Among the frequently used passages on homosexuality are Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Jude 1:6-7, Genesis 19, Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13. These have been carefully studied and interpreted by scholars on both sides.
Traditional Christian interpretations hold that the passages reject homosexuality altogether. However, "gay or revisionist theologians" offer alternative interpretations to show that these parts of Scripture have been grossly misinterpreted. Their stand, of course, is that the Bible accepts gay relationships.
The book, "The Bible, the Church and Homosexuality," is a good place to start if one wants to get oriented with the Bible debates on the issue.
I wrote this article, however, not primarily to defend the Christian stand on homosexuality. There are more credible scholars who did that already. Instead, I meant for this to be an encouragement and a challenge for Christians to reexamine how they deal with people struggling with homosexuality.
Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias repeatedly stressed that "behind every question is a questioner." And if I may add, "Behind every skepticism is a skeptic." The point here is that in dealing with homosexuality, we must not divorce the reality that we are also relating to human beings with both intellect and emotion.
Sometime ago I ran into a friend who wanted to hear my view on the LGBT topic. It was for a report in one of his social science classes. I quickly gave my standard answer on what the Bible says, but spent much more time discussing how our attitudes and hearts as Christians should be when answering the LGBT community's questions and concerns.
I will always remember how he thanked me for highlighting the proper Christian response not only on this particular issue but in every controversial issue that stands in stark contrast to what we believe in. It was then that I realized the Christian tendency to take issues on dangerously intellectual realms, forgetting that they were commissioned to win souls not debates.
I am not anti-reason. Afterall, faith and reason have always journeyed together in Christianity. But I feel the need to warn everyone that aiming to answer all questions as an end in itself is counterproductive. We may be able to win the debate with outstanding arguments but lose the person in the process.
The questioner, more often than not, throws a throng of questions to try and mask the real issues and concerns that plague his or her soul. If we are not sensitive and are caught in this intricately woven protective web, we will never be able to deal with the core issues. We will just be left trying to defend and argue our faith in a plainly intellectual level, devoid of any context or human connection.
Ravi adds that there are two key realities in effective apologetics and in my experience even in effective evangelism: "how to relate to the questioner and how to make sure that the answers are couched in a relevant context."
People struggling with homosexuality often feel alienated, condemned even, by several sectors of society. Sadly, even the church is guilty. Thus, trying to put across the Gospel to them is extremely difficult because they sense duplicity and hypocrisy. We say one thing but act out another. We bring a message of God's justice and holiness, but we act as if we are the judge and that we are "holier" than they are. We proclaim a message of love and reconciliation, but we have never reflected on the condemnation and stigma we have unjustly brought on them.
These are great barriers. Often, approaching them with the intellect alone will only reinforce their negative attitude towards us. Unless we build bridges and connect with them, we will never see past the barrier and the web of questions with the Gospel.
I learned that trust is a key word. When they know that you understand where they come from and do not take their right to ask and feel the way they do, then, doors begin to open. They will let you in and welcome your challenges, even give sincere ear to the hard Bible passages and ultimately to the Gospel of Christ because they trust you. They know that you are there not to force Bible truths but to journey with them without prejudice as they personally discover the Truth through the Holy Spirit.
When I first ministered to a friend with this struggle, I did not understand the process involved. I wanted to hasten things, forgetting that God not I could deliver him. The result was devastating to me and to him. He interpreted my care and concern as intrusion and distrust. I wanted to help, but I did not know that there were decisions that took time to process, and I forgot that these decisions could only be made with the grace and enabling of God.
1 Corinthians 9:19-22 is a wonderful passage we must all put to heart. Paul wrote,
Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.God's point here is that we need to begin where they are. We need to deal with the barriers one at a time until by God's grace we are welcomed to deal with the core issues. This works only if we are able to connect to them, gaining their trust with our sincere love, concern and care communicated properly at the right time.
Even if after everything they still remain hard to the Gospel, we must not lose heart, nor should we force Jesus on them. Instead, it is wise to retreat for a while, continue praying and asking God to make the seeds planted and watered in their hearts grow.
I learned these things the hard way. But God is amazing because at just the right time, He allowed me to minister once more to another friend with the same struggle. I was nervous at first because I feared a part two of my past failure. But this time, I learned to wait upon the Lord, to journey with the person and to give God room to work in his heart and my friend the opportunity to genuinely seek the Lord. I am at awe witnessing how God is working in his life now.
It has nothing to do with me, but everything's because of God. I continue to pray for him as well as for my other friend that the God of Wonders will reveal Himself fully to them in the face of Jesus Christ.
"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:13)