There is much debate and anxiety within the church concerning our same-sex attracted neighbors. What if they want to come to our churches? How do we accept them? Should we? If so, what do we do with them?
This anxiety is understandable. We tend to be uncomfortable with people who are quite different than we are, merely because of the differences between us. It can be even more dramatic with our LGBT neighbors because of moral issues that exist.
Here are 10 truths all Christians must keep in mind as we interact with our neighbor, the same-sex attracted person. The overarching truth, especially for Christians, is this: they are really no different than you or me. These 10 truths explain why and how the church should receive its LGBT neighbors:
1. We are all loved by God.
Christ didn’t hang on the cross for these people and not for those. He didn’t do so for some more than others — or for those who really need it, those we conveniently tend to think of as “those” people. His love for all is why He died for all.
Your LGBT neighbor is no less worthy of God’s love than you are.
2. We are all stricken by a terminal illness.
Sin has devastated each one of us and to equal degrees, separating each of us in our rebellion eternally from God beyond any of our reach. It is not the case that some are more separated than others because of their particular struggles and sins.
3. We are all in need of repentance.
Christ’s death and resurrection is the only means of bridging the hellish gap that exists between us and God. It is not our nationality, our family name, our socio-economic status, our sexual orientation, or even our own righteousness that is able to bridge it.
It is only by repenting over our own sin and casting ourselves upon the abundant and limitless grace of Christ that we can be brought back into right relationship with God. This is needed by all and is available to all, regardless of sexual orientation.
4. Winking at anyone’s sin is not loving.
God takes all of our sin seriously. If not, there would have been no need for Him to sacrifice His own Son. Therefore, looking the other way at our own sin and the sin of those who come to us in search of salvation is unloving.
Ignoring someone’s sin or treating it as acceptable actually keeps the remedy for their terminal illness from them. We are called to extend grace, yes, but not at the expense of truth — the truth that all sin is an offense to God requiring our honest repentance.
5. We all need to be welcomed into the church.
The lost — of all stripes — are not only welcome into our churches, but should be deeply desired there. They are the only ones who truly belong there — and each of us is dreadfully lost.
Would we welcome the Apostle Paul into our pews, even though he referred to himself as the chief of all sinners? Similarly, if our LGBT neighbors don’t belong in church, where do they belong? And why should we belong there if they don’t?
6. We must teach and preach the fullness of scripture to everyone.
We need not emphasize some parts of scripture to those who struggle with certain sins, just as we should not avoid some parts of scripture because they make us feel uncomfortable.
Our churches should faithfully preach the fullness of God’s Word — those parts that encourage and make us feel good as well as those parts that tell us of our brokenness and sin.
7. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin.
As we welcome all people into our churches where we are faithfully preaching and teaching the fullness of God’s Word , we must trust the Holy Spirit to convict each of us of our own sin. That is His job, not ours — and He will do it in His timing
8. No one has a right to re-write God’s word.
There are a growing number of people who seek to convince the church that scripture does not actually prohibit same-sex sexual relationships. They do this through a crafty theological sleight-of-hand, a popular one being, “Jesus never said one word about homosexuality,” as if silence on a subject equates to approval.
But there are many in our pews, including myself, who use similar tricks to justify sins like divorce, covetousness, arrogance, gossip, and deception. No one has the right to rewrite what God has written to “fit the times” or make us feel justified in our sin.
9. We are all seeking God’s love.
We fill our lives with plenty of things that are displeasing to God, but we often do so because we are seeking that which we were truly made for. Sadly, we’re just seeking it in all the wrong places.
We each seek God’s love — and ironically the things that take us from that love are the things we chase to try to fill our God-shaped hole that St. Augustine told us about.
10. Same-sex attraction is not a sin.
And this is coming from a guy who works for a conservative evangelical ministry. But it doesn’t mean what you think it means. There are those who live with same-sex attraction, but do so as all Christians should with their unique temptations — by bringing these struggles under the Lordship and obedience of Christ.
This is called discipleship, and it’s the central substance of the Christian life. We must come alongside our LGBT brothers and sisters, living with and encouraging them in their trials as we seek to be obedient in ours.
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It is not only our church leadership that must know and live by these truths, but our entire congregations. As we all wrestle with how to love our same-sex attracted neighbor — those who visit our churches and those who don’t — we must keep these 10 truths forefront in our minds. They serve as sure guides in welcoming all into the critical Christian balance of grace and truth.
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