To Whom It May Concern (but I’m especially looking at you, Southern Baptists):
I’m sure you’ve already heard that the Boy Scouts of America have recently voted to allow kids who are openly gay into scouting. I realize a lot of people are kind of freaking out about this news–People like Bryan Fischer of the “American Family Association” who tweeted things like “BSA now stands for Boy Sodomizers of America, because that’s what will happen. Mark my words.” and “Jesus to BSA: ‘It would be better…if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea.’ Luke 17:2.” Now I’m hearing that a bunch of churches are planning on telling Boy Scout troops that they are no longer allowed to meet on church grounds because of the decision to accept gay scouts as if they were regular kids. I don’t know if I can explain how bad of an idea this is.
Before I get into that, a bit about myself: I was never a Scout, but I was a Cadet (the Christian Reformed Church’s version of Boy Scouts). It was probably a lot like Boy Scouts…. We stuck to very non-gay activities like pooping in the woods, washing ourselves in the river with Ivory Soap, and checking each other for ticks with flashlights in tents. As fun as all this was, at some point it became a little stale. I fell in love with basketball. It just seemed manlier–with the showering together, the smacks on the backside, the balls in your hands…. What a terrific sport. It taught me a lot about life.
So listen up, congregations who are actively fighting against equal rights for people who are LGBT–Sometimes in basketball games, there is this strange time near the end of the game where the outcome of the game has already been decided, but there is still some time on the clock. If the game is close, and your team is a behind, sometimes the team who is trailing will repeatedly foul the other team in the hopes they miss some free throws. At least the clock is stopped, and maybe the trailing team can hit some threes…. It’s usually a long shot, but sometimes that’s the only option. But then there are those strange times–Those times when the score is so far out of reach that no amount of fouling is going to allow you to catch the team who is winning–Where the coach calls a time out, he puts in the subs, and tells his players who are still on the court, “Just don’t foul.”
If it’s not already clear, in this analogy you are the team that has already been beaten. You’ve been fighting for Rejection and Disapproval and Judgment to be the Church’s official policy toward our gay brothers and sisters, but even though there’s some time left on the clock, the game has been decided. There are still some battles to be fought–Battles for equal rights and protections, and battles against discrimination–But believe me when I say this: “The game has been decided, and victory is out of reach for you.” And with every foul you commit, the crowd groans at the prolonging of an inevitable outcome. And what’s worse is that the crowd is turning on you. Even the people sitting in your section of the bleachers are getting upset, and many of them are heading for the doors. Many have already left.
And the worst part is that the policy for which you fought never really made sense in the first place. For example, with this current fight, you are trying to keep gay boys out of a program that builds character and responsibility and encourages young men to become better citizens…. HOW DOES THIS MAKE SENSE?!?! If you really believe that becoming a Christian cures a person of gayness, then what are you worried about? Think this through: In your world, if someone is gay, then they aren’t saved, right? And you believe it’s your job to introduce unsaved people to Jesus in order to get them saved, correct? I mean, you couldn’t possibly believe people have to clean up their act BEFORE accepting Jesus…. So how in the world are all these unsaved gay people ever going to be introduced to Jesus if you don’t let them in your clubs or make them feel welcome in your communities? It’s starting to feel like maybe you don’t want LGBT people meeting your Jesus. Or maybe you’re afraid that they will meet Jesus, love him every bit as much as you do, and they won’t suddenly be magically attracted to people of the opposite gender. Then you’d be forced into a position of either believing they really don’t love Jesus, or that their same-sex orientation (unlike the decision to follow Jesus) is NOT something a person chooses any more than you “chose” to be straight. And I realize that’s a tough place to be–especially when all you’ve ever been told is that being gay people are going to hell–but I came through it alright…. You will too. To repent literally means “to change your mind.” It’s time for the Church to repent.
