Sunday, January 11, 2015

Homosexuality: The Challenge to Think and Act Biblically

A gay pair shows up at your Bible-believing, Gospel-preaching, Truth-loving church.
Now what?

Twice in the past month, I have found myself having impromptu discussions about homosexuality with two different adult children. One child was blindsided by The Tolerance Game when an innocent remark got a friend's ire up. "Never say that in my presence again." The offensive topic? Those people who can't easily be identified as either a 'he' or a 'she.' Recognizing personhood puts one in an awkward grammatical position, to say the least. Is the person 'he' or 'she?' Certainly not an 'it,' the only pronoun my child could come up with was 'heshe.' And she got her hand slapped by false, pagan piety.

The second conversation happened when another child was musing aloud, "What do you do if a gay person shows up in your living room? What about the partner?"
Do you have them over for dinner? What about the partner?
Can they stay in your home?
And what about your children?
As a parent, I recognize that one of my most important jobs is to protect my children. But my other important job is to be a gospel bearer. I've asked this question before. How do we get close enough to the world to be salt and light, but stay far enough back to keep the kids out of harms' way?

Like it or not, this is the world our children are growing up to inherit.

I've been accused in the past of being too focused on theology, of treating life as if it was a test of doctrine, of treating heaven like the Big Theology Test in the sky. If theology were my hobby, that would be fair enough.

But that entirely misses the point. Theology teaches me about God, Whom I love. I want to know what He thinks, what He loves, what He does not love. And I want to do likewise. 

I want to do likewise.
Doctrine and theology are not a moral high horse. Don't let anyone ever tell you that!
I want an orthodox faith because it leads to an orthodox life. 
Orthodoxy leads to orthopraxy. 
And orthopraxy is worship.

I've long heard that we Christians need a theology of suffering firmly in place because suffering is a matter of 'when,' not 'if.' The surer our foundation, the more likely we are to survive the battering wind and waves of suffering.

Likewise, I was telling my daughter, we need a theology about homosexuality.
This is certainly not a new sin; the writer of Ecclesiastes affirms that there is nothing new under the sun. But it is a more brazen sin than it used to be. There is no more coming out of the closet because a closet implies shame. In our day, the word 'pride' is more likely to be associated with it than 'sin.'

It is no longer a matter of 'if' a gay person enters our social circle; it's a matter of 'when.' Perhaps some of you, like me, even number relatives among the ranks. That's just the way it is now. And it is imperative that we have a gospel response. We must figure out how to think and act biblically about homosexuality.

Enter Sam Allberry's book  Is God Anti-gay? It was probably a day after one of these conversations with my kids that I found this book sitting on a pile of books in the study. So I picked it up. And I couldn't put it down.

I mean this sincerely when I say, this may be THE most important book you read this year. I want all of my adult kids to read it.
And every kid old enough after that.

Allberry is a single man and pastor who struggles himself with same-sex attraction. So he has the insider story of what that is like for a man who names the name of Jesus yet fights this battle. I love his transparency. He talks about what it's like to live with SSA. He talks about what it means to submit to the Truth of Scripture. And he talks about how the Church can respond to both those who battle SSA and those who have caved to the temptation and taken it as a lifestyle. Allberry talks about how hard it has been to live without a family to call his own, to hold an infant and know that he will never be a father, to know that he will never experience the intimacy of biblical sexuality.

I am challenged by this book.
I am broken by this book.
I admit that I have not responded well; I have not had compassion. I have not fully appreciated the struggle of these humans, their need to be whole, to be healed, to be saved. This is a segment of society who needs the light of the gospel as much as any of us.

Allberry reminds me that the gay person's identity is not his sexuality. It is one of the sins he battles, but it is not the only sin.
Allberry reminds me that demanding immediate, perfect, sinless conformity to the commands of scripture reduces the gay person to just gay, not lost.
Allberry reminds me that it is more profitable to work from the inside out, rather than the edges in.
Just like the rest of us.

To borrow from Paul David Tripp, do you want to see their heart changed so they can bear real fruit? or do you just want to staple fake apples on a dead tree?

Some may question whether SSA itself is a sin. All lust is a sin, as my husband points out. And this is a broken, sinful world. We are saddled with our sinful flesh until Jesus comes back or takes us home. But I don't see a difference between that and the person who battles drugs. Every time the believer craves another high but resists the devil and flees the temptation, he is taking up his cross and following Jesus. In the same way, Allberry reminds his readers that the believer with SSA can take up his cross and follow Jesus--to the glory of God.

As for the rest of us?
Jesus went outside the camp.
He touched the untouchables, cleansed the dirty, and saved the sinners.
And will I now shrink back from doing the same? I, who once belonged outside the camp, too?
May it never be!

We've got some work cut out for us. If my home is to be gospel-centered, then my home must have a gospel-informed response to homosexuality. We've got some conversations to have and some wrestling to do.

Allberry does a great job of discussing the scriptural view of homosexuality without changing it or imposing a post-modern interpretation on it. He debunks the arguments of liberals to re-write scripture or to say things that God didn't say.

He reminds his reader that being biblical and being compassionate peacefully coexist.
He breathes grace.
I want to breathe grace, too.

Blessed Redeemer, Precious Redeemer,
Seems now I see him on Calvary's tree.
Wounded and bleeding, for sinners pleading,
Blind and unheeding, dying for me. 

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