Why do you hate gays?

In this current political climate, gay marriage supporters and Christians often find themselves on opposite sides of the issue. In Facebook discussions or on comment threads especially where you don’t know those with whom you are disagreeing, it can get ugly and personal. I know that in discussions I’ve had, it sometimes feel like we are enemies.  Some of the one-sentence, against gay-marriage Facebook forwards can truly push gay people further from the reality of Jesus’ heart of love.  Whether or not this is truly the case, many gay people feel like we hate them.  This is bad.  Very, very bad.

If you are serious about being biblical, this is my challenge for you, Christian reader. When you find yourself in a heated situation, please treat the gays in your life as enemies. (No, you didn’t read that wrong.) As believers, there are commands about how to interact with our enemies. Use Romans 12:9-21 as your guide: Feed them. Give them water (or lattes) to drink. Bless them. Pray for their specific needs. Have them over for dinner. Cry with them when they have to put their dog to sleep. Help them paint their house. Go to see them perform at the civic theatre. Take them out for tea. Listen to their hearts. Genuinely ask for their advice in matters where they have insight.

And if Romans isn’t weighty enough for you, Jesus had something to say about this in the Sermon on the Mount.

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Do not let how others treat you dictate your behavior. American culture tends to make decisions based in this order: Feelings drive choices and then we find some principle to support what we are already doing. Biblical Christianity turns this model on its head: We seek to understand biblical principle, make choices accordingly, and much of the time our feelings will fall in line (but not always). Feelings are not the barometer of Godly action. I don’t care whether or not you want to extend mercy and care to those who embrace the gay lifestyle. If Jesus is your Lord (the boss of you) you will reach out to the gays in your life with love.

We are to be in the world, but not of the world. Bob Briner writes: “It’s time for lambs to roar… What I am calling for is a radically different way of thinking about our world. Instead of running from it, we need to rush into it. And instead of just hanging around the fringes of our culture, we need to be right smack dab in the middle of it… The best way to testimony is through credible engagement…”

Make no mistake, rushing into the world and showing genuine love while holding on to orthodoxy can be messy. Whether you are walking with a family through a marital breakdown, seeking integrity within a work situation or pursuing long-term engagement with the poor, there are countless times when the biblical Christian will cry “what on earth am I supposed to do now?” But the messiness is no excuse for detachment.

Years ago, two women asked me to travel with them while they adopted their second child. Like today, I held the view that a home headed by a married man and woman is the best place within which to raise children. I did wrestle through whether or not my going with them would amount to tacit approval of same-sex relationships. But I loved them. And I thought that maybe I could offer support and empathy to their girls if they were harassed for having two moms (cause I was). And did I believe that these two dear women would offer a better life to their daughters than an orphanage? Without. A. Doubt. So I went. Have others questioned my decision? Yes. But I erred on the side of sacrifice. Engagement is messy, but a necessary part of the true Christian life.

Jesus has told us to love our enemies.  He did not tell us that we had to agree with our enemies. Biblical love has never meant permissiveness. (Jesus was clear that sexual immorality defiles us- Mark 7:20-23). Love is expressed through meaningful action: lend without expecting repayment, turn the other cheek (give up your personal rights for recourse), bless those who mistreat you (harbor no hatred). Do good to them.

Christians, God does not want His truth to bend. He wants you to bend.

What does that mean? It means that in our methodology and in our communication, we need to bend. We need to adapt. We need to reach out. We need to sacrifice.

So how can we love gay people practically without bending God’s truth? Here are some ways that I’ve found, and I’d love to hear your ideas too.

