TORN: Rescuing the Gospel from the The Gays-vs.-Christians Debate

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There is a culture war between gays and Christians. Justin Lee has a foot in both camps.

Lee has been a devoted Cristian since childhood, but realized as an adolescent that he was attracted to men rather than women. He struggled with this revelation for years before coming to terms with his sexuality, realizing that God can use him, not in spite of his sexuality, but through his experience as a gay man.

Much of the struggle faced he was not due simply though to his sexuality, but from the church’s response to his sexuality. As Lee describes, a yeast of misinformation has permeated the church. This misinformation has little to do with the morality (or immorality) of gay sex itself, but the failure to bifurcate attraction and behavior. Christians, presupposing that gay sex is sinful, have frequently assumed same-sex attractions as unholy as well. Furthermore, the church too often advocates that homosexuality is a choice, even though few (if any) gay individuals would attest to choosing their attractions (or straight individuals for that matter). Refer to the video below for a further explanation and research of this break down of communication.

Among gay Christians their is disagreement as to whether gay sex is sinful, but their is almost universal unison  that homosexuality is a choice, or that their attractions alone are sinful. In contrast, straight Christians frequently disagree with the views of gay individuals, even though their views are based from their own experiences. This is a fundamental lack of trust for those who are viewed as “different.” This breakdown of communication between the differing groups has incubated tension and birthed dissension.

This tension was evident in Justin’s life. He didn’t choose to be gay. His parents didn’t make him gay. He didn’t even want to be gay! But he was, and is, gay.

He is a devoted Christian. And he is gay.

And that’s okay.

But too often the church failed to provide any substantial support to Justin as he wrestled with his sexuality. Sometimes they preached at him, even though he well knew how most Christians felt about his attractions. Other times the church tried to offer support through “ex-gay” ministries which advertise orientation change is possible even though they have no documented success at changing an individuals attractions. (Justin believes that the false hope for change and unwavering church support ultimately drives gay individuals to deep depression after years of failure and drives them away from a church institution they feel is untrustworthy.) Unfortunately, the church often condemns gay men and women and offers them no support or fellowship at all.

The majority of Lee’s book is descript of his own testimony of a gay Christian. Much of the latter half of his book offers suggestions for how Christians can help for gay people, as well as a biblical analysis of homosexuality itself. Ultimately though, Lee asserts that Christians must fight the misinformation about homosexual attractions that permeates the church, drives away gay people, and makes Christians look bad not in spite of  their faith, but because of their faith.

Listen. Learn. Get informed. Communicate. Talk with those you disagree with rather than talking to (or at) them.

And please read this book. LGBT issues are a lightning rod in society, and frequently Christians spout what they think they know (i.e., what they’ve heard) without having invested thought to the issues at hand. This isn’t about gay marriage or the morality (or immorality) of gay sex. This is about how to interact with and show grace to gay people in and outside of the church.

Take time to learn and the world and church will be a better place for it, and the image of Jesus, one of unconditional grace, may yet again be the reputation of the Church.

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