Gay People Can Get Married…What Does the Church Do Now?

“Gay marriage is going to be legal in most, if not all, of the United States of America before most of you reading this are dead. For some, this strikes fear in your heart. But there have been a lot of things that have happened in the good old U.S. of A. that has struck fear in the collective heart of the church. And yet the Gospel of Jesus Christ is alive and well, in the United States and all over the world.”

I wrote this in a blog about two years ago, and today it came true (the legalization thing and the Gospel being alive and well thing, too). Never mind that this decision by the Supreme Court will be challenged — it will likely be upheld each time. If you’re shocked by it, you have not been paying attention to the tidal wave of cultural change that is sweeping over our country.

Jesus isn’t worried about any of it.

So gay marriage is now legal in all 50 states. Now what?

We (That is, Christians) Can Talk About Something Else

Look, if you ask me, this should’ve been left up to the states to decide. That’s been happening, and even if you’re against same-sex marriage you have to admit the democracy was choosing fine on its own. I think the court overstepped its bounds here, but we hardly leave anything to states to decide any more…it is what it is.

The point is, whether or not gay marriage should be permitted is now a moot point — it is. I have long been of the opinion that this was a distraction to much weightier matters (along with another huge distraction: “are you born that way”). Is homosexual attraction right or wrong? Is homosexual behavior right or wrong? What does the Bible say about it? How should the church respond to gay individuals? Gay couples? Is there a difference in how we respond to those who are practicing homosexuals and those who are chaste? Can you be a Christian who experiences same-sex attraction? Is acting on those attractions any different than acting on Biblically-prohibited heterosexual behaviors? If not, why do we treat them as different?

Look, there are plenty of talking points here — deep, meaningful talking points here. And with the political war waged and (for traditional marriage advocates) lost, perhaps we would do well to turn the page and get to work.

Advocate for Our Religious Liberties

Some could argue that this was an imposition on our religious liberties, but I don’t think so. I do think, however, that those are coming. It will happen — it has already happened — that a gay couple will come to your church and ask to have their wedding there, or for you to officiate it, or for your business to make a cake for it.

Churches and business owners will say no.

People will get sued. Churches may lose their tax exempt status. You thought the marriage debate was bad…just wait.

There will be those in the LGBT community that seek out those situations and try to pick a fight. But I also have gay friends who will unequivocally say that those who are not proponents of gay marriage should not be forced to provide those services. Be careful not to paint the entire homosexual community with the same brush — that’s as fair as those in the LGBT community portraying all Christians as Westboro-wannabes. At the same time, be ready to defend your religious liberties. We do have them, they will be challenged, and (I think…though many will and have called me naive) that they will be protected.

Especially with so many churches embracing gay marriage, the public will have a choice…the free market economy at its finest. I’m not sure there’s a ton to fear here for those who have the conviction that to be accommodating is unbiblical. However, be ready to defend your religious liberties.

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(Photo Credit / Doug Mills New York Times)

Keep On Doing What the Church Does Best

Your chance to totally lose a hearing with the gay community may well have flew out the window oh, say, five minutes after you read the news about the SCOTUS decision. Let’s all take a deep breath here and calm down.

In the same blog from a couple years back, I wrote:

“…We live in a world where we have Will and Grace and Westboro Baptist and every other viewpoint in between. I’m not so naive as to think that this will change any time soon. However, I do believe that the church has a unique opportunity to change the tone of the conversation.”

People have been referring today as a historic moment for the United States of America. And, truth be told, it is. But it could also prove to be a historic moment for the church in America as well. Now is the time for us to find a way to speak truth in grace-filled ways, to not superimpose expectations on a group of people we don’t impose on ourselves, and to love fully the whole of humanity. There are some great thought leaders out there right now, including Caleb Kaltenbach and Wesley Hill among them. They love Jesus and, in my estimation, they’re asking the right questions.

It is a broken humanity in need of the Gospel. That goes for people on both sides of the issue. We’re the church. We should do what only the church is called to do.

