This whole cake baking thing is going to be as slogan-ed as ‘Joe the Plumber’. I fear we’ll never hear the end of it. “Why should I have to bake a cake if I don’t want to?!” “It’s against my religion to bake you a cake!” If you have been reading my thoughts on homosexuality since the beginning, you will be able to see my journey open up with this article. Never before have I embraced the homosexuality-race rights connection. After Easter, I have changed my mind. After this law in Indiana, I have changed my mind. It’s enough. You’re on the wrong side of history!
After our Easter meal, comes the Easter debate. Given all that’s going on in our country and my in-laws proclivity for watching FoxNews and believing it, we obviously started with homosexuality. It’s a hot topic when we’re all together now, because my sister and brother in law have found out about a gay family member. He is studying to get his doctorate in seminary, and has struggled his entire life with his sexual orientation. He believes that it is against God’s will for him to have a boyfriend, so he has never been in a relationship. Until now, my brother in law has been about as anti-gay as you could be. Now that it’s close to home and he can truly see his family member’s struggle, everything has changed. Relationships.
Homosexuality isn’t the only thing we talked about. We also talked about adultery. Why, my brother in law rightfully inquires, is it okay to get divorced and re-married and not okay to have a gay relationship? “It’s not the same the same,” they cry. Wait, what? In the minds of the conservative evangelical Christian how can these two life choices not be equally viewed as sexual sins? When asked to explain, they said that he Bible allows for divorce. Yes, the Bible does allow provisions for divorce. In the OT, they told us, divorce often came before the consummation and therefore, was perfectly fine. In the NT, they say, divorce is allowed in the case of infidelity. Homosexuality is always forbidden, they say. OT and NT both have verses against homosexuality. They also told us that homosexual couples were welcome in the church as long as they didn’t “flaunt” their relationship. Flaunting entailed bringing their partner every week, ‘acting gay’, and making out in the church as well as other things. My in laws then say that the couple would need to be asked to leave or ‘dealt with’. Another point that was quite important to my mother in law was that people have convictions about not serving cake to gay couples; how can we ask them to go against the leadings of the Holy Spirit and cause them to sin? Finally my father in law exclaims in glee that the bakery which refused to bake a cake for homosexual couple has received donations totaling over 300K. Don’t worry ya’ll I wasn’t silent! Let’s talk about each of these issues in turn.
- Defining homosexuality: Homosexuality, as we were talking about it, is engaging n a sexual relationship with someone of the same sex whether in a committed relationship or not. My family would not consider a person who is gay but chooses not to ever pursue a relationship to be a problem. Though if pressed, they may not be in favor of involved service in the church.
- Remarriage vs. Homosexuality: Here’s the thing. Remarriage is mentioned in the OT and the NT and is mentioned by Christ. It is mentioned over and over and over. Biblically, it is adultery. Christ told us it is adultery. Getting remarried is a lifelong choice that is a sexual sin. As far as homosexuality is concerned, we see a lot of ambiguity. First, homosexuality is only mentioned seven times and never by Christ; with at least one of those references being in the context of rape and in-hospitality. Also, homosexuality as it exists today did not exist then. As there was no mention of a committed marital homosexual relationship, we can look at homosexuality in the Bible as fornication. Sex outside the bonds of marriage. As we are seeing in our country that is not the case anymore. For me, Christ’s words are the highest concern. What He has addressed, I want to address. What He has encouraged, I want to encourage. I do not believe that it is in any way a coincidence that Christ never mentioned homosexuality.
- Gay Couples and Individuals in Church: My understanding of this is simple: the church is made of sinners. How dare we turn away someone who wants to know God! Everyone should be welcome-period.
- Convictions: If you have a conviction that puts someone down, discourages someone, makes them feel worthless, it is my belief that you need to double check who it is you are feeling the leading of. Those of you who know me, know I’m not a Scripture quoter for fear and reverence sake, but 1 Corinthians 13 says it all. If you don’t have love, what do you have? Why are we rejoicing in the profit of someone who at the very least has a lack of love for someone else?
For me, that’s what it boils down to. Lack of love. How can anyone read 1 Corinthians 13 and think that this is loving? This is a discrimination problem. We are allowing people to use God’s name to keep others out. Once again we are putting signs up in windows and telling a group of people that they are not going to be able to be served by us because we ‘have a conviction’ about it. When I reminded my mother in law about segregation, she said ‘Well, that was wrong. These people are doing it because of their belief in God.” Well, for those who have forgotten, the Bible and belief and God were used in justifying slavery and segregation as well. Bob Jones University was the last college in the country to desegregate. That university is a conservative Christian university. It puts out curricula for Christian schools across the country to this day. We were wrong then and I believe we are wrong in what we are doing now. It’s enough. If you believe that homosexual couple is sinning, lift them up with love. If you believe the person sitting next to you is righteous, lift them up in love. If you believe that homeless man is an addict, lift him up with love. Before you make an action, before you refuse a service or a tip or praise, before you break a spirit (let’s make no mistake, that’s what you’re doing!), ask yourself is you are showing love. Are you showing this person love. If you’re not, then don’t do it!!! If you don’t have love, you are nothing.
What caused the change of heart in my brother in law? Relationships. Why do my in laws find remarriage more acceptable than homosexuality? Relationships. Let’s look again to Christ. Jesus is the progenitor of an individual, invested relationship with sinners of all shapes and sizes. Christ broke bread with sinners. Christ showed them love. Christ invited them into the flock. He never cast them out of His sermons. not only did Christ do these things, He got to know sinners, walked with them, talked with them. He loved them (us) enough to give His very life to the people who killed Him. If you find yourself unable to love a sinner, to love the unsaved, the habitual sinner; take some time to build a relationship. Follow the most basic example of Christ and build relationships. The only place that Christ does not tolerate sin is in God’s name. Rethink that. And I will try everyday to do the same. It’s the hardest calling- to love like Christ.
In case we need a reminder of what love looks like
1 Corinthians 13
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Any and all emphasis is mine.