Of the many complexities involving the church and homosexuality, one of the most difficult is how the former should speak of the latter. Even for those Christians who agree that homosexuality is contrary to the will of God there is little agreement on how we ought to speak about homosexuality being contrary to the will of God. Much of this disagreement is owing to the fact that there are many different constituencies we have in mind when broaching the subject. There are various groups that may be listening when we speak about homosexuality, and the group we think we are addressing usually dictates how we speak.
- If we are speaking to cultural elites who despise us and our beliefs, we want to be bold and courageous.
- If we are speaking to strugglers who fight against same sex attraction, we want to be patient and sympathetic.
- If we are speaking to sufferers who have been mistreated by the church, we want to be apologetic and humble.
- If we are speaking to shaky Christians who seem ready to compromise the faith for society’s approval, we want to be persuasive and persistent.
- If we are speaking to liberal Christians who have deviated from the truth once delivered for the saints, we want to be serious and hortatory.
- If we are speaking to gays and lesbians who live as the Scriptures would not have them live, we want to be winsome and straightforward.
- If we are speaking to belligerent Christians who hate or fear homosexuals, we want to be upset and disappointed.
So how ought we to speak about homosexuality? Should we be defiant and defensive or gentle and entreating? Yes and yes. It depends on who is listening. All seven scenarios above are real and not uncommon. And while some Christians may be called to speak to one group in particular, we must keep in mind that in this technological day and age anyone from any group may be listening in. This means that we will often be misunderstood. It also means we should make some broad basic commitments to each other and to our friends and foes in speaking about homosexuality.
Here are ten commitments I hope Christians and churches will consider making in their heads and hearts, before God and before a watching world.
1. We will preach through the Bible consecutively and expositionally that we might teach the whole counsel of God (even the unpopular parts) and to avoid riding hobby horses (even popular ones).
2. We will tell the truth about all sins, including homosexuality, but especially the sins most prevalent in our communities.
3. We will guard the truth of God’s word, protect God’s people from error, and confront the world when it tries to press us into its mold.
4. We will call all people to faith in Christ as the only way to the Father and the only way to have eternal life.
5. We will tell all people about the good news of the gospel, that Jesus died in our place and rose again so that we might be set free from the curse of the law and be saved from the wrath of God.
6. We will treat all Christians as new creations in Christ, reminding each other that our true identity is not based on sexuality or self-expression but on our union with Christ.
7. We will extend God’s forgiveness to all those who come in brokenhearted repentance, everyone from homosexual sinners to heterosexual sinners, from the proud to the greedy, from the people pleaser to the self-righteous.
8. We will ask for forgiveness when we are rude, thoughtless, or joke inappropriately about homosexuals.
9. We will strive to be a community that welcomes all those who hate their sin and struggle against it, even when that struggle involves failures and setbacks.
10. We will seek to love all in our midst, regardless of their particular vices or virtues, by preaching the Bible, recognizing evidences of God’s grace, pointing out behaviors that dishonor the Lord, taking church membership seriously, exercising church discipline, announcing the free offer of the gospel, striving for holiness together, and exulting in Christ above all things.