How we speak to the LGBT community, what we say about this landmark case, how we treat gay people who enter our churches, if we’re friendly to our homosexual neighbors, unafraid to talk about Jesus despite differences of opinion, and more — the ruling on how we act is not the Supreme Court’s. It’s ours.

And what we decide will make a much bigger difference in the world than what they decided today.


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15 comments

  1. The church doesn’t want to offend the LGBT community because of the potential of tithes they will be giving. Face the facts. They’re here and they’re queer and the church wants and needs the funds.

    1. I 100% completely disagree. I think that the church does not want to step on any toes and offend others because there are so any people claiming they are Christians out there that are hurting, fighting with, and Bible-thumping these people. Christians will get no where with non-Christians just trying to shove a God down someone’s throat! Some of these LGBT people have deep scars and loath the church because of the hurt “Christians” have shown them. It isn’t about the tithes, it is about doing what it right and welcoming, showing love, and embracing others with an attitude that reflects Jesus.

  2. So when the civil rights movement happened, all churches were forced by law to perform interracial marriages? When the women’s right movement happened, all churches were forced by law to hire women pastors and have women elders? Because of religious freedom, all churches are forced by law to perform Hindu and Muslim weddings? Just playing devil’s advocate.

    1. Those aren’t really comparable examples. Race and gender can’t be compared to sexual orientation, desires or behavior; and interracial marriage isn’t opposed biblically.

  3. I’m confused by the link you posted featuring Wesley Hill, the celibate gay Christian leader. I read through his interview and understand that he’s saying it’s possible to be gay (attracted to others of the same sex) but not to act upon those attractions. I see how the temptation to act upon a sinful desire is not sin in and of itself but I don’t see how a person can compare heterosexual attraction to homosexual attraction when one is natural as Romans 1 indicates and one is not natural (burning with desire for a person of the same sex.) Men and women were created to be sexually intimate with each other; men and men/women and women were not created for that purpose. Or else I’ve misunderstood Genesis 1-2?? So, is this leader saying that it is possible to be gay, to want to stay gay with no intention of seeking God to overcome those unnatural desires as long as he/she does not act upon those desires and remain within the church as an active leader and born-again believer? Is there a difference between a person who struggles with homosexual desires and wants to changed and a person who is accepting of those feelings and desires with no plan to be changed by Christ? All sexual sin is sin against Christ and can be washed by His blood but I think there’s a deeper conversation/understanding that needs to take place regarding why men and women were created by God.

  4. I think what Mr. Hill would say (though I’m presuming here) is that the homosexual attraction IS natural, albeit from a fallen nature. I think the act of remaining chaste is him disciplining himself to honor Christ in spite of that fallen nature and it’s accompanying same-sex attraction.

    I think he would also distinguish between orientation and behavior (as would I, as did you above). That is, to act out on homosexual behavior would be in his mind, crossing the line from a God-honoring restraint of acting upon ones desires to a flesh-honoring indulgence that is clearly prohibited in Scripture.

    I would also guess (though I truly am guessing, I don’t know Wesley HIll) that he is fully surrendered to Christ and the idea that He could remove those desires altogether. i rather unfairly attached one article to this blog and that may not represent the sum total of his view. As for “is there a difference between a person who struggles with homosexual desires and wants to be changed and a person who is accepting those feelings and desires with no plan to be changed,” I think the obvious answer is yes. As it would be with any sin, and as you know, it is ONLY our desire to be changed by Christ (and therefore surrendering to Him) that makes us a Christian.

    Lastly, I suggested Kaltenbach and Hill as people who are not on the edges of this conversation, but living in the tension in the middle. I’m not sure how they would answer all those questions or if I’ve represented them fairly, but I sure am glad they’re up for the discussion.

    I’m glad you are too. Mad respect for you and your husband and your hearts (and minds) for Jesus.

