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How Should the Church Respond to the LGBTQ+ Community?

Updated: Dec 3, 2023



Before getting started it is important to please understand this is a humble attempt at briefly tackling a somewhat complex and heated topic that so many people are passionate about. There are many different thoughts on this subject as well as the theology surrounding the subject. However, I don't believe it to be as complicated as people make it for fear of offending others. What remains complicated is standing against the bombardment of false ideas with much pressure and maintaining opposition in love towards our LGBTQ+ neighbor when often times the Christian view is misinterpreted as hatred and thus reciprocated by the non-Christian with hatred back towards us. Before continuing there is a great resource that I think would be very beneficial in these areas and it is a book called "Messy Grace" by Caleb Kaltenbach. This individual was raised by LGBT parents and took place in the many stereotypical events associated with various groups of all sorts across many countries such as marches. Surprisingly he grew up to become a Christian and then a pastor. Within all this the emphasis remains to love your neighbor with no LGBTQ+ exception and with this thought present Caleb continued in love without sacrificing his convictions.



Take a Stand

One thing that remains important for the Church is to take a stand on the convictions of these beliefs. God made man and women, for heterosexual monogamous relationship, committed for the glory of God (Genesis 5:2; 1 Corinthians 7:2-5). In the modern era it remains that many people are being heavily pressured and if not pressured greatly forced even to some extreme of persecution to shape their beliefs to that of the populous which generally agrees that the LGBTQ+ community has right though. This is not to say that their thoughts are not justified because there is certainly some reason, they believe what they do. It comes from something. However, the reason to justify why someone feels a certain way does not justify the thought itself for the heart is an efficient machine when it comes to deceiving itself into wickedness (Romans 1; Jeremiah 17:9). This remains true for those who are convicted in this lifestyle and the Church who is under pressure and contending for righteous living. A common misconception within this thought is that the Christian as an individual or that the Church as a corporate body are bigots or simply hateful. While this is not the case for the Christian truly convicted in love, this remains the thought at times and when the pressure rises, and it becomes enticing to want to remove this label as we cave to the pressure. We must be reminded that God is unchanging, and his law and standard remains the same forever (Psalm 55:19; Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8) so being ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20) we must represent Him appropriately. One day all of us will stand before God and be judged for our actions and we must stand in a manner that is worthy of our calling as we live to make God known, not a different type of God who is unaligned with the scriptures and the doctrine it teaches about certain things. While many, including myself, do not support a theocracy in which the Church or a priest runs the government it remains true that while separate the Church needs to be a good and Godly influence on society who is under the kingdom of darkness (2 Corinthians 4:4) so that they may come to realize the truth of the Lord.



Understand Why the Subject is so Important.

Why does the church need to be versed on contemporary issues anyway? Wouldn’t it be easier to avoid the conflict and separate ourselves from the matter? Why do we believe what we do? Simply put our mission is to glorify God by expanding his kingdom and living a life honoring to Him (Matthew 28:1-20). Much of this expansion and appropriate lifestyle characterized by love, compassion, selflessness, gentleness, service among other things in regard to how we interact with others. As our audience is the unsaved world, the unsaved world is invested in these issues, so we must also be invested whether it particularly interests us or not. In a century when there are a new set of issues the Christian’s array of investment with the issues of certain sins must change. However, for now this is the hot topic. We cannot preach to the world if they do not want to hear what we have to say. Please do not misunderstand as this is not to say we do not become well-versed on other issues or only speak on or say what the people are interested in, however, if my theology and discussion only has the capacity to speak of the injustice of the Catholic Church in the past then I have no audience for the issues are long gone. What use will my knowledge be to connect to people so that there may be a bridge for constructive dialogue? In my humble opinion there remains something that the Christian must always have a basic understanding of and that is the Gospel so that people may be saved, why we have hope in Christ (1 Peter 3:15), and the contemporary issues which plague the world around us.



Understand Why We Believe What We Do.

