Culture
Tony Myles

Tony Myles is a youth ministry veteran, author, speaker, volunteer youth worker and lead pastor of Connection Church in Medina, Ohio... and he really likes smoothies.

So… your mind is “made up” about homosexuality.

So is mine. Can we just admit that? I will, even if you won’t.

You may consider yourself open-minded. Still, where you are today is “made up” of several deep questions, ideas and experiences you’ve gleaned over time regarding the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

I first realized this on a mission trip in Toronto years ago as I walked through a gay community.

Our team was on a prayer walk together, and I found myself completely at ease praying in areas dominated by various foreign cultures. Even the “rougher” neighborhoods weren’t as intimidating as when we turned onto a street where the GLBT community had taken root. I’m not proud of sharing how uncomfortable I felt in that moment, and yet that’s exactly what happened. I realized that I had a firm conclusion about what I was experiencing.

That’s not to say that over time my thoughts and ministry to the GLBT community hasn’t grown. Again, it’s the realization that today my mind is somehow “made up” – just like yours is. The question is if you’re aware how it happens:

  • If you encounter a progressive catalyst, you’ll change your mind progressively. As an example, read a previous post I shared on this very website about how society continues to give us new data we’re supposed to respond to. (You may also want to note how the questions I posed at the end of it remained unanswered.)
  • If you encounter an aggressive catalyst, you’ll change your mind aggressively. As an example, recall the last time God spontaneously humbled and broke you over something. (You may also want to note the new questions you asked that you weren’t asking before that moment occurred.)

Since your mind is “made up” for now, how about we talk about something else… like cheese?

Did you hear how Kraft Singles is removing chemical preservatives from its individually wrapped cheese slices? In similar news:

  • Subway and Pizza Hut are removing the chemical azodicarbonamide from their breads. The FDA-approved additive is also famously used in yoga mats and shoe rubber.
  • Chick-fil-A is removing high-fructose corn syrup and artificial dyes from its sauces and dressings.
  • Kraft Foods is removing artificial dyes from varieties of macaroni and cheese.
  • PepsiCo will remove brominated vegetable oil from Gatorade.

These significant changes are costing each company gobs of money that they didn’t plan to spend. One might wonder how their minds were “made up.”

Apparently, it tracks back to the volume level of a few people.

Food blogger Vani Hari publically criticized Subway in detail for not being as “fresh” as it claims to be. She also targeted Chick-fil-A and Kraft, while a Mississippi teenager publicly petitioned PepsiCo to make the aforementioned changes to Gatorade.

Arguably, these are changes for the better. It may be the very approach you take in life, trying to be a vocal change-agent on whatever side of whatever issue you’re lobbying for. Perhaps you see those who disagree with you as the big conglomerates who are putting “additives” into our culture that shouldn’t be there. Consider the frequency (and irony) of how often you see yourself as the hero in these scenarios.

We live in a world where the loudest voices (not necessarily the most voices or the right voices) can change everything.

This has typically been true throughout history, but has only amplified in recent years. Anyone with a video camera and a YouTube channel can impact public opinion in a matter of moments.

You probably already knew that. Let me tell you one other thing you already know.

The most important voice on any topic isn’t who you drift into thinking it is.

  • It’s not the next motivational speech-giver (even though you’ll be inspired by someone who speaks with passion and end up buying all their books).
  • It’s not the next Presidential candidate (even though you’ll be tempted to vote for a political savior in the next election).
  • It’s not the next student in your ministry who “gets it” (even though you secretly hope they do, stereotypically stand up on a cafeteria table at school, tell everyone to come to your youth group and ultimately brings fifty friends to hear you share your next talk about Jesus).

You know Whose voice I’m talking about because He’s been talking to you this whole time.

The Holy Spirit.

It’s His still, small, quiet whisper that matters most. Even if what He says is in the minority, He is the actual and only majority. He, the Son and the Father are One on this, and everything.

Anyone and anything can change a person’s mind… whether it’s about cheese, chicken, noodles, Gatorade or homosexuality.

