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The couple next door

Christians have a message that homosexuals need to hear

The couple next door

(Krieg Barrie)

Ten years ago homosexuality was fringy and dangerous and you were dead set against it. Today homosexuality is the guy grilling steaks next door, waving to you over the picket fence, calling, “How about those Phillies!”

It is also the friendly couple (guy and guy) who want to join your church. You have had good conversations with them, and they really seem to love the Lord. And come to think of it, haven’t you been hypocritical in your attitude about gays, when in your congregation there are gossips, gluttons, and remarried divorcés? How can you despise one sin over another? Isn’t this exactly what Jesus meant by saying that “whoever has no sin, let him cast the first stone”?

And the weary sun keeps beating down and you are feeling dizzy and unsure, and all you can remember at this point is that the Lord said “love your neighbor” and that he accepted you when you were still a mess, and maybe you should do the same for homosexuals without insisting that they change, for heaven knows, you haven’t changed that much yourself.

Let’s shake ourselves out of this funk, shall we? “To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn” (Isaiah 8:20). The Bible identifies homosexuality as sin—more, an abomination: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination” (Leviticus 18:22). If there are other sins inside the church not being handled well, it doesn’t make things better to invite another sin not handled well.

If you want to talk about “love your neighbor,” need we mention that neighbors don’t let neighbors go to hell? As the “Intelligent Man” said to his bemused fellow passenger in the dingy twilight town of C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce, “It will be dark presently.” “‘You mean the evening is really going to turn into a night in the end?’ The man nodded.” What good is all the good will you reap now when in the future Mr. Steak Griller next door curses you from across the chasm for your quiet complicity in his damnation?

In our effete wrangling over the gays-in-the-church issue, has it been entirely forgotten that you and I have what our trapped neighbors need—Christ?

“I’ve always said that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize,” challenges atheist Penn Jillette of the magician duo of Penn and Teller. “I don’t respect that at all. … How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? … I mean if I believed, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that a truck was coming at you, and you didn’t believe that truck was bearing down on you, there is a certain point where I tackle you. …”

Unless, of course, you don’t believe in the Last Judgment anymore. Do you?

We the church of Christ are salt and light. Salt retards the spread of perversion by resisting it. Light shows the way out of bondage. In our effete wrangling over the gays-in-the-church issue, has it been entirely forgotten that you and I have what our trapped neighbors need—Christ, the breaker of all demonic Delusions and Enslavements? And if you think a man lying with a man is the moral equivalent of eating too many doughnuts, produce a passage in Leviticus where overeating called for execution. There are degrees of hell and degrees of heaven, a matter easily ascertained in Scripture. For the rejection of God’s order of male and female is a strike at the heart of creation itself, Satan’s endgame evisceration of the imageness of God.

There is a turning going on, and how grievous if it is in the wrong direction. But Jeremiah, as if anticipating the present challenge, reminds us that the order of the day is not compromise, or Rodney King’s “let’s get along,” but a mouth that utters truth and feet that stand their ground:

“If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall be as my mouth. They shall turn to you, but you shall not turn to them. And I will make you to this people a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail over you, for I am with you to save you and deliver you, declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 15:19-20).

Love your neighbor. Sound the warning (Colossians 1:28). Someday he may thank you for it.

Email aseupeterson@wng.org

Comments

  • Cavanaugh's picture
    Cavanaugh
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 12:25 pm

    I found this article to be, as
    usual, thoughtful and challenging.   I do believe that a comparison to heterosexual
    sin would have been more useful than donut consumption... then to link that to
    "degrees" of hell and heaven may lead one to falsely believe that
    entering the Kingdom of God is really about my behavior - not just about His
    action on the cross.  

