Part Three: “Neither do I condemn you”: how to love the sinner, but hate the sin of homosexuality
Last week, I got really angry. It wasn’t a slow, simmering, internal anger, either. I shouted and said mean things. Thankfully, my husband let me cool off. He didn’t fight back or call me names. He didn’t quote Scripture at me, throwing Colossians 3:8 or James 1:19 in my face. He waited until I was ready to talk rationally, and then we tried to come to an understanding.
So what does my struggle with anger have to do with the sin of homosexuality? This sin that I confess to you nailed Jesus to the cross, just as the sin of homosexuality did. Therefore, these sins are equally repulsive to God.
But praise be to our merciful God, all of us sinners are still precious souls in His eyes. He desires for every one of us to conquer our sin through Christ.
In Part 1 of this series, we established that homosexual actions are a sin. In Part 2, we discussed how we can refuse to participate in tolerance, acceptance, or celebration of homosexuality. This final installment will explore how we can engage in understanding and dialogue with those struggling with same-sex attraction, in an effort to bring them to Christ.
“Our heterosexual sin includes hatred toward homosexuals”
David Lane, a psychotherapist and minister for the Marsalis Avenue Church of Christ in Dallas, contributed to a June 2011 article in The Christian Chronicle titled “Same-Sex Attraction: How Should Churches Respond?”
Lane stands by Scriptures that condemn homosexuality, but he says hatred of a sinner is also sinful, since we have all sinned.
“We should keep in mind that our heterosexual sin includes hatred toward homosexuals,” Lane said. “Whenever we initiate or tolerate slang terms, demeaning jokes or derogatory, offhand comments, we send a strong message that these people for whom Jesusdied are less valuable to him than we are.”
Our reaction to a person’s sin can determine their repentance: look at Jesus’ response with the woman caught in adultery. Did he throw stones at her? No, he told her he did not condemn her, but that she should go and sin no more.
What relief that woman must have felt that she could start over, if she chose to do so! We must hold out the same hope for all those guilty of sexual sin, just as Christ hopes for us to return to Him.
A Christian’s response to homosexuality
Let us use this story of Jesus confronting sexual sin as a pattern for how we can confront homosexuality in an individual:
- Don’t judge or cast stones: The stones we throw do not have to be physical ones. If my husband had slammed me with“Get a grip, you spaz!” my wrath would not have dissolved. It would have been a signal to me that my anger made me weak or worthy of his scorn.
When we wear the name Christian, we cannot judge a person’s soul or make any kind of hateful or cruel comments toward that precious soul. Christ did not come to judge (John 3:17), and He had no sin: we sinful humans certainly cannot do that, either.
- Scriptures aren’t always the best way to begin: Jesus did not find it necessary to tell the woman her actions were wrong: she knew that already. Although our society today is doing its best to manufacture this new standard of sexual sins of all kinds being normal and acceptable, I believe that most homosexuals know that the Bible says what they are doing is wrong. Showing them that does not help them feel understood or see hope for forgiveness. The heart will discover the truth when it is ready, not when truth is thrust upon it. You cannot force understanding.
- Stick to what you know about forgiveness and the Bible, not what popular science says. Perhaps a person struggling with same-sex attraction will try to help you see through the lens of modern society and science, which says that homosexuality is not a choice, and that it’s normal. Don’t become frustrated with this attitude; these troubled souls must cling to this belief or make a very difficult change. Understand that turning from this sin will take tremendous effort, and show them that with Christ, it can be done.
Point them to the apostle Paul’s struggle with an unknown issue, and God’s admonition that His grace is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). Show them that right after Paul lists the people who will not enter heaven, including homosexuals, he also reminds his readers that some of them were these things, but they were forgiven in Christ (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). And encourage them to have hope in the power of Christ to restore a heart to God (Philippians 4:13).
However, if a scientific argument could be presented in a gentle, respectful way, you might encourage the person to look past all the political correctness of the American Psychiatric Association, which says that conversion therapy (psychological treatment to help people change from homosexual to heterosexual) is ineffective and potentially harmful. A group of psychologists, the National Association for Research and Therapy for Homosexuality (NARTH), advocates the “right of all individuals to choose their own destiny.” In other words, conversion therapy is an option for people who want to change.
In fact, a recent survey and analysis of 125 clinical studies by NARTH found three interesting conclusions: “(1) individuals with unwanted same sex attraction often can be successfully treated; (2) there is no undue risk to patients from embarking on such therapy and (3), as a group, homosexuals experience significantly higher levels of mental and physical health problems compared to heterosexuals.”
Another medical resource is Facts About Youth, a project of a conservative, values-based group of pediatricians that seeks to gather information on the health and psychological risks of the homosexual lifestyle, and also advocates conversion therapy.
These resources offer good information, and Abilene Christian University also operates a support group, CenterPeace, for people experiencing same-sex attraction with resources and retreats. NARTH also has a hotline and e-mail address to provide people with therapists in their area who offer conversion therapy.
Never forget the beam in your own eye: the people Jesus was hardest on were hypocrites, those people who thought they were holy enough to judge others, but were actually just as desperately in need of grace as the people they condemned. Some people practicing sexual sin have hardened hearts and are not ready for the truth. But others need you to bring them the hope, strength, and forgiveness found in Christ.
By Kimberly Mauck
Kimberly lives with her husband and two daughters in Durant, Oklahoma, where she is a part-time college English instructor and a freelance writer. She also writes for KatharosNOW, a webzine for teen Christian girls, and her own blog Virtuous Woman…Virtually.