Only God can actually transform someone’s mind. 

So to bring it back to homosexuality:

  • Are you arguing points from a “made up” mind, or praying for un-making wisdom with fear and trembling?
  • Are you convincing kids to convince others, or are you speaking from conviction that requires Someone convicting you?
  • Are you in conversation elevating the phrase, “Yeah, but I have a friend who…” or are you saying, “I’d like to introduce you to my Friend,” and letting Him elevate the conversation?

Your mind is already “made up.”

The question is if you’ll let it become unmade and transformed, creating environments and serving opportunities where students will wrestle with God and let Him transform them, too.

Colossians 2:8 brings it home: “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.”

Thank you for loving students!

Tony / @tonymyles

P.S. - While we are on the topic, a new Revised Edition of the book from Shawn Harrison, Ministering to Gay Teenagers, will be available for purchase early next week! Keep an eye out!

13 COMMENTS

  • Ryan Collins says:

    We, when debating homosexuality, we have to remember that this isn’t just about ideals, or just beliefs. There are real people being directly effected by our conversations, fights, and legislation.
    For the most part we are a bunch of straight people determining whether lgbt people should be affirmed or not, religiously and legally. Let that sink in a bit.
    Any legislation is coming from a majority of people that far outnumbers the lgbt community, and this legislation will have very little effect on straight people. In some circumstances it grants even more power over the lgbt people. Enter their shoes and think about what it would be like to be a “thing” or “lifestyle” to be argued over, about what places you will be allowed to serve at church, whether God’s communion should be served to you, whether you can even go into a business and be served without someone drilling you about your sexual preferences.
    Even “Open and Affirming” churches often approach the lgbt community from a place of privilege, acting as if they are extending a special favor to the lgbt community by inviting them into the Christian community. We don’t get to decide who is “in” and “out”, that is Jesus’ job, and like when he told the religious leaders not to be surprised when prostitutes and other sinners would enter the kingdom of God before them, Jesus is probably still going to surprise us in similar ways.
    All this to say, when you recognize that you have your mind made up about this debate, that you really have your mind made up about people. Jesus had a lot to say about that to all the religious groups of his time.

    • Shawn says:

      Ryan, I agree with much of what you are saying. I strongly believe the church needs to do a much better job at ministering to people who struggle with same-sex attraction and not viewing it as a worse sin that others.

      I do want to go into your statement about Christians not getting to decide who is in and who is out. I agree that ultimately, it is Jesus’ job, not ours. However, Jesus has inspired the Holy Scriptures to provide us with insight into how we should live, what we should and should not do, etc. Jesus does talk many times about heaven and hell and some of the requirements for entering into heaven. What are some of those requirements? While it certainly isn’t a matter of what we have done in our life (b/c none of us would go!) we do know that Jesus teaches to Repent and believe in the gospel. I’d ask you this: what does repent mean and how do you understand the requirements Jesus laid out for salvation?

      For me, my conviction now is this. Scripture is unequivocally clear that homosexual practice, like many other things, is sinful and not God’s desire for us. While people struggle with same-sex attraction, ALL OF US struggle with something. For some it is alcohol, drugs, pornography, lying, gossiping, etc. The message for all these things that are sinful, is the same: repent and believe the gospel.

      This matter is very important to me. I grew up in a very liberal Christian family. I have had an uncle die from AIDS from homosexual practice, I have a cousin who is openly gay and in a committed homosexual relationship, and I have friends who are gay. From my experience, my upbringing, and from what society and the Christian circles I hung out in, I became convinced homosexuality was not a sin needing to repent of, but something that people were born with and couldn’t help. This is certainly what we are being fed by the media and so many cultural influences.

      However, I had a few faithful Christian friends really challenge me to look at the Scripture passages and what they said. There is no way to look at them honestly and say that homosexual practice is OK. Yes I’ve read tons of people who try, but they are not faithful to the text. Also, I’ve discovered many people sharing their testimonies (see YouTube) of God saving them from homosexuality.

