What I’m about to share is something that turns my stomach. I’m not writing today to debate what’s right or wrong about homosexuality. There are theologians who are way smarter than me who do a good enough job with keeping that discussion going.
I don’t want to talk about whether or not someone is ‘born that way’. There have been lots of studies that try to prove and disprove that point.
Right or wrong, avoidable or not, I want to talk about how the church addresses the issue of homosexuality.
I’ve recently read an article in a magazine that I usually don’t read. I got a subscription to Details by flippantly picking several magazines while spending some expiring airline miles. I decided that it wasn’t a magazine I was very interested in after glancing at my first issue, so they normally find their way into the recycle bin directly from the mailbox.
But the June 2010 issue caught my eye with these words on the cover… Inside the World of Gay Exorcism. Inside, I found a disturbing article about how some churches deal with (what they consider to be) the root problem of homosexuality… demonic possession.
Is demonic possession the cause of homosexuality? I definitely believe that it’s possible, but may not always be the case. The New Testament also talks a great deal about our own ‘lustful desires’. I’ve known men before who I’ve felt could have some strong spiritual pull influencing their behavior, but I also know many who behave certain ways due to natural desires of the flesh.
And I don’t believe that you can exorcise natural, fleshly desires.
What bothers me most about the approach that many churches take towards this issue is that it brings on so much shame and condemnation. Often people are publicly shamed, judged, and made to feel like less of a person because they struggle with desires that make them different than most others.
How does that accomplish the mission of the church?
Aren’t we supposed to be messengers of God’s Grace? His Love? Forgiveness?
One thing that struck me as I read this article about ‘gay exorcism’ speaks to how those who struggle with these urges feel about how the church handles homosexuality…
I ask Kevin if he is now 100 percent sure that being gay is not a sin.
“Not 100 percent,” he says. “It’ll always be in the back of my mind. I guess it’s the way I was raised. You don’t know how many times I heard preached that homosexuality is a sin—you’re going to burn in hell for it. It’s funny how nobody at church wanted to sit down and explain why this was happening. They just want to get rid of it, basically.”
I wonder if nobody wanted to sit down and explain it because they simply never took the time to try to understand it. Many Christians may think that it’s easier to pray it away than it is to relate to someone and talk about their life and what drives them.
I don’t pretend to understand what same-sex attraction is like, or what someone who lives with it must deal with knowing that they live with something that could alienate them from so many people.
But I do know that as Christians we are called to love… not judge. Does living in homosexuality mean that God loves that individual any less? No, and neither should we.
I’m thankful that God loved me even when I didn’t deserve it. And I’ve got to believe that He loves everyone the same way.
I also know that gay and lesbian adults more actively seek out community than most straight people. That would indicate that there’s a strong desire to connect with (and likely be accepted by) people. Isn’t that what churches are for? Then why do we insist on pushing away the very people that need us the most?
As I write this, I almost want to apologize to gay and lesbian people everywhere on behalf of the church.
If you are gay/lesbian, I’m sorry if we’ve ever put any shame on you. That’s not God’s heart. You have immeasurable value to Him. You are the apple of His eye. God loves you, and so do I.
And c’mon church… how can we become the instruments of God’s Love that we’ve been called to be in this area?
This post is for The Idea Camp blogging series during #ICSEX Orientation Week.