how this younger brother wept.



Years sped away on a cold wind and I spun in circles at its bidding. Voices spoke and I listened intently. Some gentle, some loud and forceful.

But when it came to homosexuals, they were nearly always laced with the same thread of poison.

Eyebrows raised, lips pursed, they spoke it.

Abomination. Hate. Excommunicate. Despise.

I nodded and took notes. I wanted to agree. Wanted to please.

But somewhere in the close corners of my mind…

I would think of my uncle.

***

He was a friend. So was she.

When the grapevine grew and I heard she had a girlfriend, I caught my breath.

I thought of the poison. I thought of the curled upper lip that had spoken it and the upturned noses.

But we had been children together, she and I. We had grown up side by side and were bonded by a shared past and cloudy days.

And when she called a few months later and asked if I wanted to go to dinner when I was in town,

I said,

of course.



He told me he’d met him on a trip, that boyfriend.

He said he had known for years, but couldn’t, obviously, say so.

Because of friends. Because of family. Because of the guillotine he knew he’d face.

But he said it now and he stepped away. From the people, from the guillotine.

He understood, he said, that I may need to walk in another direction, knowing this about him.

He knew I may decide never to talk to him again.

I told him I couldn’t do that.

He was my friend.

Still.

***

I heard someone talking that following week.

Excommunication is loving the person enough to show them that they can’t have fellowship with righteousness when living in sin.”

I thought of my Savior. I thought of how He ate meals with prostitutes and swindlers. How His kindness brought repentance.

And I thought about my uncle, her, and him.

***

This issue, so explosive, so filled with emotion,

from every angle.

Everyone has an opinion. Everyone is certain

they are correct.



I have an opinion, too.

Of course I do.



But what about when The Issue becomes so much about The Issue that we forget about the person?


106 comments

  1. Ashleigh: my husband and I have been discussing this very issue lately. We are trying to witness to a lesbian woman that he worked with. We are trying to love her and be gentle with her and show her Christ’s love. We are making progress but it’s slow. Thank you for posting this! The ending question is so relevant!

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  2. Between (in)courage and now DeeperStory, I am being coaxed into writing some posts that I thought might best be left unwritten. The number one lesson I was taught as a child, was to not confuse myself with Him. I’m flawed, He isn’t. So how can we, the flawed, decide that He would allow, or expect us to shun “a sinner.” He decides what the sins are and who has sinned, right? Ashleigh, you opened up a great discussion in a very sensitive way. Thank you!

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  3. This is why I think that phrase “love the sinner, hate the sin” is comparable to “separate but equal.” When we view people this way, we compartmentalize them and that is, by definition, degrading and disrespectful. It’s so very easy to dehumanize someone who is different than we are. Sadly, the church has chosen this particular “issue” and reserved it for particular scorn, particular revulsion, particular judgment. This ought not be.

    Reply
    • The best take on that expression I ever heard was, “Love the sinner, hate *my own* sin” – as a reminder that we are *just* as flawed, broken, and forgiven as the person we are tempted to turn our noses up at.

      I nearly hugged our pastor when he put it that way!

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    • i agree EE. i hate that term. we should leave it at “love the sinner” and then put a period at the end.

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      • We had a church-wide bible study which touched on this subject. It was a heart-warming moment when a woman stood up at the start of discussion and said, “You don’t get to say, ‘I love gays, BUT…’ There are no ‘buts.’ It’s love. Period!”

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  4. Love this. In so many ways, it is my story as well. This is truth and love.

    Reply
  5. Amber

    This is absolutely the hardest thing I mull over, my belief that the Bible is infallible, my love for family members and friends who are gay and God’s love for them, too. If God hates homosexuality, he also hates me – a sinner on every level, but by love have I been rescued.

    I understand that some read the Bible and see different things than I do. I understand, too, that, no matter the pleading that people did over me when I lived so contrary to truth, my ears could not hear. If hearts are to change, only a Spirit -so profoundly Holy that our knees give way – can come in and wreck the natures to which we were born. Only the Spirit.

    Can we publicly grieve our own rebellion how we publicly grieve the sins of others? If so, then we can excommunicate, and with those who have been “cut off,” we can go right along with them, begging Father to shine truth in all the places it needs to shine – especially in our own dark hearts.

    Reply
    • amber, you spoke my heart on this one!

      ash — i cherish your beautiful heart… and the bold courage with which you always share her. i love you, friend.

      Reply
      • Christie

        Amber,

        Beautiful and thought provoking.

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    • That last paragraph is exactly it… let us all go right along, wrapped in the same grace-cloak and in need of the same rain-down of redemption.

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  6. Yes…everything Amber said.

    Ashleigh, this is wonderful. The truth is your great uncle and friend represents someone in each and every person’s life, and we should all have this compassionate heart you beautifully illustrate towards our loved ones. This post has blessed me today!

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  7. God has and always will be focused on love. While many in the so called Christian community are focused on sin. God has never been focused on sin. He’s been focused on us. Sin is the lover that keeps us from living in the fullness of His love. It’s interesting to me that the one who is so focused on condemning the homosexual for their blatant sin doesn’t see the hidden sin of condemnation dwelling in the recedes of their minds. There is not one sin that is more wicked than another. To condemn someone because of their behavior and choices is as much a sin as choosing to live a homosexual lifestyle. Yet many think they have a right to point out the blatant sins and call them evil.

    From the beginning of time God has loved, us. Jesus came for our sins because sin blocked the doorway to living in love. God sees the person and loves them. We see the behavior and chastise them. Where does love go? You can love a person and not agree with their behavior.

    If I live in my identity, Christ in Julie, won’t I love as He has loved?

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  8. This is so powerful… and beautiful. At my (big, fancy, candlelit, church) wedding, I had two dear friends from college sing. They were amazingly talented men- one tenor, one bass, and the congregation sobbed at the beauty of their harmony. They were also a couple. I remember my need to “hide” that fact… my fear of how my fellow parishioners would react should they find out. That simultaneous pride and shame I felt for them… This is a conversation that needs to happen.

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  9. love this … you know my story w/my dad and some of the things I’ve experienced in my life with all this, so I applaud you for hitting “publish” and risking to tell this story… beautiful, captivating, engaging… just like you my friend :)

    Reply
    • I thought of you, much, while working up the courage to write this. Love you, friend.

      Reply
  10. WOW! I loved this. Jesus loved everyone and would fellowship with anyone who desired to be around him. Shouldn’t we do the same? Shunning and ostracizing people, for any reason, will never win them to Christ. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful article!

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  11. I don’t take the traditional conservative view on homosexuality. And I absolutely despise the concept of ex-communication. I suppose because I don’t ever experience that from God myself – when I am at my worst (and I’m not saying that homosexuality is “the worst” by that statement), that is when God draws me nearest, pursues me more. He never turns his back on me. He is a father and a father does not turn his back on his children. My only response then is not to shun, not to cut people off when they grapple with life or even make peace with their sexuality however it falls on the spectrum but, to draw near. Their lives are between them and God. As we live and move among those that are marginalised in the church (like many secretly homosexual men and women), the challenge is to line up in love. I think that the biggest thing that I appreciate about this article is that relationship always comes first, the PERSON always comes first. And that is good, good, good. Thank you for this one, Ashleigh.

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    • I love your thoughts, always, Sarah. It is ever and always about the person, the relationship, the heart of the one we see in front of us… rather than any “issue.”

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  12. Exquisitely and beautifully poured out, shining of Jesus, and leading by example.

    Thought provoking, for all the right reasons. Thank you!

