This is an open letter to those of my friends who would call themselves homosexuals who are tired of being called sinners because of it: I’m sorry.
I’m sorry that so many Christians look at one aspect of your life and make a judgment against you because of it.
I’m sorry that our society has elevated one issue to a place of prominence it does not deserve because of the actions of people on both sides of the issue.
I’m sorry that so many Christians have spoken so carelessly about a subject that is so delicate and that you hold so close to your heart.
I’m sorry that you feel unwelcome and unsafe in churches.
I’m sorry that you’ve somehow gotten the message that you’re a sinner because you’re a homosexual, because that’s not the truth.
Here is the truth:
You’re a homosexual because you are a sinner.
Please don’t stop reading. I really did mean all of those apologies. People have talked about this far too carelessly and have gotten this issue out of whack and have wrongfully judged and ostracized people. I want to be precise and clear and speak to you from the perspective of a caring and loving Christian who believes and tries to teach what the Bible says. Obviously, everything I say is my opinion, but I ask you to consider what it means before rejecting it. Weigh what I say and test it to see if it is true. Know WHY you disagree, not just THAT you disagree. Please hear out the opposition. Don’t do to the opposition what the opposition constantly does to you. Right now I’m the opposition, but please hear me out. I promise you, I will do the same for you if you want to talk or rebut.
A second plea: Please try to think about this issue from a purely rational standpoint and don’t let your own feelings get in the way. I know how hard that is. I have to do that all the time when I’m talking about welfare programs or mental disability. If you don’t know me, my brother has Down syndrome, and he’s the most important person in the world to me, but I constantly have to check that the views I hold about things that will affect him aren’t skewed by my own feelings about him. I have to view things rationally first, and emotionally second. Please try to do the same with this issue.
First, let me define sin.
Sin, as I understand it, is any thought, deed, or act of will that is contrary to the will or nature of God, as revealed in Scripture, creation, or His Son Jesus. There is only one true God, he exists in three persons, and he created, ordered, and sustains the entire universe. More than just that he exists, he has revealed Himself to humans through the text of the Bible, Jesus of Nazareth, and through creation itself. He is unchanging and has a certain nature and a certain revealed will. That nature and that will do not change. He IS a certain way, and he will always BE that certain way. He wants certain things, and will always want certain things. So sin is anything that goes against or is contrary to His will or his nature. What’s right, is right because he says it’s right, and he says what’s right because his existence defines what’s right. If he calls it good, it’s good. If he calls it bad, it’s bad. Since He created and runs the world, He gets to make those judgment calls and we can either rebel against them, or recognize and live by them. This is a central point to what Christians believe about the reality of the world in which we live. To put it in simpler, but slightly less precise language, “sin” essentially boils down to “whatever God says is bad.”
The Bible tells a story about humans and the world. It starts by laying out the truths I’ve just summarized. God created everything, including mankind, and he called everything he made good. He created mankind “in his own image” and called him “very good.” He gave man certain rules to follow, and these rules fell in accordance with his nature; who He is and how He made the world. Mankind collectively went against these rules and became “sinners.” As in, they decided to go against the rules that God gave. At that time, everyone on earth became affected, changed, no longer good, no longer perfectly in God’s image. Mankind became sinners, and mankind started making little replicas in mankind’s new, sinful image.
The punishment (or a better phrase would be, “necessary result”) of this “not following the rules,” this “sin,” is death. Christians believe that death exists for humans because humans are sinners. Anyone who dies is a sinner, and guess what: everyone dies. Science, psychology, scientology, and doctors haven’t figured out a cure for that one yet, and they never will. There is only one cure for death because there’s only one cure for sin: His name is Jesus. By believing in Him, by stopping the rebellion, Christians believe that death will one day be done away with, and all who believed will come back to life, literally on earth, and live forever. That’s the Christian message. If you believe that Jesus did something for you that you couldn’t do yourself, you can escape the eternality of death. You can be resurrected.
