Unless you've been living under a rock somewhere, you are aware that one of the greatest Olympians of all time (Bruce Jenner) has decided that he is, in fact, a woman (Caitlyn Jenner). This in turn has spawned a litany of opinions, support, anger, cruelty and grace. It has been a fascinating look into the complexity of humanity.
The backdrop to all this is something even larger that is taking place in the very heart of our nation. The Supreme Court is currently trying to figure out what the government's official stance on gay marriage is going to be, and there is a very real possibility that we will soon live in a country where gay couples and traditional couples are legally one and the same.
This is the first time I am announcing this, but over the next year I am going to be making a film about the homosexuality issue within the church. I don't necessarily agree with either of the voices from both the left and the right, and I'm not sure either really represent the vast majority of Christians. I want to make a film that will be a voice for Christians who believe in the truth of the Bible, but also believe in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring real, tangible change in a person; a film that agrees that there is such a thing as sin, but also believes in the healing power of love. I'm doing this not because I want to subject myself to the inevitable controversy of such a film, but because I think the time has come for the church to fully embrace the issue at hand.
The church, in large part, has had one of three responses to all this. The first approach is to throw up our hands, read the writing on the wall of our culture, give up fighting a losing battle and join in the affirmation of gay Christianity. A subset of this response includes those within the church who feel that the Bible got it wrong on this one, and that this is one instance where society as a whole is being more compassionate than traditional Christianity.
The second approach is to take an aggressive and pronounced stance against it, shout loudly that we are being persecuted for our faith, yet not really get our hands dirty with "those people" because we are content to hide behind the phantom wall of social media. The third approach is to bury our head in the sand and hope it all just goes away, ignore it completely because it's someone else's problem. But the time is fast approaching—in fact it may already be here—where every church in America is forced to come face to face with the sexuality debate that is churning throughout our country.
In the past, Christians were quick to emote a "love the sinner, hate the sin" mantra. But this approach doesn't really work on the issue of homosexuality for a couple of reasons. First, it has proven to be nearly impossible. As well-meaning as Christians have been, when the "sinner" continues to sin, we typically become exasperated, fed up or confused by the fact that they aren't changing. Second, and far more of a problem, is the fact that this approach still objectifies the person and doesn't treat them like a real human being. They are a "sinner," and we are simply vowing to overlook their obvious blemish—but they will forever know that the blemish is there. It also turns the proceedings into an "us versus them" scenario, where the people in good standing are patronizing the sinner who struggles, as if the wider body have no issues of their own.
While my film will look to deal with the subject in all its messy complexity, there is one aspect of it that I'd like to introduce here, because in my opinion it is one of the central issues at hand in this entire discussion. Obviously the topic is much more complicated than the current debate is admitting, and the emotion surrounding it is real and it is raw. That being said, I don't think it is impossible to have an honest discussion between those who believe the homosexual act is a sin and those who don't. But to do that, we first have to agree on something, and that is that homosexuality and transgender issues are in large part about identity.
For transgenders it's obvious—they don't feel "whole" somehow, there is something missing. They've never felt right in their own skin, and they've always felt like they were supposed to be someone else. With homosexuality, the push within the culture has been hard on the idea that "I am a homosexual, and that fact must be celebrated." This is odd to me, because throughout human history heterosexuals have never really paraded or lauded the fact that they are attracted to the opposite sex. That's just the way they were, and life was a lot bigger than that one fact. But for some reason (and in my opinion, it's because this is an identity issue) the homosexual has placed their sexuality at the very top of the "who they are" list.
The great irony of the "gay agenda"—if that's what you want to call it—is that it actually cheapens the very people it is proposing to protect. When people obnoxiously promote their sexuality, exalt their sexuality and wholly focus on their sexuality, then what they are saying is that they are first and foremost a sexual being. But the truth is they are so much more than that. As any married couple will tell you, while sex is indeed an important part of a healthy marriage, it is a relatively small part of a much greater, beautiful whole. The fact that so much of the gay debate devolves into applauding someone's sexual bent as the most important part of themselves—is in fact WHO THEY ARE—does an immense disservice to the truth. You are not a sexual being. You are a human being. You are a spiritual being. You are an emotional being. You are a relational being. A creative being. Sex is a small part of who we all are, not the biggest part.
Another major issue is the relatively recent phenomenon of silencing the debate completely. What should be a rational discussion of differing opinions quickly turns into accusations of bigotry and hate simply because someone states that they believe homosexuality is a sin. The most frightening thing about this entire subject is the apparent shift in public thinking that no one should even be allowed to believe that the homosexual act is sinful. It doesn't seem to matter what your personal convictions are (if you don't want to bake that cake or oversee that ceremony) because if the mob says you should do this, then you must do it. Personal freedom, it appears, is being edged away by the god of political correctness, and no one seems to care.
Part of the problem faced by any Christian who answers the question "Do you think this is wrong?" is the immediate backlash they know will come if they answer yes. Our society has always been one that prizes individual freedom of expression as long as that expression doesn't infringe upon the rights of other people. But with the homosexuality debate, gay rights activists will often say that merely believing something is sinful means that you are actually infringing on the rights of a homosexual to be happily homosexual, as if there has to be some kind of universal approval of a particular way of living life. This then leads to the growing belief that people shouldn't even be allowed to think that the homosexual act is sinful, and if you are crazy enough to publicly state that you do, then watch out for the fury of political correctness that is about to wash over you.
It is difficult to have a discussion with someone who, by simply disagreeing with them, feels that you are attacking the very core of who they are. And while I'm certain many homosexuals do feel like their "gayness" is what makes them them, it's not true. They are not merely sex beings. They may live for that, but that is only because they have yet to fully understand and appreciate how God sees them. Indeed, many Christians I've met still struggle with shame and guilt and the general falsehood that they in some way aren't up to snuff when it comes to how God sees them. The church is rife with an identity crisis of its own, so this is not a unique problem to the homosexual community.
Ultimately we are all fallen short of the glory of God. Caitlyn Jenner feels that by becoming a woman he will finally feel the peace he's always lacked. And while it may lessen the pain a bit, it won't ever fully fill that emptiness inside of him. The national debate caused by this event has focused on whether or not this is right or wrong, beautiful or gross, life-giving or sinful. But the truth is that all of us sin, all of us are broken, all of us are orphans in search of our true Father. We in turn do whatever it takes in our own lives to drown that emptiness out—whether it's through alcohol, pornography, overeating, overworking, or even sex changes. But the emptiness can only be filled by one thing, by one Spirit. We were made for Him, and until we finally admit it and submit to Him, we will never be truly happy.
But of course if that were all there was to it then the onus would be entirely on us. But the wonderful truth is that our Father is relentlessly pursuing us, even as we make decisions that are not His best for us, and He won't ever give up on us, no matter what choices we make or how we view ourselves. Because a loving Father never gives up on His kids, and He thankfully won't give up on any of us—gay or straight.
Darren Wilson is the founder of Wanderlust Productions and the creator of various films, including Finger of God, Furious Love, and Father of Lights. Darren's new book, Finding God in the Bible, is available in stores everywhere. Visit his website at wpfilm.com.
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