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    • this this is exactly how I feel after reading it. Thank you for writing it so powerfully and succinctly! :)

      Wow. My heart just screams a resounding YES to reading this post. This is exactly my perspective, and my struggle as my heart opposes the upturned noses and judgment pouring forth.

      Reply
  13. I tend to be a black-and-white person. Rules make me happy. So, if something is presented to me as a rule, I think myself and others need to follow it. That being said, there are so many rules in Christianity that “good” Christians are breaking, and no one calls them on it. This makes me confused. We’re allowed to say that this sin is wrong, and that sin disqualifies you, but those sins are acceptable. My conclusion is that I’m not God, and it’s all too big for me. So I’ll follow the rule about loving Him and loving others and let Him be the judge.

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    • If there was a “like” button, I’d hit it for this, Melissa.

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  14. You ask the good hard questions, Ash. The person must always matter more.

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  15. I was just thinking about this very issue, and I love the verses that you pulled out for guidance. Romans 2:4 “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?” and John 13:35 “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” So many people forget about the *love* of Christ. My struggle lies in a lack of comprehension of how kindness can indeed result in repentance, and my role as witness in light of the Holy Spirit being ultimately who’s in charge of a person’s conversion. I do my best to love and show grace, but is there not more that I must do?

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  16. Pam Shannon

    I totally agree with the points you have made here – we lose the individuals when we do not treat them Christ- like. We need to stand against the things that God is against, but not the individuals. We can’t win them that way. Also, the ‘excommunicating’ – in my opinion from what I understand the Bible to say is talking to the churches, not families.

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  17. Pam Shannon

    oh, that sounded unfinished – I meant church discipline for the members living in a life-style of sin, and refusing to turn from that. Seems that those were members who had been living a righteous life to begin with.

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  18. I love how Amber put it.

    For me, I often see this unspoken hierarchy of sin in the Church. You know, that certain sins are worse than others…when it seems that God thinks all sin is the same. All sin separates us.

    And, yes, some sins have greater consequences, but the more I think about it the more even the “little” sins can so easily snowball into “bigger” sins with greater consequences.

    What would be great is if we could realize the sin in us is just as great as the sin in someone else more often than we (or at least I) do. Humility and love first.

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  19. Beautiful piece. And it hits so close to home for me. I grew up in a very christian/catholic family. Obviously, being taught what most are taught in regard to homosexuality. The question you ended with is great, because really, it is so much more about “the issue” It is about the person. My brother is gay. I’m not going to love him any less just because of that. It’s not our job to judge. It’s our job to love with an open heart.

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  20. What I find difficult is that we feel the need to “win over” people who are gay. Our churches have many regular, Christian people in them who are gay. They don’t need to be brought to Christ — they already know and love Him.

    We have been wrong or divided as a church on so many issues and all have the Scripture to back them up. Slavery. Interracial marriage. Women in leadership. And time and again we’ve come to different views regarding these issues.

    Personally, I’m okay with simply being kind for the sake of being kind. If there is conviction that needs to be brought, the Holy Spirit needs none of my help. And if there is no sin in simply loving another person of the same sex, any ulterior motives that I may have for kindness will most certainly color that relationship.

    God is love. If I’m acting in a loving way, I can KNOW that I’m acting in accordance with His will.

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  21. until we stop being friends with people who are adulterers, liars, gossips, idolaters (worship something/someone ahead of God), we can’t put homosexuals in a separate group.
    in the church, a christian who is actively pursuing that lifestyle does need church discipline but not in the ostrisizing (blew that spelling!) sense, in the restoring sense! restoration is always the goal of good church discipline. but that is for another time.
    an encouraging scripture is I Cor. 6:9-11…on many levels! homosexuals are lumped together with slanderers, greedy and drunkards to name a few. once we get through our heads and hearts who the sinners are (ie. ALL of us!) we can reach out in love and grace to those whose sins SEEM worse than ours from the outside b/c we will know that it just isn’t true!
    in the presence of God, not ONE of us measures up. Christ HAD to die and pay with blood for each one of us. there is no room for self-righteousness for any of us.

    Reply
    • Well put, Martha! The sin is wrong, but then we should be showing them God’s love and drawing them to Him. As we should with ALL kinds of sin, not just with homosexuality. And we should be witnessing with humility, recognizing that we are just as wretched of sinners.

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  22. We’ve just started at a new church. And the pastor heard that we were evangelicals, and so sat us down and explained their policy on homosexuality. Honestly, I’ve never heard it dealt with, so elegantly, and with such grace. I love our new church!

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  23. This is just beautiful truth! I know people who are homosexual… it’s not our place to judge. It’s God’s thing! We are not told to judge and ridicule.. we are called to love one another as Jesus does. He loves the sinners or he wouldn’t love us. All sins are equal. And none of us are perfect. I have always been taught that all sins are equal, nothing is a worse sin than the next. The person who cheated is just as guilty as the person who lied.

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  24. Samantha R

    Wow, heavy stuff here. But I agree.
    Yes, it is sin.
    But we are called to be Christians. To be kind. To reach out. To show His love.
    and maybe, just maybe…. their lives will be changed forever because of Him.

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  25. Beautiful post! We, like Jesus, should be about the “business” of loving folks where they’re at.

    I posted something along these lines back in November:

    Jesus Doesn’t Support Gay Rights, He Supports Human Rights

    I would be most gratified if you checked it out. It has been my most read post to date.

    Reply
    • “In fact, there is no us and them: there’s just us—all of us—in this lifeboat called earth where we’re doing life together.”

      This was a great post. Loved that particular line. We’re all in such need of grace… never, ever, any one above or below the other.

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  26. that was beautiful Ash. yes, homosexuality is a sin, but I work in a crisis preg center and theres an awful lot of heterosexual sin in our churches too. I love the willingness to love the person. Our pastor commented that while WE deamonize homosexuals, if you look at the sins GOD hates, its no where to be found, but pride is. we need to take the logs out of our eyes before we look at the specs in others…

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  27. a church leader and friend whom i admire expressed a bit of ecclesiology that stays with me: too often, we live out a gospel that communicates one must behave a certain way and believe a certain thing in order to belong. (to earn love.) Jesus loved first and it’s only his Spirit and love that transforms hearts and lives.

    the order must be reversed: BELONG first to community, and then maybe God will transform beliefs and behavior. (i’m not saying that God promises to change anyone’s orientation or eliminate our struggles with sexuality or anything else if only we do/pray/believe. i don’t think that brand of theology is scriptural.) it’s not our place to withhold love until (if ever) anyone’s behavior or beliefs line up with our interpretation of what is right. how will anyone encounter the transforming power of God’s love lived out if we deny it with our actions and exclude some from fellowship? like others have said above, God doesn’t withhold his love from me, and i am every bit as sinful as anyone else.

    this is important discussion. thanks for opening the door for grace and Spirit to move.

    Reply
    • What a beautiful post, Ashleigh. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

      And what an amazingly insightful friend you have, Suzannah. I am married to a “struggler” – one who has an unwanted same-sex attraction. For nearly 16 years now we’ve been husband and wife. For the first 13 of those years, we lived in a closet. Him, because his pain was too immense and his shame was too great. Me, because I was convinced (and probably not incorrectly) that the community with which we lived & worshipped would reject us.

      Somewhere in that mess, God heard our pleas, our cries, our hearts. He moved us to another state and gave us a transparent community. One that loves Him wholeheartedly, but one that accepts people with flaws as equals. Within that community, He began His amazing transformational work in our hearts and lives.