  5. I believe a Christian can struggle with same-sex desires and attractions and can still be seeking Christ to be transformed and changed from those unnatural desires (God has deemed them as unnatural while sin has made us think they are natural.) And I pray for people to be free of sin’s grasp on their lives. What I think is confusing and misleading is identifying oneself (in Wesley Hill’s case) as a gay Christian vs. a Christian struggling with gay tendencies. Perhaps it’s a matter of semantics but most of us don’t identify ourselves as a lying Christian or a thieving Christian or a lusting Christian or a porn-addicted Christian. The sin that tends to entangle us (or that we have been freed from or are seeking to be freed from) shouldn’t be what defines us. Or maybe we should use these identifiers to create more transparency in the church…

    I understand that sin has skewed our minds and hearts and desires – what God calls evil we call right. Until we are born again – then we *should* have a desire for what is right in the midst of our remaining sin struggles based upon what God’s word says. From what I read from Wesley Hill himself (on his blog), the reason for deciding to remain celibate is to not fulfill homosexual desires (a righteous goal) and that his sexual orientation is not something to be delivered from or killed/surrendered. There are ways to be gay without committing homosexual acts is what he states (on his blog). I find that challenging to accept based upon Scripture in which Paul says that some Corinthian believers were homosexual but then were washed and made new. Why would it even be necessary to be washed and made new from homosexuality and those desires if it’s not something that a person needs to be delivered from? If you aren’t going to fulfill homosexual desires, then why call yourself gay? Maybe formerly gay? The definition of homosexual (according to Merriam-Webster) means to be attracted sexually to someone of the same gender. We all have friends of the same sex but we’re not usually attracted to them sexually.

    It seems like what Wesley Hill is doing is another post-modern redefinition and the ideas are seeping into the church – what itching ears want to hear. Perhaps I’m being cynical (or judgmental) but I think calling yourself a celibate gay Christian leaves a loophole for those who maybe want to hold on to their homosexual tendencies or attractions (without feeling a need to repent and/or be changed) while still seeking to be a Christian for whatever reason – one foot in the world, one foot in the church. Even though they may view their same-sex attractions as natural, even due to sin, the Bible states that those are unnatural desires and obviously so if we just consider how God has created man and woman physiologically. Of course, if a person believes they were born gay, then that seems to change God’s purpose in creating man and woman, and changes how a person views sin and homosexuality. Anyways, I know you aren’t responsible for Wesley Hill’s perspectives and views…just think we need to judge what other leaders are saying based upon Scripture rather than their own thoughts or definitions.

  6. One last thing and I’ll stop hijacking your blog🙂 I found this site (http://www.livingout.org/) that is more credible and reliable (from a reformed evangelical perspective, as it’s been endorsed by Desiring God/The Gospel Coalition, which both hold to the biblical view of marriage and sexuality) and has a lot of good Q&As. I thought this one answered my question pretty well about a person calling himself/herself a gay Christian: http://www.livingout.org/why-not-say-you-re-gay-. Thanks for fielding my questions/thoughts on your blog.

  7. As a Christain reborn in Christ, what this world does is of no importance. Our honor to God is to glorify him and be a blessing to others. However, I also believe we cannot be Christians if we do not rebuke sin with love as and when we are exposed to it. If the church won’t rebuke in public, or can’t rebuke in public, then those moved by the holy spirit will.

    One last thought. If the church “continues to do what it’s doing” as you say, the evil one will triumph and religion may be restricted or even outlawed. The trend is clear to this altruistic end. What’s needed is an awakening, not more of the same – for the later approach has proved society is trending away from Christ. I am not in agreement with fatalistic Christian theology willing to help speed the return of Christ by agreement or acceptance of altruistic gradualism.

  8. I believe Jesus does care. Maybe not about this new law specifically, or about roe v wade specifically, but rather about our march toward absolute depravity with no restraint. God hates sin….one has to believe he hates to see our downward spiral. As KimP stated, even though this may be a lost cause, we should not, must not just sit and watch. We must speak . Love without truth is not love at all. One last thing….I also agree with KimP that the pastor listed above should not use the term “gay Christian”. The two don’t jive.

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