Let’s face it – the topic of homosexuality is not simple. When we really take the time to listen to each other, so many different opinions come up. When we don’t take the time to listen to each other, we make assumptions and accusations about those who have opposing opinions. It’s something difficult to agree on, but it’s also something about which is difficult to agree to disagree.
In this article, I will be talking about Christians who support the sanctity of marriage and how we are often viewed. I have already discussed why some Christians believe the Bible clearly says homosexual actions are sinful in my first article, and I discussed the topic of judgment in my second article. If you have comments about those topics, please post them on the appropriate article so as to stay on topic. Links are provided below for easy access. Thank you!
1. The misinterpretation of the Bible concerning whether homosexual acts are sinful or not.
2. The misinterpretation of the Bible concerning judgment.
3. The misrepresentation of those who respectfully support the sanctity of marriage.
4. Why Christians care about the lifestyle of others.
5. The loss of religious freedom in our churches and Christian institutions that I believe is to come.
There are three main opinions I have seen concerning Christians and homosexuality:
– I know some Christians who believe a homosexual lifestyle is perfectly compatible with the Bible.
– I know some Christians who believe the Bible condemns homosexual actions but that Christ offers forgiveness for all who ask for it.
– I know some who personally claim to condemn homosexuals to hell, who persecute and attack homosexuals emotionally, verbally, and/or physically.
If you read my first article, you know I disagree with those Christians who condone homosexual actions. I pray my words and tone in both my first and second articles have conveyed that I strongly disagree with those who condemn homosexuals to hell. Groups like the Westboro Baptist Church not only break my heart, but they infuriate me. Such groups completely miss God’s message of forgiveness. They completely misrepresent Christ. They create confusion concerning what Christ and Christianity are really about. Worst of all, their actions speak much louder than the words of Christians who share the truth about the Bible.
Obviously, I fall into the category of people who are Christians, who don’t hate homosexuals, but who also don’t approve of homosexual actions because of what the Bible says.
Some people assumed when the United States Supreme Court legalized homosexual marriage that I was angry at the government or that I hated homosexuals. In fact, this assumption became so pervasive that I felt attacked anytime I got online. I was immediately labeled a “bigot” and a “homophobe.” It was immediately assumed that because I disagree with homosexuality, I must hate and despise homosexuals. What I saw people saying about Christians on social media – name calling, bullying, death threats, rape threats – broke my heart. I wasn’t angry at our secular government for ignoring the Bible. I wasn’t angry at secular homosexuals wanting their marriages legalized. I was grief-stricken that what seemed to come along with the legalization of homosexual marriage was the “legalization” to emotionally, verbally, and/or physically persecute those who believe in the sanctity of marriage.
I eventually became so distraught over the words I read online that I felt physically ill. My Facebook was covered in rainbows of people claiming love should be free to all, yet I have never felt so hated by strangers. It got to the point where I was afraid to say I was a Christian on Facebook. I had so many comments and private messages from strangers who automatically assumed I hated them simply because I disagreed with them. I am the type of person who struggles when I think someone has been hurt by me, or when someone simply doesn’t like me. I’m the type of person who wants to make everyone feel better. I’m the type of person who wants to voice my opinion, but who also wants to do so in a way that creates understanding rather than conflict. When I can’t accomplish that, I feel depressed, guilty, and completely overwhelmed. I struggled greatly over trying to make people understand that I love them, even if I disagree with them – that I have friends and family who are gay that I love and cherish, even if I don’t agree with their lifestyle – that I believe homosexual actions are not a sin greater than any other sin – that I believe Christian homosexuals will be in heaven. But at the time, not many were willing to listen. It was easier for them to throw me into the same group as the Westborrow Baptist Church.
Now that a few months have passed, passion has dwindled and tempers have cooled. I’m grateful for this.
What I want people to know is that there are Christians out there who will love anyone because Christ loves everyone. I want people to know this doesn’t mean we will agree on everything, but that doesn’t mean we hate each other.
I also want those who are homosexual to know that there exist Christians who understand that many homosexuals do not choose to be attracted to the same sex. Some of us understand that it is a natural inclination for some people. We believe that we live in a fallen world, and while God doesn’t make mistakes, we do naturally have temptations and problems because of sinful nature.
Many assume that because I am a supporter of sanctity of marriage and because I have my BA in LCMS education and because I am an LCMS seminary wife, that I cannot possibly understand how difficult it is for a person who is naturally attracted to the same sex to deny themselves of their sexual desires. But it’s time for a moment of honesty on my part: while I am not naturally attracted to women, there was a time where I considered experimenting with a homosexual lifestyle. I had been repeatedly sexual assaulted – verbally and physically – at my church and Christian school during the ages of 12 through 14. There was a time I was terrified of boys. There was a time I thought I would never be able to marry a man. But I still wanted love. I still wanted the companionship and all the benefits of marriage. I was also asked out by more girls than I was by boys. I wondered if I wasn’t meant to be in a heterosexual relationship. I know this is not the same as being attracted to the same sex, but I hope it can be understood that choosing to follow what the Bible says about the sanctity of marriage was not an easy black-and-white decision for me.
I also cannot even imagine how scary it is for someone to “come out” to their family and friends, but I sympathize, because just sharing my mild story is making my hands shake. I worry what my family and friends will think of the seminary wife they thought they knew. Yes, I am happily married to a Christian man studying to be an LCMS pastor, and yes, I wouldn’t want it any other way, but it was a journey to get here, and there was a lot of hurt and confusion along the way. While I received only a small fraction of the hurt and confusion felt by those who are attracted to the same sex, I hope it can be understood that even on some small degree, I can acknowledge it and sympathize.
Other Christians have an even stronger testimony than I do. These are people who feel naturally attracted to the same sex but support the sanctity of marriage by denying themselves their desires and living life single, or chaste. These are people who are bisexual but have chosen to only allow themselves a heterosexual lifestyle. Their sacrifices are intense and sometimes lonely, but truly amazing testimonies of their faith and trust that God had something different planned for them. I was once listening to a talk show on a Christian radio station, in which people were interviewed who were homosexual but who did not act on it. One person interviewed was Sally Gary, author of “Loves God, Likes Girls.” The accounts these people shared in their lives had me in tears. The examples of their faith had me motivated to do more in my own life for my Savior. I cannot find words to explain how much I admire these people.
Something I would like to see more of in the LCMS is pastors and members of congregations to be more understanding of what people give up when they decide to not act on homosexual desires. I would like to see more safe places for struggling Christians to talk about homosexual desires. I felt nervous admitting I supported the sanctity of marriage because of all the bullying and persecution that followed the Supreme Court’s ruling; we need to recognize that those who want to get advice and help from a church for homosexual desires face even greater fear of persecution. I would like to see pastors have more knowledge of Christian counseling resources concerning homosexual wants. I often feel like we, in the LCMS, simply expect people to “turn off” their homosexual desires and continue on with life like robots. I rarely feel emotion, empathy, or even sympathy from sanctity-of-marriage Christians for those who are attracted to the same sex. I often hear Christians say that homosexuality is “gross” or “disturbing” or “distgusting” or “animal-like,” and we need to understand that these words hurt. When we ask someone to give up their homosexual desires to follow what God wants, we are asking a lot of them, and we need to be better at acknowledging that.
Clearly, the homosexual debate is not simple. There are clearly many opinions and responses. But what I hope those who are homosexual learn from this is that not all who support the sanctity of marriage also support the persecution of homosexuals. What I hope those who support the sanctity of marriage learn is that we need to defend our beliefs, but to do so with sympathy, understanding, and a listening ear. And may we love each other, even if we disagree.