      My husband struggles less these days (from a 90% attractive to a reported 15-20%) and we’ve come to grips with his demons, his pain, his abuse. God has given us the opportunity to renew our relationship as husband and wife and share our story with the community that became so incredibly transformative. We took off our masks and showed our real selves and were met with … acceptance. Love. Hugs. Tears. Apologies.

      Whatever God will do in the life of someone who struggles with same-sex attraction will likely be done in community. He Himself is in community and that’s where we’re created to be. Your words encouraging us to accept and love in the bounds of fellowship & community are precious. God makes no promises to us, save that He will be with us and walk with us to the end. It’s a beautiful thing if we can do that with Him and each other – together.

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      • This is powerful. Thank you, Cori, for sharing your story. <3

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      • How brave and beautiful for you to share this with us.
        I am so thankful that you found a community of believers who are willing to lift up in prayer, support, and encourage you, both individually and as a couple.
        Would that we all take every opportunity to lift up one another in times of need. Come quickly Lord!

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      • Cori, I am in the same boat as your husband – abuse, unwanted same sex attraction, fear, shame, the whole bit. From the inside, it feels like every other sin that has gripped me throughout my life – including pride, idolatry, various kinds of hedonism, and questioning God’s sovereignty and provision in my life. He has taken me through an amazing journey. Abuse at 8, the aforementioned various types of confusion in the intervening years (we all just call it “I struggled in college” when we talk about it in church, don’t we??), an amazing out of the blue attraction to a MAN at 23, marriage, 4 kids, cancer, a kid with special needs. He just keeps giving, these big, can’t-wrap-your-head-around-it lessons.

        And I keep struggling. And He just keeps loving.

        My heart goes out to you and your husband. It *ain’t* easy!

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  28. wow. the comments are very interesting.

    ash, i’m inspired by your bravery and courage. i love watching it and being able to be your friend. i’m so honored to know you.

    last fall i had the pleasure of meeting andrew marin (the marin foundation). he’s doing what none of us in the church have done (at least in the way that he is). he is on the forefront of loving and accepting the gay community in jesus’ name. i love his perspective and his take on things. i have not read it yet (but my husband did) andrew’s book love is an orientation. even the title is brilliant.

    here’s the kicker – i’ve been criticized for even speaking out in support of andrew. it’s crazy that someone would question my OWN salvation because I admire what someone else is doing in the name of love and of jesus.

    crazy.

    Reply
    • Andrew Marin inspires me. I keep wanting to read his book, too.

      {I think I just need to raid your bookshelf.}

      Reply
  29. I love sinners. All kinds. I am a huge sinner, saved by grace.

    I also hate sin. All kinds.

    Your wrote some mighty fine words here, Ashleigh. Your writing rolls off the screen and into my heart.

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  30. Bethany

    Sarah, I’ve been encouraged by Andrew Marin’s message as well. My brother is gay, and I’ve watched my parents live with such grace and love for him in the face of scorn and condemnation from many. I’ve also deeply struggled with his scorn and condemnation toward the God I love.

    Outside my family, I have many, many more gay friends and colleagues whom I cherish, though they have little interest in my Christ or the community that exists in his name. It is a tender line to walk…in their midst, in love, in relationship, and with a humbled heart, knowing often that they may hold resentment toward the basis of my identity.

    And perhaps they feel just the same?

    But truly, He walked among us, before, during, and after our fears and ridicules shredded hearts. And to be like Him pulls me deeper into the fierceness of this life of love…

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    • I appreciate the conundrum you show here… and the way you love, even when faced with scorn. There is so much hurt, on both sides of the coin.

      Your last sentence says it all.

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  31. This post is so beautiful, and so true, that it brought me to tears. One of my very dearest friends is a homosexual. I love him with all my heart. I cherish his friendship. I could never turn my back on him. Never. And if I did, what would that say about me, as a Christian? I never quite understood that thinking. I do believe that homosexuality is a sin, but I do not believe that it is my place to cast judgement for that (or any other) sin. I do not believe that it’s my “duty” as a Christian to shun him, but rather my “duty” as a Christian to love him. And what an honor it is!

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  32. darcy

    So many in the gay community have hardened their hearts to any body of Christianity.

    From this body they have been condemned, scorned, name-called, judged, hated, protested. Is it any wonder they turn away from religion? With every sense of self-preservation this community huddles together, their backs to the “Christian right” who have been so spiteful.

    The very body that should be Christ-like in its acceptance has been a model of exactly opposite of how Christ embraced the sinners in His life. If we as the Christian faith want the gay community to embrace the Christ-like model – then we as Christians are making it seem like a place of rejection rather than acceptance. Of hate instead of love. Of persecution rather than redemption.

    It would be extremely difficult to embrace such a thing. Once the Christian message is truly Christ-like, only then can we hope to reach the hearts of those who may need the message the most.

    I understand why the gay community fears and rejects the church.

    -Darcy

    Reply
    • Thanks Darcy. Well said.

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    • THIS. Yes, this.

      I completely understand it. Why would anyone want to even be near to someone who is filled with hatred toward them? Let alone an entire group of people?

      But we’ve come to think that coloring everything with love is simply too easy, that it’s a cop-out, rather than being the greatest commandment.

      We need to put our God Who is Love back into our Gospel.

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  33. Bev

    Thank you for this, Ashleigh. This is something that I struggle with every single day because my brother is also a homosexual. He was my best friend growing up. He always stuck up for me, as big brothers do. But for the past several years, he has chosen to separate himself from our family. Our mother and one of our sisters are the only ones he has contact with. He probably would have contact with me if I would initiate it, but after all these years, I just don’t know how. I’m afraid, I guess, of exposing myself and my children to something that I simply do not know how to deal with. My kids always want to know why they never get to see their uncle…… I would love to have suggestions regarding this issue, but it’s just not something I can talk about with my church family, unfortunately.

    Reply
    • One of the best resources personally that I have ever run across was the movie “For the Bible Tells Me So.” It is absolutely beautiful. While it is absolutely an LGBT affirming film, it does tell the story of those who accept the person while not being gay-affirming. I would rush to watch it as soon as you can. I think it will give you the courage to approach your brother with the love that he wants from his sister. (And I feel confident that he wants that, even if he has never expressed that.)

      I pray that you find the courage to make that connection! Be blessed!

      Reply
    • Bev-

      What kinds of suggestions are you looking for?

      I’d suggest looking at a variety of resources regarding faith and sexual orientation. The ones i’m listing are from the affirming side. Even if you don’t agree, you can broaden your understanding of how ppl see & interpret faith/sexual orientation.

      Google “Walter Wink homosexuality” for a classic article on Biblical Interpretation.

      The book, “Jesus, The Bible & Homosexuality,” by Jack Rogers chronicles his shift in understanding (as a Presby bishop) once he was asked to help a church deal with this issue. He deals with Biblical Interpretation & some church history.

      I’m not sure what you’re looking for, but there’s that.

      My other suggestion is that you might talk to some other gay ppl who are not your brother, first. That might take some of the pressure off & you could ask questions w/o worrying about “saying the right thing.”

      If you don’t know any gay ppl, you can ask me anything. Or just talk. I’m gay (and Christian). And, I’m pretty easy to talk to. You can click on my name up there and leave me a comment on my blog. I’ll get back to you.

      Reply
      • Nish

        Tina, thanks for being here. I just wanted you to know that I appreciate your voice.

        Reply
  34. My husband and I have had many conversations regarding this lately. My uncle was gay and he was never scorned in our family- but then again, it was never even mentioned. I had to figure it out on my own, much the way you seem to have with your great uncle. We know people who are gay. We treat them with love and kindness like any other person.

