In its 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. Surveys estimate that, by 2019, there were 543,000 same-sex “married couple” households—in addition to 469,000 households with same-sex unmarried partners living together—in the U.S. That means there were nearly 1 million households composed of same-sex couples.
A recent poll by Gallup found that support for same-sex marriage had reached an all-time high of 70% of the general population. And a demographer at the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, Gary Gates, reported that there are 9 million Americans—or roughly 3.5% of the population—who fit the description of “gay, bisexual, or transgender.”
Probably every person reading this post can think of someone—a relative, friend, neighbor, church member or acquaintance—whose life has been impacted by the “coming out” of a person they know and/or love. Such was rare 50 years ago; not so in today’s world.
I believe it is important for all of us to take a serious look at how we respond to these (usually) shocking revelations. (Maybe not so shocking in this culture, but still usually troubling and surprising.) What ought our Christ-like response be? How do we navigate ongoing friendships and relationships with loved ones and friends whose lifestyle is, frankly, totally foreign, incomprehensible, and abhorrent to our way of thinking?
Have you grappled with these issues? I will not be able to allay your concerns or even answer your questions, but I think it behooves each of us to search the mind and heart of God for Holy Spirit directed thinking, resulting in Biblical relations, as we cope with this modern phenomenon; i.e., 70% of our population supporting legalized marriage among same-sex couples, and an ever-rising number of such marriages occurring annually. Support for the practice is likely to continue increasing as Gen-Zers (people born between 1997 and 2012) and the Alpha Generation (people born between 2013 and 2025) move through adolescence and adulthood.
First, God labels as “vile affections” when “women did change the natural use into that which is against nature and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men, working that which is unseemly.” Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, states the reason for men and women doing such things is “they did not like to retain God in their knowledge,” resulting in God giving them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.” (Romans 1:26-28) The sin of homosexuality is often called “fornication.” Paul cites it—along with many other sins, such as unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, envy, murder, debate, deceit, and others—and says, “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” (Romans 1:29-32)
So, homosexuality and same-sex “marriage” are sins, according to Romans. But in the same passage, 21 other sins—the practice of which is “worthy of death”—are listed. We tend to elevate homosexuality in gravity or abhorrence above many of those 21 other sins listed right next to fornication. It is a sin—to be sure—but not necessarily in a class of its own.
The Apostle Paul said that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, “of whom I am chief.” (I Tim. 1:15) Jesus said of His own ministry that the Son of Man came to seek and save that which was lost. (Luke 19:10) Christ our Lord was often criticized for associating with sinners—such as when Simon, a Pharisee, was critical of Jesus for letting a woman known for her sin wash His feet with her hands and hair. Jesus reminded His critic that persons who are forgiven much, love much. (Luke 7:36-48) On another occasion, Jesus led His disciples out of their way to go through Samaria to meet, dialogue with, and lead to a saving knowledge of truth a woman who had been, and was even then, living in adultery. Shocking again, no doubt, to His disciples and to the woman and to the people of her town, many of whom also put their trust in this seeking Savior.
I cite these biblical examples as a reminder that there are all sorts of sinners needing to hear the good news of salvation. Homosexuals are not excluded! We need to love them as souls like our Lord loved them; we need to have compassion on them, as He did—and go out of our way, if needs be, to share the saving truth with them. We need to remember what Jude said when he exhorted: “And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” (Jude 22,23)
That said, how do we do this? How do we react and relate to the loved one who, out of nowhere, one day announces that he/she has same-sex attractions? What do we say or do when a person that we dearly love, and who is part of our closest circle of family or friends, announces “I am gay”? Perhaps many who are reading this post can say, “I have already crossed that bridge.” If so, and you have insights to share, please feel free to share them with me by responding under the section at the close of this installment, where it says “Comment.” Or simply hit the reply button to email. In a future blog, I may be able to pass along some of the discussion that would be helpful as we navigate what (for many of us) are uncharted waters.
I will continue this post, Lord willing, in the next installment of “You and God.” I hope to address questions such as: “Can a Christian have same-sex attraction?” “If so, am I supposed to live my life alone, unhappy and unfulfilled?” “Why would God create me with these desires and attractions?” I pray for wisdom, as I am sure you who love Christ, His Word, and souls do. May we trust our teacher of truth—the indwelling Holy Spirit—and nothing more or less than the Word of truth—the Bible—as we prayerfully seek to “let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Phil.2:5)
Please stay tuned.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)