There are 3 phrases Christians love to use regarding homosexuality that I wish would just go away. They belie our claim to love God and our neighbor (If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. –1 John 4:20-21) You may think I am not being fair by using that verse and you may not even hate your LGBT brothers and sisters but if you know a LGBT person ask him or her whether these phrases communicate love or hate to them.
“I disagree with homosexuality.”
“You Can’t Be Christian and Gay.”
“Love the sinner. Hate the sin.”
I disagree with homosexuality
I have seen this phrase or its sibling “I don’t agree with homosexuality” all over the place. Just google it and you’ll see what I mean. This statement makes no sense on several levels. First of all grammatically (I can’t be the only one who sees this). How can one disagree with something that isn’t an idea or a hypothesis or even a theory but actually a factual thing. Homosexuality is a real thing. Saying you disagree with it is like saying you disagree with the sun or the color green. I personally disagree with gravity so I think I will go fly now. I think this is a big disconnect for me. When you try to persuade me that you are indeed correct by starting with “I disagree with homosexuality…” you lose me right away. Saying you disagree with homosexuality sounds like you are either denying it exists at all or that you believe people wake up one day and choose to be attracted to members of the same sex (jut like they woke up one day and chose to be attracted to people of the opposite sex). Can we all please agree that grammatically this is just not the right way to say what you really mean?
The second way in which this phrase is all kinds of jacked up, is Scientifically. That same sex attraction (i.e. homosexuality) exists is a scientific fact. To say you “disagree with homosexuality” is simply a denial of the facts.
I think Mr. Broussard and those who I have seen use this statement fall into two camps. Those who actually believe that homosexuality is a choice and would not exist at all if everyone actually chose to obey God and be heterosexual. They believe the simple fact that a person is attracted to members of the same sex is a sin, period whether they ever act upon those attractions or not and that in a sinless world those attractions would not exist. To take that to its logical extreme no one will be gay in heaven. (Try if you will, to separate yourself from your sexuality if you are straight, can you do it? Isn’t that inherently a part of who you are?) Those in the second camp are the ones who don’t really mean they disagree with homosexuality so much as they disagree with people acting on their attractions, living what they perceive as “the gay lifestyle” (Excellent article by Justin Lee on this.), or legalizing same sex marriage. These folks believe homosexual practice is a sin, like any other sin that can be repented of and forgiven.
Love the sinner. Hate the sin.
Often times these are the folks in the “love the sinner, hate the sin” camp. On the blog, Disoriented. Reoriented., I found this quote regarding LTSHTS:
Further, it is not actually a biblical phrase. To paraphrase Andrew Marin in his video accompaniment to Love Is an Orientation, “There are plenty of places in the Bible where Jesus tells us to love sinners. And there are plenty of places where we are told to hate sin. But nowhere are those concepts put together.” In fact, Jesus’ message to us does not appear to be “love the sinner, hate the sin,” but to “love the sinner and hate our own sin.” Marin quotes Billy Graham: “It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge and my job to love.”)
This camp includes the folks who say gay people do exist but they can’t be Christian unless and until they repent. Chris Broussard falls into this category. This week in his on air rant on ESPN Mr. Broussard said the following:
“If you’re openly living that type of [homosexual] lifestyle, then the Bible says you should know them by their fruits. It says that, you know, that’s a sin,” Broussard said on ESPN show Outside The Lines. “If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality….I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ. So I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I don’t think the Bible would characterize them as a Christian.”
You Can’t Be Christian and Gay
This phrase is patently false and is even contradicted by the people who use it when they then turn around and say well, you can, as long as you repent, and get back on the wagon, like an alcoholic or a liar or a glutton or any other sinner.
Yesterday the Huffington Post reported on an interview Broussard gave on the radio where he did exactly that. He explained his first statement and back pedaled a bit by saying this:
The life of a Christian, Broussard explained, means having to constantly fight temptation. “And if you stumble and fall, then you get back up, you repent and ask God for forgiveness, and you move on,” he said. “I think that applies to homosexuals as well.”
Men who are attracted to other men can still be considered Christian if — and only if — they constantly try to counteract the same-sex attraction, Broussard said. And if they “repent, and they ask for forgiveness, and they keep trying to serve God, and they fall time and time again consistently, I believe that person is a Christian.”
So, Broussard and those who agree with him would have us believe that Jason Collins and any other LGBT persons cannot, by virtue of their gayness (unless they denounce it, deny it and repent), be followers of Jesus. This is because they say these folks are in open rebellion against God. Really? They are? Are you sure?