    What we struggle with is the fact that it *is* sin. Yes, we all sin. Yes, all sin is sin with none being ‘worse’ then another. But where is the line with loving the person but also not condoning… or not revealing truth, where their lifestyle is concerned? If we just love them up in the name of Jesus but not also present the gospel- the infallible word of God- to them, are we pretty much just saying keep living with the sin? I’m not asking you specifically, these are just questions we’ve asked in our home lately.

    A sweet friend recently posted this:
    “I wish that your Christmas will provide you with the light of Christ; a new nature, where sin does rule over you and that the fruit of your life shows Christ has flooded you. When He said that we would be a new creature our fruit shows that we no longer live the way we once did. I am not saying that we never sin. But sin, according to the book of 1 John, can no longer be habitual. We, now, are able to forgive and love the unlovable. If this isn’t evident in your life or mine, we cannot be fooled. We have not been converted. We have a faith that is without works and is dead. It is not enough to say we believe in God. There must be a new nature. It is like having a tree fully decorated but not plugged in. It is worthless and will be discarded and overlooked. Useless.”

    Where is the line in loving a sinner but hating their {habitual} sin? Where do you cross that line into condoning the sin and saying it’s OK, we love you, just keep trucking along! I so struggle with this…..my husband leans towards the belief that someone who willingly accepts and practices their habitual sin, in essence turning from Christ, probably never truly knew Him to begin with. I am not sure….but struggling with the whole ‘hate the sin, love the sinner’ is exhausting from the perspective of not condoning the sin.

    Reply
    • What DOES the Lord require? Good question. Here’s where my mind often finds rest~ “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

      Someone mentioned this already, but how about “Love the sinner, hate my own sin” and leave the rest up to God and the Holy Spirit?

      Meanwhile, we pretty much condone sin all the time. We live in a society where Christians and non-Christians spend too much $ on non-essentials and step around homeless people on the sidewalk; we treat the wealthy w/ deference, work &/or use the services of others who work on Sunday. Mostly, we don’t tie ourselves up in mental & spiritual knots over those issues. Why is this different?

      Meanwhile, I write this as I’m struggling w/ my own ambiguity about a close friend’s impending divorce. How do I love and support my friend, when I believe that the promise, the vow of “till death do we part” is a huge thing?

      This stuff is complicated. And, not.

      Reply
  35. Wow, as your story began I thought you were writing mine. I too have an uncle who is gay and somewhere around fifteen I finally had the guts to just ask my grandfather. I also have a few friends that are also homosexual…one of whom was one of my best friends during college.

    Hard stuff…thanks for not shying away from it!

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  36. Emily

    Love your heart Ash. And I think your last line sums it up perfectly.

    Reply
  37. I am glad I found this on a link on Facebook. How wonderfully written and touching. I have a family member that is gay and have had acquaintance friends that are also…my biggest thought when faced with “any” type of sin is ” do not judge, lest you be judged”….and I also love your last line….

    Reply
  38. Laura

    I struggle with where do I draw the line? Coming from a very musical/creative background I have known and been friends with and loved many a homosexual person. They know I love them. But I worry sometimes that so many of our mainstream churches are so worried about being unloving that they refuse to call sin, sin. And i’m not just speaking on the sin of homosexuality. what about the wickedness of gossip, I mean seriously how many of us have been hurt by a brother or sisters “prayer requests”. Or what about exclusivity? It breaks my heart to see how Christian women can act so mean to one another. Or I’m gonna call myself out on this one, how about the sin of glutony? Isn’t it a sin not to care for our temples? I could go on and on. We can’t treat one sin as worse than the other. I’m tired of being fed baby food from the pulpit, I want to know what saith the word and how can I apply it to my life and my Christian walk.I Would love to be taught of how to treat sinners and yet still teach the way of repentance, But didn’t Jesus teach that to us over and over again in his ministry. ” Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” and after that he tells the sinner ” Go and sin no more” I know I am rambling mate just pindering out loud. Thanks Ashley for this post, I love when Christians aren’t afraid to talk about things that often are difficult

    Reply
    • Kerry

      ” Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” and after that he tells the sinner ” Go and sin no more”

      i have wondered about this often too, laura……and i’m just thinking out loud here, but maybe the first statement is our job and the second is Christ’s job, and His alone…???

      Reply
  39. Beverly

    Hello everyone. I came here because of a post from my long time online friend, Alise. Alise and I have had many conversations about this. I have a lot of ideas that are not always presented, and I think part of the reason may be because most of you are a lot younger than I am. I say this because I often see the phrase, “I have lots of gay friends.” I made my first gay friend in the last year or so, and that is Alise’s best real-life friend, Tina. I have never had a gay friend in real-life. It is not that I couldn’t befriend a gay person; it just hasn’t happened that I have known many during my lifetime. If there were any gay kids when I was in school, it wasn’t known, as people weren’t coming out then. In fact, I was married three years when they removed homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses or sexual perversions, and it was a 30% vote, with most doctors being against it, but they went along because it did seem like a harmless disorder, and they just let it go. We have a very long history of not thinking of “gay” as “normal,” and while I realize that most of you think this should have changed a long time ago, it’s just not that easy. When I was a kid, it was considered so horrible to be gay, that it just wasn’t ever talked about except perhaps in jokes which made it seem like a very undesirable thing to be. I think back and can remember elderly bachelor gentlemen or spinster ladies who lived out their lives together, but I truly thought they were just not very socially adapted and remained chaste until they died, not being lucky in the marriage department.

    Okay, I was away from religion for ten years of my life. I was surprised when I started attending church again that homosexuality was a religious issue because it never came up in my childhood and teen years in church or Sunday school. So here are some of my thoughts on the whole discussion, having given you some background.

    First of all, if we do think homosexuality is a sin, why would we think it is the worst sin? If we feel that for people of the same sex are to marry that it will destroy the institution of marriage as God intended it, i.e., for one man and one woman until death do they part, what about what has already happened to marriage? What about all the adultery and remarriages and all the people who attend our churches who are in their second or third marriage? Haven’t we already sanctioned a lot of sin right there? We appear to have just gotten used to the idea after 30 years of television glamorizing affairs. We say, “Oh but they fell in love.” And have found a way to forgive it pretty easily.

    Alise brought up other issues such as slavery, which I doubt today many condone, but how about women preachers, or women being told to be silent in the church? Many churches still practice that, and some allow women to go to seminary school and become “preachers” but only to women, during segregated classes at the church or at women’s retreats and so on. Some churches still strongly believe that a woman cannot teach a man, and Paul said so.

    The law may resolve the same sex marriage issue in a very short time, but I think within the church it is going to remain an issue for quite a while yet. Here is where I get hung up on the whole thing as a biblical issue. If it was only in the OT that homosexuality was a no-no, I’d have no problem, but it also comes up in the NT. So do we say that along with loving gays that we no longer think of it as a sin? I see that idea presented well here, that it’s not up to us to judge them, and I get that. However, if someone were having an affair, and even if you still loved them and forgave them, would that be a sin? Do we just not say certain actions are sinful anymore no matter what? I have a hard time with all of this. Now, in my thinking, but it’s just mine, not biblical, I’d say that having an affair hurts people, while loving someone of the same sex doesn’t, so if both are a sin, the affair would be the worst one. However, even if someone has more than one affair and marries a couple of times, most people don’t make it a way of life, unless they are of the Hollywood or politician variety, and I am discounting them for the sake of conversation. So, is habitual “sin” worse than sinning once or twice and then doing as Jesus said and “going and sinning no more?” And didn’t Jesus clearly think that adultery was a sin? I truly do have some confusion about all this, and I am a fairly liberal Christian.

