(Before you read any further, pray. Please do. This topic is less about what you already think and more about us digging deeper to what we have missed. Maybe we can listen to God on this and let Him have the most important word on this. Deal?)
Once upon a time in Christianity, there was a phrase that began to float around: “Gay agenda.”
It gained steam quickly. People who felt uncomfortable with even the word “gay” in conversation had something to hang onto that they could talk about. After all, it did seem like there was a deliberate effort by someone – let’s call that person “Hollywood” – to get a certain way of thinking into culture, households and the next generation with greater intensity. Christians felt like they had language to defend something that felt under attack.
The backlash was comical.
I mean that literally. Stand-up comics from George Carlin to Ellen Degeneres were among many who retorted back, almost making the phrase “gay agenda” its own punchline – as if a group of people met on a regular basis to make plans against the heterosexual world. The absurdity of the extremes they proposed softened things quite a bit. Pretty soon sitcoms were featuring major characters who were overtly homosexual, and we got used to the idea of them not going away… from one show to another… from one character to another.
Lately, it’s become an anthem.
Again, I mean that literally. Glee is, well… quite gleeful on this. Popular songs that are repeated day-in and day-out on iPods and smartphones are full of lyrics that shred anyone who would stand against “homosexuality and happiness,” especially if you think God is involved on your side of the fence.
“The right-wing conservatives think it’s a decision / And you can be cured with some treatment and religion / Man-made rewiring of a predisposition / Playing God, aw nah here we go / America the brave still fears what we don’t know / And God loves all his children, is somehow forgotten / But we paraphrase a book written 3500 years ago.” – Macklemore
Some worried if young kids would catch on.
It’s understandable if you toss in an endorsement from Toy Story’s Woody, change the orientation of a Disney female character, and create new books for children on how this is more common than you think… and you have the ingredients for your answer.
So.. should we be surprised at the two headlines this week around this subject matter?
- Good Luck Charlie introduced Disney’s first same-sex couple. According to Miley Cyrus (I can’t believe I just wrote that), “I commend Disney for making this step into the light of this generation. They control…so much of what kids think! Life isn’t bright sets & wardrobe & kids becoming superstars! This is INSPIRING.”
- The Grammy’s hosted a mass wedding of couples from all orientations. 34 couples, gay and straight, exchanged rings and said, “I do.” It was officiated by Queen Latifah (although I’m not sure she’s actual royalty, wink-wink). The audience gave it a standing ovation. Others pushed back in other ways, tweeting “Why can’t the event just be about the music? So tired of political and social messages being infused into everything” or “I don’t care if they are gay or straight this is wrong. Quit shoving your leftist agenda down my throat. Enough is enough.”Christian singer Natalie Grant even came under some accusational fire for leaving the show early.
It’s not just the Grammy’s. It’s not just Good Luck Charlie. It’s not the next thing GLAAD will demand (you might want to read about it).
It’s not even the Super Bowl, where allegedly Bruno Mars will officiate an LGBT friendly ceremony while he sings “Marry You.” (That’s a joke, by the way – but not everyone knew that and the unbelievable-yet-somehow-believable rumor has gone viral.)
This isn’t a quiet topic, is it?
We’re not being given the chance to “get around to this,” are we? We’re having it placed in front of us, one awards show after another… one sitcom after another… one school group after another.
Ready for the Olympics?
Again, I mean that literally… does Bob Costas have plans for a featurette I might want to know about as I watch snowboarding with my kids?
But now I also mean the “Olympics” figuratively… or rather, theologically.
You have been invited to take part in an Olympic-level calling to share Jesus Christ with the world. To “make disciples of all nations,” according to someone who is actual Royalty.
- Will you instead be passive, assuming it will go away?
- Will you instead be political, whichever way that is?
- Will you instead begin sentences on this topic with, “Well, I just think…” or “Well, I just feel…” – instead of taking people to someplace deeper than thoughts and feelings?
Can we somehow foster a Jesus-centered conversation here?
We have a role in this, don’t we? Do you think it’s merely a squeek… or a roar?
The reality is that whatever is happening in one moment isn’t static. Someone is always pushing for change, and when culture hands a majority of microphones over to artists and musicians (people, who by definition, push the envelope for the sake of their craft), should we be surprised at how things develop?
Another factor is the accusation that Christians seem to care about this more than they should. It’s a fair challenge for some, but… on the other hand… maybe some Christians are coming across a little louder because it feels like someone else starting shouting and we need to speak up more than we normally would to compensate in the conversation.
