(supplemental material related to my current preaching series, Sex in a Broken World from 1 Corinthians 5-7)
Am I a homophobe?
Dictionary.com defines a homophobe as “a person who fears or hates homosexuals and homosexuality.” I’m not at all happy with that definition, but it is the meaning attached today with the emphasis being more on hate than fear. I certainly don’t want that to be me. But what do I do?
I confess to a certain fear of homosexuality in the sense of its negative impact on people and society And because of that negative impact, I suppose I should confess that I hate “homosexuality” as a condition, much as I hate all disorders because they hurt people. And I hate it as a practice because God has revealed it to be outside of his will, that is, sin, and I hate what sin does to people. I hate my own sin and what it does to me. As a pastor, I deal with the consequences of sin in all kinds of ugly ways every week.
But to hate a particular practice does not mean I hate the persons. In fact, isn’t it right to hate what hurts people because you love those people? Aren’t we to hate the sin and love the sinner?
Admittedly, that is a tricky proposition because we are tempted to think negatively or even despise people who live certain lifestyles that we believe are damaging or sinful. We can fall into self-loathing for the extra weight we carry, or our lack of discipline, or failures. So the internal warning is certainly there – How do I guard my heart from going beyond my rejection of a behavior to the rejection and the demeaning of persons.
This challenge is certainly part of the equation as to why we are losing the argument about homosexuality. Kevin DeYoung posted an insightful article last March, Why the Arguments for Gay Marriage are Persuasive.
He points out that societal acceptance of homosexuality and the move toward same sex marriage fits with “our cultural mood and assumptions.” He lists 5 arguments:
1. It’s about progress.
2. It’s about love.
3. It’s about rights.
4. It’s about equality.
5. It’s about tolerance.
That sounds so fair, so American. But can you see where this new view of tolerance takes us when it comes to redefining the cornerstone of society, marriage itself. I urge you to follow the link and think about it.
More to come…
5 thoughts on “Why We Are Losing the Argument”
Thanks for a great series on SEX in a broken world. I appreciate your courage and sensitivity in taking on this topic. I believe that one of the reasons we have lost the argument is the church has failed to speak in a unified voice, not so much on homosexuality as on the sanctity of marriage.
As a chaplain in a large hospital I have had to wrestle with another I could minister alongside ordained clergy wbo are homosexual or transgender. The hospital requires chaplains be ordained, denominationally endorsed and have a seminary degree. They can do nothing more. The tension in me exits because chuches that name the name of Christ have failed to discern carefully the significance of lifestyle choices.
The church has failed society.
After reading your post and rereading your title, I am curious to know which argument you are referring to. Initially, you address homosexuality with regards to the term homophobe. Homosexuality is referenced as a sin multiple times in the bible. There is little room for argument from the most common English translations. Those who disagree either disregard the bible, or reinterpret it to meet their own needs. In both cases, these people are more interested in themselves than they are with God, leaving very little left to argue. This is neither a loss nor a victory. It is a stalemate.
With regards to same sex marriage, I do not see the need to argue. Marriage in the eyes of the United States federal government has been an ongoing joke for the entirety of my existence. Approximately half of marriages end in divorce. Sex and cohabitation before marriage has become the societal norm. By stripping away what the bible defines as marriage, the United States has created a tax cut for couples possessing a “marriage” license. This is meaningless. Now same sex couples want the same tax cut, and many Christians are just now becoming concerned that the principles of marriage might be tainted. This too is meaningless. Christians would be better off promising themselves to one another before God and his congregation in a true, biblical marriage, then skipping the federally approved tax exemption.
Are we losing the argument for marriage? No, we lost that argument decades ago. Keep in mind that the world is meant to fail, and we have little choice but to watch until God decides to take us home.
I am highly anticipating the chapter 7 portion of your series.
Casey, Thanks for your response. I suppose I mix two issues a bit here. the “argument” to which I refer is in no way the truth as stated in Scripture as you summarized well. It is the battle in the public square. You say that battle was lost long ago. I have to agree with you in large measure as the recent rush toward legalization of same sex marriage is the logical trajectory of policies that have been negative towards the family for decades. But even so, it was only in recent years, and even this year, that nationally the tide was turned in both public attitudes and legal policy. But your point is well taken and none of this is a surprise, though it is still disappointing.
My reference to homophobia is that in the public arena, as DeYoung notes, we have successfully been identified as “haters.” While in great measure the charges are false, to the extent that they are true in any of us, we must search our hearts, and learn from Jesus to be uncompromising in our commitment to truth and at the same time, expressing the grace of the Gospel. Both of those are the most loving response, even though commitment to truth will be judged by many in this culture to be hateful.
The current brouhaha over the Boy Scouts of America’s recent decision to vacate their 100-year-old stand against homosexuality may have cost the Scouts half their members, but I fear it has cost the church some of its authority in the public square. A recent article in the American Family Association newsletter gave “Five Reasons Why You Should Leave the Boy Scouts.” Yes, like churches and schools and all human institutions, the Boy Scouts are broken. Will boycotts fix them? I doubt it. But I do understand the need for some of the 70.3% of faith-based sponsors of scout units (http://www.scouting.org/About/FactSheets/operating_orgs.aspx) to insist that doctrine is important. Yet if all churches leave the BSA, how will they get better? I’m convinced that some of us should stay involved in scouting, reach out in love to youth who are troubled about their identity and reach out in hope to the national BSA leaders who have lost sight of how best to help boys grow into men. Churches should take a second look at 1 Cor 7:24 to see if it is speaking to them. If churches have shown boys good examples of trustworthiness, loyalty, helpfulness, friendliness, courtesy, kindness, obedience, cheerfulness, thrift, bravery, cleanliness and reverence in the past, perhaps they could continue doing so in the future.
Darrell, Well stated. but you are a step ahead of me. Responding to the headlines of this week, I have a post scheduled to come out later today on this very matter. It is very difficult for churches with biblical values to stay tied to an organization that has caved in on a vital principle. But I have no problem with believers staying involved in the scouts and keeping that connection of “light in the darkness” to positively impact our culture. The more challenging question will be how to protect our younger boys from the cultural brain washing on these matters.