There is no hierarchy on sin, as some in the Christian community seem to express by their extreme condemnation of gay people. The church is failing to demonstrate love partly because we think loving a gay person is an endorsement of their lifestyle. Somehow Jesus was able to separate a person’s sin and their value as an individual in how He related to them. This is something we in the church struggle to do.
My Experience at Harvard With the Gay Community
In the spring of 2011, I was part of a group of 10 speakers at a conference at Harvard University. Within two weeks of the announcement of our conference, the gay community came against us in full force. They did not want Christians on the campus. Their reason was that they believed we would bring bigotry and hate to their campus. Our conference was on the topic of social transformation and had nothing to do with the gay agenda. I was personally slandered across the Internet, as they tried to connect me to some legislation in Uganda that involved anti-gay legislation. They did this because I had visited Uganda, and the pastor who hosted me had been involved in the legislation. Because of this, they concluded I was supportive of that legislation. I was not.
At the conclusion of our conference, we invited several of the gay activists to meet with us and tell us why they were so against us. We calmly listened to their accusations, which had no basis in truth. I explained my position about the Uganda legislation.
The man who spread lies about me said, “I wrongfully judged you. Would you like me to publish a retraction in the Harvard paper?”
“Yes, that would be great,” I said. “Thank you.”
During our two-day conference, one Harvard professor attended all of our meetings. At the conclusion of our time, we all shook hands, and we were very respectful to one another. We didn’t agree on certain issues, but we respected the right of each to have an opinion.
These activists experienced a different type of Christian—one who was willing to dialogue about the issues. The gay community concluded we were not like the rest of the Christian community that was closed-minded and judgmental. We still held our beliefs about what the Bible says about being gay, but we could have a healthy discussion about it and love them as people made in the image of God and deserving respect.
At the conclusion of our time, the professor who moderated our discussion turned to the gay activists and said, “Gentlemen, I have just gone through the entire conference and never heard one negative comment about gays. I found nothing offensive about anything they said all weekend. We would welcome this group anytime on the Harvard campus.”
I find that the gay community and the Christian community hold certain biases against one another that are based on the past behaviors of each with extreme judgmental attitudes. I believe many gays believe their lifestyle is a lifestyle they were born with by God. And I believe they must justify their behavior in order to explain it in a way that they can accept themselves as well as gain acceptance from others. To classify their behavior as sinful is very different than classifying it as the way they were made.
Jesus Hung Out With Sinners—Even Homosexuals
“While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many gays and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples (Matt. 9:10, NIV).
No, that is not what the Scripture said. It was tax collectors Jesus hung out with.
“‘Which of the two did what his father wanted?’
“‘The first,’ they answered.
Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you’” (Matt. 21:31).
Let’s face it: Jesus got a lot angrier at Pharisees than He did at those living a sinful lifestyle. When Jesus saved the prostitute from being stoned, He didn’t discount her sin; He just told her to “go and sin no more.” My guess is that if Jesus were living today, He would befriend gays to let them experience His love personally in hopes they might embrace God’s love instead of Satan’s counterfeit love.
The Christian community has failed to embrace Jesus’ model of helping and loving those who, in many cases, don’t think they need Christ or a different lifestyle than the one they live. We all believed that before we embraced Christ. Unfortunately, when we embrace a life of sin, no matter what sin it is, we fall into deception. Moral compromise always leads to deceit.
The gay community has adopted the position, “You will accept us whether you want to or not!” The community seeks acceptance from the straight community, politicians and God. The problem is, they want endorsement of a lifestyle versus acceptance of them as people deserving of mutual respect. There is a big difference between these two concepts.
Christianity cannot, nor should it, condone sin in whatever form it is expressed. However, no sin is worse than another in the eyes of God. God hates pride, religion, pornography, divorce and homosexuality. But He never hates individuals. He does hate sin.
Editor's Note: This is Part 2 of a five-part series. Be sure to check back to Charisma News for the remainder of the series. Click here to read part 1.
Os Hillman is president of Marketplace Leaders and author of Change Agent and TGIF Today God Is First.