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In recent years I have presented more and more on LGBT issues to Christian audiences. Often there appears an underlying dynamic, in which it seems that people want a "silver bullet" solution to the tense debates over homosexuality in the church. "What should I say?" people ask, referring to a sibling, friend, child, or co-worker who is gay. People want to get gay people to accept Christianity in its authentic form without reacting harshly or heretically.
I have often longed to find a peaceful way of persuading self-identified gay people to Christ. But I've grown up, I guess. Part of loving people is showing tough love when it is necessary. I have ceased opening up discussion of homosexuality and the church with a preamble about compassion or being loving or calling for winsomeness. The preamble ends up being the only thing people hear.
The truth is, nobody is gay. Everybody is heterosexual since God created male and female at the beginning. Their bodies were designed so that they could fit together in an act of mutual love, sexual intercourse, and become one flesh. Every male lives in a body that was designed to penetrate a female's body and become one flesh with her. Every female lives in a body that was designed to be penetrated by a male. Every human being begins life as a zygote, which comes into being when men and women do what God designed them to do, make love and consummate a sex act. The sex act feels good because God designed us to enjoy doing this. A man has only one appendage for this purpose, so he cannot have sex with two women simultaneously. A woman is not designed to be penetrated by two men simultaneously. So God not only designed us to be heterosexual, but also modest and exclusive with our sexual favors. Ideally one man and one woman consummate a sex act. Our bodies provide the basic instructions.
Given my own biography I understand the host of traumas, confusions, and deceptions that cause some men and some women to go haywire. They crave something that is impossible: an act of lovemaking with someone who has the same genitalia as one's self. This means a man and a man together, or a woman and a woman together. Friendship is one thing. But some people want to do with a member of the same sex what their body cannot do, because it is completely outside of, and against, God's design. Two men have no way to have intercourse; for them to have sex with each other the way a man and a woman have sex is impossible. Two women have no way to have intercourse; for them to have sex with each other the way a man and a woman have sex is impossible.
While we may feel pity for people who get lost in these impossible cravings, there is no simple way to explain to them that their cravings are delusional, unnatural, and against God's design. For decades I lamented "gay jokes," or crass humor directed at people who who crave the impossibility of gay sex. But I have evolved in my view. When you explain to a so-called gay person that what they crave will never work because they crave an impossibility, if you do so with a serious face and a calm tone, they react just as furiously as if you blow off the entire issue with a bit of toilet humor. In fact, sometimes joking about how gay sex does not work takes the painfulness and awkwardness out of the situation. So I do not condemn people who try to talk sense to self-identified homosexuals using humor.
No silver bullet solution exists. If someone insists on defining themselves as homosexual, gay, same-sex-attracted, queer, LGBT, or anything similar to these, their act of self-definition is the deciding factor in the conversation. You should share the Gospel with them and treat them as you would other sinners in the fallen world in which we, all fallen sinners of one sort or another, live. You should love them. You tell the truth to people you love. You tell people you love when they have gone off the deep end. And if you love them sincerely, you can accept that they will hate you for telling the truth sometimes. Do you think it was easy for Nathan to challenge David? For John the Baptist to challenge Herod?
Tell people the truth. If you worry and fret about your tone too much, you will lose too much time in your own head, going back and forth, when you need to get to business and tell them there is no such thing as homosexuality. They are not homosexual or gay. Such a thing does not exist. Whatever cravings they have, they are misinterpreting themselves the way many of us do from time to time. If they are women, they are meant to be with men. If they are men, they are meant to be with women. They should busy themselves with actions and thoughts other than fighting against what is obvious and unchangeable in them.
The church has lost too much precious time deliberating about how to win over gay people to the church. There are no gay people. The church needs to win people to the church. You tell people about Jesus and present them with the kind of life Jesus called us to live. That life includes passionate devotion to Jesus and, if we do not want to live as celibates, an active search for a spouse of the opposite sex so we can get busy with the heterosexual marriage that God told us we were designed for. Our job is to share the gospel with them. Their job is to commit to the gospel and clean up their lives. I like helping guys get out of the gay scene. But I do not do arguments. If a guy is like, "hey, I am gay, I can't change," I share the truth once and then let him go. It is not my job to change him--Jesus has to do that. I share, and then that is it.
So-called gay Christians have grown irritating with their sense of entitlement. The speeches at Revoice and immense output of people writing about how the church needs to minister to LGBTs fill me with sadness, first and foremost, because it saddens me to see people who believe the body of Christ has to cater to them. Pride goeth before the fall. It takes immense haughtiness to believe that billions of Christians need to move to your little self-deceived vantage point as a gay Christian and talk you into belief in Christ. We have to stop feeding their sense of entitlement because it is killing them. Give them tough love.
A Jamaican woman I met at work in New York City, when I was twenty, knew I was living a gay lifestyle. She told me if she was my mother, she would have a tough talk with me and then let the consequences of the world do the rest. "If you love your son, you have to let him spend the night in jail sometimes," she said sometimes. Tough love is one of the most caring types of love. Spoiling people, feeding their deranged belief that the world owes them endless explanations and concessions all on their terms--that is how you kill someone's soul. Tough love is how you can help get them back from the brink.
Advocates for so-called gay Christianity rush to bring up suicide because they know that is a debate stopper. If you deal with someone with tough love, they may kill themselves. We have to stop letting that rhetorical move derail us. Suicide is a grievous sin. In Dante's Inferno, the suicides are forced to live for all eternity as bleeding trees. They must watch their own bodies hanging from their branches. The more we have feared dealing with people with tough love, the more the suicide rate skyrockets in the US. Why? Because we fail to tell people that suicide leads to eternal separation from God. How sad, then, that we would repeat our failure--our failure to tell the truth--twice with the same population. We fail to tell them that homosexuality will mean eternal separation from God and it is a non-starter. Then we consider dropping the truth on them, they sense we are going to move into tough love, and they bring up suicide. And we fail to tell them that suicide will mean eternal separation from God.
I lean nowadays toward the upbeat tone of optimism, by focusing on how wonderful people's lives will be, once they realign themselves with the heterosexuality that God designed for them. A woman is a marvelous companion for a man. A man is a wonderful companion for a woman. I try to discuss the beauty of straightness. If a so-called gay person wants to go negative and start poo-pooing this optimism, then at least this brings the underlying problem to the surface. The problem is not that people hate the gay person. The problem is that the gay person has rejected, and likely hates, the opposite sex. Yet God gave the opposite sex to each and every one of us, as a delightful gift. In rejecting that gift out of some strange spite, we reject God. Homosexuality is very much like racism and other hatreds in that sense--a rejection of what God provided as His image-bearers. Let that be the focus point of an argument, not my failure or success in figuring out how to accept a gay person. A so-called gay person bears a certain responsibility in the discussion, just as I should. Maybe it is their job to criticize themselves and improve themselves. Maybe it is not my job to make them feel good.
We need tough love.