When It Happens…

            We have a sister congregation somewhere west of the Mississippi that is, in many ways like us. They are slightly smaller than we are, about as diverse. They have been around about as long as we have. They take the Bible just as seriously as we do. They have a similar “feel” – they feel like a family. At this congregation, men and women who are gay feel secure to come and ask for the prayers and support of the congregation to help them lead obedient lives.

            This has never happened here.

            In my 25 years at Manassas folks have come forward to confess just about everything, and ask for prayers. We have always loved and supported each other through challenges and temptations. But no gay man or lesbian woman has ever come asking for our prayers and support. Why? Is it because none of our members have ever been gay? We know this isn’t true. Is it because gay members assume they will not receive the support and prayers 0f the congregation in their struggle – at least not from everyone? Yes, I believe that is exactly the reason.

            Is this assumption correct? I hope not. Christians speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4.15), with gentleness and reverence (I Peter 3.15), and willingly bear each other’s burdens (Galatians 6.2).

            Let me be clear, because the Bible is clear. It is wrong for one person to have sex with a person of the same gender (Leviticus 18.22, 20.13; Romans 1.27, I Corinthians 6.9, I Timothy 1.10).  But scripture does not teach that we should be hateful about this.  As a teen, in Sunday school, I was taught that “homosexuals are an abomination,” that “all gay men have the potential to act like the men of Sodom”, and that “being gay is as bad as committing bestiality or murdering your parents.” I have heard similar things spoken here over the years – sometimes in Bible class. These statements are wrong. They contradict what we know from life. They contradict what we know from the Bible. They certainly discourage any gay man or lesbian woman from asking for our prayers.

The verses mentioned above are often used as evidence that derision for homosexuals is God-sanctioned. Yet when one reads those passages, one finds that the same lists include the covetous (I Corinthians 6.10), liars (I Timothy 1.10), heterosexual adulterers (Leviticus 18.22, 20.10), and sinners in general (I Timothy 1.9). No one ever taught us that coveting was equivalent to bestiality or murdering one’s parents. The men of Sodom were rapists. Many certainly had wives and families. Almost all men who rape other men or molest boys identify as straight. It is Biblically, and factually wrong to associate the men of Sodom with all gay men.

            The list in I Corinthians 6.9-11 is important because it says gay men have become Christians. And such were some of you, but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God (verse 11). Paul reached gay men at Corinth with the Gospel of Jesus. Was this evangelistic success accomplished by derision and hatefulness or with friendship and respect? We know the answer to that question.

            Whenever it happens that a brother or sister comes and says, “I am gay, and I want to lead an obedient life. I need the prayers and support of my church family to face this challenge,” we will surround this person with love, prayers, and encouragement.  If we don’t, we will be the sinners.

                                                                       © 2013 Manassas Church of Christ