The church, in its 2,000-year+ history, has never been here before. What do we do with gay, lesbian and trangender folks who come to our churches? What about all the talk to be “welcoming and affirming”? The coming generations will be looking to us as to how we responded to this emerging challenge. It is something we can’t ignore or just wish would go away.
So what to do?
Here are 10 truths all Christians must keep in mind as we interact with these neighbors. The overarching truth that we must always keep in mind, especially for Christians, is this: They are really no different than you or me. Beyond this foundation, we must both practice and teach our congregations these 10 things.
1. We are all loved by God.
Christ didn’t hang on the cross for “these” people and not for “those” people. He didn’t do so for some more than others—or for those who really need it. We all really need it, and His love for all is why He died for all. No exceptions.
Your LGBT neighbor is no less worthy of God’s love than you are.
2. We are all stricken by a terminal illness.
Sin has devastated each one of us and to equal degrees, separating each of us in our rebellion eternally from God beyond any of our reach. No exceptions. It is not the case that some of us are more separated than others because of our particular struggles and sins.
3. We are all in need of repentance.
Christ’s death and resurrection is the only means of bridging the hellish gap that exists between us and God. It’s not our nationality, our family name, our socio-economic status, our sexual orientation, what church we attend or even our own righteousness that is able to bridge it.
It is only by repenting over our own sin and casting ourselves upon the abundant and limitless grace of Christ that we can be brought back into right relationship with God. This is needed by all and available to all, regardless of sexual preference.
4. Winking at anyone’s sin is not loving.
God takes all of our sin seriously. If not, there would have been no need for Him to sacrifice His own Son on that horrid cross. Therefore, looking the other way at our own sin and the sin of those who come to us in search of salvation is unloving.
Ignoring someone’s sin or treating it as acceptable actually keeps the remedy for their terminal illness from them. This is true of each of us. We are called to extend grace, but not at the expense of truth—the truth that all sin is an offense to God requiring our honest repentance. Is this not the center of the Gospel? Our gay and lesbian neighbors deserve its hope and transformation as well.
As a lesbian friend told me, “If you guys give me a pass on my sin, I must do the same for you. If that’s how it’s gonna be, why bother with your Christianity?” Indeed.