(Part Synchroblog for Sanity)
Today, I am speaking primarily to those who claim the label Christian. If you are of another faith or no faith, you are welcome to read on with the understanding that I will be referencing Christ and the Bible as an example and rationale for modern beliefs and behaviors.
The Church, as a body of imperfect individuals, is capable of acts of tremendous grace, kindness, and love. We give to those in need. We organize relief efforts, food banks, blood drives. We donate money to homeless shelters and volunteer our time at soup kitchens. We have offered prayers, support, and encouragement to those both in our faith communities and out.
In spite of this, I believe there is one group of people we are failing: the LGBTQIA community.
I have, through the course of my entire churched life, heard so many sermons about and against homosexuality, to the point I assumed all gays were twisted, debauched individuals beyond the reach of God's salvation. And that was my assumption as a straight individual - imagine how hopeless and helpless gay Christians feel hearing that rhetoric!
I am going to say something that will likely offend and appall my brothers and sisters in Christ.
Being gay is not a sin.
Really, it's not. Even if you're a Side B person (one who believes homosexuals should remain sexually abstinent), you cannot honestly say with the Bible's support that the mere possession of attraction toward those of the same sex is a sin.
If you view homosexual attraction as a temptation to be fought, fine. Pray for (not against) those who are same sex attracted (SSA), but do not tell them they are wicked because they have those attractions.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15
Did you read that? That passage is referring to Christ as our high priest and it says he was tempted in every respect as we are. Every. respect.
Think about that for a minute.
Now imagine Jesus Christ himself is attending your church. In a moment of trust, he admits he is SSA. How do you treat him?
Lest you think I am stating as fact Jesus was gay, I am not. I am reminding us what Jesus said:
'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me - you did it to me. [...]Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me - you failed to do it to me.' Matthew 25:40, 45
Based on that passage alone, perhaps it's time we as the Church re-evaluate our approach to the LGBTQIA community. Perhaps it's time we actually listen to them when they tell us our current approach of "Love the sinner, hate the sin" is hurtful. Perhaps it's time we try to imagine what life is like in their shoes instead of making assumptions about the state of their souls. Perhaps it's even time to apologize for continuing rhetoric that is hurtful on a soul deep level.
Perhaps it's time to view everyone as Christ in disguise, as an opportunity to minister to our Savior.
Even to the least of these.