The recent Supreme Court decision to legalize gay marriage sent shock waves through the blogosphere and social media universe. Did your church talk about it at all?
And if so, what did they say?
Depending on the survey, 1.2-6.8% of the population identify as LGBT. So if you have a church of 100 people, that’s anywhere from 1 to 7 people in your congregation.
Not Talking About It
As a straight pastor, I can empathize with churches not talking about the gay marriage decision. Homosexuality is arguably the most polarizing hot button issue facing the church today. To talk about it is to create disagreement, and likely some angry people in your congregation. If one wants unity, it seems sensible to steer clear of this behemoth altogether.
But what about those 1-7 people out of the 100 in your flock? Or the 12-68 people out of the 1000 in your flock? Or the 120-680 people out of the 10000 in your flock?
However one decides to label it, if you are a churchgoer and have same sex attraction, struggle with same sex attraction and/or identify at LGBT, the recent Supreme Court decision to legalize gay marriage certainly has been on your radar. It certainly has caused you to re-ask old questions. If you haven’t been thinking about your sexuality, you certainly are now. It’s maybe made you wonder about what the Bible really says about homosexuality. At the very least though, you are wondering what your church thinks about it. Namely, you are wondering what your church thinks of you.
Silence can be deafening when you’re trying to figure out where you fit into a faith community, or if you fit at all.
If the number one struggle in my life is homosexuality / same sex attraction and my church is silent about the topic altogether, what other takeaway am I to have except that this church has no place for me, has no answers for me, or does not care about me? More than that, this church is afraid of me, for they are afraid to talk about me or to me.
While some churches remained silent, others used the SCOTUS gay marriage decision as a chance to plant their battle flag in the ground and rally around their war cry. I’m fine with churches taking a stand against culture as it relates to sin, but it’s especially important when dealing with the LGBT community and the “gay agenda” that we remember that there is no corporate entity called the LGBT. The “LGBT” is actually just a collection of individuals. Some of whom attend your church. Some who are struggling. Some who are looking for Jesus.
What I mean is, when we have a bad experience at a large restaurant chain, we sometimes feel the right to let loose in a letter to an anonymous faceless corporation, saying words we would never say to the face of our friend’s son who was the cook on the line that actually messed up our order. When we blast the LGBT community or the “gay agenda,” the people reading or hearing those words are individuals who are gay / have same sex attraction, not some hypothetical CEO of a hypothetical institution. And when those individuals hear and read your words, they no longer see you as a safe person to confide in. They no longer see you as someone who wants them in their community. They no longer see you as someone who loves them.
You can speak truth and do it in love. You can talk about sin and do it humbly, as if you also are a sinner with your own unique temptations. You can instruct and admonish about sin without condemning and judging. In fact, it’s likely you already do this when you teach about the sins that you struggle with such as pride, arrogance, lust, selfishness, greed, gossip, or any number of other things, but when it’s time to teach, preach or write about homosexual practice, you pull out the double bazookas of condemnation and self-righteous judgmentalism. Why is this?
While I know gay marriage is a legal/political issue, people are not. Especially the people in your own congregation. We need to address the issue as it relates to people, not to global politics. We need to shepherd and talk to people, not to nameless, faceless entities. We need to approach the issue with grace and empathy, not bazookas and battle cries.