“Pray Away the Gay?” eh? Wouldn’t life be nice if I could rid myself from anything undesirable by simply praying earnestly enough and believing that God was just gonna do it?
Actually, before I go on, much respect to Oprah. I certainly don’t agree with everything she does and every viewpoint she has, but she has done an astounding amount of good for our world and that shouldn’t be overlooked by any measure. And to Lisa Ling, the reporter who carried out the interviews that comprised this hour-long television special, thank you. You were as genuinely sincere, inquisitive, compassionate, open-minded, and balanced as any reporter I’ve seen on an extremely touchy subject, great job.
If you weren’t aware, there was a special by the title of “Pray the Gay Away” on the Oprah Winfrey Network last night. Lisa Ling interviewed various gay Christians in both churches and organizations where homosexuality was a sin and where it was a blessing, bringing a number of beliefs and explanations into account. This show did a great job of examining both sides of the issue:
1) Homosexuality is unacceptable to God and gays need to strive against it to be acceptable before Him.
2) God loves and accepts all Christians regardless of their sexual preferences, therefore they can simply be who they are.
These two sides in and of themselves presented a few problems from my point of view, because I don’t believe that the Bible actually stands behind either of them completely. So, I’m going to do my best to lay out the Bible’s view of salvation and homosexuality and how I think it challenges both of the established sides of this debate.
Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” which means that there isn’t a single person on the planet who isn’t doing wrong in the eyes of God. We call this “missing the mark” or “sinning”.
Romans 1:25-32 asserts that, ”
25 They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. 27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.
28 Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. 29 Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. 30 They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. 31 They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. 32 They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.”
As you can see from this passage, homosexuality is called a shameful desire and is then compared to a whole list of other behaviors. [Notice that it is nowhere said to be better or worse than the other ones.]
Now, read very carefully what Romans 3:22 states, “22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.”
No matter who we are! Catch that? Anyone who believes is accepted by God. Homosexual, proud, hateful, lustful, all of them! Even you and me, no matter what we’ve done; belief is the only prerequisite.
So, here’s what I see from these passages: we all sin, but whoever sins can believe in Jesus Christ’s death on the cross and be made right with God. What about sin though? Good question:
Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus to live in a way that pleases God, as we have taught you. You live this way already, and we encourage you to do so even more. 2 For you remember what we taught you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.
3 God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin. 4 Then each of you will control his own body and live in holiness and honor— 5 not in lustful passion like the pagans who do not know God and his ways. 1 Thessalonians 4:1-5
Just like being born full of lust means that I have to refrain from looking at every woman I find attractive woman like a piece of meat, and being born arrogant means that I have to discipline myself to think of others as better than me (instead of the other way around) no matter how much reason I think I have to believe I’m superior. They have to battle the urge to lust after people of the same gender.
Is it difficult? Yes. Is it unnatural? Definitely. Is it ultimately good for us and what God desires? Absolutely. Let’s each do our best to live above whatever sin it is that we’re each prone to, so that we can live the best lives possible! Together.
So, to sum it all up: We offend God, Christ loves and accepts us when we admit we’re wrong, we treasure His love and want to please Him in return by trying as hard as we can to please Him more. Just like any relationship: two people love each other and do whatever they can to make the other happy, right?
Homosexuals are loved by God and completely accepted if they have accepted Christ, but they are still sinning by embracing their twisted sexual desire, so they should strive not to act in it, knowing that it is God’s desire that they are not chained to it any longer. That means that we as the church need to accept them too, because the same goes for us. We’re all wrong somewhere. If we love Him, we need to try to overcome it, He will give us strength to do so if we have to fight it for the rest of our natural lives. We’re all in this together.
Until the church as a whole can fully understand and communicate that accurately, only one thing will truly matter: Can we accept them as they are? Until we can demonstrate a love like Christ’s that is willing to embrace them in all of their sin, WE are the guilty ones. 1 John 4:8-19 build an argument this way:
8 The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us and His love is perfected in us.
13 This is how we know that we remain in Him and He in us: He has given to us from His Spirit. 14 And we have seen and we testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God—God remains in him and he in God. 16 And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.
17 In this, love is perfected with us so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; for we are as He is in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love. 19 We love because He first loved us.
Discrimination is rooted in fear and distrust, we all know that. But as we just read, perfect love casts out fear. Are our actions rooted more deeply in this Godly love or in an ignorant, wordly fear?
Additionally, we should be striving to live as closely to the heart of Jesus Christ as we can, the one who is described as in Luke 15:2 as “Welcoming sinners and even eating with them,” When all is said and done, there is only one thing that will matter to the world and to our Lord, and I believe it is found in this quote from reporter Lisa Ling:
“What I’m learning is that all of these people are really searching for the same thing; from God, from their families, from themselves: It’s about acceptance, and how far you have to go to find it.” -Lisa Ling