    But to take this one step further, and this is for my liberal Christian friends. I agree with you that there are probably Christian gays in the churches; while I don’t know any personally and attend a very small church, I am sure that in many churches they are there. So if we say it’s not our job to tell them they are sinning in who they love, do we say anything about other sins clearly given in scripture, or is that also not our job? Or perhaps I should say the pastor’s job? And if we are go be totally accepting of gay Christians in our church loving each other, should the church then be willing to marry them? I know there are churches that would, but I’m speaking in general here about all Christian churches? Should that be the new roll of the church if we are to continue in growth as we have in other areas, like Alise mentioned? Please enlighten me, as I really don’t know.

    Reply
  40. YES! Thank you for expressing this. We can, by God’s grace, get the log out… by his grace. Lord, have mercy.

    Reply
  41. KatR

    I know some Christians think that they can “love” (using the word very loosely)gay people into being the way they want them to be, but I don’t see how you can tell someone that who they are is sin and unacceptable to God and have them see you as loving, and God as loving.

    Reply
    • Amber

      This is a hard one, but the way I understand it is that everyone is in the exact position you described. It doesn’t matter if you’re gay. We are all sinners in need of love.

      We’re all born in flesh, having selfish desires from the womb. There is none without sin.

      The gospel always involves our pointing out Christ’s Righteousness and our inability to achieve rightness at all without His completely taking our place.

      Nobody wants to be a project. That’s not love at all, and you can smell that rat from a mile away. We love because He loved, and that’s it. We don’t love so we can get a tally mark on a sheet of paper in Heaven. That doesn’t exist.

      Reply
      • Nish

        “Nobody wants to be a project.”

        Amen, friend. Thanks for speaking that.

        Reply
  42. Beverly

    I do not feel that any of my questions have been addressed. I’m not saying make anyone a project or love them into being a certain way. I’m saying do we now say that this is not a sin? And if so, do we also say other things are not a sin? We are, of course, all sinners, and IMO, gossip is probably one of the very worst sins, and I am, at times, guilty of it, but I still think it’s sinning. But I seem to be hearing that being gay is not a sin because folks are born that way and just can’t help it. . .yet we are also born to lie and gossip and it even goes against our nature to be obediant to our parents and we naturally feel envy and lust and other things that we are told we should fight the urge to do and that to go with those urges is sin. I guess I’m asking is if we say it’s okay to be gay, then do we stop addressing other sins as well? We want gay people to feel comfortable in our churches, so we don’t want their lifestyle preached against, right? Do we also want adulterers to feel comfortable, so we don’t preach against that either? I AM a sinner, and the things I’ve done are just as bad or worse than things others have done, yet I do expect to hear in church that I shouldn’t do certain things. So are we just going to take this one thing off the list of sins, or are we also going to remove others? Is it okay to cheat, divorce and remarry because so many people do it, or should our pastors preach against it? I am serious with my dilemma here. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Amber

      Oh Beverly, my last response there was to KatR, because the questions she brought up are also things I’ve wrestled with.

      Are you being serious about whether or not it’s okay to divorce, cheat, and remarry?

      It seems to me that you feel confident that those things are contrary to the nature of God, and I agree with you. If you believe that the Bible is infallible, then you believe that homosexuality is a sin.

      I do believe that the Bible is infallible and that God is infallible. I haven’t heard in this post or in the comments that we shouldn’t call sin what it is. That also didn’t seem to be the point at all.

      Do we not have friends and family who are arrogant or prideful? Do we ever catch ourselves acting like we can work your way into good grace with God? I know I do. These are not mere personality flaws. Self-centeredness at all completely separates us from God – were it not for Christ.

      I have a very hard time with making the focus of our relationships whether or not someone is sinning. In every person is a reflection of the Living God. We can recognize and Love her creator.

      It takes great humility and a deep loving relationship for anyone to come to me with an affront to my faith or my lifestyle, but I have friends who have done it, and they are the very very dearest to me. The point of those relationships in the first place was never to point out my sin but rather to point me to the Father and all His grace.

      Reply
      • I would suggest that one can believe in the infallibility of the Scripture and still be LGBT-affirming. In the same way that one can believe in the infallibility of the Scripture and support egalitarian marriage, women as pastors, the wrongness of owning other people, polygamous marriages, interracial marriage, etc. — all of which tend to oppose the plain reading of the Scripture.

        To Beverly, I still have to look at what I’m comparing this “sin” to. Who is hurt in a gay relationship? I believe we can point pretty clearly to hurt that is a result of gossip, adultery, lust. I can’t find the same thing about a loving relationship between two people of the same sex.

        Reply
    • i understand your thoughts. what i’ve come to is that we are all born with a sinful nature that we WILL fulfill with preference to differing types of sin (some are more drawn to greed, some to lust, some to chit-chatting about others…). the only “out” from this way of life is the changing Grace of God. the Holy Spirit must illuminate the dark parts of our life and the saving Grace of Christ should bring us to our knees. as sinners, we are physically, spiritually, wholly incapable of saving or changing ourselves…it must be the work of God.

      Reply
  43. Bonnie bilawsky

    Very, very good. I’m loving this blog site and it’s contents thank you Ladies!

    Reply
  44. Beverly

    Thank you, Alise, and I truly get what you are saying. And I agree that over the centuries, the church has changed it’s attitude toward many things, usually as a result of societies change toward it. And I have already said, in case you missed it, that adultery hurts people, whereas loving a person of your own sex no longer seems to, although there was a time when it also ruined lives because it was considered so abnormal and shocking. And this is what I’m trying to get to, the changing role of the church and what attitudes it should be taking. We no longer give unwed mothers a scarlet letter. Society changed its attitude about that and it has gone from being a shocking, hush-hush thing to have a baby out of wedlock to a teen fad of desirablilty. While I think not punishing young moms for making an unwise choice is a loving and moral attitude, where it has taken our culture is not necessarily a good thing; think welfare moms, gangster attitudes about all their “baby mamas” and in some cases, it has caused a steep decline in involved fathers and even in the importance of fathers. I feel that a sympathetic attitude has in a way caused a decline in what used to hold the culture together, i.e., the American family. So that is what I’m trying to get to; what is the church’s role in all the changing attitudes? Do we still preach against certain things, or do we just say they are okay because society has accepted them? I am somewhat able to within myself keep my lawful attitudes separate from my spiritual ideals, but I am really confused about this. I hope I am making sense in my questioning here.

    Reply
    • Beverly – I definitely understand your concerns here and the questions you pose.

      There are so many issues in our society and they are so very multi-faceted. The church most certainly has a part to play, though I don’t think it is solely at fault.

      But, in this particular conversation, I don’t think we are trying to find a solution to society’s ills. The question here is this: how do we treat the people behind all of these “issues?”

      Even those young mothers, the gang bangers, the uninvolved fathers, the adulterers… how do we treat them? Do we lump them all in the camp of “unwanteds” and spew hatred in their direction? Or do we love and love and love and let God do any changing or convicting that needs to be done?

      The love mandate is timeless and is the center of the Gospel. It hasn’t changed from century to century. Due to sin, that love command is often overshadowed by our own ideas and society’s current condition. I do believe we are to call sin, sin, but we are also to remember that without love, the words we say are simply clanging cymbals.

      Thank you for asking questions… these are deep issues, and I’m sure we’ll be digging further into them with each post on A Deeper Story.

