Christians' Reactions to Homosexuals
What Makes a Person?
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When I look at other people, I see people. I don’t see sexual orientation. I am amazed that many people still see this as a factor to personal identity, and many parents teach their kids to judge identity using this one factor. A person’s character goes much deeper than sexual orientation. As a high school teacher, I see all kinds of students and behaviors. Being homosexual is hard. Being Christian is hard. Students who are gay and Christian struggle with what is right or wrong because of the social norms that have been outlined in their community.
Young Christians seem to be one of those groups who do not get out of their comfort zone to experience who people really are. Their Christianity seems to be intolerant rather than tolerant of others who are different, especially homosexuals. Having said this, I now must say I am a Christian. I do not say this with shame. On the contrary, I say this with my eyes-wide-open and with honor. I work with the youth in my church and see how some of them embrace tolerance and some reject tolerance, and in most cases, they are emulating their parents. While some Christians do judge, others try to be like Christ and see people for who they are and not what they are. I want to know the person, and I don’t want to turn anyone away from my faith, from Christ. Learning this lesson is sometimes hard for young Christians.
Young Gay/Lesbians Coming Out and their Christian Families
For instance, more young people are “coming out of the closet” today. I suppose our level of acceptance has risen over the centuries, so the young gay community feels more secure in their “coming out.” Okay, so they are gay. Is that all they are? Do they not have feelings, jobs, friends, family, and interests that make up who they are? I know of a case where a young man in our church youth group “came out,” and his parents served in high profile community jobs and were both Sunday School teachers. The “outing” was devastating to the family, but let’s get some perspective. It seems that all of his wonderful qualities had flown out the window and had been replaced with the “gay” label. No, he is more than just gay. In this young man’s case, his parents were at first selfish. They were worried about what others would think of them and how it would look, but they didn’t stop to think how hard it was for their son to confess his homosexuality to a homophobic family. This kid has been awesome at nearly everything he has put effort into, and his personality is gregarious and caring.
Judgments from the Church Family
I guess his parents had a right to fear appearances because, sure enough, judgments were made, especially at church. I was speaking to another youth director about the young man and stated we needed to handle this situation carefully so we did not turn him away from Christ. Her response was that he had chosen his course and “would go to hell if he doesn’t change back.” I was shocked at her lack of empathy for what the young man was going through and would be going through. And, change back? Can heterosexuals make themselves homosexuals in a blink of an eye? I think not. Where it seemed easy for her to pass judgment, the young man’s parents were struggling with knowing their child and finding out he had “added” homosexuality to his list of items in his identity. They had to make a choice to either love their son and disagree with his sexual orientation or turn him out. Fortunately, they chose to love him.
Christian Friends Reactions to a Coming Out
The young man’s “outing” did not only create problems at home and church but at school, too. To the other students, he had always been “out there,” but until he made no secret about being gay, they were able to overlook his flamboyant ways and embraced him as a friend. One of his long time girl friends who he has gone to church and school with all his life said, “I don’t know how to handle it when he is telling me how ‘hot’ some guy is and how he wonders if the guy is gay. It freaks me out.” She said he seems to want to sleep with every good-looking boy in the school. I told her to continue being his friend. I also asked her what she would say to a girlfriend who appeared to be promiscuous. She said, “I would tell her that she needed to get her mind out of the gutter.” The girl is his true friend and is having a hard time dealing with some of his words and actions, but I told her to be patient, to love him, and to be honest with him. She needs to tell him when she thinks he is going too far with some of his comments. She said she knew that is what she needed to do, but sometimes she got so frustrated and was afraid he would feel she was judging him. He is young and needs to learn what is appropriate and what is inappropriate, just like all of us must learn at some point in our lives. Treating him “different” in a negative or pseudo-positive way will not help him. It will more than likely cause him to rebel and be promiscuous rather than try to understand this intimate part of his self.
He also has other friends who he has been raised with and who have now turned their backs on him. One girl said, “He has made his choice, and he needs to change back.” She is not willing to see any other side in his case. She doesn’t realize he is having a hard time too and needs his lifelong friends to remain with him. I asked her what Jesus would do. Maybe a cliché question now but relevant. She stumbled over this question. She finally said she would try to be a good friend to him and “pray for his situation.” Her answer implies she will not accept him as a friend if he continues “choosing” homosexuality. If he doesn’t make the changes, she will “wipe the dust” from her feet and walk away from him without a second glance back. She believes she is handling this in the Christian way, but she is judging and not putting much more thought into the true nature of the Christian way. I disagree with those who make themselves judge and juror, and I believe Jesus would too – He disagreed with the Pharisees. As a teacher and leader in my church, I feel I must pass on what I believe to be the heart of Christ, which is love, patience, and tolerance.
How Christ Treated Those Judged by the Community
As an example, Christ did not look at the adulteress who was about to be stoned as a whore without worth. No, He saw her as a person, and He told the men, those who had chosen themselves to be judges and jurors, if there was one among them without sin to cast the first stone. Well, we know what happened next. They had to leave because they knew they, too, had sin in their lives. Many of our young Christians know this story, but they conveniently forget it when things do not seem right to them. With the young gay man, would it not be better to say, “I love you for who you are, but I do not agree with your lifestyle”? Seriously, people agree to disagree all the time, a philosophy I try to pass on to my students and tell them we do not know what another person’s destiny holds. Wouldn’t it be better to just say, “I am here for you, and I love you”? Isn’t that the Christian way? I believe if those who love him and want him to be a good man should encourage him in all the other areas of his life. None of us are perfect, so those who think so need to get over it and look deeper at themselves and the lives of others around them. Granted, our youth are still learning about life, and self-realization is a tough one for young people who think they have most of the answers to life.
What the Bible Says or Doesn’t Say
I do not recall any of the Commandments or Jesus’ teachings stating you will go to hell if you are a homosexual. Some Christians believe this, but I challenge them to find the passages in the Bible as proof. Yes, in Leviticus it states men lying with men is an abomination to God. It also states that cutting ones hair short is abominable to God, so are all our young men with short-cropped hair going to hell? Of course not! Leviticus was a guideline to health and survival for the Israelites as they made their 40-year track to the Promised Land, not a conditional reprimand to be used thousands of years later against others who do not quite “measure up.” Many, especially young adults, just take bits and pieces of the book and conveniently ignore the rest. Sin, any sin, is an abomination to God, and we have all done something that is considered a sin. “All fall short of the glory of God.” Our youth, and especially, many of our adult population, need to remember that compassion and love do not come with conditions. If this were not true, we would all be lost.