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Communication Barriers Between Christians and Gays

Updated on January 9, 2013
Communication barriers will become dialogues when Christians and gays listen to each other
Communication barriers will become dialogues when Christians and gays listen to each other | Source

Let it be said this way: Many communication barriers exist between some Christians and some gay people. It is unfortunate and has cost both wholesome relationship and understanding of one another and their ideas.

But this is odd—to speak of the two as though they are perfectly incompatible or as if “gay” and “Christian” do not describe the spiritual experience of some persons.

We all understand how consuming a topic this has become. We have watched the new stories, heard from hardliners in both camps, drawn our opinions on the politics, and questioned our own prejudices when things have turned tragic.

There is particular tension from a moral and religious aspect and perhaps it is understandable. In a nation that has been overwhelmingly Judeo-Christian in its religious outlook, orthodox definitions and interpretations of love and theology are being challenged.

Many Christians are affronted that their scriptures should be reinterpreted to allow for a position they say God condemns; many gays love God or want the embrace of the church but feel scolded and are in search for acceptance.

The Greatest Command

I believe there are two major communication barriers that exist between many of the Christian and gay people we all know—a real reason why dialogue turns into emotional blowouts or frustration that leads to irreparable relations. I’d like to explain them and without many of the charged notions that often sideline the conversation, if this is possible.

Let me first give disclosure. I am a devout Christian. I also believe traditional Christian teachings on this subject. But this doesn't exclude the fact that I love God deeply and try earnestly to love him as he’s told me how—by loving my neighbor, to start.

God doesn’t give me stipulations on who to love or under what circumstances I may offer or withdraw it. I am—in one sense—every man and don’t get to stand over another in merciless judgment without fear of my becoming like him in whatever state he may be. So I am a human striving after God and learning more about him as I look in the faces of others.

I write this because I’ve seen some ugly things deriving from each side of the issue. Yet I feel that both Christians and gays have valid arguments but are clashing, each on what seems to be a sore point for the other. So let's address them.

Christian upset gays when they say their feelings are a choice
Christian upset gays when they say their feelings are a choice | Source

Communication Barrier for Gays

Christians inflame gays when they claim that their sexuality is a choice. Many Christians do not care to believe that same-sex attraction is anything other than a person's choice. There is no scientific evidence validating same-sex attraction but no biblical proof to the contrary either. I only wonder if Christians listen with their hearts.

I do not believe that men and women who express knowing their difference from an early age and who grew up altering part of their identity by suppressing their feelings would choose a life that oftentimes is unavoidable of much personal pain and scorn. It is not fair to dismiss their feelings by saying they are not real.

Such is a deep insult to gays, many who believe God made them as they are. Christians strip gays of part of their personhood when they say their feelings are chosen.

This is not merely about what Christian theology teaches, which is not necessarily wrong. This is about human emotions and perhaps not knowing why they work differently for two men or women that love each other. What if a gene is discovered that indeed proves same-sex attraction in some? There are only 10,000 gene functions currently known of the 80,000 genes in the human body. The conversation about choice from a Christian standpoint is a valid one but not regarding a gay person's feelings.

There is far more to be discussed and more I could offer of my own opinion, but it isn’t necessary. What I hope to express here is that Christians must avoid risking becoming graceless and unloving for lack of real dialogue and opening their hearts to hear another’s.

Gays offend Christians by challenging 2,000 years of tradition and doctrine
Gays offend Christians by challenging 2,000 years of tradition and doctrine | Source

Where do you stand?

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Communication Barrier for Christians

Gays inflame Christians when they attempt to reinterpret the scriptures to be more condoning of their feelings or behavior.

Christians have 2,000 years of developed teaching and doctrine—and more counting Hebrew tradition—that have already been challenged in numerous ways, from lifestyle to heresy. But there has generally been consensus about what godliness entails based on what God has revealed to his people through his prophets and preachers and, ultimately, through his words, now contained in the Bible.