So, here’s what I want you to do. First) I want you to say you’re sorry. Every stinking time that people are trying to make the LGBT members of our community feel like second class citizens, the Church is behind it. We’ve got a lot to apologize for…. And even if you don’t feel like your particular Church is guilty, just go ahead and say you’re sorry anyway. Second) Even if deep down you believe that being gay is a probably a sinful choice, I want you to keep it to yourself, and I want you to treat every man, woman, and child who is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender exactly the same as you would treat anyone else in your life. If you are right, and if being a follower of Jesus means gay people turning straight, it is neither your judgment nor your exclusion that is going to do it–It is going to be a deep relationship with Jesus Christ. And Third) I want you to find a person (at least one person–maybe even more than one) who is LGBT, and I want you to become that person’s friend. Really get to know him or her. Listen to his story. Find out what she believes. Learn about their families, and what it was like coming out. Attempt to love a person free from any judgment, and pretend like it’s not your job to convict someone of their sin…. Because it’s not.
But above all, please stop fouling! The game is over. I hate to be the one to tell you this, but you lost. Please, just let the clock run out so we can get to the part where we all shake hands and say, “Good game.”
Post Script: It should be noted that the team the Church has been fighting against is not the LGBT community. Just like in the fight for civil rights for women and for minorities, the Church has been battling another part of itself, hand in hand with populations who are experiencing injustice. There is a part of the Church that fears change–whether that change is racial diversity, female preachers, or welcoming people who are LGBT to the table. And any strategy of hatred against people who fear change or people who “don’t get it yet” will be every bit as ineffective as a strategy of hatred against gay Boy Scouts. For it is His lovingkindness that draws us to repentance.
Great post, as always. I love reading your blog because it seems like you write about things that are at the center of what’s on people’s minds as they’re happening. That’s cool.
I’m curious as to why it is you think that Christians are so up in arms about the acceptance of homosexuality into the mainstream. Where is that coming from?
Also, do you think there is a way to believe that an aspect of someone’s identity as fundamental as their sexuality is immoral and still love that person? What does that look like?
Chris–Thank you for taking the time to comment. I love those times when what is on my mind/heart is on the minds and hearts of other people as well.
To answer your question, I think that the reason people are up in arms about this is because of fear. People want very clear lines and boundaries about what is okay and what is not okay. They want certainty, and when people start making sense while critiquing old ways of thinking, the people holding onto the old ways freak out a little (a lot). There is mystery is this whole God thing. When we acknowledge that mystery (or our own uncertainty) it’s looked at as “lack of faith,” but as Annie Lamott said, “The opposite of faith is not doubt, it’s certainty.” Those same folk who feel compelled to write hard lines of orthodoxy for every issue are the ones who feel compelled to view the Bible as completely factually accurate and “Inerrant” in every way.
And no, I don’t think you can reject a person’s sexuality and still “love” that person. I don’t know what that would look like. Love is a pretty big word. I believe that a person’s orientation is as much a part of them as something can be, so the whole “Love the sinner, hate the sin” thing has really become one of my least favorite phrases. I think it’s BS, and it’s code for judging someone and then feeling righteous about your judgment.
I just read your last Blog entry about proof that God exists. Right on man (that sounded so Cheech Marin. Holy crap). I remember the first time I read Mere Christianity and having my mind blown by that whole argument. It really starts to make sense when you consider just how Anti-Darwinian morality really is and it’s ingrained in all of us. I don’t know why, but your posts about homosexuality seem to be the ones that make it into my Facebook feed for some reason. I’m missing a lot of gems here.
Going back to your last comment, I agree and I disagree with you on that. I agree that there’s a lot of hate and fear out there that wraps itself in the banner of Christianity. Westboro Baptist Church comes to mind, as well as probably thousands of individuals that secretly (or not so secretly) agree with them. Then there are the “old-minded” types of folks out there that grew up in a place or time where that hatred was mainstream and so they just accepted it totally. Those people don’t hate so much as they just don’t want to consider anything that makes them feel uncomfortable. My sweet grandmother comes to mind, the closest I’ve ever come to meeting an angel in so many ways. But I remember her whispering about a white girl marrying a “colored” man years ago as if saying it out loud would somehow amplify the shame she saw in the story. I agree that a lot of people’s attitudes are motivated by hate and fear for sure.
