In a nation where the issue of homosexuality is constantly in the news, many claim that Christians hate homosexuals. One wonders about the validity of this belief or whether or not it is simply a misunderstanding of the Christian faith.
The culture of today is inundated with sex. It is almost impossible to get away from it. There are constant details of affairs amongst the celebrity culture that most Americans find fascinating. In the meantime, those who wear the title of “Christian” are presented as being bigots and out of touch with reality every time an effort is made to cling to the teachings of Jesus in the area of sexual conduct. The newspapers are full of lurid details of celebrity affairs, while the Church is presented as bigoted and out of date whenever the organization seeks to uphold Jesus’ teaching on sexual morality. Where does one begin when addressing the question of homosexuality when it is approached from entirely different angles? Especially when an identity is often characterized by sexual activity.
The biggest question is whether or not Christians hate homosexuals. The hard reality is there are many who wear the title of “Christian” who have been rather hateful in their actions and attitudes toward the homosexual community. Many believers are against those actions and attitudes and even remorseful that such actions have even taken place. Many around the nation struggle with sexual identity and have come to a church seeking help only to receive horrible treatment in return. Christians need to find a way to communicate the truth of the Word of God and its stance against the gay lifestyle and at the same time, show love for the homosexual community.
It needs to be said that a true Christian does not hate homosexuals, but is it bigoted behavior to call that lifestyle morally reprehensible? The word “bigot” literally means “one who does not tolerate the views of others.” That does not have to necessarily be a description of a Christian. While a Christian must tolerate other opinions, this does not have to mean agreement. The word “tolerate” implies that one respects the right of another to express a view. If one agrees with that view, then there is nothing to tolerate.
Many will argue that if a Christian is not a bigot, then a person of faith should simply catch up with the times and stop exhibiting such prudish behavior. The truth is that the Bible should only be taken in context with the culture in which it was written and that it is completely irrelevant to the liberal society of the Western world? Many will argue that very thing. Many will say that since homosexual unions are now acceptable in most cultures, that the biblical text simply does not apply anymore. The Bible is out of date and the church should catch up with world in which it lives.
However, this is simply not true. While a Christian must always be tolerant of opposing views, tolerance does not have to equate with agreement.
Those who advocate the idea of Christianity being outdated, argue that the Bible was written in a context of any sex outside of marriage being seen as wrong. While it is true that the Bible argues strongly for sex being specifically for the marriage bed, it still does not advocate homosexual behavior of any kind. Homosexuality was practiced in both the Greek and Roman civilizations. In Greek society, it was seen as an essential part of a young boy’s educational experience. The New Testament was written in the context of this widespread and blatant homosexual activity.
Although homosexual activity is not something that was invented by western civilization, it is clear that the idea that people are born with that inclination is a relatively recent opinion of mainstream society. This naturally poses the question from liberal society as to how a God, who is known for unconditional love, deny people the opportunity to be what they were born to be. This brings it around to one foundational issue: the issue of identity. What gives one identity? This may well be the epicenter of the disagreement between Christians and the majority of secular society.
For the one who claims a relationship with Christ, nobody can be completely defined by their sexual orientation or the sexual activity in which they take part. Instead, one must look to Genesis which tells us that all are created in the image of the Creator Himself. It is for this reason that, to a Christian, all human life is considered valuable. Just by being human, everyone has dignity and significance. Every person is loved by God. This may sound trite but it is actually a very profound statement. Regardless of behavior, all are precious in the sight of God.
It further needs to be understood that it is not the evangelical Christian alone who has elected to argue against the notion that people are homosexual by nature or that the sexual orientation of a person is pre-determined in some fashion. Even Peter Tatchell, the founder of “Outrage!” and an extremely vocal advocate of gay rights has publically condemned any research that involves looking for a genetic link to homosexuality and has chosen to call it a “flawed theory.” One can concede that a wide range of it is also important to be clear here that it is not Christians alone who may want to dispute the idea that people are gay by nature or that one’s sexual orientation is in some way pre-determined. It is actually extremely probable that a wide variety of factors contribute to a person and their choosing of a homosexual lifestyle. Some of those factors include environment, genetics, hormones, and the behavior to which they are exposed. However, everyone still has an ability to make choices and pursue certain life goals. A Christian wants and desires to affirm that every human being has dignity and further distinguish between behavior and personhood.
When dealing with the question of homosexuality, one needs to be extremely sensitive about where people are coming from. For many, this is a very personal and painful thing. Still, for others, it is way to object to Christianity and sound intellectual at the same time. This does not mean that there are not substantial answers that can be offered. However, proper manner and tone are very essential.
Is it possible to accurately communicate the unconditional love of Christ and still stand by the teaching that sex is God-given and is reserved for within the confines of marriage? God knows that this will include much sacrifice and pain not only for the practicing homosexual but also for those who are straight and cannot find a partner or for the married person who feels unfulfilled sexually. Yet at the same time, all need to be real about just how dangerous fragile human sexuality really is and try to be faithful to the teachings of the Bible. It is a hard line that a Christian must walk. Yet walk it he must.
Opinion by Rick Hope