This is the third of three articles to encourage healthier dialogue between evangelical Christians and the homosexual community. As such, the purpose is neither to condemn nor excuse homosexuality, but to seek to find a “common ground” that we all share, in which to begin the conversation.
So often, it seems that Christians and homosexuals see each other as being entirely at opposition. While there are undoubtedly some major issues to work through, perhaps we should start with what we have in common. And there’s actually often a lot more similarities than we usually assume.
For many Christians and homosexuals, there was a terrific, horrific moment in your life. You had wallowed in confusion about who you really are. Then you realised that “who I am” had a name, and you embraced it. This seemed liberating, but it also was really scary. It meant you had to tell your friends that you were now one of “those people”. You knew your friends had all these assumptions about what “those people” are like, much of which were wrong, but they probably wouldn’t listen. You’d eventually lose some of your friends because of this.
Then you thought about your family. And it got even more scary.
See, it’s not just that being Christian or homosexual was something that you did every now or then. It was something that defined your lifestyle, and your identity. It affected your social life, your politics, and who you dated. And it wasn’t a “phase” (no matter how many of your friends or family tried to dismiss it as such). This was who you’re planning to be for the rest of your life.
In some cases, for Christians or homosexuals, you ended up having your family – brothers, sisters, even your mother or father – utterly reject you, because they couldn’t handle who you now were. Sometimes, they did something almost worse – awkward smiles at family gatherings, everyone trying to pretend there isn’t a gigantic elephant in the room.
Then, for Christians and homosexuals, there’s the sea of judgements that people around you subject you to. And they say horrible things. Sometimes, others like you, Christians or homosexuals, were beaten up, or even killed because of this. Part of you fears you might be next.
Sometimes, for Christians and homosexuals, the only people you feel safe to be around are others who like you. They understand you. Together, you feel much stronger than you do “out there” with everybody else.
See? We have more in common that perhaps you thought we did. I admit, sometimes the barriers and fears I’ve described have, for homosexuals, been created by aggressive Christians. But I might gently suggest, some Christians are starting to experience similar barriers and fears, because of aggressive homosexuals.
The other thing to realise is that Jesus actually experienced every single one of these things, too. He realised that He was not like everybody else. He was different. There was a name for Who He was – the Messiah. On one level, that was great, but it also came with some significant costs. It meant that many who He had called friends abandoned Him, even trying to kill Him (Luke 4:22-30). It meant that many in His own family – even His brothers and mother – thought He was crazy (Mark 3:21), tried to shut Him up (Mark 3:31-35) and ridiculed Him (John 7:3-5). It meant whole crowds of people rejected Him, and falsely accused Him of terrible things. Ultimately, the only thing that they could really “pin on Him” was His identity – Who He was. Then they killed Him for it.
But there are some differences between Him, and Christians or homosexuals. Firstly, while Jesus clearly understood the terrible costs His identity would bring, from His friends, His family, and wider society, He was virtually never afraid about those costs. He had a strength that none of us can fathom. Secondly, while He deeply valued spending time with those who had a similar view of His identity, He always had times for others. Always. And He never fell into the same false judgements that everybody else did. He saw them as they really are. And because He rose again, He still sees you as you really are.
Look, I’m not going to pretend that this article, or any of these articles, take away all the issues here. But hopefully, these articles can at least show some ways that we can approach these issues more effectively. Let’s come together, with Jesus somehow in our midst, and start the conversation afresh.