Is homosexuality a sin? It's an age-old question, and there are
people on both sides of the debate, each quoting their Bibles. How do we
know who's right? What would Jesus do if he were here with us today?
Jesus never said anything about homosexuality, so can we really say?
I'd like to propose that we can. Perhaps we wont be able to settle
the debate over what the Bible says about homosexuality (least of all
from one little blog post!) but I think there is one thing we can be
sure of -- Jesus loves every one of us. In fact Jesus was especially
known for loving the very people that the religious people of his time
had condemned and cast out. Let's consider some facts:
There has been story after story in the news of LGBT teens committing suicide because of bullying
We have also seen a surge of news stories of kids being harassed,
threatened, and even physicality assaulted. No one's child should have
to endure that. No one should feel afraid, hated and rejected like that.
These are not just a few shocking exceptional cases either. As their voices have begun to be heard
we have seen story after story of how gay and transgender kids have
felt hated, at times even hating themselves. We have heard how life for
them can be a living hell, so bad that it makes some of them want to end
That really should be a wakeup call for us as Christians. Regardless
of where we stand on the rightness or the wrongness of being gay, none
of that matters much when people are dying. We can argue over what the
Bible says about homosexuality, but one thing is utterly clear: Jesus
clearly teaches us to love people, not to hate them, not to make them
feel hated, and not to stand by while that is happening. From the
perspective of the New Testament there simply is no room for doubt on
this. We know exactly where Jesus stands. He stands on the side of the
least, the condemned, the vulnerable.
John's Gospel tells the story of a women caught in adultery who was
brought before Jesus. The religious leaders say to him, "The law
commands that she should be stoned to death, what do you say?" Jesus
bends down and draws with his finger in the dirt, and then says to them
"Let the one who is without sin throw the first stone." One by one they
all leave until he is there alone with the woman. Jesus says to her
"Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" "No one, sir," she
answered. "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared.
Now, many preachers are quick to point out that Jesus next says to
her: "Go and leave your life of sin." But the real point here is that
even though Jesus did consider adultery sinful, he still was the one who
defended her. In fact, he was the only one there who was "without sin"
and yet he did not cast a stone and did not condemn. So again, even if
we think homosexuality is wrong, we know what Jesus would do in our
shoes. He has drawn a line in the sand, and we need to decide what side
of that line we will be on. Will we be on the side of Jesus and the one
who is being condemned and threatened? Or will we stand with the
religious accusers on the other side of that line? Maybe we were not the
ones actually throwing those stones, but did we stand on the side of
the accused and condemned and actively defend them like Jesus did? Did
we actively defend and love "the least of these"? Because Jesus says
that the way we treat them is the way we treat him.
Jesus never says a word about homosexuality, but there was one kind
of sin that he spoke out against all the time. There was one kind of sin
that got Jesus really mad. This was the sin of religious people who
shut out those in need of mercy. This was the sin of people who used the
Bible as a weapon. You hear Jesus saying this on page after page of the
gospels. Why? Because this type of sin has the potential to damage
people like few other things do. It is particularly damaging because
they claim to be speaking for God. So if we really want to speak out
against sin, we as Christians need to speak out against the kind of sin
that Jesus did, and side with the kinds of folks he did.
What this all comes down to is we, as Christians, acting like Jesus.
It's about discerning what Jesus would want us to do right now, and the
answer is clear: We need to change our priorities and focus on the
critical issue of communicating love and acceptance to people --
especially the very people our society so often ostracizes, condemns and
rejects. Because that is exactly what Jesus did. Jesus was
known for hanging out with "sinners" and was frequently accused of being
a sinner himself because of it. But that did not stop him because he
cared more about those people than he cared about being judged.
If we want to follow Jesus, then we need to have that same reputation
of loving to a fault. We need to be so radically accepting that we are
misunderstood and judged like Jesus. If we really do love Jesus, then we
need to love like he did, so much so that it seems "scandalous" in the
eyes the religious folks of our day, just like it did in his day.
We have spent so much time being "balanced" in the other direction,
so much time worrying about "giving the wrong impression" that it is
time to shift our lopsided boat the other way. Because as long as our
priority is in looking moral rather than in showing compassion and grace
to those on the outside, we simply do not have the priorities of Jesus.
And when we do not reflect Christ, we are giving the wrong impression.
Now you may have noticed that I didn't ever say what I thought about
whether homosexuality was wrong or right. I didn't say because this is
not about me and what I think. It's about us as Christians learning to
care about what Jesus cares about. This is not about gay rights. It is
about about human rights, and that starts with the least. It is
about us having the courage to stand with those who are vulnerable. It
is about us saying "no" to hate, even when it is done in the name of God
-- no, especially when it is done in the name of God. It's
about having the guts to draw that line in the sand like Jesus did. Even
when that means facing that mob ourselves.
So let's stand alongside of LGBT individuals. Let's let them know
they are loved, they are welcomed, they are not alone. I think when we
do, we will find that Jesus has been there with them for a long time
now. It's time we joined him.
Labels: compassion, counter-cultural, grace, homosexuality