The other thing is this isn’t just “an issue” or a “topic.” Very real people (many of whom I consider friends) have personal reasons why they’re engaged in this from whatever side they’re engaged in.
So again, can we move off of our sides on this and come around the Cross of Christ together?
- Would you agree or disagree that there seems to be an increasing amount of strategy on how often this is coming up?
(Note: According to LGBT advocate GLAAD, there are more gays represented in TV scenarios than actually play out in real life. It’s causing Americans to assume that 25% of Americans are gay, when the actual number is between 2.2% to 3.4%)
- Would you agree or disagree that it’s hard to listen to God on this and personally opt for how you “think” or “feel” on this?
- Would you agree or disagree that it’s possible to somehow find a Jesus-Centered style approach on how we proceed?
and then let God speak in you and through you.
“For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” (2 Timothy 4:3)
18 thoughts on “Gay + Agenda?”
What is the Jesus-centered approach for youth ministry in this? Seriously, I don’t know what to do, or say, or how to handle it.
Maybe it begins with that confession, Steven? It seems like part of the problem is that we’re a whole lot quicker to do/say/handle something in our own power and perspective. Perhaps if we are open and honest, we’re off to a decent start. What do you think needs to happen after that?
I have been praying about this topic for a long time. The answer God continues to give me is that yes homosexuality is a sin. That is made clear in scripture for a reason. He has also spoken that this sin is no different from all other sin. While displeasing to God it is not in a special category of unforgiveable or “don’t touch them” sins. He lastly has taught me (and my class through our discussions) that each person is to be treated with respect and dignity, no matter their life choices or our views on how they live their lives.
I believe sometimes when we talk about this subject it becomes too much about “standing for what is right”, “loving the sinner, hating the sin”, “fighting for family values”, and “Jesus never said anything” arguments. One of the reasons that this topic is so contentious and messy in the lives Americans and especially within the Christian church is because it has been about stances and point-of-views, feelings, happiness, and pride.
I believe that as we approach homosexuality and its prevalence in media with ourselves, our students, and our churches, we have to do so with humility and a realistic understanding of how we got here. Many churches preached hell and brimstone messages against homosexuality while thousands of gay men died of AIDS. Many of the stereotypes and lies that many still believe about the LGBT community and its members are tied to things people learned in church and from governmental agencies (the impossibility of gays to be faithful partners, the myth of the homosexual sexual predator, the idea that children raised by gay couples would automatically become gay…etc). Many of the methods many pastors and ministries recommended have been found at best to be ineffective and at worst harmful (reparative therapy, electroshock treatment, institutionalization of gays and lesbians).
Many churches and leaders have made great efforts to reconcile the wrong treatment, information, and discrimination against the LGBT community that have occurred in the past. Many have not.
Alternatively, many have found churches and leaders who have found a way to justify homosexuality and its inclusion in the Christian lifestyle. I believe they do a disservice to those who are genuinely seeking truth, but do so out of an attempt to rectify many of the past pains I mentioned above. Their impact on the church at large has yet to be fully understood and felt.
I honestly believe we have to find a way to get back to what God has called each Christian to do: love Him and love His people; speak the truth in love; and most importantly be light and salt in the Earth.
This is a complex issue because it does effect the lives of so many people. How do we minister to the teen who comes out to us? How do we minister to the same-sex parent/couple who are raising students in our youth group? (I’ve actually had 5 of my students who were from homes of openly lesbian mothers) How do we address transgendered students who come into our groups, particularly our small groups? Where do we fall on issues such as job discrimination, housing arrangements and emergency decisions in the case of same-sex couples? If the student or parent does choose to walk away from actively getting involved in same sex relationships, how do we advise or counsel them on living a life of celibacy, which could be for the rest of their lives? If a transgendered individual comes for spiritual counseling do we advise them to live out their lives in the current bodies or return to the gender of their birth, even if that means reversal surgery and hormone treatments?
There are many other questions. Sorry about the long posts, but for the basic questions that I have answers to, I really do wonder how various churches and youth ministries handle these issues and the history/stigma that comes with the Church’s relationship with the LGBT community. I believe God has called us to speak truth, but more importantly to live truth and minister to people.
Thank you for loving students.
