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On behalf of the church, I would like to apologize to the gay community for the message we send:

Change for us, clean up your lives, then we’ll love you.

Here’s the deal: I don’t want you to change for me, for us, rather I want you to come to Jesus. In fact, whether you’re gay or straight, male or female, barbarian, Scythian, slave, or free:

Come to Jesus

Because that’s Who it’s all about. But the message of the Lamb that was slain is often drowned out by the noise of heated rhetoric.

So again I say: I don’t care who you are, just come.

Because Jesus is the only one who really, absolutely, fundamentally loves you as you are. But He also loves you enough not to leave you as you are.

If you will but allow Him to move in your heart.

Because an encounter with Jesus will not leave you the same–whether you are gay, straight, democrat, republican, male, female, indigent, rich, whatever:

Jesus is the great equalizer, and we are all alike in our need for Him. So when it is still, and quiet–at a time likely not of your choosing–when that still, small voice comes, and bids you lay something down to come follow Him, you best do so.

I’m saying this as much to you as I am to me, for I write out of my own need, my poverty.

How about you? What have you given up to follow Jesus?

I love gay people… Even though we don’t agree.

This post wasn’t easy to write. I take very seriously the obligation to tell the truth the best I can. Yes, I know I can be flip, I can be funny, I can be insincere.

This is not one of those posts. It merely represents my attempt to wrap my mind around some serious, and delicate, issues. And before I get to the post proper, allow me to lay my cards out on the table: I have my convictions, you have yours; we may not see eye-to-eye. That’s okay.

I’m not here to win you to my point of view; if anything, I would love to win you to Christ. (And then let Him–not me–work out your salvation with Him with “fear and trembling”).

That said, I’m going to take heat for this; be called intolerant, unloving, perhaps bigoted. I’m a big boy: I can take it. I’m not here to win any popularity contests.

I believe certain things, and those beliefs are informed by the Bible. I believe that God loves everybody equally–He is no respecter of persons. I am not a Calvinist; I believe everyone has an equal shot at salvation.

We are all sinners. Thus, regardless of the consequences of that sin, we are equal in that regard. Whether gay, straight, black, white, whatever: we all stand equal in our need for God.

That said, (and forgive me for seemingly singling out a particular people group) something I’ve always wondered about, something I’ve wrestled with, is the example of scripture. I’m not here to proof-text, or cherry-pick verses, in support of a position.

No; what I’m after is the bigger picture: when considered from end-to-end, where in the Bible do we see God’s depiction of the “happy homosexual home?” Where is His command to two men, or two women, to be “fruitful and multiply” (which from context we know does not mean adoption)?

This issue is foundational to me: if I subscribe at all to the Reformation tenet of “Sola Scriptura,” and that is what informs my convictions, then what place do I give my feelings? If I believe that all Scripture is God-breathed, what is the consequence? In my mind, this means that I will come down on the side of holiness–instead of happiness.

There is a dangerous, slippery, slope in the line of reasoning that goes thus: I have these feelings, and I know that God loves me, and just wants me to be happy. Really? Is this the same God who showed Paul how much he must suffer for my (God’s) name? The same one Who, through Peter, says “after you shall have suffered?”

Yes, there are both joys, and sorrows, on the path of life, but I don’t believe that the path He bids me trod is the one of least resistance. Of His purposes, one is to make me into a creature suitable to be in His presence for all eternity.

Please understand: it’s not my intent to “gay bash.” The questions above are sincere questions. (Note: I’m not here to debate the issue of marriage, or the rights of individuals in a pluralistic society). The simple fact of the matter is this: because God loves gay people, I love gay people. But I do not believe it is unloving to say that I understand the Scriptures differently than the prevailing, vocal, culture.

I am called to be in the world, but not of it.

Furthermore, my understanding of Scripture is such that I believe that it (and this is a mystery) takes both genders to even begin to (attempt to) represent His image–else why did He create them male and female? (Interestingly, one of the meanings of “El Shaddai” is “many-breasted one”).

For the sake of argument (realizing there are exceptions), let’s say that women are “pink,” and men are “blue.” What do we get when we mix those two colors? Purple–the color of royalty. The color of Jesus.

Somehow, in His economy, the two become one flesh. I don’t understand this, but I accept it. Yet nowhere in holy writ do we see this description applied to same-gendered relationships. Why is this? Did God not know what He was saying? Did He not know that the 21st century was coming?

Listen: go ahead, and hate me. Unsubscribe from my blog. It’s cool. Like a fine wine, I’m not for everybody. I’m trying to work out my own salvation with fear and trembling. I don’t hate gay people–or any people, for that matter–and God knows I have enough trouble with my own sin. Like everybody else, I’m just trying to figure this all out. Live by the light I’ve been given.