When some gays and scholars opt for new or amended revelation from God on the matter or say that the scriptures, as have always been understood, are inconclusive or not meaning what they have always meant or do poor study and build arguments by pitting scripture against scripture—this is high offense, often seen as coming from those who have determined to live as they desire and twist God’s arm to bless it.

The insult to Christians is the questioning of their tradition and sacred scriptures, even the “makeover” of a holy God.

Christians would argue that if gays wish to be part of the theological and scriptural discussion—and their insight is welcome—it should be inclusive of a wrestle with biblical, historical, and cultural norms, customs, and definitions and not accomplished with alterations and appendages.

Again, there is much more I could offer here but won’t. What I hope to express is that gays must see that they don’t get to glibly pass over two millennia of solid tradition and teaching.

Now, I’d love to know what you think. I hope you respect the fact that I’ve kept my opinions to a bare minimum. There are many things that could be discussed. I’ve opted to communicate two very thorny barriers between Christians and gays, which I believe expressed is now enough to alter how we dialogue.


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    • ithabise profile image

      Michael S. 5 years ago from Winston-Salem, NC

      Hot topic indeed! But I tried to be fair and middle-of-the-road in presenting the info, meaning avoiding those keywords and topic "buttons" that once pushed bring the fire! I think the real issue is being able to talk and, if we have to, learning how to agree to disagree. Cheers!

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Michael-well written and interesting article. :) Hot topic , of course. Rated up/U/I

    • ithabise profile image

      Michael S. 5 years ago from Winston-Salem, NC

      I agree, Diane. The church must never compromise its position because it's grounded in God's self-disclosure. We'd have to call ourselves something other than his church to do so. But many of us must learn how to extend grace and open the lines of communication, and this doesn't detract from a holy position.

    • dianetrotter profile image

      G. Diane Nelson Trotter 5 years ago from Fontana

      I agree with Michele. Also I think it is unfair to reduce Christians to the "anti-gay movement." It makes it sound like all Christians do it bash gays. Our pastor speaks about many things that relate to personal responsibility. Throughout the year I doubt that he discusses homosexuality more than 2 or 3 percent of the time. The Bible has not changed. Society has changed. Society wants Christians to change their views. That is where the problem lies.

    • ithabise profile image

      Michael S. 5 years ago from Winston-Salem, NC

      You're right, Michele--none of us are perfect and we all need forgiveness. But Matt. 7:1, the verse you offer, speaks to judging unfairly or with harshness. All people judge but how we judge is what matters. The Christian approach is to be lovingly restorative and not condemnatory in assessments, but assess we may.

      1 Cor 2:15 explains that the spiritual man judges all things by how God has explained morality, although our assessments will not always be understood by others. Paul gives a poignant key to restoring others (Gal. 6:1-2) that I believe applies to whomever we help. But if we simply say that all judgment is left to God, we are first not acting as true discerning human beings and, further, may not be saying what God is saying on a matter.

    • Michele Travis profile image

      Michele Travis 5 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

      A lot of people think I am wrong when we talk. But, I have never been perfect and like others have committed sins and prayed to be forgiven. Jesus was crucified so our sins could be forgiven and for that we need to thank God. We have also been told not to judge others, lest we be judged. That is what I try to do. Not to judge others. I do my best not to do that. We are all going to be judged. But, not by each other.

    • ithabise profile image

      Michael S. 5 years ago from Winston-Salem, NC

      Diane, you're right that homosexuality does not keep people from being part of the church and indeed it should not. In fact, real Christianity embraces all people and encourages them to "press for the mark" in Christ. Yet biblical teaching comes down hard on the choice to participate in homosexual behavior. By biblical definitions the behavior is wrong, or sin, but urges and feelings are something that cannot be chosen and have to be dealt with--as we would tell any other person who'd enter our churches with urges and feelings our scriptures may not condone. How Christians approach gays is where the difference will be made.