      Reply
  45. Beverly

    Thank you for your response, Ashleigh. Of course we should love unwed mothers, gangbangers, drug and alcohol addicts and all the rest of those who fall through society’s cracks. But should the church preach about the outcome of such actions and why it’s not desireable? Not saying that those people are undesirables, but often their actions bring about unhappy results. So should the church preach about that? I hope I have not come across as unloving, as my family has most of the problems I have mentioned, and I certainly love them, so much my heart hurts much of the time. I often feel like I’m the only one who has questions, that others on either side of the issues know where they stand and feel just fine about it, and for me it’s never been that simple. Thank you for getting back to me.

    Reply
  46. Laura

    I am so enjoying this conversation. I think the main thing is we need to learn the meaning of ” Speak the truth in love” The Gospel is unchanging, the Word of God is the same yesterday today and Forevermore. We just need to get back to the Word itself in dealing with issues of modern society and how the church fits into it. Our hearts desire should always be Christ and him glorifed, ourselves crucified. that means when dealing with others we must first examine ourselves and our own motives, our own sin nature. It is God who transforms the sinner through the power of the HOly spirit. Now does that mean I let a person stumble in the darkness no, I am to be a light, part of being a light is showing Christs love through my actions. If I say I’m a Christian then lie, cheat, steal, gossip, it’s no wonder the homosexual or any other sinner runs in the opposite direction . Again going solely to scripture do I take the words of 1 COrinthians 13 to heart? I know I’m rambling so I’ll close. SO glad I stumbled into this place.

    Reply
  47. I am just loving this new blog. This type of conversation is so needed and I am encouraged and so supportive of what you are doing here. Love. Thanks for sharing. This hits home for me and, I’m sure, so many more people than will even ever contact you and is a discussion that should be embraced and discussed lovingly in our midst on a regular basis. So, thanks again. Looking forward to being a part of this journey.

    Reply
  48. This simply prompts a prayer within my own heart, to trust that God works in all people. To not cast judgement in my own heart. To be willing to step into the hard and the unknown for His ultimately glory. I want God’s love to shine through me and let God’s truth be revealed by the Holy Spirit. Who am I to condone? Who am I to condemn? Who am I to convict? I don’t see a person’s heart, He does. God has a plan for our lives and we are all sojourners…

    I am thankful for people who reach out with strong arms of Christ. I hope and pray I can do that, too. Thank you, Ashleigh.

    Reply
  49. Carla

    I skimmed a lot of the posts, so I may be repeating some thoughts. I am just wondering what you think we should do, how we should interpret I Corinthians 6: 9-10? Homosexuals certainly need to be loved, as Christ loves all of us, but also be warned that their souls can be in danger. It is serious. We have to call sin what it is and look at it as God does. It does not mean we can’t love a gay person. We certainly can, and should, but we must love in the truest sense and that is asking the most important question which is what about their souls? The verses I mentioned is not just picking out homosexuals. There is a list. No one is good enough to get to Heaven on their own merit, so this is not a works thing at all, but we must all come to repentance and claim the blood of Christ alone. Then let the Holy spirit convict.

    Reply
    • Beverly

      Carla, you are hitting on at least some of my thoughts, although my problems are somewhat different. I tend to be liberal hearted, and I know that there are things biblical that were not based on scientific knowledge. I’m one of those who have no problem with evolution, as I think that Genesis explains it in a way that primitive man could relate to. I also believe that there are descriptions in Revelation and other books of the Bible as well that could be pre-science man’s way of describing God’s visions because they hadn’t seen things like 747 Jets, army tanks, bombs and the like. Here is what I’m getting to. We now know that being gay is genetic, at least in some cases, and many liberal Christians feel that because of what we know, it should no longer be considered a sin. And that is what I’m asking, should the church change it’s position on sins because of scientific knowledge and changing values in society? Some say, no, that God’s written word to us doesn’t change. Some point out how things like slavery was justified because of Paul’s instructions to masters and slaves and how to treat each other. And that is where my confusion lies. I’d never say we should be unloving to anyone. However, when there is a direct commandment in the NT, I get very uncomfortable with just tossing it out altogether. I see the NT as the new covenant and the one we should pay the most attention to. Does anyone else share my quandry???

      Reply
      • Kerry

        all sin is genetic – it started with adam and eve and has been working it’s way down ever since….if we start using genetics as an excuse, it won’t take long until there are NO sins at all. but the wonderful thing about this is that it’s exactly why we can/should love others, because NONE of us qualify for God’s grace, no matter what the name of our sin(s).

        Reply
  50. Carla

    I believe that every word in the Bible is inspired by God, so we can’t and should never pick and choose what we want in the Bible and what we don’t because of the times we live in. For me, that includes the OT, too. It is His holy Word, all of it written for our good. I believe 100% in the Creation account, not evolution, thus a man for a women and a women for a man.

    Reply
    • Beverly

      Carla, I guess that would simplfy things for you. However, I truly give what the NT says more importance than the OT, and I’m very, very glad I don’t live in OT times and under OT law, which I believe that Jesus came to fulfill because He knew that none of us could keep that law and became the ultimate sacrifice so that we didn’t have to try and fail. I would not like living in days when a girl who failed to produce the virgin blood on the wedding nights could be stoned to death, when a rebellious son was stoned to death in the town square, when women were merely chattle and divorce was a male privilege only and if a man was displeased with his wife, he had the right to send her and any offspring he had through her packing and she was too much of a disgrace to return to her family so had to restort to protestitition to support herself and her children. I would not like to live in the day when I woman could be stoned to death for adultery, but men had no such problem because if a nuble wench happened to catch their eye, they could either marry her or take her on as a concubine and thus be sin free and satisfy their lust at the same time.

      That said, I have relatives that try to live by the OT as much as they can. They try to keep the OT dietary laws and actually feel they have sinned if they even by accident eat pork or shellfish. They do have some trouble with the mixing of fibers law, as even though they try to wear all cotton, there is that problem of elastic and zippers, etc. They feel they are holier than I am because they pray to Yoshua and speak of Yeshua. They do a lot of things that make me say bless their heart for wanting so much to be that pleasing to God, but which I do not think is necessary since Jesus freed us from those things. And dietary laws made sense to me in OT times as people did not understand a lot of things about cleanliness and cooking temperatures and things that we now take for granted and probably many died from diseases from eating pork not cooked at high enough tempatures or eating unclean shellfish, etc. So I do believe that those rules served a purpose in that time and place, but I would not wish to live under them.

      I also believe that the story of Creation fits very well with evolution, and I am aware that there are two accounts of it given in Genesis, and have participated in umpteen discussions about that, so I truly don’t want to get into that accept to say that for me there is no confilct, that I believe that both are correct.

      I also believe that Jesus was pretty radical in His time, and that the Pharisees were out to get a man who preached love instead of law. I do, however, think that Jesus still believed in sin, as He told the adulteress to “go and sin no more” which indicates to me that while he did not think that adultery needed to be paid for by stoning, it was still indeed a sin.

      So my quandry, and I am putting this out to the more liberal minded folks is this, can we believe that things in the Bible were given to us for a reason, yet when science tells us that previouly thought ideas are no longer scientifically or socially supported nowadays? Where do we draw the line? I don’t think anyone wants to go back to the days of slavery and plural marriage, yet those things were okay and there were even rules around them in the OT. To me, that way of life is not only undesirable, but we no longer support those things as Christians. So my questions is this; is it time for us to move on with the whole gay issue as well? I’d love to hear from liberal minded Christians on all of this. Thank you.

      Reply
      • Kerry

        just wanted to say that i think we are stretching it when we say that certain things in the bible were “okay” – it seems pretty clear that slavery and plural marriages caused all kinds of grief for people and that it was much less than the best that God had originally intended…maybe our question in each and every case should be, “what is God’s best for us?” instead of “what can we get by with and still be considered Christians?”