      • Tony Myles says:

        Powerful insights, Shawn. Especially that God has given us the ability to discern for a reason… and even gifted us the Holy Spirit to do so.

        “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.” 1 Corinthians 2:4-5

    • roger says:

      What bothers me about all this is that we who have “our minds made up” are being vilified because we do not agree with the politically correct rest of the world. If we hold to the fact that sin is, in fact, sin then we are bigoted, hateful, intolerant people. I have and continue to minister to students and families struggling with GLBT issues. We love on the kids and families while being very straight forward about what the Word of God teaches on sexual sin (Porneia), not just homosexual behavior. (Yep, we have kids and families and parents that struggle with sexual sin)
      Somehow we have lost the ability to respectfully disagree with one another on this issue. We who would say the homosexuality is sin are fast loosing our right to do so through “legal” action by what I would call “hate groups” within the GLBT community. Christian businesses are targeted for lawsuits because they stand on their Christian convictions and their legal rights to refuse service, yet we are the bigots?
      My mind is “made up” on sin. I can read the Word and see that sin is rejecting God’s standard for things and pursuing our own. I will love people with all I am and I will show respect, compassion and mercy to all sinners, no matter their sin, because I desperately need it myself. I will not follow the lead of the politically correct or the loudest voice in the room.

      Ryan, I am sure that all will be surprised at who gets in and who does not. Jesus really does hold all that in His hand. I do know this, it requires a committed relationship to the only God and King and repentance from sin leading to forgiveness. Can we live in sin continually and claim “Jesus is Lord.” No, we can’t. I believe it is more hateful to tell someone that their sin is ok (whatever sin it is) than to tell them truth.
      Just my thoughts on the issue. That and $5 will get you a place in line at Starbucks.

      • Tony Myles says:

        This is a great point, Roger. There is a reverse vilification that is happening if you don’t agree with whomever has the microphone. Currently, the largest amplifier on this seems to be every awards show or interview. Why is it when someone says, “I’m gay” there is a thunder of applause to support that, but if someone says, “I’m heterosexual” there’s nothing comparable? Arguably, we’ve been trained to show support due to some of the negativity that has happened… but it feels like we’ve been trained a little too well culturally.

        I appreciate your point about turning to Jesus on this. Without Him, we’re just all finding smarter ways to make our pre-existing points. With Him, we can experience conviction and humility that matters.

    • rachel says:

      good comments Ryan. this is such a difficult subject to have conversation on, much less teach on. its close to my heart for personal reasons, and I get what you are saying. I think it has been made into some kind of current “hot” topic debate because it is such a visual sin. we all carry around with us sin and baggage, but most of it we can hide from those around us, basically. we still sing on the praise team, serve in nurserys, and make the coffee on sunday mornings, no one dabates over whether my sins should keep me from serving….why do we do this to them? it is so confusing, when Christ walked this earth He associated with, and even more than that Lovingly Hung Out With people of all walks of life and the culture thought he was crazy for it. maybe we just keep loving and including the broken, no matter the type of brokenness, and let the talk and judgment of others fall away. im not saying that I agree with the lifestyle, perhaps there are aspects of my life others wouldn’t agree with. lord knows ive heard enough judgment on the fact my family reads and adores harry potter and Dr who, that my kids have seen the lord of the rings trilogy, and that we rock out to ACDC from time to time. I wish we would stop taking stock of others short comings all the time and try lifting each other up, let iron sharpen iron and let the Spirit sort us out. He freed us to love each other, let just do that. we over complicate things…I think the key to this is approaching the subject biblically, but making it clear that we value and love every person that God has created. it takes an immense amount of compassion and we must choose our words very very carefully. Jesus was so purposeful in the places he went, the people he visited, and the words he spoke. their was immense power in his voice, and his words were measured…..we should be like Christ and weigh our words on this subject before we go out into the world and do more harm than good. we may be decided on this, most of us know what the Bible says about this subject. but I am not decided about people, I am not going to make an all encompassing choice about a “people” group without ever getting to know them. Without ever giving them the chance to know Jesus through me…..