Wow… what an amazing response. Thank you for this. My sense is this will be a hard topic for people to chime into without us resorting to the “I think/I feel” statements, but you did this well.
I’m especially staring at this statement: “I believe that as we approach homosexuality and its prevalence in media with ourselves, our students, and our churches, we have to do so with humility and a realistic understanding of how we got here.”
It seems like this alone is something we forget to do, even in conversation. We come at each other instead of seeing each other and taking stock of how the Story might be present in our stories. That’s not to say we should elevate everyone’s background or passions, but to not ignore them – and then somehow fold them into God on this.
That’s the real hurdle, isn’t it?
Great thoughts Christianprincess. Thank you for sharing them! The more conversations I have, read about, and witness from culture, the more James 1:19-20 comes into my mind and heart.
Thank you Tony for this thought provoking article. This is all very timely, as I’m preparing to discuss this topic with my youth group.
I’ve long thought that the church as an institution has it wrong; not in our calling homosexuality immoral (the Bible is not vague on this subject at all), but in our response when confronting it. We’ve somehow made that particular form of sexual immorality worse than other kinds; as if you’d only go to Hell a little bit for fornication but a whole bunch more for sodomy. Well, I’ve read that ol’ Bible of mine cover to cover many times, and I’ve only found one Hell mentioned. It says anyone that has rejected Christ goes there. If it’s not your sexual preference that condems you, it will be something else. Apart from Jesus we are all doomed; gay or straight. So what should the church do as an institution? We need less stick, more carrot. Less barking, more wagging. Less speculation, more truth. Less judgement, more discernment. You get the idea. Let’s talk to ALL SINNERS about what they get with Jesus, not what they have to give up. The Holy Spirit will convict people that He wants to change. Judging the unsaved for their sin is a) putting the cart before the horse, and b) not our job.
Young people need the truth that is only found in the Word of God, and they need courage. And by the way, it takes a lot more courage to practice humility and engage in a thoughtful dialog with a gay person than it does to wave a ‘God Hates You’ sign from across the street, shrouded in the security of your equally arrogant and clueless friends. Yes, I just said that.
Thank you also, Christianprincess, for a very thoughtful and well reasoned response. I could not agree with you more. Well done.
Great catch. It seems like we have to remember that Jesus saves and can save anyone would choose Him as Lord and Savior. Maybe the problem is we want change to happen in another person’s life in every way, shape and form before we “rubber stamp” them. I wonder… who gave us that rubber stamp? Does it exist? Arguably, there is great teaching in the Bible regarding church communities… but never to trump the transformational work Jesus can do in all of us.
All of us.
(I think I needed to say that again) 🙂
Love this line Ken: “Young people need the truth that is only found in the Word of God, and they need courage. And by the way, it takes a lot more courage to practice humility and engage in a thoughtful dialog with a gay person than it does to wave a ‘God Hates You’ sign from across the street, shrouded in the security of your equally arrogant and clueless friends.”
I don’t have a lot of time to comment here, but I really do appreciate the conversations going. I too think the church has not always done a very good job of how we deal with the sin of homosexuality. For whatever reason, in the church, there are “bad sins,” “okay sins,” and then “really bad sins.” Why can’t we see all sin as God sees it, but also respond to it with the grace and mercy that He is willing to respond to it, through a relationship with Jesus.
Thank you Tony for writing this article. Well done! Great thought Ken & “Christianprincess.” And Steven, I think I totally hear your heart of wanting to make sure the church responds Biblically with the truth in a culture that would rather ignore it.
Thank you, Nathan! I wonder how we can better distinguish why we have that sliding scale of sin… because you’re right, it does seem to be there. Maybe we have to be the change agents on it first.
If we are honest, there is a sliding scale of sin. Maybe not to God (theologically speaking), but with certainty in this life. (Although I bet He is a lot more pissed off with some of us sinners than others. There just may be levels of hell) Where and why we put a particular sin on that sliding scale becomes complex. Child molesters, for example are clearly near the bottom…unless they are Muslims adding a 10 year old girl to their wife collection, then they get moved up the scale because of religion or culture. In modern currency (and increasingly the church) intolerance is a huge sin, bigger than infidelity, weird sexual perversions etc. And I think it is apt that the church has to deal with some sins more directly, harshly and publicly than it does others. Of course we can wrap ourselves up in the “I’m a sinner too, so who am I to judge” blanket and simply ignore things that in the early church would have resulted in serious consequences. And for which sin or at what state of rebellion do we say “sorry, we love you but this won’t fly here” it is a tough & difficult thing to figure out and act on, yet to avoid it is to become toothless and to abdicate a purifying roll that is set out for the church in scripture. So…am I saying homosexuality is one of these sins? Well, in an active, in your face, aggressive form, yeah. In the midst of a spiritual quest, confusion or struggle, of course not.
