I can clearly recall that fall day two years ago. We were juniors at Dordt College, and Rick had come back to visit us. Our group of guys had been friends since our freshman year when we all lived on the same wing of North Hall. We weren’t as close of a group anymore, but back then we had been close like family. We all knew each other quite well, the way that a group of thirty guys get after having lived together in tight quarters during a long Northwest Iowa winter.
At least we thought we knew each other well. Rick had come back to tell us that he was gay. “Gay?” we asked. “You mean you’re homosexual?” “Yep, I now have a boyfriend. I thought I should come back and tell you guys.”
I’m not sure what we said to Rick. It came as a shock to us. I for one didn’t really know what to say. I think we said something like, “Oh, well thanks for coming clean.” And then we left.
Some of us got together that night to talk about what Rick had told us. We thought back to all of our memories of North Hall. Those memories seemed changed after Rick’s confession. We talked about how we felt sort of betrayed. What used to seem like a close union and camaraderie between a group of guys now seemed changed and broken.
But after we had struggled through our mixed feelings, we began to talk about Rick. He was our friend. How were we to treat him? Why hadn’t we said anything to him? Rick had been like a brother to us. What was our Christian responsibility as to how we were to respond to Rick…and how we were to help him?
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Perhaps some of you readers have a story similar to this one. This story is not unique. Most of you probably know someone who is homosexual, either through school, work, or through a friend or acquaintance. Even if you don’t personally know someone who is homosexual, the growing face of homosexuality in the media and in politics has made an impact upon us. For Christian young people in today’s society, the question is not whether or not one will be personally challenged with how to respond to homosexuality; the question is when and in what circumstances. And, perhaps more importantly, the question is how one will respond.
Homosexuality is spreading across our nation. Most recent estimates of the size of the homosexual population range anywhere from three to ten percent (Pruitt, 2002). Books and literature in abundance are being written and published in support of homosexuality. On television, sitcoms such as “Will and Grace” that portray characters as being homo or bi-sexual attract large audiences and rave reviews by the critics. On the home front, many homosexual couples now have families and raise children. It is estimated that in America three to eight million gay and lesbian parents are raising six to fourteen million children (Martin, 1993). Assuming that there are about seventy million children in America, this indicates that eight to twenty percent of children are raised by homosexual parents.
But perhaps even more disturbing than the spread of homosexuality is the change in public opinion towards it. A word that sums up our society’s attitude towards homosexuality is “acceptance.” Homosexuals are supposed to be accepted for who they are and what they stand for. As the public becomes more and more accepting, the Bible-believing Christian who speaks out against homosexuality becomes the minority. Saying that homosexuality is wrong and an abomination in the sight of God now invites ridicule and persecution.
Young people who are planning on attending colleges and universities, be aware that the academic world is spearheading this movement of acceptance. In secular colleges you will find that professors and students alike are in favor of tolerating and accepting homosexuality. Even in Christian colleges like Dordt, Trinity, and Calvin you will find many people that want to see Christianity become more lenient towards and tolerant of homosexuals. This is most evident in how many churches today refuse to place homosexuals under church discipline and instead allow them to remain upright members of their congregation.
Acceptance and tolerance become especially appealing when a friend, family member, or a Christian brother or sister falls into this sin. Our human nature hates to speak out against the sins of those that we love. But the Bible is very clear on the issue of homosexuality. It is sin in God’s sight.
“Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient” (Romans 1:24-28).
This Bible passage and others set forth homosexuality as a very base and evil sin. It is a sin that society and humanity sink into when they are at their very worst. Throughout the Bible and throughout history, homosexuality has been prevalent in those times and in those civilizations that have been the most wicked.
“And Judah did evil in the sight of the Lord, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins which they had committed, above all that their fathers had done. For they also built them high places, and images, and groves, on every high hill, and under every green tree. And there were also sodomites in the land: and they did according to all the abominations of the nations which the Lord cast out before the children of Israel” (I Kings 14:22-24).
The Bible shows us that homosexuality is sin. Therefore we cannot accept it as being allowable, especially not in the church of Christ.
So how are we to respond to homosexuality, especially if the offender is a confessing Christian, family member, or close friend? We must respond out of Christian love for the brother (or sister), and the chief means by which we do this is by showing the brother his sin. If we truly love the brother with a Christ-like love, then we care about his soul and his everlasting life. We must show him that God hates the sin of homosexuality and commands that he repent and turn away from this sin. To allow him to go on thinking that his homosexuality is okay in God’s sight by accepting him and allowing him to continue in his sin would be misleading and wrong. It would be encouraging the brother in his walk down the road of sin that can only lead to everlasting hell.
As we exhort our brother to repentance, we must remember to do so in a loving manner. We must not degrade the brother because we think that homosexuality is weird or “queer.” We must not ridicule or jeer or poke fun of him, especially not behind his back. In all of our dealings, we must never look down on homosexuals as though we are better than them or as if we are above this sin.
All sins are a result of our fallen, sinful nature. Homosexuality is a sin just like any other. As such, the way that we should respond to homosexuality is no different than the way that we should respond to sins like stealing, lying, or divorce and remarriage. The unrepentant sinner must be treated out of love, but never must he be allowed to think that his sin is acceptable in God’s sight.
Christian young people, homosexuality is a sin that is spreading and growing in acceptance. As such it will be a challenge to our generation in ways that our parents and grandparents never imagined. Be prepared for how you will respond to homosexuality. Approach this issue with fear and trembling and with much prayer to your heavenly Father, who judges all of the sinful ways of men.
Note: Rick’s name in the opening story was changed for privacy.