Over the past 3 weeks, we’ve been going through a little bit of a series together. I’ve written posts on a theology of sex, marriage, and parenting – all of the easy stuff haha! At least easy compared to the topics this week and next. Next week, I’ll wrap up this series with a post on gender issues, but before we get there, we’re going to talk a little bit about homosexuality.
There may be no more discussed topic in the Church today than homosexuality – and it’s been one of our most-talked about things for over a decade now. In that time, the culture’s view of homosexuality has shifted, and it’s become ubiquitous. You would have to search far and wide to find a teenager who doesn’t personally know someone who is homosexual, and I would be surprised if you didn’t know someone as well. I don’t think I need to convince you why a theology of homosexuality is important, and even why this is an important topic to consider for youth ministry. I don’t intend to use this post to explain my theology of homosexuality and try to convince you to adopt it, although that will come into the post. I trust that God, through his Holy Spirit, will convict us all of the truth and of any error in our thinking. What I want to use this post for, then, is to talk about the posture we need to have towards homosexuality.
A Posture Towards Homosexuality
Allow me to first define what I mean by posture. A Google search gives this definition: “a particular way of dealing with or considering something; an approach or attitude.” While we can have a theological stance towards something, we also have a way we deal with or approach that thing. We need to understand what we believe about homosexuality, but just as importantly, we need to understand how we will handle a real-life person.
A great exercise would be for you to ask someone you know, who is homosexual, how they have been treated by Christians who believe homosexuality is a sin? My hope and prayer is that they would have been treated with love and respect, while understanding the conviction of the person they interacted with. But to be realistic, we have to realize that we have defaulted far too often to berating people with our truth and going to incredible lengths (even sinful at times) to make sure people know what we believe about homosexuality.
I understand that I’m not proposing anything revolutionary here, in saying that we need to have a better posture towards homosexuality as we hold our convictions. But I want to add one more voice in saying that we need to do better, especially those of us who are leading ministries. A few weeks ago, I preached on Jonah 4, and focused on how Jonah was selfish with God’s grace. We are the same way, and this particular situation is a great example. When we are convicted that homosexuality is a sin, we are right in saying that someone who is engaged in that sin does not deserve God’s grace. But you know what we have to see clear as day? That we are not deserving of God’s grace either! Jesus died so that all people can be justified, and salvation belongs to the Lord – so we need to allow God to be the judge. Our job is to share the truth in love – calling sin sin, but also being such incredible beacons of God’s grace that the people we are talking to about sin know the love, grace, and mercy of God that is so available to them.
Our posture towards homosexuals has to be better. I think that as we consider this, we have to recognize that there are a few different categories, and how we respond may be different. There are people who are not in Christ and are homosexual, there are people who identify as a Christian and are actively living a homosexual lifestyle, and there are people who are following Christ and while they are homosexual, they are choosing to live a celibate life to be honoring to Christ. We have to think through this more than we have.
Over the last year, I’ve thought a lot more about this, in large part to 2 books that I’ve read. I realize that I recommend a lot of books on here, but I truly think these 2 are must reads for followers of Jesus, especially those of us in ministry. Messy Grace by Caleb Kaltenbach and Single, Gay, Christian by Gregory Coles have helped me to understand how I can hold to my convictions and also demonstrate the grace of God. Caleb Kaltenbach is a pastor who holds the conviction that homosexuality is sinful. He also has the unique situation of having both of his parents come out as homosexual at some point in their adult lives. If there is anyone who is qualified to help us understand how to hold to truth and show grace, it’s Caleb. Gregory Coles is a single, gay Christian, as the title explains. He writes from the perspective of someone who is homosexual, understands what Scripture says about it, and so chooses to live a life of celibate singleness. As a married, straight Christian, Gregory’s book was incredible in helping me understand a perspective other than my own.
Whether you know me well or have just been reading this blog, I hope this is clear: I think it is really important for us to know our theology and to hold to the truth. But we also have to consider how our theology integrates with our everyday life. And how our theology of homosexuality integrates with our theology of grace. So I urge you, consider your posture. And help the teenagers you know to understand their theology of homosexuality, based on Scripture and not simply feelings, and then help them to have the proper posture. We need to know and share truth, and we need to know and share grace. Not either or.