Tuesday, February 12, 2008

How to engage seekers who are living homosexual lifestyles

Here is an interesting news story of a Forth Worth Baptist church which is having a controversy over homosexuality. See http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/latestnews/stories/021308dnmetfwchurch.b6ab2a39.html . Homosexuality is not God's will, though we should not single it out above all other sins. This only makes it more difficult for those who struggle with this to find loving help.

It would appear that the church was trying to welcome gay couples, but when they showed up for a picture directory picture, controversy exploded. The church did not want to appear to condone homosexuality, so the senior pastor decided on not including any family pictures in the directory.

The criticism of Jesus was that he "welcomes sinners." And yet, he also called them to a moral lifestyle. Where does one draw the line? We cannot exclude anyone who is struggling with a sin from our assemblies--no one could then come! We want to be welcoming to seekers who do not fully know Christ but are wanting to know him more. But putting homosexual couples in a "family" picture directory does seem to cross the line. Consider these questions though:

- Could a church take any pictures (like a group picture) that include those living a homosexual lifestyle?

-- Would we also exclude from these pictures seekers who were heterosexual, but pursuing materialism full force (which is just as idolatrous) For instance, would we exclude a doctor with a beautiful wife and three wonderful children who help the church open a medical clinic serving the community, but who is not baptized but still in sin?

- Would Jesus have taken pictures with a homosexual couple whom he was trying to befriend? What would be the difference between this and enjoying table fellowship with them?

- Does it matter about the seeker's attitude (an openness to change), or only his current lifestyle?

These are the difficult questions that missionaries must face on the mission field. Love and holiness. Both must be considered. And if we ever stop wrestling with this, then we probably are likely to get off on the wrong track.

What do you think of this church controversy? How should we approach seekers who are living homosexual lifestyles?

7 comments:

Jburgess80 said...

James,
Why do you ask such difficult questions? Things should be easy, right? kidding of course. That's my response, although you have my gears turning right now. So much more I want to say, just not quite sure how to say it. So, thanks for that.
Have a great day.
-JB

Mr. E said...

Great Question: I approch this topic this way. What makes homosexuality any bigger of a sin than gluttony, gossip, pride, infidelity, drunkedness or any other sin for that matter? The problem with this particular sin is that it can be "Open" and visible than those some others. Although it can be hidden just the same as other problems, such as addictions. God calls us to love all sinners, but at the same time be firm and clear that their behaviors are not congruent with God's will. Love the person, hate the sin.

As far as church pictures. Hmmm! tough call. Maybe the minister should have said, "All Right anyone who has not sinned, please step forward and have your picture made!" I wonder what would have happened?

I can imagine the church's dilema over this. We don't want to condone sinfull behavior, but which sins do we choose to publicly criticize and which sins do we "keep to ourselves!"

Good question! I am going to invite others to view this blog.

Scott said...

A fair comparison might be taking a picture of that doctor, not with his beautiful wife, but with his 20-year-old office assistant he's seeing behind his wife.

There isn't legal gay marriage in texas where this church is, right? Does the church include photos of HETEROsexual dating couples?

Perhaps, if the marriage was "legal" I'd think harder about this, or if I knew a gay couple like this.

Like many Americans, until I'm faced with this kind of issue personally, it's easy for me to think I know how I feel.

But today, I'm leaning against photos of gay couples...and adulterers with their mistresses...

Big Doofus said...

Mr. E sent me to the link to your blog and I decided to stop by--and leave a comment.

I don't think it's fair to simply shrug off this issue because we all struggle with sins. Yes, I believe that a sin is a sin and the consequences for all sin are the same--death. Thank God for grace and mercy and the death of his Son on the cross.

I don't pretend to have all of the answers. In fact, there are many times when I have no answers, but I think the church is compared to a marriage between a wife and a husband in Ephesians Chapter 5, which sheds some light on this matter.

(22) Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.

(23) For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.

(24) Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

(25) Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

(26) to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,

(27) and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

(28) In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

(29) After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church—

(30) for we are members of his body.

(31) "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."

(32) This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.

(33) However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

To "present" the church with a directory of families that flies in the face of His creation is just wrong. The church needs to be able to step out and make a decision--even if it's unpopular.

If this particular church is teaching the truth about homosexuality to these people, then it shouldn't be such a shock to them when the church refuses to print a picture of an openly gay couple as a "family" or the equivalent of a husband and wife.

Believers shouldn't try to be offensive, but we have to remember that the gospel is offensive to the sinful nature of mankind (all mankind).

That's my two cents.

James said...

Hey guys. Good discussion. Obviously, this is somewhat of a difficult question. The problem with something like homosexuality is that it is often a visible sin. It is easy to understand why those who struggle with homosexuality feel singled out.

I would not put a homosexual couple in a "family" directory. At some point people must come hear and be confronted with the "offensive" nature of the gospel, as "Big Doofus" mentions. Hopefully this is not the first thing a person hears when he walks through the doors. Hopefully he experiences love, kindness, and gentleness for some time, and the lifestyle issue is addressed out of love and in the context of a relationship.

Perhaps it is because a "family" directory and a homosexual couple is totally at odds with the biblical definition of a family that this must be dealt with directly. Could a similar point with the doctor be placing his picture in a giving campaign, when he gives nothing and is in the grips of materialism? This is probably the closest analogy. However, we have to admit that we would be a lot more comfortable and forgiving for the doctor picture than the homosexual couple picture. If such a thing happened, it certainly would not make headlines.

Big Doofus said...

James:

I don't think the doctor analogy is the same. As I stated earlier (and I think you agreed) the issue of a family and a man/woman relationship is very special in the eyes of God and it should be upheld at the church in something seemingly trivial like a church family directory.

I also think there's a difference between struggling with sin and being in denial of sin or even flaunting such sin. Obviously, we cannot interrogate people every time a picture is taken that will be seen by other members of the church or the general public. But we can use discretion.

I also like what you have to say about welcoming these people in. They should be made to feel welcome and loved as Christ would love them. However, there will come a time when the gospel will offend them--as it did with everyone while still under the consequences of sin.

This brings up the question of church discipline--another fun subject.

And I agree

Big Doofus said...

Sorry about that last, "And I agree" I forgot to cut that out.

Oh, and my name is Roger. Sorry about the Big Doofus thing. It's just a silly blog name and now that's who I am.