That’s a great point, Rick – we tend to do a lot of the “placing” of sin as we come across it. Most of the time, it’s through that lens of, “Well, as I see it, this is a much bigger deal than that sin over there…. so…”
I appreciate the metaphor of a city for this tension. If you look at the buildings from a space station about to leave the atmosphere, you relatively see all the buildings at the same time and same value. If you look at it from a human view, some tower over others in ways that can’t be dismissed.
So toss Jesus into that – He walked the earth and saw everything through human eyes, and yet in being Divine sees the higher view. I wonder how He’ll reconcile all of that in eternity. Then again, maybe that’s the main thing to realize… *He* will reconcile it.
In the meantime, we can point out the buildings (which has its purpose), or we can point out the sky (which has its purpose). Somehow I think God is present in both, and yet doesn’t want us to confuse the buildings for the clouds, nor aim for the clouds and crash into the buildings along the way.
You have a sliding scale of sin because most morals today are higher than that of the bible and you need some way to explain it away.
I appreciate you commenting, Brian. Know that you’re welcome here. For what it’s worth, consider how a comment like that can create its own sliding scale, though. For example, to say that today’s morals are higher implies there is a way to gauge morals and their worth beyond what culture thinks of them at any given time. That, in turn, implies there is an objective ideal or standard in the world… which, in turn, implies something or someone objective put that into motion. So in a sense, trying to explain a way a sliding scale of sin ends up creates a fixed point of morality. I love how God is revealed there, even in the midst of our rejecting Him. Thanks for chiming in.
Generally speaking, the church has failed to respond to the LGBT community with love, humility, and acceptance. Instead, the LGBT community has experienced judgment, condemnation, and rejection. That’s why conversations like this are so important. I appreciate the openness of this conversation, and the difficult questions “Christianprincess” poses. I would like to challenge a simplistic reading of scripture that states the Bible is completely clear and straight forward about the issue of same-sex attraction. It seems a biblical approach to same-sex attraction is more complex than simply stating homosexuality is a sin. Part of the conversation includes the understanding there are different perspectives on what the Bible actually states. To state, without doubt, one point of view over another invalidates both perspectives. There are no simple answers here. Nor do I pretend to understand the issue fully. I only have my perspectives based on study, prayer, personal experience, and conversation with others. We all approach this topic with our preconceived understanding. We also have the opportunity to grow in our understanding through open dialogue. Thank you all for contributing, and thank you Tony for writing this.
Thank you right back, Tony. Perhaps the challenge is somewhere in there God does have a clear view on this topic (even if we don’t). So when you get a group of people in the room dissecting the Bible through word studies or sharing stories that begin with, “I have a friend who…” it becomes awkward in many ways. Ultimately, we need to let God speak. Then again, He seems to like speaking through His people and His Word. Maybe that’s the real trick – having a fearless conversation where we lean in to listen, but then ultimately try to listen for the Whisper underneath it all and check that leading with Scripture. While all that’s happening, if we could love God and love each other in the process then hard dialogue becomes foundational cement for a relational on-ramp.
Romans 12-14 shows me the folly of adding weight to one sin over another and also a great indicator of the current culture being farther from the very “truth” they often loudly declare.
“Being” anything, is not sinful. “Acting” out is where the sin occurs. I have warned both my children and those who have come to me for guidance on some areas I have some experience with; “Thoughts are actions just waiting their turn.” So in this example, whether gay or straight, lust, or thoughts, do have eventual consequences if left to wander. However, most of the current “agendas”, both gay and Christian, come from fear, and fear ain’t faith, so I am apt to disregard both in a factual sense.
However, I am both of this world and IN this world. Governmental labeling or endorsement of ANY marriage is doomed to never satisfy the full will of God’s laws. If the etymology of ‘Marriage” is indeed biblical, fine, but don’t make everyone no matter their faith obtain a license for it from the government. Make us get “Civil Union” licenses and let that “very legal” argument die.If not, then suspend all other exclusionary laws that require such a document to avoid the loss of government rights and benefits under them.