Contemporary culture in our country and much of the world has seemed to place same-sex relationships on a par with opposite-sex relationships. Gender and sexuality are supposedly seen as fluid and changeable. If you disagree you are made out to be bigoted, hateful, and out of touch with reality. Traditional Christianity has viewed same-sex relationships as sinful and unacceptable. If you are an LGBT person or support such relationships, much of Christianity has seemed to relegate you to hell.
What a contrast! But what’s right? Do we “give in” to progressive contemporary culture and support same-sex relationships out of love and tolerance? Do we cloister ourselves in our conservative churches and condemn homosexuals as hopeless sinners?
I don’t believe Jesus would do either.
This article is in response to your questions. I had not planned on ever writing about this issue, but in our most recent survey several of you asked me to address this question. It’s something you are wrestling with, and I want to wrestle with it along with you. One article cannot address all aspects of this issue, but I think the question is a good place to start: What would Jesus say to an LGBT person?
So that you know where I’m coming from, I have had patients, colleagues, bosses, employees, students, and extended family members who are LGBT. Sometimes those relationships have been positive and other times they have not. Sometimes I’ve responded to these fellow human beings in ways I know God would be pleased with, and other times I have not. These issues are challenging for all of us.
Several weeks ago I visited a church I had not known previously and on arrival discovered the morning’s sermon was about how God deals with LGBT persons. Several individuals told their story as part of the service. What struck me was the way this particular church was walking with these persons through a process of spiritual growth, loving them as individuals while calling them to an entirely different life in Christ. It was obvious this church made LGBT persons feel welcomed while at the same time clearly naming same-sex behavior as sinful. Is this church doing it right? I don’t know. It was the first time I had seen the topic handled this openly and in their unique way.
I’m not going to address a theology of sex here, or discuss what the Bible says about homosexuality specifically. For an in-depth treatment of the whole topic, one resource I can recommend is Homosexuality: The Use of Scientific Research in the Church’s Moral Debate. My position is that sex is a God-given gift to be enjoyed exclusively between one man and one woman within marriage, and I believe that is the position that is supported by Scripture.
One important thing to note; sexual attraction and sexual behavior are not one and the same. Sexual attraction to someone you are not joined to in Biblical marriage – regardless of gender or sex – is not the same as becoming intimate with that person. We too often forget that.
You may or may not share a similar position as I do about sex. Regardless of your position, it’s becoming increasingly impossible for Christians to ignore this issue. If we take our cues from Jesus, here are some things we should work hard to keep in mind in this debate.
Homosexuality is one more expression of brokenness.
We are all sinful, broken. Sexually, that brokenness shows up in multiple ways; pornography, adultery, sexual exploitation, LGBT behavior, sex before marriage, rape, giving or buying sex for money or drugs, incest, child sexual abuse, promiscuity, sex fights within marriage, etc. This list is not meant to equate any one of these expressions of brokenness with any other, but only to illustrate how deeply and pervasively this issue affects most of us. The woundedness, brokenness, and sin we each carry is unique, but we are no more or less in need of a Savior than anyone else.
There’s nothing in Scripture that creates a hierarchy of sins. The reason sexual brokenness affects us so deeply is because perhaps no other area more closely touches our identity and our inner soul. (See 1 Corinthians 6:18) Nothing distorts more the picture of intimacy between us and Christ that sexuality was meant to convey. (Ephesians 5:32) But as far as our standing before God, sexual brokenness is no more or less sinful than bitterness, greed, gluttony, stealing, murder, or a pervasive spirit of fear or anger.
Jesus loved everyone and called each one to a life of righteousness.
No one who wanted to follow Jesus was turned away. The only requirement was that they do just that – follow Him. Each person – rich or poor, male or female, “good” or “bad” – felt completely accepted. But that was just the beginning. No one who was around Jesus very long could have escaped the conviction that only absolute righteousness was acceptable. You were accepted as you were – but you absolutely MUST change.
Jesus dealt exactly the same with both sexually broken people and people broken in other ways. Tweet that. The rich young ruler was called to sell his possessions and give to the poor. (Luke 18:22) Peter had to give up his impetuous nature. Zacchaeus knew he had to stop stealing from taxpayers. (Luke 19:8) Simon was called to learn a lesson in love and forgiveness. (Luke 7:47) The woman who poured oil on Jesus feet had had to leave her life of prostitution. (Luke 7:48) The woman at the well had to come to grips with her serial marriages and living with someone not her husband. (John 4:17-18) The woman caught in adultery who Jesus rescued from death by stoning had to leave her life of sin. (John 8:11) Each person was called to offer their brokenness – sexual or otherwise – to Jesus for His transformation.
Jesus makes a healed life possible.
Jesus’ call to live with the same level of holiness that He did would be meaningless if it was impossible. As humanly incomprehensible as that call may seem, no one who knew Jesus when He was on Earth felt discouraged by that call. Instead, they felt empowered by it. Some answered that call, and others did not. The deepest greed, the most pervasive religious superiority, the most degrading sexual brokenness – none was beyond His power to transform. ANYONE who chose to remain in His presence long enough was transformed, step by step, into the kind of person Jesus was calling them to be.
Each one of us has a different load of brokenness to deal with, and Jesus makes healing and transformation available to us all. He crafts that healing in a unique way for each one of His children. For LGBT persons that journey involves dealing with shame, guilt, identity, lust, pain, honesty, and many other issues – just like it does for each one of us. That road may be longer or shorter. We each have the choice to cooperate fully or decline the transformation Jesus offers. The end goal is always the same – to become like Him by remaining in His presence.
Based on how Jesus dealt with broken people while He was here, I believe He would say to an LGBT person today:
“Here, take My hand. Let Me take you into the very LIFE you were created for!”
I need to hear from you.
This topic is red-hot in today’s culture. Does this speak to any of your questions? Are there other aspects surrounding LGBT issues that you are concerned about? Do you have stories, experiences, or struggles you would like to share? Are there specific questions you would like addressed?
If you want to hear more on these issues, I need you to tell me so. If I don’t hear your response, I may not write much about this in the future. If you DO want more, please leave a comment below. Or you can write to me confidentially using the Contact Us page. I’m open to your questions and comments.
Your Turn: What do you think Jesus would say to an LGBT person today? Leave a comment below.
Tweetables: why not share this post?
- 3 things to remember in contemplating what Jesus would say to an LGBT person today. Tweet that.
Do you want to live FULLY ALIVE?
There are simple steps you can take EVERY DAY that will propel you forward in experiencing the kind of life you want, and that God wants for you physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually.
Get your FREE Resource Guide now: 7 Keys to Living Fully Alive – from the Inside Out.