Fagots, queer etc are some of the derogatory names that have been used to refer to homosexuals. A number of prominent people including the Apple CEO, Tim Cook, have “come out of the closet” to openly declare their homosexual orientation.
But, on the other hand, pro-traditional family activists have accused homosexuals of hijacking the civil rights movement and pulling the victim card to seek normalization of their destructive lifestyle especially in America.
As a heterosexual, I might not exactly understand the challenges that homosexuals face. The stigma that is attached to homosexuality especially within Christian circles drives homosexuals further away the church. This stigma creates among homosexual persons a reluctance to associate with Christians or Christianity, a fact that limits the scope for gay people to receive genuine and compassionate love from the body of Christ.
However, there are many couples who are married and have children but still taste the forbidden waters of same-sex. The act in itself is considered shameful especially in the context of an African society such as ours which is governed by conservative values.
Cultural and other worldviews that perceive homosexuals as outcasts do not render the power of the cross null and void in the lives of gays and lesbians. Christ died for all. His blood is able to atone for the sin of each and every one who accepts him…yes, including homosexuals. But culture coupled with ignorance have built a greater wall than that of Jericho between the church and gay community.
The biggest obstacle that the church must overcome in its ministry to this group of people is the negative attitude that is held towards them both within and outside the church. It’s very easy to look at one sin as being a mere struggle and to brand another as being scandalous, overwhelmingly disgraceful and unforgivable. This is a holier than thou attitude that the church needs to discard like a piece of garbage. Awareness, within the mind of each Christian, of the holiness of God and of the depth and severity of one’s own sin can go a long way towards reducing the church’s homophobic attitude.
We are called as a church to share the message of the cross with every soul even those in the farthest parts of the world. People from every nation, language, culture, walk of life and school of thought need to hear the good news of Christ. That includes people within the gay community. But Homophobia (extreme dislike of or prejudice against homosexual people) short circuits the very existence of the church as an agent of the godly transformation of the world.
The church has neglected the creation of any significant missionary efforts to the gay subculture because of its homophobia. Homosexuals have been made to feel awkward and unaccepted in the church instead of being loved and accepted as being a people group for whom Christ died just like He did for everyone else. Agony, self-rejection, the guilt and loneliness which homosexuals suffer because of a condition which is in rare circumstances the result of voluntary choice can be halfway cured if the church embraces an attitude of compassion and love while disapproving of their actions. In order for both pastors and lay people to minister effectively to gays, the church has to abandon its traditional high-handed approach to dealing with homosexuals and explore better ways to minister to this group.
The fact of the matter is, there has been no conclusive evidence to support the notion that homosexuality originates from genetics. Actually, overwhelming evidence points to environmental influence as the number one factor that shapes human sexuality.
The church must not give up on calling everyone to repentance. The illness and cancer of immorality that is currently rampant within the body of Christ must be healed by standing on the infallible word of God. Sexuality cannot be turned into a matter of opinion or debate. The Bible hasn’t changed and it remains the benchmark for godliness and morality. Human reason, including that of the clergy, feelings and opinions are all bound to change especially as time passes therefore, this debate can only be soberly carried out when it is anchored on Biblical truth.
The church should assure homosexuals that it has no desire for them to leave. It must instead urge them to remain and search their conscience in order to move toward repentance. Exaggerated distaste for homosexuals in the church will only drive them further away into an abyss of rebellion.
The church should express Christ’s love even as she stands firmly against homosexuality. However, love shouldn’t be interpreted as limitless tolerance. The holy love of God is what motivates his just anger. God as described in scriptures ought not to be portrayed as an impersonal principal who doesn’t make demands or an indulgent parent who can be convinced to be okay with everything that we sanction and approve as being acceptable.
There is not a single argument that is based on scripture to support an active homosexual ‘Christian’ theology. But many people from this group have negated their role of studying scriptures for themselves and instead relied on other exegetical teachings from scholars who agree with their lifestyle. The challenge is that the scholars will not be attorneys on judgment day. They themselves will answer to an all-knowing God. Therefore making them lord over anyone’s conscience amounts to idolatry. The judge has already communicated his will and has set limits in terms of sexuality in his holy book.
It’s only through being vulnerable to the transformative word of God and the inner work of the Holy Spirit that homosexuals can get transformed. Unless the deception of active Christian homosexuals is broken, there can never be lasting change.
On the 2nd Part of this article, I will be exploring ways by which the church can minister to homosexuals in a loving way.
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