Often, in conversation with people about the hot-button issue of homosexuality, those of us on the “it’s a sin” side of the discussion lose the debate before it ever starts.
The conversation is framed as the Christian preventing or blocking or shunning the homosexual from worshipping. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely some (loud) voices in conservative Christianity for whom that is their sole agenda (and I’ve got my issues with them). But it’s not my heart at all, and to come into a discussion where I am cast as the one trying to take away rights means I have already lost the argument.
The gay community (spiritual and otherwise) has cast this as the new Civil Rights movement. That puts me and Jim Crow on the same team, out of the gate. Like wearing a “hello my name is Hitler” tag at a bar-mitzvah, that’ll make it tough to see eye to eye. We have to start the conversation on the same page if we are to get anywhere.
In the next couple of posts (or at least in a few more posts, not necessarily the next ones), I want to try and peel back some of the rhetoric (from both sides, but mostly from my own) and really evaluate the conversation. Because we’ve done a terrible job, by and large, at properly engaging the real issues. It’s very easy to run down one of a dozen rabbit trails (is the Bible true? what does it mean by “homosexual” in the Bible? why are so many republicans having homosexual affairs? can you be a homosexual and a Christian?) and miss the actual points being raised.
I may give my take on some of the rabbit trails in the process, but I’d really like to start the conversation way before any of those issues.
It starts at my heart. My desire, far from trying to hold back or oppress or marginalize a group of people, is to see people repent.
I know, I used a hot-button word. One of the words on the signs that Freddie Phelps and his motley crew drag around to funerals. So, let me rephrase. I want people join me in repentance. I want for all of us to look at our own lives and come away with the thought “I was born this way: wicked, sinful, arrogant, presumptuous, and wrong. Crooked, pursuing my own pleasure over God’s glory, and content to throw rocks at the perceived ‘other’ in my life, before I dealt with my sin before God.”
That’s what I mean when I ask a homosexual to repent. I don’t ask anything of them that I am not willing to do myself. In fact, if I am not careful, I will have to repent of how I call for their repentance. The Bible alludes to that in Galatians 6:1. We have to watch our own sinful hearts in the process of calling out someone else’s sin.
That’s where the conversation has to start. I know that I have never struggled with that particular sin, and so I have to watch carefully that I don’t speak of it flippantly, or make it sound worse than my sin, or unforgivable, or any of that garbage. It’s a sin. Repentance is the starting point. And if you don’t see your sin as a sin, it’s going to make it tough to start.
But (here’s a big point) I am not the one holding back the conversation, or preventing anything. I’m not denying any rights or pushing my agenda. I’m ready to repent of all the crap in my life. The more you show me, the more I’ll repent, and agree with God concerning my adulterous heart. If anyone is preventing something, it’s the gay side of this conversation. They refuse to start from the beginning of the conversation, at repentance. They want to excuse their sin and highlight mine.
I in no way want to excuse the sin of conservative evangelicalism in this regard. The loudest and most publicized among us have failed to love homosexuals, and seek their repentance. We have failed to follow Galatians 6:1, and have fallen into the temptation to think we are above the level of that particular sin. Where we have done that, we need to repent, as well.
Christianity is a line of people repenting. To not repent and stand in this line is silly. You’re a vegan in line at the hot dog stand. That goes for both homosexuals and unrepentant religious folks picketing them. Repent, or get out of line. We’re all repenting in this line.