  • Refer to them as they refer to themselves. If they identify as “queer,” then that’s how you should refer to them. I don’t refer to my mom as a lesbian, she doesn’t self-identify as that way. Rather I say that she is “in a relationship with a woman” because that’s how she describes herself. If your friend is offended by a certain term, don’t call him that. Let your terminology bend according to your friend’s sensitivities.
  • Don’t keep your gay friend, family member, or co-worker at arm’s length. Invite them into your world and you children’s world.
  • Share your heart with them on everything that matters to you and listen, if they are willing, to theirs.
  • Do not speak ill of them to anyone. If you have a problem or conflict, speak to them alone.
  • Meet their needs. Buy them groceries (even if it means you will have to stretch your own food further). Offer to help with childcare when they’re in a pinch. Host them when they come to town. Ask them how you can love and serve them better.
  • If you have contributed (in any way) to them being abused, excluded or rejected, then on your knees, with tears, repent with your whole heart and ask their forgiveness. Tell them that you are turning from that behavior and follow through by demonstrating love-in-action to them.
  • If you choose to speak with them about your disagreements on gay marriage, do it only after you have proved your love to them through friendship and sacrifice.

People, this is Biblical Love 101. And it holds true for anyone with whom we have a disagreement. Christians, it is right to hold tightly to the orthodox truth that homosexual practice (like all sexual sin) separates us from God. But you had better hold equally as tight to the orthodox truth that the gay person next to you is of immense worth, because Christ has ascribed worth to them. And you had better go into any conversation with the recognition of your own depravity and position of need before God.

If you are a Christian who talks about the evils of gay marriage but who is doing nothing to reach out to the lesbian across the street, please, do me (and Christ) a favor and stop talking. If you keep talking without love-in-action, I pray that my mother never meets you. Also, take a look at your life and doctrine, because you may not be saved and you certainly will not save your hearers.

29 thoughts on “Why do you hate gays?

  1. Pingback: Hey Millennials, No One Gets to Tell You Who You Hate | asktheBigot

  2. I enjoy this blog, and I’m glad you enjoyed the post you read today from mine. You certainly have a lot to say that I find beneficial, though I admit there will be some areas of disagreement. Still, overall I find this a great post, and an opportunity for me to learn. I’ve posted several essays on my blog regarding this issue, and try to walk the fine line between being blunt and understanding; pulling no punches but using (I hope) tact and understanding.

    One thing I might add to your bullet list of ideas above I got from the late Francis Schaeffer, which actually fits with any relationship we have with any non Christian: “the world is not looking for perfect Christians, but authentic Christians.” Therefore, be real. Don’t try to play the part of the “stereotypical” Christian. Certainly we strive to be holy, but the world needs to see us warts and all, as we deal with frustration, sorrow, and temptation, as well as in joy and victory. True friends are honest with one another, and if you show ANY unbeliever you love them, and that you are not putting on a show of piety, that you are a real person dealing with real life, and following Christ however imperfectly, you’ll gain the respect and trust a pompous windbag will never gain.

    On a related note, perhaps you’ve seen this. The last two paragraphs are the most relevant. I quoted them in one of my blog posts. http://hunterbaker.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/an-astonishing-message-from-a-gay-sister-in-christ/

    Cordially, from an imperfect Christian brother,
    Dave (Dr. Splog :-)

    • Thanks, Splog. I love that link above. My “not ex-lesbian” friend that I interviewed several weeks back and I think that the church is really waking up to the need to acknowledge the struggle that many in our congregations face. This can, and must be, done as we recognize God’s standard for our behavior as we walk in understanding with our brothers and sisters who experience same-sex attraction.

      I love what you said about authentic Christians. And totally agree! See “Hypocrisy- Ain’t Nobody God Time For That”.

      Thanks for stopping in and commenting!

      • Thank you for your kind words. If you care to read it, I quoted the link I mentioned above in another post. http://davidspaugh.com/2013/05/06/adapt-or-die-or-adapt-and-die/ As always I try to walk a fine line of being blunt but understanding and kind, and I hope that is clear in my posts. I won’t back down, but I try to see people as “sheep without a shepherd” (Matt. 9:36), and speak not as a know it all, but like one old time preacher put it, “One beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.” As a pastor I’ve seen it all, whether in my congregation or through pastor friends who deal with all sorts of issues. The church struggles in all areas, but that’s what the church is for: struggling people.

        I’ll read your post on hypocrisy asap. I’m working on one now regarding the problem with pragmatism.

