The debate over homosexual behavior has taken many surprising turns. The national debate has involved a Fast Food franchise and a maker of Duck Calls. It has involved extremes from Fred Phelps and his clan to groups like GLAAD comparing the whole thing to the civil rights movement of the mid 20th century.
What is missing from all of this is honest discourse. And what is missing from those who tell us that what they are doing is ok is "why it's ok?".
We hear arguments like:
So, for the Christian who believes that God teaches homosexual behavior is sin and that those who practice this need repentance and forgiveness, the message they give to LGBTQ people is very important.
Ultimately, the discussion boils down to desire. It's at this point that the discussion breaks down most often because neither side really understands their desires, their position as a human being in a fallen world, and how God views all of humanity.
So let's take a look at desire. Most homosexuals would say that they desire romantic/sexual relationships with those of the same sex and that they did not choose these desires anymore than a heterosexual chooses their desires for opposite sex relationships. I believe this is true, but not for the reasons most homosexuals or Christians believe. [though, I believe these homosexual desires developed at an early age rather than a person being born with them "out of the box"]
I do not believe God created people with homosexual desires. Homosexual desires are a result of the fallen, sinful state every person finds themselves in. It's no different than my desire to sleep with multiple women or someone's desire to get as drunk as they can, etc. Desire is not the benchmark for God's holiness or His creation. People desire many things - Money, Sex, Power. All of our sinful actions can be traced back to a desire. As a Christian, we must see ourselves before our salvation. The bible says we were "enemies of God". Enemies. At our hearts, we were evil. So it should not be surprising that people have sinful desires.
A big question here is "how do I know my desires are sinful?". The only real answer to that is to put it up against God's standards. We know from Romans 1 that homosexual behavior is sinful. Now, notice that I said homosexual behavior. Having a desire and entertaining that desire are two different things. Simply being attracted to the same sex is not sinful in itself [that is, that the desire exists] unless you were to dwell on such thoughts [as Jesus says, "if a man lusts in his heart...]. This is an important distinction for a Christian to make as he/she approaches those in the LGBTQ community in conversation about this issue. It is no more sinful than being tempted. Jesus was tempted in all things, but did not sin.
Now, instantly, someone will say "well, Jesus never said homosexual behavior was a sin!". Well, what did Jesus say? In Matthew 19, the Pharisees asked Jesus about the lawfulness of divorce. His response tells us many things about the Old Testament:
"He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” 7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” 8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”
Here, Jesus not only affirms the OT, but He also tells us what God's design for marriage is. Held up against this standard, the only holy marital desire is that of a heterosexual nature. We must ask ourselves if we should give in to any desire we have? If I have a desire for lying, should I lie and not be held accountable because I was born that way? What about theft? We could list many more but you understand the point.
So, when someone says they can't help the way they feel, they are correct. Only the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as a result of salvation through faith and repentance can change desires. But, desire is not an excuse for sin. And it may be that the desire itself does not change, so the Christian must then choose to remain pure and, perhaps, unmarried.
When we as Christians see our own selfish desires that are to be crucified daily, we can understand a homosexual's position and can offer understanding. Truth with gentleness and respect.
And for those in the LGBTQ community, understand that God does love you just as you are. But you are in no different a position than I or anyone else. Salvation comes by grace through faith in Christ alone. And repentance leads to faith.
Be prepared to have honest conversations. Discard bumper sticker slogans. Let go of the Us vs. Them mentality.