  • Dave Waldrup's picture
    Dave Waldrup
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 12:25 pm

    Attending a new startup church where a surgically altered transgender man attends and takes communion has been a real trial for me. Your article sheds light on the issue and gives me more fuel for thought and action. I pray how to be Christ to this man and yet  recognize the sin. I must steel myself to enter dialog with him and be the salt and light he needs. God moves the heart, He uses folks like you and me as His instruments. Do I trust Him to get me through the storm that will come my way as I point out the truth in love?

  • heartafterGod's picture
    heartafterGod
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 12:25 pm

    "Yes! Yes! Yes!"

  • Rick O
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 12:25 pm

    Andree, another home run from Philadelphia! All the comments were so well stated, i do not have much more to offer. We are CHRISTIANS first. We must share Christ and his Word not our words that want to people please. His Truth is what counts in the end. Speak the truth in love!! Thank you Andree.

  • SamIamHis
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 12:25 pm

    Andree, this article hits the very heart of the issue.  Many churches and Christians are sliding down the slippery slope of repeating what the world is telling us instead of repeating what God has said.  I agree with perennials observation that the church has nearly given up on the frank talk about same sex attraction being a sin.  Attraction goes to desire and we all know where desire leads when it is not snuffed out.  I am so tired of reading and hearing about "gay Christians" who have decided to be celibate, or they just frankly celebrate the diversity of their proclivity but claim they are not doing anything unpleasing before the Lord. After all, He made them this way. Yes, we are born with a sin nature.  The problem is, just what sins do we nurture?. Are we willing to lay it all down at the foot of the Cross where the complete work of atonement in our weary, sinsick souls begins? Holding onto sin and claiming it as your own by title is very dangerous.  How do we feel about pedophilic Christians coming out and saying they were born that way? You can put any adjective before Christian but that adjective is not your identity as a Christian. Your identity is in Christ alone. We need to stop celebrating sin and wholeheartedly begin surrendering it to the One who paid the full price to make us whole.

  • sonjakpcooper
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 12:25 pm

    If you liked this article, read the exceptionally clear book by Kevin DeYoung, What the Bible Really Says About Homosexualtiy.

  • PastJProc's picture
    PastJProc
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 12:25 pm

    Amen!

  • perennial
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 12:25 pm

    We need to be praying as a church that we have more wisdom and power to get free from our own hang-ups, but especially that homosexuals might be delivered from same sex attraction. There are many homosexuals who were in the church and wanted to live free and glorify God but who gave up because they could not get free from same sex attraction, and ultimately decided that it must be who they are or at least too hard to be otherwise. There are testimonies of former homosexuals getting completely free, but homosexuals generally believe those to be very rare and maybe even dubious (he/she probably still has same sex attraction). 

  • RMF
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 12:25 pm

    Ok, so let's use the examsple given here. You have a neighbor who is a gay man, legally wed in your state to another man, and he says hello over the side of the fence and adds, "Hey, how those Phillies, eh!"Then what?

  • Laneygirl
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 12:25 pm

    NO one has said it better than this. Thank you! Thank you!

  • Skutumpahranch
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 12:25 pm

    Agree with everything you've said, just one caveat: we might not be across the chasm from them.  Philippians 2:12 warns us not to get complacent and smug.

  • Peter Kushkowski's picture
    Peter Kushkowski
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 12:25 pm

    The metaphor from Isaiah 8:20 -- "... it is because they have no dawn" is still burning its way into my consciousness...

  • dachs4me's picture
    dachs4me
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 12:25 pm

    Yes, thank you for writing the truth with the strong message of love underlying it, exactly the way we must approach our homosexual friends/acquaintances. We Christians need to keep hearing this message so that our spiritual eyes don't get blurred by an anti-God culture. Let's stand strong in Love and Truth!

  • jzepi
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 12:25 pm

    Thank you for this! Especially this line: "If there are other sins inside the church not being handled well, it doesn't make things better to invite another sin not handled well." It is so popular in some quarters to say this sort of thing, "well everything's a mess anyway, why not go one step further", which of course makes no sense. Thank you for the light and common sense here!