I’d like to offer an apology to the homosexual community. As a follower of Jesus, I want to state as clearly as I can to any homosexual reading these words that I regret the treatment you have received from people who claim to be my brothers and sisters in Christ. I apologize that we Christians have, as a group, not treated you as Christ longs to treat you. We haven’t loved you as Christ loves you.
I’ve been around this block for a while. I lived in Santa Cruz, California, for many years, and in other cities where large segments of the population were lesbian or gay. I’ve had to live alongside and learn to love not only homosexual people but also brothers and sisters in Christ who in the name of Christ have felt compelled to hold up demeaning signs, call people offensive names, scream judgment on others for whom Christ died, and declare with no hesitation, “You’re on your way to hell.”
The only experience of Christianity many in the homosexual community have had is with angry, bigoted people, some who have even been violent in their rejection. The absolute love of God has been completely missing from too many encounters. Efforts to compassionately express the truth about God’s view of fallen human beings have instead done little more than convey hatred and fear. The stereotype of Christians as homophobic has not come out of thin air.
Believe me when I said above that I’ve had to live with and learn to love people representing both sides of this divisive issue. I know that as soon as I stand with or try to love people on either side of this conflict, I’m immediately seen as an “enemy” by the other. Even writing this chapter with the best of intentions has put me in the enemy crosshairs of certain people. Some Christians will think I’m far too soft and understanding of homosexuals while some in the gay community will think I’m attacking them regardless of how fair or lovingly I try to communicate. So if at some point in this chapter or elsewhere in this book you decide I’m your enemy, please know I’m commanded to love you. And this chapter is my heartfelt attempt to speak the truth in love.
And yet, so much of what “Christians” have said and done has been motivated by fear rather than love. I can understand why some people are afraid of Christians.
But that’s only half the problem. Under the banner of Christianity, other groups say to the homosexual community, “What you are doing is not morally wrong.” They claim the Bible does not prohibit same-sex relationships if they are grounded in love. “And besides,” the argument goes, “the Bible is an outdated book not to be taken literally today. We now know better. You’re not only welcome in our churches, but we will also sanctify your relationship by officiating at your same-sex wedding and conduct your ceremony in our building. We will even ordain you as our priests or pastors.” In the name of love and tolerance, all sexual boundaries in Scripture are ignored.
These “we accept you” groups refuse to balance their emphasis on love with truth. They actually place a wedge between truth and love and withhold facts or Biblical passages that point to a serious problem. They seem to categorically reject the principle of cause and effect in life and go to extraordinary lengths to deny the reality of consequences in the lives of gay people. When a person’s behavior reduces their life expectancy to forty to forty-five years, is it really loving to affirm and endorse lifestyle behaviors with those results? As a society we don’t hesitate to promote public service ads that say “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk” or warn of the dangers of unhealthy eating, and when those don’t work, to pass legal restrictions on people’s behavior. Yet we seem to have a curiously blind eye to anything that’s questionable or immoral having to do with sex. To not tell the truth about what a lifestyle does to a person is actually irresponsible and cruel.
As a result, within self-defined Christian circles, we have one group that champions the truth without love and another group that champions love without truth. So how do we discover and communicate the truth in love? How do we put away the hatred and accusations along with the sentimental and wishful thinking that refuses to examine the facts?
Chip Ingram, Culture Shock: A Biblical Response to Today’s Most Divisive Issues (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2014).
We have just released a new Bible Study based on the book: Culture Shock, by Chip Ingram
These lessons are available on Amazon, as well as a part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription Service. Like Netflix for Bible Lessons, one low subscription gives you access to all our lessons–thousands of them. For a medium-sized church, lessons are as little as $10 per teacher per year.
Culture Shock, Lesson #1
Whatever Happened to Right and Wrong
How Did We Get into This Mess?
Culture Shock, Lesson #2
Culture Shock, Lesson #3
Culture Shock, Lesson #4
Culture Shock, Lesson #5
Culture Shock, Lesson #6
Each lesson consists of 20 or so ready-to-use questions that get groups talking. Answers are provided in the form of quotes from respected authors such as John Piper, Max Lucado and Beth Moore.
These lessons will save you time as well as provide deep insights from some of the great writers and thinkers from today and generations past. I also include quotes from the same commentaries that your pastor uses in sermon preparation.
Ultimately, the goal is to create conversations that change lives.