I asked a friend this question several months ago. To my way of looking at things, it was simply impossible. But then I had a conversation with a man I respect deeply. A man who, when we were in high school together and I was busy being more psychologically and intellectually advanced than the sunday school hicks around me who needed a “higher power” in their lives, consistently impressed me by the choices he made and the moral high ground I saw him taking in every possible circumstance. To be honest, when I started to suspect he was gay (several years after high school) I thought for sure he had abandoned his faith. During our recent conversation, however, I heard his integrity and deep faith in every word that he spoke and to be honest, I was dumfounded.
It was then I realized that the question I needed answered was not whether a homosexual can know God, but rather how does God want me to see the homosexual? What does He want to show me when I look at these people whom He has created and loves deeply?
It’s an issue I’ve struggled with for a long, long time. When I first became a Christian, I lost my best friend because I didn’t know how to deal with the fact that she was gay. Later, I practically ruined relationships with several of my family members for the same reason. It grieves me deeply and I’ve long since asked forgiveness, but the underlying question is still there. How does God want me to see my homosexual friend, family member or neighbor?
Last night, God showed me something that will forever change the way I see the world around me. For the friends and family members reading this, please understand that it is my belief that homosexuality is not God’s will and that homosexual behavior is a sin. As I describe what I felt last night, please keep that in mind because my intention is not to offend – the very opposite, in fact. That being said, the essence of what I feel God showed me holds true whether you believe homosexuality is a sin or not so please hear the spirit behind what I have to say, even if the way I say it doesn’t line up with your own beliefs. It’s certainly applicable to many more issues than this one.
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
– Jeremiah 17:9
Humans are incredibly proficient in the art of self-deception. There are myriads of things we blind ourselves to, because to open our eyes and look ourselves dead in the face would mean to admit our flaws, our sins, our imperfections, our glaring grotesqueness in light of God’s perfectness. We hide. And often, when God wants to show us our own hideousness for the sake of helping us to become more like Him, He must do it little by little, a piece here and a piece there. At least, that’s how it is for me. And there have been times I’ve wept bitter tears over God’s revelation of the ugliness that is inside of me, and other times when I’ve done absolutely everything I can to ignore what I know God wanted to heal in me because I was too afraid to see it. It’s often only through hindsight that I can see how patient He’s been with me, and how He’s chipped at the rocks and boulders and mountains of my sins little by little, one tiny piece at a time, skillfully working until the whole fell away and I could finally see what He wanted to show me.
And yet, during all the time I’ve lived in the midst of lust or pride or hate toward those around me – murdering them in my heart with my thoughts – I never once doubted my own Christianity. The bible, however, tells me that whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar (1 Jon 4:10.) And ooooh, have I hated my brother.
I’m skilled in the art of self-deception.
We all are.
In light of this, I ask you to imagine with me for a moment…
What if the things inside your heart that God wanted to change embodied the very essence of who you believed yourself to be? What if it touched virtually every aspect of your life? What if it dictated who you felt capable of loving and building a life with, the type of physical closeness you want to have with someone, the type of life you envision yourself having? What if it was one of the most important things about how you relate to the world around you?
Would you see it as a “sin?” Would you be willing to change, or even entertain the possibility that you should change?
With all the hideousness that’s in my own heart, with all the self-deception and hiding and ignoring that I do in my own life, how can I possibly believe that someone who practices homosexuality can’t know Jesus?
How does God want me to see the homosexual?
With unmitigated, unbiased, unconditional, LOVE.
To the friends and family members whom I have hurt with my hypocrisy, I am deeply, deeply sorry. You do not deserve my condescension. There’s an old, worn out cliche “hate the sin and love the sinner” and I admit that while we do purposefully remove ourselves from some activities our friends and family members participate in (i.e. christmas,) I have never denied any of them the closeness of my heart based on the things they do that I perceive to be sinful. And yet, I have denied you that closeness.
I ask your forgiveness.
In closing, I want to share what my friend from high school wrote, the night we had our conversation about this. It is one of the most compassionate and convicting things I’ve ever read on this subject:
It’s a tough issue. I respect those who follow interpretations that are both for and against homosexuality. I’ve read intelligent posts on both sides and I fight strongly for individuals rights to believe and interpret their faith without interference. The thing that I loathe is persons espousing Christ and using his name as a weapon of hatred. I think it’s exactly what is meant by using the Lord’s name in vain. Anytime we treat our fellow men with anger and disrespect but use Christ as the reasoning, I think it hinders the Gospel. There is so much cultural warmongering when we all have enough personal spiritual development to focus on. God will be the final judge and only then will all things become clear–with none being able to stand righteously on their own merits. Christ was humble and not militant. His only anger appears at the persons profiting in vain under the name of the Father. It breaks my heart to read hatred within a cloak of Christ. The world is so broken and these things pain me terribly. Everyone is so quick to speak for God and judge in His name. That is all I really meant by ignorance. I pray for peace and charity for us all.