We decided to take some time and respond to the current controversy over homosexuality and gay marriage. Let me be clear, we do not just preach on hot topics because they are hot or in the moment. We do so because we want to be clear on where God stands when all these different voices are saying a broad variety of things. Let me apologize up front for the length of this post, I usually like to keep it short, but for this post it takes time to develop. 

The first thing you have to know is that this is not a black and white situation. I have witnessed time and time again Christians attempting to oversimplify the whole issue because they simply want to have an easy answer to make their worlds complete. Don’t get me wrong though, the Bible is not ambiguous or gray on the subject of homosexuality, it is very clear what the Bible says. This is not what makes the situation gray. The tension that resides here is one of compassion and conviction.

Conviction                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Christians believe that the only way they can ever know who God is, he has to reveal himself to us. All people have an idea of God by seeing the creation around them, but that is not enough. The Bible is the way he has chosen to reveal himself to us. It shows us his character, his faithfulness and his purpose for us. Instead of man just making up a good story about how to please or appease god, like every other religion in the world, the Bible tells of a story how God came to us and the extent he went to redeem the world from the hell-bound path it was on. Without the Bible we would have no clue who God is or what he wants or how he works. No where else has God spoken except through his Word.

Here is the important part…the natural human inclination is to not trust something that goes against what we believe or how we want to live. Even though Scripture very clearly defines homosexuality as a sin, along with a whole bunch of other sins, we want to leave those parts out that might directly relate to my sin.

One of the most depressing and difficult starts to a book comes in Romans. The Apostle Paul outlines the problem that exists in human nature:

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made,so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools ” Romans 1:18-22

Even though God has been clear people have given themselves over to wickedness, they are completely blinded to the reality that their wickedness is hurting them. Their whole way of thinking has become futile, twisted and foolish. The sinners heart leads them in the direction away from God to their own way of doing things. This is not just the homosexual or other sexual sins, this is the way of every sinful heart.

Romans 1:32 sums up this thought when it says, “Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” We as sinners rightfully deserve death and eternal separation from God because of our sin. We could do the right thing and avoid sin, but instead our hearts want to not only reject God but look at sin and call it good.

We can stand on the Word of God because the conviction is clear. But all too often if we just stand on our conviction it does nothing for the sinner. After looking at Jesus and how he dealt with sinners it would be impossible to only stand on our convictions. There must be a balance between Conviction and Compassion.

Compassion                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Throughout the Bible God also calls Christians to love and care for their neighbor. Jesus shows this kind of love when dealing with sinners. Take a look at how Jesus deals with the women caught in adultery in John 8:3-11.

“The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap,in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,”Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Jesus shows us that it is not simply about giving this woman what she deserves. Jesus shows her compassion by standing up for her when no one else was willing to do it. Jesus also shows us something very important…he holds the correct tension between Conviction and Compassion when he tells her “Go now and leave your life of sin.” He showed compassion by not throwing the stone and not standing with the rest of the crowd. But he was not willing to let her slide on this lifestyle. That is the difference between us and Jesus…when it comes to people and hostile situations he does not back down, but stands up for what is right. This woman caught in adultery has been changed by compassion and forgiveness, not by anger, hatred or belittling. We can learn a lot by studying our Savior.

This tension is the struggle. When you go to the extreme of either side you are falling into the trap of sin. When you only condemn it does nothing for the person because they simply stop listening. If you only have compassion the sinner understands that as acceptance. How do you deal rightly in the example of homosexuality? This is issue in the face of people today, so how do we maintain the tension? I don’t claim to know all the answers but I offer a strategy to use when you know of someone who struggles with the sin of homosexuality.

  • Focus on the person more than the issue.
  • Don’t debate. You can simply state your conviction and then put aside an argumentative spirit and any need to be right. Arguing doesn’t win people’s trust.
  • Don’t be a know-it-all. Be a good listener. Learn. Get in their shoes the best you can.
  • Focus on spirituality, not sexuality. We all need and desire a relationship with God. We all are in need of forgiveness that comes from God.
  • Be kind. “It’s God’s kindness that leads to repentance.” Let people experience the kindness of God through you. Let God take care of convicting their heart, in his timing.
  • Be honest. Don’t act like you have it all together. Tell them about your own struggles and uncertainties. That helps others open up.
  • Be genuine. Don’t treat anyone like a charity case.
  • Study the Gospels. Watch Jesus’ life and how he dealt with people, both the “in crowd” (religious people) and the “out crowd” (sick people, outcasts, etc). Live like he did.

What is your strategy? How do you maintain the tension between Compassion and Conviction? When it becomes a personal issue, someone you know (Family member, friend, neighbor, co-worker) how does this change your perspective? I look forward to hearing from you on this subject.

Thanks for reading and spending time thinking about this subject.