Where I disagree is on the point that it’s impossible to love a gay person and think that homosexuality is immoral (I imagine that you’re probably rolling your eyes right now thinking, “not again”). I guess in shorthand that equals loving the sinner and hating the sin. I totally get how that could not feel like love and like I said before, I completely agree that a lot of people in their heart of hearts simply use that cliche as a way of justifying their dismissal of someone they don’t understand. We’re on the same page up to that point, but aside from all of that, I not only firmly believe that that type of love is possible, I think it’s VITAL for three reasons.
#1. That’s the very love that God shows to us. If God were not able to separate us, the “sinner”, from our deeds, then we would never be able to be united with Him through Jesus. God somehow manages to love us “like a hurricane” and still utterly deplore our evil deeds categorically. Furthermore, He doesn’t love us any more for the good things we do. So he even separates “us”, our person, from our good deeds too. And in doing so He never calls evil good and good evil. He doesn’t change the standard in order to love us. He loves us in spite of the failure and the rebellion and the sin. Now I understand that Christians are not God and it sounds condescending at first to talk about loving somebody in spite of their poor, pitiful, sinful nature. But as a married man, I’m sure that you know as well as I do that that is exactly what our wives have to do on a daily basis in order to make our marriages work. She’s full aware of what a douche bag you can be, but she just decides to love you anyway. So if God does it and our wives do it, then it’s certainly possible for us to love a gay person and still hold that gay sex is immoral.
#2. If our goal is to love our neighbor, then what kind of love are we showing if we don’t have the balls to tell the truth to somebody when they’re wrong. It’s like saying that it’s cruel to tell somebody they have a booger in their nose because it might make them feel embarrassed. Your true friends are the ones that love you too much to let you walk around like that. Of course, I know that a person’s sexuality is nothing like having a booger on your face. It’s vastly more complex and integral to a person’s sense of identity. I don’t mean to trivialize the pain and anguish that gay people often go through. There’s a reason that suicide rates are so high among gay teenagers. It’s hell for a lot of people. But just telling somebody “it’s all good” because it’s hard to reconcile the powerful feelings they’re experiencing with what the Bible says is not love. C.S. Lewis says it this way in The Problem of Pain,
“The mere kindness which tolerates anything except pain and suffering in its object is, in that respect, at the opposite pole from Love. In other words, there is kindness in Love, but Love and kindness are not coterminous. When kindness is separated from the other elements of Love, it involves a certain fundamental indifference to its object. Kindness, merely as such, cares not whether its object becomes good or bad, only that it escapes suffering. Personally, I do not think that I should value much the “love” of a friend who cared only for comfort and happiness and did not object to my becoming dishonest.
Love is something more stern and splendid than mere kindness.”
(Or mere acceptance.)
#3. When the immorality of gay sex is equated with bigotry, a very destructive dilemma results. Either God, the Bible, and Christians become bigots or Christians abandon the Bible. To me this is really the most important point. I know that everyone does not hold that homosexuality is unbiblical. That is certainly a debate worth having. At the very least, most people can agree that Christian (and for that matter, Muslim, Jewish, and Buddhist) orthodoxy calls homosexual acts immoral. So if I’m gay and my culture tells me that only rednecks and bigots find fault in gay sex, what conclusion am I left to draw when I find out that the same part of the Bible that gives me the Roman’s Road, also gives me Romans Chapter 1? That’s why it’s so important to have this conversation. (And if you’re still reading, then I’m grateful. 🙂 The abandonment of this hard truth of scripture doesn’t bring gay people closer to Christ. It marginalizes the Bible and Christ himself in the eyes of our whole culture. That’s what breaks my heart about it.
Anyways, Chris, I’m sorry to have blown up your comments box. I’m not even sure if all of this will upload when I click “Post Comment”. I wish I was as eloquent as you are and could say this with less words. I think that you and I both get the relevance of this issue in our culture right now, although we’re coming at it from different angles. Even though we don’t really know each other, I’d love for us to work this out to where we both agree completely. Then maybe the rest of the world could too. 🙂
Take it easy man. Keep on bloggin.
Chris Shaffer, thank you so much for your extremely thoughtful and eloquent post. It resonated deeply with me and you explained the dilemma lovingly and with careful reasoning. It was the most well written expression on the subject that I’ve ever read.
