How to Be (Biblically) Less Offensive to Gays
- Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Crock Pots and Pressure Cookers
Why, then, are evangelicals like Ken Wilson changing their minds about the Bible’s teaching on sexuality?
Sociologists who study how new beliefs form noticed that people tend gravitate toward the beliefs of the community or social group that they most want to be a part of. Their findings line up with Wilson’s account of his own experience. After spending a year studying mystical prayer and spirituality, he began to feel an “unease” about his views of sexuality. As he reflected on his pastoral experience, the unease kept growing. Eventually he began questioning what all Christians everywhere have believed, and slowly he abandoned the traditional view of sexuality.
What happened was this: Without realizing it, various pressures (some from culture, some from his own life) caused Wilson to begin wanting the Bible to say something different than it does. And sociologists tell us that if you go on wanting something for long enough, eventually you will “discover” new reasons to support your desires. Maybe this is why God warned his people, “The heart is deceitful above all things; and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9)
Moving Forward (or, How to Stop Shooting Ourselves in the Foot)
Unfortunately, evangelicals are one the biggest contributors to the rapidly snowballing rejection of biblical sexuality. That’s because our actions, past and present, toward members of the LGBT community are nothing short of hateful.
Some may protest, “But I have never been hateful anyone,” all while forgetting the story of the Good Samaritan. There Jesus taught us that the lack of merciful action toward the wounded man was a sinful failure to love their neighbor. The implications of this are obvious, difficult, and eternally important.
Additionally, many evangelicals are prejudiced and self-righteous. Instead of adopting a posture of humility and grace, too often we sound like the Pharisee who prayed, “God, I thank you that I am not like those sinners” (Luke 18:11). Can you blame someone for hesitating to trust Jesus when they see his followers living like that?
Finally, evangelicals are sometimes guilty of using unbiblical language when talking about sexuality. We say things like, “You can’t be gay and be a Christian,” which makes it sound like everyone who is tempted with same-sex desires is without hope of salvation. But that is not what the Bible teaches. There is an eternal difference between those who trust Jesus and seek to obey him—even while struggling to resist same-sex desires—and those who refuse to trust Jesus and deliberately rebel against what he says.
In all this we must never forget that our only hope—no matter what form our sexual temptations may take—is the forgiving grace of God in Jesus Christ and the transforming grace of his Spirit. “Apart from me you can do nothing,” Jesus says. But if we abide in him, then everything changes—including us.
Doug Ponder is one of the founding pastors of Remnant Church in Richmond, VA, where he serves in many of the church’s teaching ministries. He has contributed to several published works and is the author of Rethink Marriage & Family. His interests include the intersection of theology, ethics, and the Christian life. Follow him on Twitter @dougponder.
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