Why do we believe what we do? When God created the heavens and the earth, He put things in rightful order so that they may operate with an appropriate rhythm (Genesis 1:31-2:1). This tells us that anything outside of this established order in which the world must operate is not good and disordered. This concept of pride is in conflict with God for the Lord hates pride (Proverbs 8:13) and advises us to not be conceited (Romans 12:16) telling us if we are to boast in anything let it be in the Lord (2 Corinthians 10:17-18) not in our sexuality. Pride is the exact opposite of what is required for salvation, and it is the sin that causes a mere human, a created being fragile enough to be crushed at the mere command of God, to stand in his face and spit at his sovereignty and power and the moral alignment in which the universe sits being a product of his goodness. Additionally, marriage is a gift of God, and it is not something humans have created so it is not something that we are permitted to define within our own terms. Marriage is intended to be something between God and his people that husband and wife have been blessed to be able to share with one another. Therefore, when we promote gay marriage, we distort God’s picture of unity, and when we distort the image of male and female for other things, we likewise distort the image of masculinity and femininity that God has put in place to display the image of God. God has masculine qualities and feminine qualities as both man and women are made in the image of God. The Lord nurtured Israel and led them into battle. When man and women come together in the unity of marriage, it takes the two individuals, both made in the image of God, and unifies them into a more complete image of God as thy become one (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5). Whatever is outside these parameters does not provide the proper image of God that Husband are Wife are intended to put on display for the world, their children, and for the glory of God.


 

While the unsaved and unsanctified may not know what the law of God says and why it says it, what they will certainly remember is how the Church made them feel.

 



Handle With Grace and Gentleness

The quote above is certainly not an appeal to give everyone what they want to hear it is an appeal to exercise gentleness, an important fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and often forgotten when it comes to these hot topics where much passion and excitement exists. While passion and excitement are good to have with issues, we must not let our excitement and passion get in the way of how we love and how we communicate. As Paul reminded us that if we do not love, we have the power in our words to do anything, our actions warrant nothing for us (1 Corinthians 13:1-7). Though the words that leave our lips will be used for the Lord’s glory and worked in the recipient’s heart by the Spirit, we have failed to allow sanctification to happen in us for we have not been shaped to be more like Christ in love. Often times when it comes to sin, we as Christians like to pick certain sins to hold more significance. Some sins do have more weighty consequences and reactions to them, however, when someone enters the Church and struggles with sin, we should not push them away as to remove them from the opportunity of hearing the Gospel. It can be easy for the general Church population to ignore pride, gossip, gluttony, cursing among other sins but when a practicing homosexual, bisexual, transgender walks through the doors we often and without even being aware of the bias act as if they have the plague and should not receive the Gospel. Just because our culture puts such a high emphasis on this subject at this time does not mean the Church should make them more of a target than others. We need to welcome them, not their sin, so that they may come to experience grace and mercy and goodness of God. As cliché as it sounds, we are all sinners, and we need to humbly accept this reality as to not magnify others sins as the expense of realizing our sins (Matthew 7:3-5). Another reason I believe this subject should be handled with gentleness and grace especially is because not all people within the LGBTQ+ community are practicing you could say. Many people, often unheard of, are faced with these temptations every day to pursue various ungodly lifestyles and they make the choice to ignore the temptation of sin to chase after a life of holiness a defined by God and not themselves. Mark Yarhouse wrote a piece called "Costly Obedience" which emphasizes the cost for following Christ is great, but it also remains great within LGBTQ+ community as they throw aside their worldly morality to follow Christ, a morality which emphasizes pride over our sexuality that spits in the face of God's creation. This subject is not mentioned enough, and it is a quite powerful subject that should not be overlooked.




Act In Love

Lastly, we need to act in love for everything we do (1 Corinthians 16:14). Despite the sin that pollutes the world and pollutes our nature all people made in the image of God, and they need to be seen for their humanity rather than being characterized for their sin as if they are not people. To act in love, it is beneficial for us to pray for ourselves and for the individual that we may love them and that they may welcome our message and actions so long as they are appropriate and glorify God. The Lord loved us while we were sinners and still loves us even to the extent of dying for our sins (Romans 5:8). Likewise, the Lord loves others who sin like we do and desires for them to be saved so we should adopt a similar mindset. Jesus spent a great deal of time on earth and in his ministry eating and spending time with sinners, preaching repentance and the love of the Father to them but never condoning or accepting their sin. Certain people should be within our inner circle as our closeness of friends influence us and can rub off on us. Nonetheless, simple kindness, grace, patience, and mercy should be a trait of all Christians. The book of Ephesians addresses this issue wonderfully as Paul identifies that God loved us as sinners (2:1-3), his love for us as sinners overflowed in mercy and grace (2:4-5), and the repentance and faith of the convert will warrant kindness and grace from God (2:6-7). God’s grace which brought us to salvation needs to be exercised outwards to others and often times in love the best thing we as Christians can do is warn the sinner about their consequences and sin and what waits for those who do not repent. Of course, this should be done with gentleness and discretion used for how much and when, but regardless the message needs to be communicated. We cannot act in love and not have tough conversations for their soul’s sake.


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