        Reply
  51. I too had a “favorite” uncle who died mysteriously when I was younger… only later in life did I find out he was gay and had died of AIDS. And now that heartache has come full circle as, just 3 years ago, my sister, my best friend, my greatest spiritual encourager, laid down her mask and admitted to the family that she is a practicing homosexual. Even writing the words crumble my heart into a million pieces. “Love the sinner, hate the sin” takes on a whole new meaning for me, as I do so passionately LOVE my sister, but I despise with every ounce of my being the life {and sin} she has chosen and the division it has caused. She has even admitted numerous times to me that she knows she is willingly living in sin, but does not want to change “right now.” We still welcome her into our home and our children are crazy about her, but there is a distance there that sometimes feels like an ocean. Oh how I wish I knew the answer to the questions you have posed here, Ashleigh. I wish I knew how to love her in the purest form without the “want” or expectation for her to change or to repent. It’s a tight rope, a fine line, I don’t feel equipped to walk… and a pain in my soul I cannot escape.

    Reply
    • Beverly

      Mandy, I’m not gay, nor do I know anyone in real-life that is, yet I wonder as I’m sure gay Christians do, is it really the lifestyle or our attitudes toward the so-called gay lifestyle that hurts gay people? I used to think that all the unhappiness and suicides among gays was because of the horrible lifestyle they lived in, but after 30 years of coming out and changing attitudes, I now think it is how they are treated by people who disapprove of them and even hate them. What do you all think? And as Christians, is it our attitudes that should change? And if so, how far do we go with this? I am struggling with all this in my own mind, not because of personal issues, but just with the issue of trying to be more Christ-like in my own attitudes. Thanks.

      Reply
  52. Nish

    I wonder… does it matter to us that someone is gay? SHOULD it matter to us that someone is gay? What about my friend who who begs, pleads for another way… to be straight? She wishes she wasn’t gay… but she can’t change her sexuality anymore than she can change what color hair she was born with. Is there space for my friend, here in the mess of brokenness and wounded Christianity? I think there is, if we love like Jesus loves.

    Reply
    • Beverly

      I think that is the whole point, Nish. I can remember when you NEVER heard about anyone being gay, and when you did, it was always a tragic story about the lifestyle and usually ended with AIDS or suicide. However, the gay community has been urging people to come out, stand up and be counted for 30 years now, and it seems there is a sizable population. I think there are a lot of Christians who feel that a person is a person and all are worthy of love. My question is where the church should go with this. It seems that most Christians agree that gay people are worthy of love and should be welcome in church, or God’s House, if you will. I am wondering if as Christians we should stop thinking of gayness in terms of sin with what we know scientifically. At one time, mentally ill people where thought to have demons inside them, but we know better now. Science has changed the way we think about a lot of things, and while I don’t want to get into the whole Creation vs. Evolution thing, I don’t find a conflict about accepting the scientific explanation of that and feel that Genesis actually describes it in primative terms, that God did create the heavens and earth through the process of evolution, and that a day for God could be thousands of years for us. See, I don’t think that believing in science means you have to toss out your spiritual beliefs at all. So I am wondering if we need to rethink our attitudes about gay people in terms of Christianity. I keep waiting to hear from someone on this. What I mean is not whether or not they should be welcome in the church, but about the church’s attitude toward being gay, should it still be considered a sin? If not, should the church be willing to marry gay couples? Where should we go with all this past welcoming gay people into our churches?

      Reply
      • The heart of the issue is exactly that it doesn’t matter what WE think about gays… the “issue” is what GOD thinks of it, and Scripture is very clear. History is very clear. Any nation or society given over to homosexuality has suffered huge consequences. No doubt it is something God frowns upon and punishes. He too loves the sinners – He loves all of us. But He cannot fellowship with sin. As harsh as that sounds, it is the example the Word of God itself puts in front of us. My struggle is knowing where to draw the line – how to love my sister unconditionally without condoning her sin. How to have a relationship with her when the weight of her sin weighs so heavily on my heart. Always. I fear for her soul. I pray for reconciliation between her and the Lord, as much as between her and me.

        Reply
        • If she believes in Jesus, why concern for her soul? Why is that one work that needs to be done in order for salvation to occur?

          There’s no evidence anywhere in Scripture that I can find that indicates that Rahab ever left her lifestyle of prostitution (which is far more a lifestyle than being gay is). Yet she is praised for her faith.

          Those same societies that were given over to homosexuality were also given over to rampant consumerism/greed. Yet we don’t tell the person driving the luxury vehicle or buying a new extra-large television or wearing costly jewelry that they are jeopardizing their soul because of their choices.

          Reply
    • Nish- is your friend familar w/ the Gay Christian Network? (google it)

      It’s an online community & nonprofit that I have been impressed with. They support gay christians, regardless of whether that person believes they should “act on it” or not. They acknowledge that we are all across the spectrum on what we believe about our sexuality.

      If she hasn’t been there, I hope you’ll refer her to their site & podcast.

      Reply
  53. But what about when The Issue becomes so much about The Issue that we forget about the person?–that is the true question. We have no right, as flawed human beings, to decide which sins are the worst sins. He calls us to love, love and keep loving. Beautiful post!

    Reply
  54. Exactly, Melissa! The question posed was not about the opinion we hold on the issue of homosexuality and whether it is a sin. It was about those of us who call ourselves believers in and followers of Jesus Christ, loving a person as another human being and because Christ calls us to–despite our opinions. The example of The Issue really could have been a number of things.

    Reply
    • Beverly

      Mishel, I am the one who keeps asking the question, and I truly get it about loving a person whether they are gay, straight, divorced, an unwed mom, a gangbanger, or whatever. I don’t think anyone here is in disagreement about whether or not such people are worthy of love, at least I hope none are. My question is the church’s role in whether or not homosexuality is a sin or not in light of scientific knowledge and whether or not it should be preached to the congregation that is welcoming gay people. Should the church just reach out in love to people and keep the whole sin concept quiet, or should it still talk about sin, and if so, do we, knowing what we know, stop saying some things ARE sin? I feel we just keep dancing around this. YES, we should love everyone unconditionally, and we should not sit in judgement or think that their sin is worse than ours. I totally get that. My question is should the church take a stand on what constitutes sin? Should we still consider homosexuality a sin when we know that genetics are involved? We no longer think that bi-polar people have demons inside them. We have removed the scarlet letter from unwed moms. We no longer shun people who have divorced and remarried, and most Christian churches are willing to marry such people in the church for a second or third time. I am asking where we should go with this as Christians? Yes, we should love and not judge, yet the church has to have standards, and lead and admonish people. Like I said, I think everyone’s just dancing around my quesitons. Can I put them any clearer? If we are all in agreement about loving and accepting gay people into the church, once they are in the church, should they hear sermons about homosexuality being a sin? And if we decide it’s no longer a sin, should the church take the next step and willingly marry same sex people? I’m trying to ask this as plainly as I can, yet all I get is the same “we need to love them” responses. I agree, we DO need to love them and all who are hurting and needy of love; no argument there. Please someone step up to the plate. Thanks.