I believe that homosexual acts are sinful. I believe that divorce, lying, stealing, premarital sex, murder, disobedience to parents, addiction and numerous other things are sinful. As one who has committed more than one of these listed (and many more unlisted), and who also has family and friends who sin, it is only logical that I can “love the sinner and hate the sin.” Because, to do otherwise would mean that I would love no one, including myself.
As you so aptly observed, this is exactly what God does for us.
To me, at least, it doesn’t make sense to say that I can’t “love the sinner and hate the sin” if the sin is part of one’s basic biology (i.e., involuntary). The propensity to sin (or “sin,” in quotation marks, depending on one’s view) is part of human nature. A predisposition to addiction, phobia, temper, sexuality, etc are expressions of our DNA. Yet, as persons striving to behave morally, we choose how we act on our inherent desires. (As I wrote that last sentence, I was contemplating how the word “choice” sounded so calm and rational, unlike the terrible, overwhelming, driving, rationalizing feelings that I have when trying to resist that which I know to be wrong. But, the truth is, I’m still choosing my behavior and my choice is a selfish one. It may not be calm and rational, but it’s still a choice, even if I’m weak.)
I’ve struggled too much and failed too much with my own sins to be cavalier about such things. I have to constantly remind myself that time on this Earth is not the be all and end all, and that what I deal with now is part of my preparation for life after this mortal coil has rotted away, I can tell myself that I “deserve” to be happy like others; that the expression of my desires is not as important as the benefits that they provide, that I’m not hurting anyone else, etc. However, I’m simply rationalizing.
I have friends who are gay and transgender. I care very much for them and admire them. I still think that their sexuality is wrong. They care for me. They think that my Christianity is wrong. Somehow, we manage. My belief in Jesus is as essential to my being and my identity as their homosexuality is to them. However, I can’t bring myself to call them racist or bigoted because they condemn my beliefs, while caring for me.
I’m starting to ramble…my apologies.
Thank you to both Chris Shaffer and Chris Boeskool for posting and engaging in respectful dialog without ranting and being abusive.
Chris Shaffer and Jude,
I can relate to you. I grew up CRC and am still practicing, though in a non-denom Bible church. I struggled with this discussion as well because I didn’t want to alienate LGBT people with a stance of hate the sin, love the sinner but I didn’t know of another way that didn’t, since homosexuality was so clearly a sin. Until I began to look at the Bible and sin in another way. To me, the Bible is largely a collection of stories about how God/Jesus moved people forward in a direction towards God at a natural pace. The point then is not WHERE he moved them (as in, the specific practice which is why we now scoff at the idea a woman has to cover her head and we can’t eat shellfish. At the time those laws made perfect sense to those people and it was something they needed to move them closer to God. But it wasn’t meant for us) The point is in the direction God and Jesus have been challenging people to move, which was always toward unity and love (as defined in 1 Corinthians 13 which is not about romantic love). So then if what we eat no longer matters, and what we wear no longer matters, where do we draw the line? Look at the list of sins Jude listed above. Sin was and continues to be hateful, self-serving, and hurtful acts. They are sin because they are moving in the opposite direction of God. But homosexuality doesn’t fit in that list, at least if in the confines of a loving relationship and not for gratuitous pleasure, just like we would apply to Herero sex. For that reason I no longer have the hate the sin, love the sinner debate about homosexuality. If people are acting in love and support for each other and building a trusting relationship with sex a part of it, it doesn’t matter if it’s gay or straight sex. I don’t consider it a sin.
Caveat- I’m not a pastor and I’m sinful so I may be trying to make the Bible fit what I want it to be, just like you are if you totally disagree. But I love you anyway. Will you love me?
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I have seven children. I love them all. I know their natures, their personalities, their weaknesses and their strengths. I love everything about them. I correct them when I feel they are making poor decisions. They correct me too. I accept that. Motherhood did not come with a manual. I don’t always get it right. I try. I know my children. I know what love is. And I know that two of them are gay. They told me. Thank god they felt able to. The idea that they would have to hide an intrinsic part of who they are for fear that I would love them less would kill me and any idea I had of myself as a mother. And as a Christian. They are what god made them to be. Simple. End of.
