We are right in the middle of our Salt & Light series focusing on how to live out the truths of the gospel toward those with whom we disagree. It is clear that Christ calls us to lay down our lives, in order for others to get the gospel which saves. And that includes our homosexual neighbors.
On this topic, Al Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Ed Welch, leader, author and counselor at CCEF (Christian Counseling and Education Foundation), have given today’s churches strong (some will add controversial) instruction to learn how to embrace our homosexual neighbors with compassion. I want to give you a portion, here, of their instruction along with a couple observations. I would also love to see any feedback you may have. Read Mohler’s article here. Read Welch’s article here.
Mohler asks evangelicals a hard question, “Why is it that we have been so ineffective in reaching persons trapped in this particular pattern of sin?” Then he offers his answer, “I believe that we are failing the test of compassion.” He means we, evangelicals, have been unbalanced by telling the truth but not in love; by being courageous in calling homosexuality sin but not compassionate in loving our neighbor as we love ourselves the way Jesus commands.
Then he adds, “If we are really a Gospel people; if we really love homosexuals as other sinners; then we must reach out to them with a sincerity that makes that love tangible.”
Ed Welch goes farther. He says we must begin in personal repentance removing the plank from our own eye first according to Matthew 7:1-5. We must “allow the Spirit to expose our own hearts until we see that our sin is on a grander scale than that of the homosexual.” This is the radically humiliating factor of the gospel.
But Welch calls us to more than personal repentance. He calls Christians to confess our sins to our homosexual neighbors. As a part of Christendom, we are connected millions of other Christians, many of whom have sinned against homosexual people in numerous ways such as: acting self-righteously, seeing their sin as worse than all other sins, and being unwelcoming to those searching for truth.
He points to Daniel’s confession in Daniel 9:4ff as an example of the need to confess the corporate sins of the entire group though a particular person may not be guilty of all those sins equally with others. In the same way, he says we are to confess the sins of many Christians against our homosexual neighbors as the beginning point of showing compassion and sharing God’s grace with them.
Mohler and Welch have challenged me deeply in an area where I need to be challenged. This has made be begin thinking deeply about my own heart toward fellow human beings who are loved by God and made in His image just like I am. I don’t have all the answers figured out in these things but am open to learning all that Jesus would have me learn.
Next, here are a couple observations. (These are broad statements though not everyone is represented by them.) First, when this topic comes up in conversation in my circles of Christian friends, nearly always the initial reaction is the same – the question – “So are you saying homosexuality isn’t a sin”. Second, another reaction comes soon after (which I, personally, have done numerous times) – the self-justification – “I’ve never sinned against homosexuals in any way that I should confess.”
So I should add here, in order to clear up the misunderstanding that is likely to come, that no I am not saying homosexuality isn’t sinful. I believe exactly what the Bible says about it. But part of what the Bible says about it is that it’s a sin for which Jesus made atonement on the cross and from which sinners may be rescued. So then I am to go and love my neighbor seeking to show him/her the grace and gospel of Jesus. And if you read the entire articles by Mohler and Welch you will see this is what they think as well.
I think these observations should show us just how far out of touch we are with how far away we are from loving our neighbor. It has certainly shown me these things. I wonder what it makes you think.