        May the Lord bless you,
        Dave “Dr. Splog” Spaugh

  3. Good post. I really like your suggestions on how to practically love gay individuals. You helpfully move the discussion in the right direction. Thanks.

  4. I am responding with tears in my eyes….. My youngest son is gay. He came out to us in public place because I think he was afraid we would make a scene. He was definitely afraid we would reject him. We did not. We assured him that we loved him, that we have always loved him and always would love him. We did tell him that we did not agree that gay was “who he was.” We also said that because he knew the Truth, he was never going to be truly at peace… Still, we would always be there for him, always love him, always pray for him. It is hard for me as his mom. I have seen stereotypical behaviors in him since he was two. I have prayed for him all his life. I love him unconditionally. Currently, we just sort of ignore the topic and focus on that love. He lives in California and we live in Arkansas. Your post has given me much to think about. I believe with all my heart that God’s Word is true. I know that God’s will is that my son love Him and serve Him all the days of his life. I pray each day for God’s will to be done in His life. Thank you for your insight. You have encouraged me.

    • Dear Susie, thank you for taking the time to comment. I am so grateful that you found this post encouraging. I am good friends with two other moms who have gay children. They are full of love for their son and daughter, and also recognize that their lifestyle is incompatible with the truth they were brought up to believe. There is great tension as we grasp in one hand God’s rejection of our rebellious thoughts and behavior, and God’s great love for us in the other. We have to hold on to both of these truths if we are to be biblical- and that is a very difficult line to walk. I will pray that the Spirit would be alive in you during every phone call, every visit, and every interaction so that you would speak words of power and truth when needed. And other times know when to wear your “mom” hat and just listen. I will pray that you will be a force of HOLINESS to your son. And that the grace and truth coming from you will be irresistible to him. Godspeed, Susie. You are in my prayers!!

      • The last five years God has truly been speaking to me about love and the importance of developing the fruit of the Spirit. In hindsight, I can clearly see that He was preparing me to deal with my future life situations…. My son’s rejection of Christianity and his desire to pursue a gay life… Being my mom’s full time caretaker due to Alzheimer’s Disease…. Leading a women’s ministry at my church. I spoke to a young military wife recently who had converted from Islam. She said what drew her to Christianity was the love she observed. What a testimony and encouragement to live a life of love! I am convinced that love is the key but as we all know, unconditional love is hard to practice!!! Speaking the truth I love is Hard!!! Casting my care on Him and laying down my anxieties is hard!!!! Giving my sons to Him each day and asking God for His will ( not mine) to be done in their lives is hard!!! Sometimes I have to pry my hand open in order to offer them up to Him. I have finally accepted that God is God and He doesn’t need me to tell Him what to do :-)

  5. I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. One of the hardest things about Christianity is figuring out how to live in the world without compromising our faith, but still loving people. It’s really tough and I like your thoughts on it.

    • Seriously. I get why “holiness” for several centuries meant cloistering yourselves in the hills. (Much easier than the messiness of being in the world.) And yet, if we can walk this fine line of holding tenaciously to the whole counsel of scripture and laying down our very selves for friends and even enemies, then we get the honor of being Christ to a desperate world. It takes a Spirit that has overcome the world living in us for that goal to be realized. God help us.

      Thanks for reading and commenting. Loved your post “Tolerance.” http://dmhenry.wordpress.com/

  6. Pingback: Exodus International Shuts Down- Now We Must Step Up | asktheBigot

  7. AMEN!!!!! Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” It is not people that our enemies but Satan the prince of this world that controlling them. We should lead to Christ!!!. They also have soul! Even Gay/Lesbian have sould then if we can’t bring them to Christ then Hell’s Fire are awaiting to them…..Great Post!!!

  8. Wow, sister! You’ve hit the nail squarely on the head. Too many of us reject and condemn others solely because their sins differ from our own. God bless you for speaking out as you did. Grace and peace be with you.

  9. Reblogged this on It Ain't For Sissies and commented:
    Many of us in the Christian community need to rethink our relationships with members of the gay community. We know how Jesus related to the woman caught in adultery. What makes us believe that Jesus would, or we should, relate to gays any differently?
    I hope and pray that you’ll read this outstanding reblog in its entirety, and consider it carefully. Grace and peace be with you.

