The ongoing gay marriage controversy has caused much debate in the secular and church world. It has seemed difficult for some in the religious field to speak with a clear voice as to what should be the appropriate response from those who are consistent American “church goers”. We are often looked upon as either homosexual haters who have no compassion or “permissive patsies” who have no moral backbone, neither of which is the appropriate response. In light of recent decisions in America regarding these issues, I offer these thoughts for us to consider:
1. Before we can adequately address any moral issue, especially gay marriage, the “Church must repent of her own immorality and recommit to a biblical standard of holiness”.
Is it not hypocritical of American “church goers” to shout about perceived moral ills of society when within our own numbers there is an increased tide of sexual sin? Statistically, the numbers of “Christian people” who participate in pre-marital sexual activity, pornography, date while separated from their spouse or live together to experiment marriage is on the increase. The divorce rate is actually higher among those who claim to be born again then those who have no religious affiliation. Because we use the Bible as a basis for life conduct, we understand why God disapproves of Homosexuality (check the New Testament, Romans 1, I Cor. 6:9, I Tim. 1:10). However, other activities such as adultery, fornication, stealing and gossip are listed in the same category. This truth is ignored by those on both sides of the issue. As church leaders in Catawba County and the surrounding areas, for us to condemn homosexuality without dealing with other sins in our numbers is to close our eyes to reality and will cause us to lose any voice we may have about this matter in our society.
2. The church must repent of hostility toward homosexual people and recommit to bold love.
Some will read this and say I am approving of homosexuality-of course not. However, as Jonah felt about Nineveh, we have been guilty of preaching judgment without hope. Bold love can actually serve people without compromising. There are many homosexuals and lesbians looking for a way out. Many have been molested as children and/or deal with emotional scars and hurt that is beyond description. These wounds are held inside and never really dealt with. Because we have not known how to deal with this subject, and quite possibly are uncomfortable with our own sexuality, we have closed the door of mercy and left people locked in their chains of life. When the woman at the well met Jesus, he offered her the hope of a life change while not condoning her lifestyle.
3. The church must repent of being intimidated by the Gay Rights Movement and recommit to her role in society.
Martin Luther King Jr. stated, “the church must be reminded that it is neither the master of the state, nor the servant of the state; rather, it is the conscience of the state.’For too long we have abdicated our role of being the conscience of the community and have been silent when we should have been speaking. We have been fearful of retaliation, lawsuits and bad press. So, rather them be the voice God intends us to be, we ignore the issue hoping it will go away and that no one will ask us to take a bold stand. However, and I quote, “the church must boldly protest immorality in any form while simultaneously building a place of safety for those who respond to our message.” (Love Won Out conference -June 2004). The issues of our time are our issues. May God help us to be the people he intends us to be that we may impact society in a positive way that brings life change to those willing to accept it.