The reason this debate is at the center of culture is because Christians have not acted like Jesus. Don’t try to demonize gays and lesbians on this. If Christians had shown a shred of decency (or even of humanity) over this issue over two thousand years, they might not be suffering the backlash that they are just beginning to suffer. That’s because Christians have addressed this issue with pronouncements and position papers rather than love. It never crossed the minds of the bulk of Christians to identify with the woman caught in adultery and facing death by bludgeoning. We just stood back and said, “The law says no.”
Picture a fifteen year old boy. He’s lost in a world of confusion as he tries to establish his identity, find friends, individuate from his parents, dream of the future, and fall in love. He is a mess of ego and hormones. No one who has been fifteen would ever do it again.
Now imagine that he finds himself attracted to other boys, with whom he identifies. Girls just don’t hold the same interest. But between the things he hears from the bullies on the playground and the things he hears from the bullies in Sunday School, he kind of knows that this is off script. So he keeps it to himself. It starts to make him nervous, because he wants to be normal. He wants to be accepted. He starts to pray that his desires would change or go away. But they don’t. He dabbles in gay pornography and then feels ashamed of himself. He still doesn’t tell anyone. He doubts himself. He doubts prayer. He doubts God. He doubts life.
Now he is presented with two cultural scripts. A cultural script is sort of a storyline for your life. They’re all around us. It tells us how you are to generally behave if you want to fit into any one particular group, culture, or relationship. There’s a brutish, truck-driving, military man script. There’s a demure, responsible housewife script. There’s a driven, type-A, businessman script. This fifteen year old is offered two scripts.
One is a growing culture of love and acceptance. It teaches that he should be free to develop into his full potential as a responsible, thoughtful adult. It teaches that he should be able to express his opinions without persecution, silence, and shame. It allows him to fall in love and to seek companionship.
The second script tells him that he is broken. It says so with a sense of sympathy. The solution to the brokenness is suppress his desires and manage his behavior. This can be done with a lot of work, prayer, and support. However, by and large, there are not people around who know how to support him. He’s referred to a specialized group that has quiet meetings in the back room of a church. There’s not a sense that he is supposed to talk about it. He’s ok, but questionable. To be fair, his closest friends know his deepest secrets and love him. They walk with him. It’s only because of them that he doesn’t feel completely alone.
The first script is being offered by the gay community. The second script is being offered by the Christian Church. One is confident, growing, and seems to be arising out of persecution with force and popular appeal. The other still seems to be limping along without a clear message. Which one is this fifteen year old likely to take? Which one would you take? Which one sounds more like Jesus?
Dear Christian Church – as you suffer the consequences of the mess you’ve made, pray that the secular culture around you does a better job following Jesus’ teaching to love your neighbor than you have.
In my next post on the subject, I’d like to talk about what the Bible does and doesn’t say.