About a month ago, I found myself wondering, “What would it take to get the attention of the gay community so that they would take the gospel seriously?” Of course, I believe in the sovereignty of God in these matters, because ultimately we need to trust Father’s wisdom and timing. And yet our trust in Him ought not to be a passive trust. Surely it isn’t enough merely to pray for gay people, and trust God to draw them to himself without any other action on our part.
But that brings me right back to my original question… what would it look like for the Church to be an effective gospel witness to the gay community? Do we need to be more vocal about our faith when we interact with gay people so they’ll know what we believe about homosexuality? Or should we invest in more ministries that actively reach out to the gay community? Both of these can be good strategies, although most gay people already know what Christians believe about homosexuality, and ministries that reach out to gay people have been around for a long time, with little visible effect. So what else can we do?
Maybe it’s time to start looking for a different type of solution to this problem. Before we ask people in the gay community to let us care for their souls, perhaps we might first ask ourselves how we are doing when it comes to caring for the souls of our own people… and specifically those who experience same-sex attraction. Why would we expect the gay community to care about what we have to say about homosexuality when there is very little clear evidence that the Church is effectively caring for and loving our own people who experience same-sex attraction? We sometimes forget about the pressure that people in our churches who experience same-sex attraction feel every day from our secular culture to embrace their SSA. Sadly, many of them will do just that. For some, it will be the unanswered questions they have about their sexuality. Others will just decide that traditional Christianity is too “old-fashioned,” and that we need to have a “21st century” faith. And perhaps most sadly of all, more than a few will leave the Church because of the hurtful and unloving words of other Christians about gay people.
What would it look like if our churches instead were places where people who struggle with same-sex attraction weren’t afraid of other people knowing about their struggle? Of course, under other circumstances this issue would be no different from other issues. We normally don’t single out people who struggle with this or that “sin pattern” to be transparent about their struggle, because we should all be transparent about our shortcomings. But our secular society has decided that it’s particularly important (even virtuous!) that people who experience SSA be open and transparent about their sexuality. Their SSA is part of who they are, and they shouldn’t make excuses for it.
And I say, “We can play this game, too!” Why not encourage people in our congregations who struggle with SSA to be more open about this aspect of their lives? If it’s part of their story, then let’s give them that opportunity. And then let’s surround them with the love and support they need to fight this battle, just as the rest of us fight our more “acceptable” battles. Sure, it might make some (many?) people uncomfortable, but it just might be God’s saving grace for folks on the fringes of faith. And perhaps, when the public voice of people within the Church who openly struggle with SSA is loud enough, the gay community will be one step closer to believing us when we say that we “love the sinner, but hate the sin.”