It seems impossible to go through life today without coming across that ever increasing chain of initials LGBTQI ETC.; coined to represent a multiplication of sexual/gender identities.
Increasingly, such “identities” are being accepted into main stream society and those who have a problem with this are portrayed as narrow-minded, behind the times, bigots or that favoured misnomer “homophobes”, which narrows down objections to being fear centred and rejecting other possible motivation for people’s concerns.
Laws are being changed to accommodate, and school curricula are being redrawn to educate upcoming generations about the normalcy and acceptability of a variety of e sexual/gender alternatives. In Australia this recently included a school’s program introduced under the name of an anti-bullying campaign, and around the western world the traditional understanding of marriage is being redefined.
Popular entertainment has also joined in – even family and children’s programming include homosexual relationships as an acceptable part of society. Doctor Who, a show I grew up with from it’s very first episodes in the early 60s, in its latest incarnation has featured same sex marriage as nothing out of the ordinary. Recently I saw an article suggesting that a sequel to Disney’s Frozen should include its main female character, Elsa, finding love with another woman, and even more recently it’s been suggested that characters in a current Disney cartoon are a same sex couple.
As a Christian living in a secular society I see this issue presents some significant difficulties.
There is the reality of violence directed against homosexuals that can’t in any way be condoned. I recall witnessing a bashing a few decades ago, of a homosexual man in a popular pub. The perpetrators were allegedly off-duty policemen. While I couldn’t verify that allegation, the men had unusually short hair for the fashion of the times, so their appearance added to that perception. Nothing can justify or excuse that kind of violence against anyone.
There is also the issue of the confusion and trauma experienced by those with a same sex attraction as they wrestle with society’s historical hostility and also with their own conscience. Sadly this struggle has sometimes ended in suicide.
The church has often been seen as a primary contributor to that state of mind, bringing condemnation upon people for having feelings that are generally beyond their control. Making homosexuality an easy target, while they brush aside some of their own attitudes and practices that are given more biblical pages of condemnation than homosexuality is given. (Why should greed, heterosexual lust and exploitation of the vulnerable be more tolerable?)
So, there is the question of how Christians OUGHT to respond to the increasing influence and acceptance of the diverse sexual and gender identities within western society, while staying true to the God they profess to follow. Should we merely go with the flow, recognising a need to keep up with the times and changing cultural values? That seems to be the expectation of secular society: that the church needs to change and adapt or die.
Or should we assume that God’s standards aren’t influenced by man’s fickle philosophies and that church survival isn’t dependant on following them?
Jesus said that the gates of hades wouldn’t prevail against His church. While many assume that statement refers to the forces of the devil not prevailing against the church, it should be recognised that hades (or hell) is NEVER referred to in scripture as the domain or kingdom of Satan or demons. Instead the term is a reference to the grave, the equivalent of the Hebrew Sheol. Therefore Jesus’ statement is an assurance that His church will not die out, will not be overcome by death – no matter how far the world’s standards deviate from the Godly standards upheld by His true church. So there’s no need for the church to sway with the breeze, following every fad of an increasingly secular world in the hope of surviving.
Instead of following the world’s standards of acceptability, disciples of Jesus should be following HIM, even when that puts us at odds with the world; something that WILL increasingly happen, the further the world’s values move away from God’s.
So how should Christians respond? How do we take into account and act in accordance with God’s standards as revealed through scripture?
1) Recognise that God is the Creator and the one who determines what is right or wrong within His creation. Man’s opinion changes nothing except on an individual level where a person’s choices determine where they stand with God. Are they with Him, submitting to His ways, or are they against Him, choosing something else in place of Him?
2) Be aware that God sees homosexual acts as detestable, leaving no room for legitimacy. Such acts are also described in scripture as shameful and vile passions.
3) Know that men are men, women are women, boys are boys, girls are girls – determined by biology and not by personal choice, desire or whim. Man’s relativist philosophies might allow alternative choices, but God’s standard of truth doesn’t.
4) There is a difference between same sex attraction and homosexual acts, just as there is a difference between heterosexual attraction and illicit sexual activity between male and female. We can’t choose who we’ll be attracted to, but we can choose how we respond to that attraction. No one should be judged or condemned for the kind of temptations they face.
5) We are not entitled to respond to homosexual individuals or communities with hatred, aggression or violence of any kind – including verbal. The “God hates fags” brigade is NOT a valid representation of God and His Gospel.
6) Homosexual acts should not be singled out above other sins – it is far too easy to see our own sin as being more forgivable than sin we are not personally involved with.
7) Taking and expressing a biblically sound stance on the issue of homosexuality will increasingly lead to the Christian being marginalised and vilified. Ironically, the more acceptance of the LGBT agenda grows, the less acceptance there will be of those standing for God’s agenda.
8) God desires repentance from ALL. He desires that ALL will be saved. He excludes no individual from His gift of salvation; but we can exclude ourselves by ignoring or refusing His gift. We can exclude ourselves by making the world and secular society our standard of truth.