By Mark A. Taylor
All the news about conservative churches and their response to those with same-sex attraction reminded me of a post I wrote three years ago. That week I challenged the church to demonstrate both grace and truth as we discuss this difficult issue and reach out to those celebrating and seeking gay marriage.
Follow the links in the below post to even older posts, and you’ll see a constant message urging us to find ways to show gays that Jesus loves them.
More than once in recent years, CHRISTIAN STANDARD has advocated for compassion toward homosexuals.
We published Mark Moore’s plea that those with same-sex attraction need not identify themselves as “gay” and the church should not ostracize them.
Before that we reprinted Ben Cachiaras’s advice to his church when the issue of same-sex marriage was before the Maryland state legislature. In a piece filled with calls for sensitivity toward gay couples, he wrote, “We must be extra careful about how we discuss this so we don’t give any reasons for Christians to be misunderstood as uncaring or hate-mongers.”
Long before gay marriage became such a hot button, we published Vince Antonucci’s description of how the church where he was preaching related to homosexuals in its community. He spoke of sharing “painful truth” about the Bible’s teaching on homosexual practice with “overwhelming love” toward those involved in homosexual practice. He ended with, “When will the ‘sinners’ of our society (including homosexuals) be drawn to us? When will ‘speaking the truth in love’ not be a cliché we talk about but a reality we live out?”
Antonucci’s questions still challenge us. Yet, given today’s constant drumbeat promoting acceptance of homosexual practice, it is good for Christians to remind themselves why they can’t. The careful and complete study by Dr. Robert Gagnon is an excellent help here.
Some words of caution: Notice Gagnon’s essay consistently and carefully uses the term homosexual practice, not homosexuality. We can condemn the act, but we must love the person. Many among us with same-sex attraction are already ashamed or afraid of their tendency. What they need from the church is a listening ear, a gracious spirit, and help to cope.
Gagnon’s essay is not intended as a weapon against such people but as a defense against falsehood. Every day another attractive, prominent, and persuasive advocate promotes what the Bible forbids. We must love and talk with such people. But we need not agree with them. Professor Gagnon’s work reminds us why.