      Reply
      • Summer

        Hi Beverly,
        To try to answer your question about genetics, this is how I see it.
        Science says there is a genetic influence whether someone is gay or not.
        But there are also genetic influences on whether people are prone to be alcoholics, or gluttons, or impatient, etc. God made our personalities through our DNA. He gave us all strengths and faults. If I am prone to acting a certain way because of my DNA (or in other words, the personality God gave me), but that way is sin, then I should always be trying to not act that way. Same thing with homosexuality. Just because it’s genetic doesn’t mean we have to lie down and let that sin rule our lives.
        And if a church preaches against one sin, it should preach against them all. I never heard a pastor pull any punches when preaching about self-control while looking at an audience full of fat people. So why should they avoid preaching about the sin of homosexuality if there are gays in the church?
        I tried to address part of your question here, and hope it makes some kind of sense.

        Reply
      • Hi Beverly…
        Your questions are valid and part of a larger discussion that has been happening for years amongst Christians and honestly, I believe will continue to the end of the ages. I see a genuine effort in the people here trying to answer those questions–for you and for themselves. And as you are witnessing–the answers don’t come easy, if ever. We all come from different places in our Christian walk, from different backgrounds and experiences… which is why I believe you keep hearing people answer your question with…LOVE. That is the ultimate answer when we, in our humanness and fallibility, don’t have the answers to all of life’s questions. God tells us simply–over and over–to love.We might not always agree and have it all figured out–but we can love. And I believe the church has fallen *very* short in this area.

        You asked:
        “My question is should the church take a stand on what constitutes sin? Should we still consider homosexuality a sin when we know that genetics are involved? We no longer think that bi-polar people have demons inside them. We have removed the scarlet letter from unwed moms. We no longer shun people who have divorced and remarried, and most Christian churches are willing to marry such people in the church for a second or third time. I am asking where we should go with this as Christians? ”

        I believe the bible sets the standard for what constitutes sin, not “the church”. The bible also sets the standard for what constitutes love. Real, unconditional, selfless, grace-filled love–especially for those who are different. *This* is where the church–Christians– fall short. This is where *I* have fallen short.

        I am 44 years old and have been a Christian for 21 years. I have personally dealt with each of the issues you mention. One of my dearest friends is diagnosed bi-polar, another friend struggled for 2 years with postpartum psychosis. I have unwed mothers with whom I am very close to…and my own divorce and remarriage. I can tell you first hand that *not* all of these are openly accepted by “the church” without discussion or questions or even stigma. I can also tell you each of the people in these situations have felt *very* unloved at times by other Christians. And I don’t think these other Christians always mean to be unloving, but because they themselves don’t have all the “hows and whys” figured out–they turn away. It’s uncomfortable. It’s easier to look the other way, than to face the reality of these issues and how they affect us individually and collectively.

        So really? I don’t know that there is an answer to your question other than to love God and strive to love others in the way we see Jesus loving people. He cares about their lives and of course, because he is God and Creator, he understands that each person is created an individual with individual heart issues. He *knows* each person intimately–and whether or not we choose to know *him* intimately, is well–our choice. I know it may seem simplistic to just say “love others”, but that’s where it has to start–before we can start actually doing it, we have to believe it.

        I don’t know if this helped at all, but it sure helped me to clarify some things in my own mind. : )

        Blessings to you Beverly!

        Reply
  55. Beverly

    I tried to post again on this and got a message that I had already said that. I didn’t, but I am guessing that the owner of this site is tired of hearing me readress my question.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Hi Beverly,
      Nish here. I have approved all of your comments, I just wanted you to know that. If there’s a glitch somewhere that’s keeping you from posting, please know its not on a moderating end. I appreciate you maintaining a civil and graceful tone.

      To answer your question, I’m not sure if the church should “preach” about sin. I think that decision falls on the elders of each congregation as they lean into the Lord for His leading and discernment. What I can say is that sin, in and of itself, is a dividing issue. It divides and separates us from God. It divides us from each other and keeps us from uniting as the body in a way that glorifies God. It’s used by the enemy to keep the rifts between us strong, propelling the darkness in our hearts.

      Do we stand silent on issues that grieve the Lord? I don’t know. I’m not the Holy Spirit. But I know that I can only do what I am prompted to by the Spirit in ME. I can’t assume that the Holy Spirit is telling you to do the same thing as me.

      If the Lord is placing strong convictions in you that encourages you to speak out against sin, then follow that leading! But I don’t believe that the Lord would be pleased with talk that isn’t drenched deep in love, relationship and grace… He showed us a perfect picture of addressing sin in the sending of Christ. He is the only example I can strive to emulate.

      I hope this helps… did I answer the question you were asking?

      Reply
      • Beverly

        I’m not sure, Nish if you answered my question or not. I tend to keep my thoughts to myself when it comes to other people’s sins; heck, I have enough of my own to worry about. I am just trying to figure out what the general concensus is on this whole discussion. I think everyone is in agreement that gays should be welcome in church and that we shouldn’t make anyone else’s sin out to be the worst sin. However, when I hear gay people talk on other message boards, if they came to church only to be told that they were in sin for being the way they are naturally and loving who they do, they wouldn’t come back for more. So that is where the loving and welcoming thing seems to break down for me.

        Reply
        • Hi Beverly,

          I’ve been making my way through the comments & there are all kinds of things that I want to say and ask of others. But, it’s late. And I can’t get it all out at once.

          Here’s something- we’ve heard “love” a lot. Love is the answer. I agree with this.

          One extremely important way for us to show love is to listen to each other. As a gay Christian, I feel the love when a someone asks me to share my life, my experiences and my perspective on some of these questions.

          And when someone does, there’s a good chance that we’ll both learn something. If nothing else, we’ll understand each other better. Even if we don’t agree on everything.

          Knowing that that’s how I long to be treated, and how good that feels to know someone has taken the time and effort to listen, I try to do the same for others. Even when it’s difficult. Which, is often the case. But… patience is a virtue ;)

          Reply
          • Beverly

            Tina, thank you for posting a response. I initially came here because of one of Alise’s posts.

            I am glad we are talking about what it means to be loving as a Christian. If anyone had asked me this a year or so ago, if I thought I was a loving Chritian, I would not have hesitated to say yes. But since I’ve been reading posts from Alise mostly, and she is a staunch supporter of gay rights and thinks their rights should include marriage to a person of their same sex, I’ve been wondering if I have always seemed that loving in my attitude towards this issue. I’ve never gone out of my way to purposely be mean to anyone, and throughout my life, I have always considered myself a champion of the underdog. That said, I have not been in favor of same sex marriage. I’ve heard all the arguments, and the strongest one is, “How would two people of the same sex marrying have any affect on my marriage?” And of course, the answer is that it wouldn’t. Yet, I still have that nigling feeling that somehow this isn’t what God intended. And of course, the argument to that is, “Well, then why did God create some people that way?” And I have no comeback to that. So in hearing so much about this in the last couple of years, I am wondering if my attitude about marriage being a hetro only privilege has been hurtful to anyone. I don’t carry signs. I don’t post negative things about gay marriage in my Facebook status. I don’t even talk about it at all in real-life. But by being non-supportive to people who will tell you over and over that this is discrimination and that it is hurting them, that it is hurting families, I have to wonder. We say hate the sin but love the sinner. I’m wondering if maybe my own sins should be my business and if I should just leave other people’s up to God. Does this make any sense? Again, I have never set out to hurt anyone, but I have to wonder if my lack of support for people who only want to live their lives out quietly and equally with a love mate of their choice is hurtful. Anyone have any thoughts on this? What does it mean to really love one another as Christ loves us???

  56. Beverly

    So we’re done with this topic?

    Reply
  57. Kaycee

    “But what about when The Issue becomes so much about The Issue that we forget about the person?”

    I love that. Shouldn’t it be about that? The person. Loving the person. Loving and caring for each other. Thanks for sharing this post.

    Reply

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