Homosexuality and Christianity: The Cost of Condemnation
Published by Drew Stedman on December 8, 2009 at 5:30pm UTC
"...so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work..." - Colossians 1:10It is a common theme throughout the New Testament. We judge our deeds based on the fruit that it bears. If our works constantly bear bad fruit we must question the goodness of our deeds and "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." Matthew 7:19 We must cast aside that which bears bad fruit.
"But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." James 3:17
It is with this wonderful and challenging verse from James and the illustration of the fruit in mind that I share two stories:
As part of an extension of our church's ministries, I lead (perhaps moderate is a better word) a small group in my home every Thursday night which frequently takes to discussion of the Bible, the Church and other issues relevant to faith and belief. Over the past two weeks we have been sharing our testimonies/life journeys. Last night, Trevor, the drummer in our church band, recalled his faith Journey and three major turning points in his religious thinking. He recalled a story from his time at Regent University, a conservative Christian school in Virginia. During his time there he attended a small group which was hosted at the apartment of a young man that will remain anonymous. As Trevor described him, "He was one of the most devoted and Godly people I had ever met." As they became closer friends, Trevor's friend confided in him and others in their group that he was and had been struggling with homosexual thoughts and attractions and asked for prayer. They prayed for him. Over months this young man continued to ask God to take away his attraction for other men. But it would not leave, in spite of his earnest desire to be right with God and his efforts to change his thinking. The strain of being able to participate in this Christian community with such a "burden of sin" was taking its toll. Trevor recounted one night that he was out on a date and received many phone calls. Annoyed at the interruption but starting to wonder what was going on he finally answered. Overcome by guilt and his inability to rid himself of his desires, his friend had attempted to commit suicide and was in the hospital. That night as Trevor visited him he remembered thinking, "This is one of the godliest people I know and he has done everything to try to overcome this. How can this be a choice?"
This person survived, although is almost certainly deeply scarred from the overwhelming guilt and shame associated with the belief that who he was was sinful and unacceptable to God. Others have not been so lucky.
In the documentary, The Bible Told Me So, (I highly recommend watching this film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04AVRslVRbY) the story of Mary Lou Wallner and her daughter Anna is recounted. After Anna went off to college she wrote her parents a letter explaining that she was a lesbian and that she did not feel comfortable with wen and that she had always preferred women. Mary recalls going to the bathroom to become physically ill and then writing a letter to her daughter that was in her words "not very loving". In her letter she referred to her daughter's homosexuality as "the gay thing" and said that she would never accept that in her. She also said that it was morally and spiritually wrong. This belief was instilled in her from her local church and reinforced by the teaching of Dr. James Dobson (Focus on the Family), who encourages family members of homosexuals to not acknowledge that they are gay and to consider it a phase, a spiritual affliction that they can be "cured" from. As Mary continued to apply Focus on the Family's approach she found that her and her daughter had drifted far apart. When she asked her daughter why, Anna responded by saying that her condemnation had left her damaged and with no desire to interact with her mother further. Nine months later, Anna committed suicide by hanging herself from the bar in her closet with her dog's leash. Their relationship had ended before there was any chance of reconciliation.
Gay and lesbian people are three to seven times more likely to commit suicide.
According to The Trevor Project (suicide hotline), one of the top reasons that teenagers call in is for religious reasons. They do not understand how there is a place for them with God.
The questions that I have are:
What are the fruits of (a large portion of) Christianity's insistence on condemning homosexuality?
Has it helped make society a better place?
Does it honor principles found in Christ's life such as "Love your neighbor", and "He who is without sin cast the first stone?"
Let's assume for a moment that homosexuality is a sin, that it is mandated by God in accordance with a literal reading of the scriptures... Is Christ's message better served by being "right", or would it be better to err on the side of love and acceptance?
What is the cost of this doctrine that condemns a significant percentage of humanity?
Is it worth it?
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