For those who don’t know, my wife is a pediatrician. She and I met during our college years. We co-endured medical school, residency, and all of the hardships that come with training for that profession. She is the best doctor I know today. She is insanely intelligent and possesses an incredible bedside manner. She is tough when she needs to be; she’s always an advocate for the patient.
For over a decade she has been a part of the American Academy of Pediatrics. While she is a member of other professional organizations as well, the AAP is probably the most recognizable and influential organization in the field of pediatrics. With over 60,000 members, the AAP carries much sway in pediatric policy today.
Today, the AAP announced that it has taken a supportive stance on gay marriage and adoption. Their statement sounds to the layman like there was a vote among the AAP membership on this issue. That is not the case. Many pediatricians are upset over this announcement crafted by a small committee. Their statement also sites scientific studies that need to be examined. I am ill-equipped to be that person. However, I feel their announcement offers a tremendous opportunity for me to address an area with which I do feel capable of addressing: the modern church’s response to homosexuality.
In a nutshell, let me say that I believe the church at large responds extremely poorly to the issue of homosexuality today. We tend to fall into the ditch on one of two extremes. One extreme endorses the homosexual lifestyle regardless of what Scripture says. The other extreme speaks out against homosexuality, but treats it like it is the unpardonable sin. One extreme is sappy and spineless. The other is stiff and loveless. And both are unacceptable.
The church must find a way to speak clearly about what God says about the family. at the same time, we must recognize that there are people in our communities and in our churches that struggle with same-sex attraction. Some have given into that sin; others battle it daily. We should respond to homosexuality in the same manner that we respond to other behaviors the Bible labels as sin – we should call it sin, but gladly point to a Savior who can wash us of our sin! Praise God that the grace of Jesus Christ is greater than all of our sin!
Jesus is the appropriate answer to all sin, including homosexuality. To say that homosexuality is not sin is to ignore clear biblical teachings. In effect, we steer people away from Christ by saying “You don’t need Christ to overcome this, because there is nothing to overcome.” To insinuate that homosexuality is some heinous sin for which there is no answer is to diminish the work of Christ, to cheapen his grace, and to ignore the transforming power of the Gospel.
Paul wrote to the church in Corinth,
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you.
While I am specifically speaking to the issue of homosexuality, let me first recognize that Paul didn’t place homosexuality at the top of this sin list or emphasize it as being any worse than the other sins he mentions. But the important thing to notice is that, writing to believers in Jesus, he says that some of them used to be homosexuals. Used to be. They had been transformed. That is the testimony of all believers. Whether our sin is homosexuality, disobedient heterosexuality, lying, or cheating, we are not who we used to be! Praise God!
But how did God change them? Keep reading what Paul writes:
But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
Christ can change anyone! All sinners experience the same thing when they come to the Lord – we are washed, sanctified, and justified by God through the sacrifice of Jesus!
This week, Hunter Baker published “An Open Letter to the Church from a Lesbian” on The Gospel Coalition’s website. I discovered the article via tweets from John Piper (@JohnPiper) and Matt Chandler (@MattChandler74). This letter says everything I want to say, only better! I hope it will cause you to think deeply how we both stand for truth courageously and love people deeply – two tenets we must embrace if we are to honor Christ today!
To the churches concerning homosexuals and lesbians:
Many of you believe that we do not exist within your walls, your schools, your neighborhoods. You believe that we are few and easily recognized. I tell you we are many. We are your teachers, doctors, accountants, high school athletes. We are all colors, shapes, sizes. We are single, married, mothers, fathers. We are your sons, your daughters, your nieces, your nephews, your grandchildren. We are in your Sunday School classes, pews, choirs, and pulpits. You choose not to see us out of ignorance or because it might upset your congregation. We ARE your congregation. We enter your doors weekly seeking guidance and some glimmer of hope that we can change. Like you, we have invited Jesus into our hearts. Like you, we want to be all that Christ wants us to be. Like you, we pray daily for guidance. Like you, we often fail.
When the word “homosexual” is mentioned in the church, we hold our breaths and sit in fear. Most often this word is followed with condemnation, laughter, hatred, or jokes. Rarely do we hear any words of hope. At least we recognize our sin. Does the church as a whole see theirs? Do you see the sin of pride, that you are better than or more acceptable to Jesus than we are? Have you been Christ-like in your relationships with us? Would you meet us at the well, or restaurant, for a cup of water, or coffee? Would you touch us even if we showed signs of leprosy, or aids? Would you call us down from our trees, as Christ did Zacchaeus, and invite yourself to be our guest? Would you allow us to sit at your table and break bread? Can you love us unconditionally and support us as Christ works in our lives, as He works in yours, to help us all to overcome?
To those of you who would change the church to accept the gay community and its lifestyle: you give us no hope at all. To those of us who know God’s word and will not dilute it to fit our desires, we ask you to read John’s letter to the church in Pergamum. “I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality. Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent therefore!” You are willing to compromise the word of God to be politically correct. We are not deceived. If we accept your willingness to compromise, then we must also compromise. We must therefore accept your lying, your adultery, your lust, your idolatry, your addictions, YOUR sins. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
We do not ask for your acceptance of our sins any more than we accept yours. We simply ask for the same support, love, guidance, and most of all hope that is given to the rest of your congregation. We are your brothers and sisters in Christ. We are not what we shall be, but thank God, we are not what we were. Let us work together to see that we all arrive safely home.
A Sister in Christ