    Soli Deo Gloria!

  10. Do you not think that in many cases it’s a political ploy for gays to claim Christians hate them? Why aren’t people calling for gays to accept that Christians bend over backwards to love them and to resist their political aims? I mean, if we’re going to deal in generalizations?

    • Hi Leila. Yes, I think that there may be political motivations behind the oft-repeated “Christians hate gays” statement. But the mantra gains traction because so many people who experience same-sex attraction have had one or more genuinely painful interaction with a Christian, or a so-called Christian, who have rejected or wounded them- perhaps without realizing it. If that is the case, it’s going to take many more instances of Christians showing authentic care and sacrifice to overcome that incident (or repeated negative experiences) in the life of that individual. Your thoughts?

      • Let me ask you a question — Why would you title this post “Why do YOU hate gays?”
        I have to say that it seems very aggressive. It sounds like you want to give more love to gays than to your fellow Christians (or whomever you imagine “YOU” to be).
        Is that “YOU” a real person? Is it your reader?
        It isn’t me…

        • Thanks for the opportunity to clarify, Leila. Originally when this blog began I wanted to answer all of the major questions that I heard being directed at supporters of traditional marriage. So one of those questions was “why do you hate gay people”? While I don’t believe that most Christians show hostility and hatred towards gay people I know that some have. This post is my answer to that question. You can look at other earlier posts and see that I did similar things: “Aren’t people born gay” and “If Jesus didn’t mention homosexuality it’s not an essential part of his teaching”, etc. I hope that helps.

          • Well, interestingly, though, your post doesn’t fit into that model of “answering the questions.” You don’t answer the question by saying to the presumed gay person asking, 1. Why would you state that so aggressively, if love is your standard? Could you have a political motive? Are you exploiting the Christian mandate to love? 2. Do you distinguish between a person who has lapsed from his intention and a person who is making a case that makes you uncomfortable? 3. Do you ever think that telling the truth might be mistaken as an unloving act, when in fact it is the highest form of love?

            You purport to “answer the major questions” — presumably in a way that presents the case for traditional marriage — that is, marriage — in a reasonable way.

            Yet this post does the opposite. It accepts the premise of the question — that Christians DO hate gays. You go on to narrate your cooperation in an objectively disordered situation, and to put it in a positive light that suggests that while YOU do not hate gays, other Christians do.

            I wonder who loves the child in your story — the child who is a mere pawn in a game of self-fulfillment.

            I would rather conduct this discussion with you alone, over email, but interestingly, while you have my email address, I can’t find yours. Leaving comments like mine on a post is fairly obnoxious, I admit. But I can’t let it pass, I’m afraid. It’s fine with me if you do not post this comment after all.

          • Leila, thank you for your patience as I have had only sporadic access to a computer for the last couple weeks.

            If you click on my gravatar icon, you will see the option to “view full profile” (http://en.gravatar.com/askthebigot). There you will see the email address dedicated to this blog. You are most welcome to email me there if you like.

            However, I think that your questions are helpful. And actually, it would take an entire blog to really examine all the facets of this personal and explosive topic. Which is why there are 84 posts here.

            This post is directed to Christians and right conduct toward any who are outside of the body of Christ. You are right that many Christians are making sincere, albeit likely imperfect (like me), efforts to show love to those in their life with same-sex attraction. However I have met and observed those who claim to follow Christ who spew forth heated comments on the wrongness of gay marriage and whose lives are devoid of any veiled or genuine concern for those with whom they disagree. I hope that this post will help us all to place the emphasis of our interactions on sacrificial love, not heated rhetoric.

            I do not feel that I have the authority to speak to those who are gay and not Christians about their motivations for saying what they say to and about Christians. Rather, we can exhort one another to live lives which are above reproach, and which extend the love and truth of Christ to all. That is certainly the goal of this post.

            Thank you again for your comments. If there are specific questions that I have overlooked, please let me know. Likely I have addressed them elsewhere on the blog. Otherwise I would be happy to comment further.

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