I’m seeing quite a few open letters of apology from Christians to the gay community in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage. At first, I was angry. “What are we apologizing for again?!?,” I thought. As a conservative Christian, I was annoyed. It seemed – at first – to be capitulation on a very important issue. After reading more than a few of these open letters of apology, however, my heart has softened on the issue. I realize that conservative Christians like myself are in the clear minority. The Supreme Court has ruled. Other churches, like the Episcopalians just yesterday, have found it in their heart to soften from their historic, traditional opinions. And as much as religious people love the past, I’ve had to come to grips with the reality that this – gay marriage – is our present and no doubt, our future.
There comes that moment – even for Christians steeped in conservative traditions – to recognize when the times have changed…and the times have changed. Taking a cue from other Christians who find a sense of closure in writing an open letter of apology to the gay community, I will follow suit and apologize for several things on behalf of not just myself, but my fellow Christians.
Dear Gay Community,
As a Christian who has been forced to evaluate where I stand in recent days in light of Scripture, in both tone and message, I would like to apologize for myself and other Christians…
1. I’m sorry that any of us ever referred to you as a “gay community.” Really, that’s not helpful. A “community” is a group of individuals that either live in the same place or share the same values. Sodomy (defined as unnatural and immoral sexual behavior) is not a value. Sodomy is a deviancy. Now, if you defined “community” as sharing interests and not values, then there could theoretically be a gay community because you hold unnatural and immoral sexual behavior as a common interest. However, to call you a “community” would legitimize this sin in a way that we don’t legitimize any other sin. For example, we don’t recognize “the thieving community” or the “the lying community” or “the bank-robbing community” or “the rapist community” or the “white collar criminal community.” If communities could be founded upon self-destructive behavior, those communities would be self-defeating, and a self-defeating community is no community at all. In fact, a truly “gay community” would be extinct within one generation. Your unnatural sexual deviancy leads to death; legitimate communities are self-populating and regenerative. It was a dumb term for Christians to start using, and I apologize for all of those who inadvertently give credence to the narrative that yours is a community and not a group of sinners who share in community-destroying behavior.
2. I’m sorry that Christians have made a habit of referring to you as LGBT or LGBTQ or by any other acronym or term, identifying you by your sin. First, it is unfair and unhelpful to identify you by your sin. This is actually discriminatory against you, because we don’t behave this way toward any other group of sinners. Adulterers don’t find their identity in adultery. Liars don’t find their identity in lying. Gluttons don’t find their identity in gluttony. We tend to view others as “people who happen to [fill in the blank with any number of sins].” We haven’t viewed you as people – first and foremost – who suffer from the sinful desire of sodomy. Now, you have self-identified as LGBT, because there is a unique tendency when it comes to homosexuality to let the sin consume you as a person, but we should not have participated in the unfortunate reality that your identity has become wrapped up in sinful behavior. If you thought of yourself as a person who suffers from homosexual desires, rather than as a homosexual, you might realize that you’re more than your specific sexual deviancy. God created you to be so much more than a sexual-preference. I’m sorry that leaders like Russell Moore at the ERLC use that term. It’s got to be confusing to you, and altogether unhelpful.
Secondly, I’m sorry we’ve used the term LGBT because it’s a stupid, short-sighted and discriminatory term. Remember back when it was “gay and lesbian?” Ah, good times. Then, bi-sexual became a part of the identity-status. Then, transexual was joined into the acronym. However, it just plain falls short of all the various sexual deviancies out there. And so next, Q was added. “Queer,” you would think, would cover just about everything. And yet, I’m willing to bet that people self-identifying as “queer” would object to certain other sexual deviancies claiming that nomenclature (for now, anyway). How many letters will be added in the end? From a Christian perspective, I apologize we ever used the term. It implies that we – or God – cares about what your particular sexual fetish is. We don’t, honestly. There are two types of sexual behavior, and only one of which is honored by God and to be celebrated by his people. There is a sexual relationship between husband and wife, and there is every other kind of sexual relationship in the world. There are really only two categories. Christians have had such a hard time putting homosexuality in the sin category (and leaving it there) because we have a tendency to overlook opposite-sex, premarital or extramarital fornication within our own churches. We’ve turned a blind eye to cohabitating couples in our churches for decades. Now, don’t get me wrong – homosexuality is used in the Bible over and again as an example of the depths of human depravity. I don’t want to be guilty of sin-leveling, here. I just want to point out that in the broadest spectrum, there is approved sexual behavior and deviant sexual behavior. Classifying you as LGBTQ or XYZABC is really irrelevant, and Christians shouldn’t have ever been using these terms. Plus, there are way more than 26 sexual deviancies out there, and we’d eventually run out of alphabet.