Please note that I haven’t mentioned homosexuality since I started defining sin. You see, sin is a pre-existing condition, and not even Obamacare covers it. For this pre-existing condition, there’s only one insurer: His name is Jesus. You have to go through Him, or you don’t get coverage. Everyone has this condition. Everyone is a sinner. A sinner is something I am from the moment of my birth. You too. Every human is a sinner and they can’t do anything about it. It’s tantamount to being born blind. Those born blind don’t ask for it, and they can’t do anything about it to change their situation. We were all born sinners, and we can’t change our situation ourselves. Someone else has to change it for us: His name is Jesus.
I’m not a sinner because I lust after beautiful women, or because I lie to people I love. I’m not a sinner because I’ve had hateful thoughts and killed people in my heart. Those are all sins, but those aren’t what make me a sinner. They are all sins I commit simply because I AM a sinner. So, I repeat, you are not a sinner because you’re a homosexual. Your homosexuality did not cause your sinfulness. Your sinfulness caused your homosexuality.
And here’s where you probably want to stop listening to me. You’ve been fine reading along as long as I don’t call homosexuality a sin. Unfortunately, my hands are tied on that one. There are lots of things I call sins that, honestly, I wish weren’t sins. I call them sins because the Bible calls them sins, and since I believe the Bible is the inspired word of God, I take its word for it instead of my wish for it. I think that’s what she said jokes are sins, and it’s because the Bible pretty clearly says it in Ephesians 5:4. I think that a man wearing a hat while praying in church is a sin, because the Bible pretty clearly says it in 1 Corinthians 11. I think getting drunk is a sin because the Bible pretty clearly says it in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. I believe that wearing clothes of two different fabrics used to be against the Mosaic Covenant for members of the nation of Israel because the Bible pretty clearly says it in Leviticus 19:19, however, the Mosaic Covenant has been fulfilled in Christ Jesus (Matt 5, Gal 3-4) so we don’t have to follow commands given to Israel, just the ones given to the New Testament Church. (Yes, that was a slight jab at people who abuse scripture to argue their political point. I believe in reading the WHOLE Bible in context and applying to today the parts that it makes clear are still directly applicable today, which is pretty much just Romans through Jude, if you were wondering.) But my point is, I call things sin that are pretty unpopular to call sin nowadays, and I do so because I have to defer to what the Bible, (and so by necessity, what God) says. The Bible says pretty clearly that homosexuality is a sin in three different places between Romans and Jude (the part that directly applies today, Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 1 Timothy 1:10), so I have to call it sin.
Here’s a key factor that most Christians have given up on, but I still hold true to: you aren’t your sexuality. I don’t want my identity, who I am, to be wrapped up in the fact that I am sexually attracted to women. I really do pity anyone, gay or straight, who makes their entire identity based on who they’re having sex with. (That’s why I can’t stand the reality show on E! “WAGS.”) If you choose to define your identity based on the characteristics of the person you sleep with, I think you are living an extremely low-quality life. As a Christian, I define myself based on the Bible’s definition of me. I think what it says about me is true, that’s why I say I’m a sinner, and I’m saved by grace, and that I have a new nature set free from sin because of my belief in Jesus. That all comes straight from the Bible. That’s how I wish everyone defined themselves. But if you don’t define yourself that way, at the very least, don’t define yourself based on who you have sex with. That is a sub-standard metric.
Who would YOU be if YOU existed in a vacuum where society and people weren’t there to define you? Who would you be, if you didn’t have all of these societal pressures and sexual feelings to skew your self-definition? If you were suddenly unable to have sex ever again (if, God forbid, you were the victim of genital mutilation), who would YOU be? What would YOU be like?