You may hate me for my convictions; that’s fine–but I won’t hate you in return.

(Here’s a hard truth: the same God who doesn’t hate “fags,” similarly doesn’t hate Fred Phelps. What I suspect He does hate is our constant vilification of one another. I hope I have not done that here today).

That said, as I wrote above, God’s grace–His love–are available equally to all. Ultimately, how you live is between you and Him.

Augustine said “Love God, and do as you will.”

Anyway, what do you think? How do you approach this delicate issue?

>Gay Pride Parade 2010 - Dublinphoto © 2010 William Murphy | more info(via: Wylio)

     I don’t support gay rights, because I don’t believe Jesus did. On the other hand, neither do I support discrimination. And I don’t support discrimination because Jesus didn’t. His message—the Gospel—was a message for all. Including those who identify as gay. Like Jesus, I support basic human rights: every person has a right to be treated with a dignity befitting who they are: a human being. Including gays, lesbians, and the transgendered. Jesus died for them just the same as He died for you and me; 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.
     Right now, I would probably be remiss if I didn’t admit that I interpret certain Scriptures differently, hold to a more historically conservative theology, than perhaps some of these dear people for whom Jesus died. None of which absolves me—absolves us—from behaving in anything less than a loving fashion towards our fellow human beings, who are made in God’s image. I’m not here to debate whether homosexuality is a sin, or not, but what I am attempting to accomplish is tear down some of the walls of bitterness and resentment that exist on both sides of this divide. Even if we come down on the side that says homosexual behavior is a sin, we need to ask ourselves how did Jesus treat sinners?
     Listen, while I realize that the earliest manuscripts may not contain John 7:53-8:11, nevertheless I think it’s beneficial to ask ourselves just how did Jesus treat the woman (where was the guy?) caught in adultery? He gave the far harsher rebuke to her accusers: “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” To her, he was far more gentle, and said “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” Pop quiz: who among them—among us—is without sin? None of them, thus none of us as well. So let’s stop throwing stones, ok? And be about the business of loving people to Jesus. There is no room in His kingdom for the kind of discrimination that puts any people group outside of His love. He said in John 12:32 “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” All people—not just the elect. All people. Even those we don’t like, don’t understand, don’t agree with, or who hate us.
As regards those who hate us, we are under specific orders from our King: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy,’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matt. 5:43-48) Hard words, those. Not easy to do, but required. We are compelled to both love and pray for our enemies—this applies equally to those on both sides of this cultural divide.
Lest you think I’m jesting at scars that never felt wounds, you need to know that I know the sting of being singled out, of being called gay—because it happened to me during sixth, and seventh, grades. While I’m not gay, it still wasn’t a good time in my life. My parents were going through a divorce, and I just didn’t know my place in the world anymore. Maybe other kids sensed this. I don’t know. I do know that, on at least one occasion, I had to fight a kid I didn’t even know to defend my reputation, to prove that I wasn’t gay. He bloodied my nose. Later on, I pummeled the crap out of him between classes. Not one of my prouder moments. I was left alone after that fight, but for my sake—for my soul’s sake—I had to forgive those who hurt me with their words, with their fists. Even if it was never to their faces, even if it was just in my heart, I had to forgive. I wasn’t hurting anyone else by holding a grudge, was in fact no better than my accusers. So I had to let it go.
Right now, I would like to offer a sincere apology to every gay, lesbian, bi, or transgendered person who’s been vilified, teased, harassed, or bullied in the name of Jesus–’cause that’s just not Jesus. I want to apologize for every “God hates fags” sign trotted out by the Westboro folks. God doesn’t, or he wouldn’t have sent his son to die for them—for us. (I would like to get snarky here, and ask everyone who’s reading to join me in praying that “Pastor” Fred and his followers be converted to Calvinism—so that they would just leave people alone. But that is neither fair to Calvinists, nor is it loving. So please just join me in praying for these seriously misguided folks (see verse quoted above about praying for enemies). It’s things like this that give the rest of us—who are trying to love as Jesus did—a black eye. We lose credibility in ministering to the hurting. We lose trust. I’m very sorry these things are happening, and I’m sorry they’re happening to you. As a representative of Jesus, would you please forgive me?
In conclusion, I said above that I don’t support gay rights. And I meant it: I don’t support them, but only because I do support basic human rights for all. Everyone deserves to be treated as Jesus would treat them. Either his love is for everybody, or it’s for nobody. And it behooves us to get with God’s program. That is the radical nature of grace. I’ll leave you with this: “You know that we Jews [religious people] are not allowed to have anything to do with other people [folks not like us]. But God has shown me that he doesn’t think anyone is unclean or unfit” (Acts 10:28, CEV). (All Scripture quotations taken from ESV, unless otherwise noted).