Folks such as these (and many of my friends) say that the Bible is crystal clear on this topic. (I have written extensively on this topic and the so called “clear” verses. You can read those posts here.) That they just read what the words in their Bible say, that this is what the church has believed and taught for thousands of years and therefore they are right. Here is my question, What about slavery? Do you think the church was wrong about slavery for thousands of years? The Bible says MUCH more in support of slavery than it does in opposition to homosexuality. (Great article called Is Abolition Biblical? by RHE on this topic.) Now maybe you are one of those folks who thinks slavery is ok. (Yes, I am serious. These people exist. Scary, I know. Look… Why Is a Famous Evangelical Defending Slavery?) In which case I am not even sure what to do with you.
For my money these are people who have forgotten the verses that say,
“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.”
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
“Do not judge others, so that God will not judge you, for God will judge you in the same way you judge others, and he will apply to you the same rules you apply to others.Why, then, do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the log in your own eye? How dare you say to your brother, “Please, let me take that speck out of your eye,’ when you have a log in your own eye? You hypocrite! First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will be able to see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
No matter what you believe about homosexuality and whether or not it is a sin, what is clear is that God tells us it is not our job to convict or to judge but it is our job to LOVE. In fact, Jesus says that is our only job. And it NEVER says love includes excluding people from worshiping God.
side note: Some “Christians” have even extended their rejection this week to people who simply tweeted their support of Mr. Collins. Just yesterday, Former Green Bay Packers safety LeRoy Butler was disinvited from speaking at a church in Wisconsin because he had tweeted this, “Congrats to Jason Collins.” Apparently that is all it takes to piss God off in their minds. Butler was disinvited and told that if he removed the tweet, apologized and asked God for forgiveness, he could still come and speak. He refused. Butler, being a class act, refused to reveal the name of the offending church and was issued an apology which blamed some parents in the congregation for complaining about the tweet and thanked him for not revealing their name in the media. He was not however, reinvented to speak. *SIGH*
For me, I will stick with Billy Graham on this one. “It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge and my job to love.” I personally don’t believe same sex attraction is a sin. I don’t believe homosexual relations are a sin. I do believe sex outside of marriage is a sin. That is why I support marriage equality. I think it is good for the individual, good for the family, good for the church and good for society as a whole. Marriage stabilizes families, it encourages commitment, it celebrates sacrificing for each other, giving to each other, loving each other. That is a beautiful thing.
Here is a small list of some prominent gay Christians who you should get to know:
Justin Lee – the founder of the Gay Christian Network (GCN), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides resources and support to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Christians.
Mel White – an American clergyman and author. White was a behind-the-scenes member of the Evangelical Protestant movement through the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, writing film and television specials and ghostwriting auto-biographies for televangelists such as Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and Billy Graham. After years of writing for the Christian right, he came out as gay in 1994.
Micah’s Rule – a vocal trio originating from Wilmington, NC. Made up of Alto: Mary Anne Hewett, Baritone: Greg McCaw, and Contralto: Chasity Scott, and singing the very best in inspirational, gospel, southern gospel, black gospel, country, and rock stylings with powerful voices and intricate harmonies. Great article on them here.
Jennifer Knapp – an American-Australian, folk rock, and formerly contemporary Christian musician. She is best known for her first single “Undo Me” from her debut album Kansas (1998), and the song “A Little More” from her Grammy Award-nominated album Lay It Down (2000). The Way I Am (2001), was also nominated for a Grammy.
Ray Boltz – a singer-songwriter who first came to wide notice in contemporary Christian music. Many of his songs tell stories of faith and inspiration. Boltz was raised by his parents William and Ruth Boltz, and was married to his wife Carol Boltz for over 30 years. They have four children. He came out in 2008.
Gene Robinson – an American retired bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire in the Episcopal Church in the United States of America. Robinson was elected bishop coadjutor in 2003 and succeeded as diocesan bishop in March 2004. Before becoming bishop, he served as Canon to the Ordinary to the VIII Bishop of New Hampshire. Robinson is widely known for being the first priest in an openly gay relationship to be consecrated a bishop in a major Christian denomination believing in the historic episcopate.
3 thoughts on “For the love of God (and our neighbor) can we please stop using these 3 phrases?”
A couple of thoughts:
1) In what many write on this topic (including this article), people don’t bother distinguishing a tendency/desire/attraction for a particular activity vs acting out that tendency/desire/attraction. There are many Biblical examples of things that people are tempted towards… but are called not to act them out. The temptation is not a sin. Acting it out (or even allowing our hearts to go down the path of desire) is sin.
This is true whether we think of it as a “big” thing or a “little” thing… murder or a “little white lie.” (And by the way, I can’t find anywhere that God grades sin by strength. Consequences, yes. But sin is sin is sin. All of it separates us from him; all of it grieves him.)
2) You wrote “I personally don’t believe same sex attraction is a sin. I don’t believe homosexual relations are a sin.”
Interesting; you wrote this as if sin is something we get to vote on. As followers of Christ, we don’t get a vote. God defines it, not us.