      Sex apart from marriage is a serious thing to God, but we may be showing a lack of sincerity and seriousness by reducing all sexual responsibility to this "category"--that is, without taking into account real people, their feelings, their needs, and the fact that they may be trying hard to reconcile what they feel with what they know and cherish about God. I think many gay people want to enjoy God and church, and it's a shame that many churches don't embrace them and open dialogue on the subject. Many religious leaders are afraid to do so.

    • dianetrotter profile image

      G. Diane Nelson Trotter 5 years ago from Fontana

      I realize that there are instances where people attack gays under the guys of religion, and unfortunately Christianity. The Westboro "pastor" is a prime examble. Most of the time, the issue is not raised by churches. Christian Bible doctrine warns against sex outside of marriage. The domino effect includes men/women, women/women, men/men in all types of extramarital relationships. Homosexuality does not keep people from being members of a church no more than adulterers. Neither is able to hold a leadership position if it is none that they engage in sex outside of marriage. Pastors have been removed from their positions because they had affairs. Women who get pregnant outside of wedlock are not allowed to continue in their positions.

    • ithabise profile image

      Michael S. 5 years ago from Winston-Salem, NC

      I like the way you state this, I think. I just hope Christianity is never an anti-gay movement. There's much deeper--far deeper--discussion to be had on many particulars and scenarios where the custom of agreeing to disagree will have to be the protocol. But listening can be done no matter how strong our emotions are. Thanks for reading, BillyBuc!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      If the anti-Gay movement can reconcile their beliefs with "love thy neighbor" then I am more than willing to of yet they have failed to do that. There will always be a fringe group that practices intolerance and cannot be persuaded to think otherwise. Sad but true.

      Well done!

    • lindalou1963 profile image

      Linda 5 years ago from Texas

      Mom Kat, I couldn't have said it better myself. I have a step son who is gay as well as many friends. I support them 110% and I get so aggravated when Christians say they are 'wrong'.

      Christians say "God doesn't make mistakes" and when they say this, they are implying that gay people are mistakes. Certainly, God DOES NOT make mistakes... but he did make gay people... and straight people.... and white people.... and black people.... etc etc.

    • ithabise profile image

      Michael S. 5 years ago from Winston-Salem, NC

      Great insight. I think many religious people cannot reconcile their moral beliefs, as prescribed in their traditions and scriptures, with people who have feelings that are not easily dealt with according to their heritage.

      (Further, there are many people who are gay and Christian, which is a deeper discussion on this topic.)

      It doesn't make sense that Christians should understand the redemption story as they do and yet make any person or group of any kind unsalvageable to God or cast aspersion on them and shut the door to dialogue. We should know better, but often it proves that we have not thought with and through our scriptures and gotten to the heart of God.

      Thanks for reading, Mom Kat!

    • Mom Kat profile image

      Mom Kat 5 years ago from USA

      Very touchy topic :)

      I believe that everyone has the freedom of religion, freedom of choice, and freedom to be themselves without persecution by anyone (so long as they aren't hurting people or committing crimes).

      I have many gay friends & family members, all of whom are fantastically wonderful people.

      Everyone in America has the right to the pursuit of happiness. For most of us that involves finding someone we love & want to spend the rest of our lives with.

      From a tactical stance, I don't understand why the "church" would actively attack and shun any group of individuals who wish to join or be part of their religious practices. It makes the religion (as a whole) look bad. It's like saying everyone with Blue eyes is unworthy and going to burn in hell because of the way they were born...

      Now all of the blue eyed people & the families of the blue eyed people are pitted against one another or the church: does the family take a stand for the one they love & find a new religion which will accept all of them, or do they disown the blue eyed family member to keep in good standing with the church?

      I've never met a homosexual person trying to "convert" others to be gay too, nor have I met any who have tried to force a relationship between themselves & a "straight" person... they aren't evil or wrong in my opinion.

      I say live & let live ~ be happy & allow others to be happy too.