Of the many complexities involving the church and homosexuality, one of the most difficult is how the former should speak of the latter.
Even for those Christians who agree homosexuality is contrary to the will of God, there is little agreement on how we ought to speak about homosexuality being contrary to the will of God. Much of this disagreement is owing to the fact there are many different constituencies we have in mind when broaching the subject.
There are various groups that may be listening when we speak about homosexuality, and the group we think we are addressing usually dictates how we speak.
- If we are speaking to cultural elites who despise us and our beliefs, we want to be bold and courageous.
- If we are speaking to strugglers who fight against same-sex attraction, we want to be patient and sympathetic.
- If we are speaking to sufferers who have been mistreated by the church, we want to be apologetic and humble.
- If we are speaking to shaky Christians who seem ready to compromise the faith for society’s approval, we want to be persuasive and persistent.
- If we are speaking to liberal Christians who have deviated from the truth once delivered for the saints, we want to be serious and hortatory.
- If we are speaking to gays and lesbians who live as the Scriptures would not have them live, we want to be winsome and straightforward.
- If we are speaking to beligerent Christians who hate or fear homosexuals, we want to be upset and disappointed.
So how ought we to speak about homosexuality?
Should we be defiant and defensive or gentle and entreating? Yes and yes. It depends on who is listening.
All seven scenarios above are real and not uncommon. And while some Christians may be called to speak to one group in particular, we must keep in mind that in this technological day and age anyone from any group may be listening in. This means we will often be misunderstood.
It also means we should make some broad basic commitments to each other and to our friends and foes in speaking about homosexuality.
Here are 10 commitments I hope Christians and churches will consider making in their heads and hearts, before God and before a watching world.