“I have stopped counting how many times I had to tell my gay friends to forgive people because they spoke out of ignorance. So much damage has been done.”
“Pretty much everyone I know has had experiences of being excluded and made to feel unwelcome by the Church.”
“They asked me never to come back. That's pretty sad. I mean that's really awful. I got over it quick, personally I didn't care much because it was their own ignorance. Things like this cause unstable people in my situation to commit suicide, and the church gets off free by saying "it was their sin, they did not repent, they brought it upon themselves.”
“There are almost too many to be counted. The recent thing that I saw was a reverend that was quoted in a certain newspaper that he hates gay people. What kind of message does that sent out to gay people? Many gay people have turned away from God because they believe that God doesn't love them anymore.”
They believe that God doesn’t love them anymore.
Overwhelmingly, the response is negative. And it should hurt you to hear that. People no longer expect compassion from the church because they have been deeply wounded by Christians.
“Love the sinner. Hate the sin,” we tell them.
They get the ‘hating sin’ part. But where is the ‘love’?
Many Christian spokesman speak out against homosexuality. But I say they’ve gone too far. It is one thing to call the lifestyle a sin, it is quite another to say that homosexuals are child molesters and commit bestiality (intercourse with animals).
- Christians like Scott Lively travel the world, preaching and proclaiming that homosexuals influenced the extreme militarism of Nazi Germany. That gays are the reason for the holocaust. His book is entitled The Pink Swastika.
- Westboro Baptist Church hosts the website godhatesfags.com.
- Pat Robertson and the late Jerry Falwell claimed that gays, lesbians, abortionists and feminists were to blame for the September 11th tragedy.
- As a Christian, you should know that Uganda is in the process of passing a bill that will call for the execution of gays, the imprisonment of anyone hiding gays, and the execution of anyone diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. You should also know that Scott Lively, Caleb Lee Brudidge and Don Schmierer, three Christian missionaries who speak against gay lifestyles, are seen as major influencers to push the bill through.
So much has been done in the name of Jesus, Christians, and the Church to cripple the credibility of our faith.
Yes, I believe that a homosexual lifestyle is a sin. But let me be clear: it is a sin, it is wrong, unholy and derogatory to label them all pedophiles, connect all homosexuals with bestiality, or describe them with other demeaning language. When these assumptions are voiced as absolutes, relationships are severed and the image of Christ is stained. And when we communicate only their sin, and show no actions that we actually care about them, then they have no good reason to think that God loves them either.
Whether you like it or not, as a Christian, when you begin with a conversation with someone who is gay, lurking behind you is a lifetime of derogatory, anti-gay comments made in the name of Jesus Christ. And all you did was say, “Yes, I am a Christian.”
All I want you to do is understand this one, simple sentence:
There is power in apology.
When meeting someone who is gay, let the first words that you speak sound something like this,
“I am sorry. People of my faith have said many hateful things to you and people like you. They spoke out of sin, ignorance and hate. On behalf of them, my Jesus, and my faith, I apologize for our sins.”
I hope you can see the healing power that an apology like this will begin.
Read this story of a conversation between pastor Shayne Wheeler and his gay friend. Shayne said,
“Tell you what, you don’t assume I am a gay-hating bigot, and I won’t assume you’re a pedophile. Deal? If we buy into stereotypes, we’ll never be able to love one another.”
Tears streamed down his face. He said, “Are you sure you’re a Christian?”
Now there were tears of my own.*
My challenge to you is this: apologize. Apologize to people that you know who are gay. Email strangers randomly on Facebook and write them an apology. Take the first step into creating a friendship.
Love them first.
Because while we were still sinners, God loved us first.