My true and earnest plea is that you would believe the things I’ve outlined in this letter about who you are and who we all are, and what Jesus Christ has done to fix it. We are all humans who were made perfect, but are no longer and can’t get back that way ourselves. The only way to get that way is to believe that we can’t get that way ourselves and that Jesus will give us our perfection simply for the asking. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and so have life in his name. I want churches to be safe places where YOU are welcomed in with open arms. I say that very specifically: YOU are welcomed in with open arms. YOU a sinful creature of God who wants to be reunited with your Creator, against whom you have been rebelling from your birth so that you can call him loving Father, instead of frightful judge. I want YOU, the vacuum YOU, to be welcomed in, but that necessarily means being willing to leave the non-vacuum stuff behind. I want church to be a safe place for you, in that you will come to church and hear the truth. I do not want church to be a comfortable place for you, homosexual friend. Church isn’t a comfortable place for me when I’ve been sinning lately. Safe isn’t the same as comfortable. I want you to be safe and welcome in churches. I truly do.
I realize all of this sounds terribly patronizing. I sound like the mightier than thou, holier than thou, hypocrite standing on his moral high-ground talking down to you. I hope you realize that I apply the same standards to myself that I am applying to you with my opinion; so, the charge of hypocrisy can’t hold water. The other charges? I accept them wholeheartedly. I believe I do have the moral high-ground. I am patronizing you, because I believe I’m on the moral high-ground. Not because I define it, or live up to it, or have some right by birth to be there more than you… but simply because I recognize God’s moral standard revealed in the Bible. I believe I am contending for the side of moral rightness and you are contending for the side of moral wrongness, so of course I’m patronizing you. I ask you to please recognize that if you wholeheartedly believe that homosexuality is a moral good, then you are by necessity doing the exact same thing to your opposition. You HAVE to patronize them in order to dialogue. Recognize that reality and get past it to get to the heart of the disagreement: morality.
What is right and what is wrong? How do you know what is right and what is wrong? Who decided and who decides that rape, theft, and murder are “wrong”? I believe God decided those things and imposes them on us. I appeal to the highest authority. To whom or what do you appeal for the “why” behind what you claim to call “good”? If you appeal only to yourself or to society, then why should I agree with you? If truth and morality are relative, if “my truth” can be “my truth” then what right do you have to tell me I’m “wrong”? Aren’t I only wrong according to “your truth”?
Again, I don’t mean these words to be mean, I mean for them to get to the heart of the matter. I mean for them to cut through the emotion straight to the reason; the “why” behind this debate.
As I’ve said, my plea is that you would be persuaded and believe, as I believe, that you are not a sinner because you’re a homosexual. You’re a homosexual because you are a sinner. We are all sinners, and that sin manifests itself in different ways. Whatever those ways are, whatever sins we commit, and want to commit simply because we are sinners, we should fight them. We should daily deny what comes naturally to us (sin) pick up our cross (relinquish the demand for control of our life and death) and follow Jesus Christ. That is what I argue for every human being, every single sinner, not just the homosexual sort.
Humans themselves are all deceitfully wicked. How do I know you’re a sinner? Not because you’re a homosexual, but because you’re a human. How do I know I’m wicked? Because I’ve seen the desires of my own heart, and they are wicked desires. That’s what it means to be human. It means to be wicked, and to know that wickedness is wrong and we shouldn’t be that way. To remember what it was like to be “very good” but be unable to be that way ourselves. I believe that deep down everyone knows this; they just fool themselves into ignoring it their whole lives. They talk themselves out of believing the truth about themselves. The question is, do you admit the reality, or do you go on deluding yourself? The Bible would call the first option wise and the second foolish.
Listen to the words of the Bible:
“Transgression (sin) speaks to the wicked (sinner) deep in his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes. For he flatters himself in his own eyes that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated” (Psalm 36:1-2). Do you flatter yourself in your own eyes thinking that you are without sin? If so, you are foolish. Instead, fear God! It’s the beginning of wisdom (the opposite of foolishness). Fear God and believe.
I know you probably don’t believe this, homosexual friend, but I really do love you. Please dialogue with me. I’m willing if you are. I want to hear the objective arguments. I want to get to the truth.