How Shall The Church Respond to the LGBT Community? #4 We Must See Gays as People To Love Not Problems To Solve

Pastor Corey McLaughlin       Comments Off on How Shall The Church Respond to the LGBT Community? #4 We Must See Gays as People To Love Not Problems To Solve

Throughout the Gospels we are told that Jesus saw the crowds coming out to him and “he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matt. 9:36; 14:14; 15:32).  The Greek word looks intimidating, splagchnizomai, but is actually fun to say (sounds like splag-needs-o-my).  It refers to the inward parts of the gut.  A sense of really and truly feeling someone’s pain down deep in your stomach.  The Latin word “compassion” literally means “to suffer with.”

The stories proliferating the Christian blogs dealing with gay desires are filled with pain, hardship, turmoil, and torment, but it seems that the Church is afraid to listen because they think compassion means condoning.

Christy McFerren chronicles her long fight against homosexual desires starting as a Christian teenager and through many failures and twisted emotional upheavals. [1]

During my struggle, I was at times almost overwhelmed by a relentless, internal pressure to make a decision that would define me in the long term. I contemplated “coming out,” not because I was suddenly proud of it, but because I was tired of fighting… particularly after a failure. I was exhausted and humiliated. I wanted to disappear; not confess to loss again. Pride’s temptation to turn struggle into statement, wrong into right, was intense. In these moments, depression weighed heavily on me. Vision for life faded in and out, like a boxer reeling from blows to the head. But I just wouldn’t lay down on the mat and quit. It felt too much like making a deal with the devil. I knew the pressure to come out was a demand for my agreement with darkness, and would turn my heart to enmity with God.

She would later write First Steps Out:  How Christians Can Respond To A Loved One’s Struggle With Homosexuality to help families and friends on the outside cope with their loved one’s unexpected lifestyle.

An anonymous business executive, youth group leader, and athletic coach, writes in a Christianity Today article, No Easy Victory, that he’s a happily married man for more than 25 years and proud father of two teenagers – and everyday he fights against fleshly internal homosexual desires.  He is open with his wife, but the fight continues.

Nick Roen blogging for John Piper’s Desiring God ministry openly discusses his gay desires, his attempt at change through intensive counseling, prayer, fasting, etc. and his subsequent disillusionment and depression when his unholy desires did not retreat.  “Then one day it hit me,” he says.  “I realized that heterosexuality is not my ultimate goal – holiness is.”[2]  Every single day he hears what he calls, “the gay script”:  “There is nothing wrong with living a gay lifestyle.  In fact, if you repress who you are, you will never live a happy, fulfilled life.  Be true to yourself!”  He admits he wishes he had the freedom to act on what seems to him basic and natural desires for intimacy, companionship, and love even as he watches his heterosexual friends do the same.[3]  He doesn’t want to just say “no” to his desires, but “yes” to something greater than his desires, yes to Jesus and the joy of following Him.

How many Nick Roens might we have in our pews?   The church is doing a fantastic job of pounding the prohibitions of God’s law but she must also sing the sweet anthem of the privilege of His grace too.  That is, the privilege to struggle to conform to our identity in Christ.  For struggling against sin means the Spirit is waging war (1 Pet. 2:11).  A lack of spiritual struggle against sin on the other hand can only mean three things for the Christian:  (A) They are dead.  (B) Christ has returned.  Or, (C) they have given in and given up, now storing up wrath against themselves with each new snowfall of sin until the avalanche of God’s condemnation falls swiftly and powerfully upon them (Rom. 2:5; 1 Tim. 4:2; Rom. 1:32).

Are we aware of the gay struggle, both before coming to Christ and often after receiving Him?  Do we even care?  Of course, we expect that Christ will free someone of unholy and abominable desires when they give their life to Him because, clearly, that is what he did for all of us who never return to lick up the vomit of our own sin!

As we conclude let us say this:

To those with gay desires, the predisposition of your flesh is not a predetermination of your will.  You can choose something more deeply satisfying than sin.  The Spirit gives power (2 Tim. 1:7); “The LORD will fight for you; and you have only to be silent” (Ex. 14:14; cf. Deut. 1:30; 3:22; 20:1, 4; Jos. 23:10; Neh. 4:20).  If you struggle, you are struggling for a treasure few can comprehend.  One Christian man who struggles with gay carnal desires wrote a blog article defending biblical marriage and the role of celibacy for Christ.  In it he says,

Since I gave my sexuality to Jesus, I have had the most incredible joy and satisfaction in my life and I have been driven so much deeper into the gospel. I am grateful I no longer have to live in the idolatry of romantic love.

C.S. Lewis wrote about the Four Loves (summaryfull book pdf).  He notes that the Greeks understood different kinds of love.  Phileo (friendship love), eros (sexual/romantic love), storge (general affection).  For them, agape was just a generic term for love, nothing special, and nothing noticeable.  Yet, in the hands of the New Testament authors agape became the crucified love, the sacrificial love, the self-emptying love reflected in Christ on the cross, in the tomb, in the heavens, never ending, never dying, ever loyal to return to the one he loves, His church (Eph. 5).  Once gained this love becomes the true culmination and only genuine context for all the others.  So we urge you, dear friend, forget what is behind, strain towards what is ahead, press onward to the goal to win the prize of God’s heavenly calling in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:13-14).

To those in the church, accepting someone where they are does not equate to approving of their choices.  Being tolerant is not heresy, but the very definition carries the idea of putting up with someone you fundamentally do not agree with.  Being compassionate need not threaten biblical conviction on the issue (clearly defined in Gen. 2:18, 23-24; Rom. 1:27; I Cor. 6:9-12) though it does lead with love first rather than words (1 Cor. 13:1-13; James 1:19).  Yes, you can and should be open and affirming with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and let Our Father use you for His own glory.  As the great hymn proclaims, “As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free, His truth is marching on.”

Next Posting:  #5 We Must Still Speak The Truth With Compassion

[1] Read her full experience “On Homosexuality:  It’s OK to Fight” at prodigalmagazine.com.

[2] Same Sex Attraction and the Wait for Change, Jan. 29, 2014 desiringgod.org.

[3] An Alternative Script for Same-Sex Attraction, Nov. 20, 2013 desiringgod.org.