This past week has been filled with headlines and blog posts about homosexuality, from laws being passed and vetoed, to students in our ministry and families coming out. Some important posts on these stories were written by friends of mine. Their thoughts and perspectives are worth your time checking out:
- Tony Myles – Your Mind is Made Up
- Kurt Johnston – Practically Speaking
- Neely McQueen – Our Greatest Contribution
- Thom Schultz – The Church’s Dangerous Dilemma
- Matt Moore – There Will Never be Total Equality
Additionally, I’ve been posting advice to youth workers on ministering to gay teenagers. The information I’ve shared is from my own life, ministry experience, and book, which by the way, is being relaunched with updated and expanded material this week.
I hope through these postings you have heard my heart, which beats a passion to see gay individuals reached for Christ. And in this, to see the body of Christ unashamedly arise to reach out and embrace those who identify as gay.
Some say this is a lofty and unattainable goal. I totally disagree.
I’m one of the crazy ones who believes everything the Bible says, in particularly the commands and promises of God. If He says, make disciples of all people, and that with God all things are possible, then I believe Him. Is what I’m suggesting easy and without risk? No way. There will be huge risk involved and comfort zones will most likely become shattered. However, the end result is too extraordinary to bypass: people made in God’s image, redeemed and brought back from death to life through Christ, enjoying eternal fellowship with their Creator.
So, where do we go from here? Beyond the blog posts and conversations, what’s next? I want to offer some suggestions.
See gay people as people; not as a political issue, not as a sinful behavior, and not as a lesser person than yourself. The majority of rights gays and lesbians fight for are human rights given to everyone else. As Christians, we need to clearly discern what “battles” we choose to involve ourselves in, and how to see the deeper issue below the surface. The actions we take, the voices we raise, and even the laws we support, should all hold up and honor the work and commission of Christ – not ourselves, or, worse, not a political agenda.
Learn the art of listening & speaking less. What we think people need to hear is not always what they actually need to hear. Some of us truly need to stop speaking from a position of defense and anger, and speak from a position of humility and compassion. This isn’t to say we must deny and forgo our convictions, rather it means we imitate Christ in all situations without an “us vs. them” mentality. In fact, there is no “us vs. them,” there is only “us and Him.” So, when listening, we need to be attentive to what the person is saying to us and what God is saying. In hearing people through the ears of God, we begin to see people through the eyes of God. Jesus did this well; let’s imitate Him.
Cultivate community inside and outside the church. The Gospel is for all people, because Christ is for all people. Just as youth ministry and outreach, are important areas of focus in a church, so is a ministry to those who identify as gay. Here’s a bold statement that needs to be said: If the church continues to adhere to God’s view of sexuality and continues to declare that the only options for people with same-sex attractions are either celibacy or marriage to a member of the opposite sex, then the church must (as in not optional) provide a safe and nurturing community for gay people to be a part of—especially those who remain celibate. It is my conviction that gay individuals are a part of the flock Jesus is speaking about in John 10:16. Therefore, as churches, and as leaders, we need to be willing to change the way we “shepherd” people under our care.
These suggestions are just the beginning to a long journey before us. So, what other ones would you add?
Shawn / @611pulse