3. I’m sorry that we’ve given you the impression that “self-identifying” is a thing. Yes, I know I’ve used the term to get a point across in this letter of apology. But, here’s the thing…you don’t get to “self-identify.” God gave you your identity. Bruce Jenner is not Caitlyn. That’s silly. He’s a guy who emasculated himself to look like a woman, adding breasts and makeup and tucking appendages. It’s a game of dress up, essentially. And if he were to remove his genitalia, he still wouldn’t be a woman. He’d be a man without his genitalia. Bruce Jenner will never have PMS. That’s because he’s not a woman. It’s really, really mean for Christians to be anything but straightforward with this reality. I’m convinced that Bruce Jenner doesn’t have people around him that loves him, or else they would tell him that he doesn’t look like a beautiful woman. He looks like the person that kids on the bus snicker at behind them, and dare one another to go up and touch. Christians, if we were loving, would say “Bless your heart, but you’re not a woman. You’re a man trying to look like a woman, but no one really thinks you’re accomplishing that so well. You are Bruce, and God made you to be Bruce, and you can never be Caitlyn.”
Yes, I know that sounds terribly mean. However, if you were turning yourself into a hideous creature by trying to destroy the handiwork of God manifest in your body, you would want someone to give you a dose of reality. Christians, just as we should tell our kids that when we say, “You can be anything you want when you grow up,” that we don’t mean a butterfly, shouldn’t give people the impression that they’re free to identify however they choose. I may identify as a seven foot tall black man, but it doesn’t mean that I am. Christians should be truth-tellers, and to use the pronouns “her” or “she” when referring to those who God made male (or vice versa) is to bear witness against both our creator and those who are trying to mutilate their flesh. I’m sorry that professing Christians have done that.
4. I’m sorry that Christians have given you the impression that you can be both a born-again Christian and an unrepentant practitioner of sodomy. The Apostle Paul was very clear in 1st Corinthians 6, that homosexuality is one of the sins for which men must repent and leave if they are to follow Christ. “And that is what some of you were (verse 11)” in the context of this passage, demonstrates that there were not practitioners of these sins in the midst of the church. This list of sins marked an unbeliever, and not a believer. Yes, I know there are lots of professing Christians (think of them as “self-identifying Christians”) who are not so, in reality. They are of whom the Scripture speaks in Romans 1, who “give approval unto those who practice such sins.” Because we love you, we should have clarified that you should, under no circumstance, consider yourself a believer in Jesus until that belief leads you to repentance.
5. I’m sorry that we insisted for so long that you were not born this way. But hey, to be honest, y’all have fought amongst yourselves on that one (and are still fighting about it). I think it was important to some of us to believe that this sin was entirely the product of your choice. This was a theological fail on our part. While the behavior is entirely the product of your choice, the inclination or desire is a product of Original Sin and denotes a depraved inherited nature (back to Romans 1 again). Some of you may claim your behavior is “natural.” While we know on one level that it is unnatural (which is why the sin is so clearly condemned in Scripture – you don’t need God’s written Law to know it’s wrong; nature itself testifies against it), the fact is, it may be in your unconverted nature. This is why you need a new nature that is found only by being born again. As a Christian, I apologize for all those who are theologically inept and don’t understand how ingrained sin is into our flesh. Of course, this is the point of being born again – to be made new and to receive a new nature.
6. Finally, I apologize for all the professed Christians that you thought had convictions, only to find out that they were sniveling, driveling compromise machines. It probably surprised you how they changed their tune and their tone when the Supreme Court ruled. That’s especially tragic. It’s tragic, because I know that your conscience is cutting you. I know that even truth suppressed in unrighteousness hurts. It’s painful, I’m sure. You might even be on the look-out for conviction and resolve and truth, and while perhaps being glad to see the rainbow filter go on your professing-Christian Facebook friends’ profiles, you’re a little let down that there isn’t an unchanging reality out there somewhere. Down deep, you know that you need that. I’m sorry for all those who have professed Christ, but haven’t loved you (or Him) enough to dig their heels in and speak a truth that’s as helpful as it is inconvenient.
I sincerely hope you’ll forgive us for these shortcomings, and we strive to do better in the future.
[Contributed by JD Hall]
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