Thank you for this loving post. It is full of light and understanding. All of my children are free to love. Thank god. And, here in Scotland, it seems to be something less of an issue than it is in America. Don’t get me wrong. There are those who hold to judgement as the first principal of any or no faith. But common sense and understanding are playing a vital part in changing laws that are, at best, unfair, and, at worst, vilification of a whole section of god’s people.
Thank you for this.
It is awesome you accept your children no matter who they are, or what they have done. This is true maternal love. What the issue is however, there is a militant political gay agenda to pervert society. They are in your face, with an attitude that you must accept their behavior. Does a mother accept a child’s behavior when he./ she runs out into a busy street without looking? Its the same principle. You say you have two gay children? Well Gd Bless them and I pray and hope they grow up to not show contempt for Gd.
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An Open letter to the political gay agenda, you know who you are. In regard to your flaunting in your face attitude, trying to force people to recognize you as an upstanding moral member of society? You will never succeed in this, you will only alienate yourself from true moral and upstanding people in this society.
I 100% support those boy scouts and leaders that have left the BSA taking the moral ground and standing up against corruption of this world. Stand your ground Trail life, the evil agenda of the political realm of the status quo of this political gay agenda goes deeper than you think. The churches will be next, mark my words.
“They are sin because they are moving in the opposite direction of God. But homosexuality
doesn’t fit in that list, at least if in the confines of a loving relationship”
Homosexuality is a sin, its a sin against Gd. Its goes against the moral fiber of society, It goes against Scripture. It goes against the nature order of things that Gd set out for us.
What entity goes against the nature order of things?? Lucifer!
I would advise you to truly go back to your first impression of HIS HOLY WORD, and love the sinner but hate the sin. We hate all sin, regardless of what it is.
Natural … forgive the misspelling please.
“Responses to An Open Letter To Christians About Gay Boy Scouts”
You see madam or sir who wrote this post, it is not about whether a person is gay, it is about the behaviors, and actions of these homosexuals. It is about the militant political gay agenda, that seeks to pervert society.
Homosexuality is a sin, being a gay person is not a sin, but the action is. Pray for the gift of celibacy, if one finds themselves to be gay. Gd will grant a sincere heart His gifts and use a person in HIS Ways..
” you are trying to keep gay boys out of a program that builds character and responsibility and encourages young men to become better citizens…”
You see, there was already gay boys in scouting, but they had enough sense to not be openly gay, in your face with it to try and convert other boys to perversion.
So, what the BSA were trying to do was keep out the militant openly gay people that are always in peoples faces. The thing is most gay people just want to live and be left alone by these openly gay militant political gays that target wholesome, moral institutions of society because deep inside society hurt them so they are acting out against society to try and hurt back.
Post Script: It should be noted that the team the Church has been fighting against is not the LGBT community. Just like in the fight for civil rights for women and for minorities, the Church has been battling another part of itself, hand in hand with populations who are experiencing injustice. There is a part of the Church that fears change–whether that change is racial diversity, female preachers, or welcoming people who are LGBT to the table. And any strategy of hatred against people who fear change or people who “don’t get it yet” will be every bit as ineffective as a strategy of hatred against gay Boy Scouts. For it is His lovingkindness that draws us to repentance.”
Your such a hypocrite, the militant political gay agenda was never about helping people, It has always been a malicious undertone of selfishness in regard to the few, with no consideration for the many. There has never been any hatred against boy scouts, whether they were gay or not. If they were gay they keep it quiet. There has always been gays in every area of society. Some gays, have kept quiet there entire life, and have been givers in society. Some great men of science have dedicated their lives, and had no distractions of marriage or this gay agenda, so were able to concentrate on the projects Gd put before them. Your propaganda to promote your hatred toward Gd and HIS Truth is very evident, and your misuse of the the Bible, just proves the deception. Loving kindness does not draw one to repentance. GD is Who draws one to repentance.
Proof of this is even in the gay community, how many gays are loving and kind to each other, have they repented of their sin of homosexuality? Or have they repented of any sin? Most gays are atheists, so how can they repent to Gd when they do not believe in HIM and they will argue when a loving soul comes to them to tell them about Christ?
what a gay.. better u use parguela for this context