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Christian Grace in the Same-sex Marriage Debate

westboro3-body-4-8-13The foundation of my thinking and teaching about same-sex marriage is rooted in John 1:17 where it says “grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” You can read a fuller explanation of that philosophy here. I am also a Biblicist so I am compelled to believe what the Bible teaches is right and wrong. You can read the “why?” of that here. The purpose of this post is to simply offer some practical application of what it looks like for a Christ follower to believe the Bible when it teaches homosexuality is a sin, yet extend grace to those who struggle with and have given into same-sex attraction. These are random thoughts but held together by what I believe is the spirit of Christ in the way He treated those who were sinful.

First, religious people have a long history of condemning those who “eat with sinners.” Jesus encountered that Himself in Mark 2:13-17. The biggest problem with both sides of this same-sex marriage debate is that there is far more “talking at,” “talking about,” and pontificating than there is “talking to.” It is a knife that cuts both ways, but I can only speak for me and “my kind.” Most of us don’t know a gay person or if we do, have not sat down and had a meaningful and non-confrontational conversation with them. There is so much fear on both sides that there is rarely a conversation. Christ followers could extend a lot of grace by just listening without condemning. There is no reason to waffle on your conviction but you don’t have to agree on everything to have a civil conversation.  There are so few of those who identify themselves as gay sitting in our evangelical churches, we are going to have to go to them if we want to have that conversation. A friend and former secretary did that by volunteering with a local HIV/AIDS support group. Grace will build meaningful life-giving relationships.

Another key “grace moment” could be when believers quit referring to the gay population as though they were all just alike. There are some arrogant, overbearing, obnoxious gay activists. There are also some arrogant, overbearing, obnoxious evangelical believers. Neither really represents the true colors of the vast majority of those on both sides of this issue. I have no interest in a conversation with anyone who is that way, because arrogance is never a foundation for understanding. Yet, there are millions of people on both sides of this issue that are neither arrogant, obnoxious, nor overbearing. Yet, due to stereotyping on both sides of the issue, they never sit down with someone of the opposite thought and have a meaningful conversation. Grace will see the individual and not the movement.

Closely akin to that is the way we label those who struggle with same-sex attractions. In church, we don’t routinely refer to people by their sin, but we tend to label the gay population. We highlight their particular sin as though it is worse than our sin. We say, “I have a gay friend, or a gay brother, or a gay boss.” I think we could go a long way toward extending grace and building relationships that would win people of all sinful backgrounds to Christ if we dropped some of the labels. I know those activists on both sides we discussed earlier tend to use those labels but I am talking about the rest of us. Lets just try to not label people’s sin. Let’s stand for Biblical truth, but let’s treat sinners with the kind of grace and respect that we would like to receive and that we did receive from Christ. I told a young friend recently to try to grasp that she did not have a gay sister. She has a sister. That sister is sinful and her sin is homosexuality. However that should not and cannot be the defining issue of their relationship. Grace will simply love sinful people.

Finally, don’t make judgments you are not qualified to make. You cannot decide if someone is a Christian or not. Why would you even want to? We live in a fallen world and have wicked, sinful hearts. Many of us fall back into sinful habits long after we taste the grace of redemption. We know and believe that salvation requires repentance of known sin when we come to Christ. There are millions of people who have done that and still struggle with same-sex attractions. Not all of them give into those attractions. Some of them do. Yet, there are people that pick that one sin out of a lineup and say you cannot go to heaven if you have that sin in your life. It goes back to thinking homosexuality is a worse sin than say adultery. Can a faithful believer fall into sin and have an affair? Is He still saved? Do you see the dilemma? The purpose of this paragraph is not to decide when and where repentance occurs or to decide if a gay sinner or straight sinner will make it to heaven. The purpose is to say IT IS NONE OF MY BUSINESS. Grace will let God be the judge.

I would like for this conversation to continue. What are some other practical ways grace can change the debate on same-sex marriage? I would love to hear from you.

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3 Responses

  1. Grace is really greater than all our sins. In fact, Grace is totally outside of our understanding. I personally do not think we will EVER understand Grace. We won’t understand it in this life, and in the next one, it won’t matter.

  2. My sentiments exactly Pete. Thanks for sharing and for being transparent. This is sadly becoming a huge issue in many churches and certainly in our world. We must stand against sin but against all sin and we must do so in a loving Christlike manner. Grace, Grace Gods grace, I certainly am thankful that it’s greater than my sin.

  3. I especially appreciate the paragraph where you admonish us for labeling sin when talking about someone. I thank a God who’s grace is greater than our sin.

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