Sunday, May 13, 2012

Review: How the Church Can Love Gay Couples

Paul Stanley, a Christian Post reporter recently wrote an article entitled, “How Should the Church Love a Gay Couple? (Part I) To answer this question, Mr. Stanley says his method included the following: “To help answer these questions, The Christian Post sought out individuals who previously had been involved in homosexual relationships, pastors and noted Christian leaders who could provide a glimpse into what effective care looks like from their personal and professional experiences.” Now, when Stanley uses the word “should” he is asking an ethical question. In other words, bound up in the word is the idea of imperative. It follows that Mr. Stanley’s question is a question of morality. He is not wrong to frame the question this way. Moreover, there is the assumption that the Church should love gay couples. That is a given. The only question is how should the Church love gay couples? That is a good question and one the Church needs to think about in modern culture. However, gay couples and the Church have both been around for a very long time. Is it possible that no one asked or sought an answer to this question prior to the twenty-first century? Such a scenario is indeed highly unlikely. What then, is different about gay couples or the Church that we are asking such a question today?

Fundamentally, two things are different. The Church is different and so are gay couples. The Church has lost her moral anchor or at least is on the brink of doing so, and gay couples, in general, insist that homosexuality is God’s design for humans the same as heterosexuality. In short, the Church has grown arrogant in her handling of biblical revelation, and gay couples have grown arrogant in their attitude toward their own sexual behavior. Both, in their own way, have displayed disdain toward the authority of God. In autonomous fashion, the Church wants to use selective hermeneutics to decide what she will acknowledge as divine imperative and gay couples wish to honor the creature, despising the Creator who is blessed forever. With this in mind, let us continue our review of Mr. Stanley’s suggestion for how the Church should love gay couples.

First, Mr. Stanley consulted with individuals who engaged in the homosexual lifestyle, as well as some pastors and noted Christian leaders and developed some common themes around their experience. Mr. Stanley does not tell us why this method is superior to others. He offers no justification for why this method versus an alternative. This leads us to believe that we are in the best position to determine how we should be loved by the Church. This thinking is a product of American culture. There is nothing biblical about consulting sinners to see how we can best love them. To answer this question, Mr. Stanley would have been better off consulting Scripture. John has a lot to say about loving God and others. Immediately then, I have a serious problem with Mr. Stanley’s method.

Mr. Stanley then admits that Christians must confront and deal with the sin of homosexuality. However, he refers to Allen Hildreth who says that the first thing we must do is find out where the gay couple is in their relationship with Christ. Well, this seems pretty easy to ascertain. They are right in the middle of rejecting Christ and His commandments. The assumption is that gay couples have a relationship with Christ. That is a very bold assumption. Is this possible? It is possible if anyone in the relationship recently came to know Christ through faith and is now in a place where they must separate from the lifestyle. It is not possible if the couple has professed Christ for a lengthy period and simply refused to give up the relationship. It seems quite difficult to imagine that a gay couple in this day, and age would be oblivious to the fact that there is strong opposition in the Church to the idea of being Christian and being gay at the same time. Conversion would place instant stress on the behavior and over time this stress would only intensify. This is how the power of God that saves sinners works, unless of course we are talking about the American Christian gospel of therapeutic, moralistic deism.

Allen Hildreth believes that the approach we take with gay couples is the determining factor in whether they stay in the Church or leave it. And Arminians wonder why we Calvinists argue that their view of the gospel has seriously damning consequences in many cases. True converts called by God into the body of Christ will NOT leave the Church for any reason. Hildreth’s method is more of the same old pragmatic approach that has long been practiced in the seek-sensitive movement and the psycho-babble that characterizes the counseling method of most integrationists in Christian counseling. On the other hand, Hildreth is right when he argues we should not treat them any differently from any other sinful couple. We should be warm, receptive, inviting, caring, asking questions and listening intently for the answers. Gay couples are sinners like any other unbelieving couple. Is that really the issue? Do gay couples want to be treated just like any other “sinning” couple? Is that what we hear and see every day in the news media, from our unbelieving friends, and from pseudo-pastors who are caving in on the homosexual issue?

Stanley does a good job of at least getting us closer to where we should be on the issue when he admits that homosexuality is a sin and as such, it must be confronted. He says that pastors have to deal with the issue from the pulpit head-on. Homosexuality is sexual sin.

Once we have interacted with gay couples, showing concern, interest, and care, the next question concerns their role in the Church. What kind of role can gay couples have in the church? Hildreth is right when he says that after counseling, if a couple persists in the gay relationship, church discipline is the next step. Gay couples need saving from sin the same as the rest of us. Yes, we are called to have fellowship with one another, but that fellowship is the fellowship of believers, not unbelievers. We love gay couples by showing concern and by giving them the word of God in a loving way, the same as we give it to anyone else. If they refuse to accept God at His word, the Church has no alternative but to enact discipline in the hopes that God will grant repentance.

Our hope is that all sinners, not just gay couples, will repent of their sin and come to faith in Christ. We recognize that God saves sinners through the loving presentation of the gospel. We understand that the Church is not built with the methods and ingenuity intellectuals or gifted individuals. Jesus Himself is the one who builds the church, not man. He said “I will build My church.” He builds it and she is His! God saves sinners with a foolish message, using a foolish method, through foolish men so that He receives all the glory for the miracle of salvation. Salvation is, after all, of the Lord! This is why boasting is precluded from the Christian community. The curse of God is lifted by God through God and for God!

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