      • Tony Myles says:

        I really like this comment of yours, Rachel: “I think the key to this is approaching the subject biblically, but making it clear that we value and love every person that God has created.” Amen to that!

  • Steve Thurman says:

    This is so very true. One of the most frequent questions I get as a Pastor is why I support gay marriage. Answering that question always takes time, so I try to schedule a conversation with the person who asked it. On the rare occasions that the person takes the time to talk about it with me, I usually find that their mind was already made up.

    Without going into great detail…because it is a serious topic that demands serious study and attention…I will say that I agree with Tony about how often the Holy Spirit is NOT the guiding force behind Christian opinion on this issue. I believe the Bible leaves no doubt that those without the Holy Spirit can not bear fruits of that Spirit. Seeing the fruit borne by several gay friends (who often put me to shame with their commitment to Christ), I have had no choice but change the way I used to believe.

    My focus lately has been on helping the church to have productive conversations about this topic…loving each other even in our disagreement. Putting the Holy Spirit first and paying close attention to WHY we believe what we believe is an important step in the process.

    • Tony Myles says:

      Appreciate your comments, Steve. And I appreciate your friendship, too. Where I’d take a different path than you on this is the pairing of the words “gay” and “marriage.” I simply can’t say them together, even though culture keeps trying to get me to redefine it that way.

      It reminds me of an old riddle Abe Lincoln once told. He asked a boy, “How many legs does a dog have, if you call his tail a leg?” The boy answered, “Five.” Lincoln said, “The answer is four, because calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.”

      I’ll admittedly offer that my mind is “made” up on that – just as the emerging culture is having it’s mind “made” up to call tails legs. Confesionally, I;m really struggling with that.

  • Brad says:

    I am encountering this a lot more in youth ministry. I see what the kids post on Facebook and what they really believe. This is my response: I believe that the Bible calls homosexuality a sin. My job isn’t to force sinners to change, but to give a loving and sober warning about sin’s consequences. My conviction is that a gay person is living in misery because they feel God’s conviction in their conscience, and they feel dirty as a person. No amount of coddling on a society’s part can bring the healing they really need. They need the grace of God to redeem them! Guess what, I needed to be redeemed from a different set of sins. I didn’t get a free pass or preferential treatment for my sins, and I’m glad. God convinced me I was a sinner and I reached out for his forgiveness. This is the same thing that homosexuals need.

    • Tony Myles says:

      It seems like this is the key, Brad – not merely preaching Christianity or its morals, but sharing Christ and letting Him do the transformation on all of us from the inside out.

  • Bret says:

    I had a conversation about this with my youth group. I did not have a problem sharing with the group why I felt there is absolutely no sin in same sex relations. We went through all the “homosexual” passages in the Bible and found that things are not as black and white as many would have us believe. But that was not the point. The Bible is not a law book or a rule book, and we shouldn’t treat it is a such. God wants us to have meaningful relationships that reveal the glory of God. I simply put it this way: if you can show me how committed same sex relations somehow fail to reveal the glory of a loving God, then please do.

    • Tony Myles says:

      I appreciate the honesty of your comment, Bret. However, I need to disagree with how you used the Bible that night. A common argument in these circles is what the “gay” texts say and don’t say. If you’re going to make an argument from silence, then why not consider its alternative argument from silence. For example, where in the Bible does God endorse a same-sex relationship? See what I mean?

      It doesn’t sound like you gave that a fair shake. As such, you shared a handful of verses without the larger context. Nowhere in the Bible has God ever encouraged same sex relationships. In fact, what does He encourage? Even if you look with the flawed relationships that his people created, He always seems to be looking for an angle to bring couples back to an opposite-sex, monogamous commitment to each other. I don’t want to create layers and layers of debate with you on this, but more to point out that you might want to circle back and present the whole context of the Bible on this versus an interpretation of controversial verses.

      Verses, by the way, that don’t seem so unclear when you consider this larger context.

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