“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” – Winston Churchill
It’s difficult to be optimistic. In the times in which we find ourselves, looking up to opportunity instead of down at social failures can seem useless. It’s not. I’m as cynical as someone can be, but I see in the recent SCOTUS ruling on same-sex marriage a real opportunity.
Going forward, Christians will be challenged in new ways. As our society continues to become more at ease with what once seemed like radical social ideas, we will face a fork in the road. As Christians, we will be forced to publicly take a side where we never had to before.
Prior to the explosion of the gay rights movement, Christians could either ignore the issue altogether, or they could simply condemn without having to come within striking distance of the idea of homosexuality in the church. No more.
With the recent ruling, and with the advancement of this massive social movement, we have an opportunity to act as mirrors of Christ’s love.
To the Christians who simply want to ignore or condemn homosexuals from afar: you are facing a time when you will have to acknowledge the issue and address it in a meaningful way. That may make you feel uncomfortable; that may make you feel angry. But guess what? It will make you a better person. This is an opportunity to reach people to whom we have frequently been indifferent or openly hostile.
Growing up Christian, I have seen how ugly people can be when it comes to things they don’t understand. Unfortunately, much of the condemnation of homosexual behavior coming from Christians isn’t loving, but hateful—or at the very least, disgusted and strangely indifferent.
Many Christians have gone their whole lives rarely coming into any meaningful contact with gay people. As Christians, they’ve never truly discussed the difficult subject of same-sex attraction with someone who experiences it firsthand. These Christians don’t have the willingness to address this particular brand of sinner with respect and human decency.
We step lightly upon every other issue, such as divorce, premarital cohabitation, anger, lust, greed, and idolatry, but when it comes to homosexual behavior, we slam a hammer down. This is because sins like greed and lust are sins with which we can all identify. Homosexual desire is not an issue with which many Christians have any experience. It’s a foreign object. This has led to a total and egregious inability to lead on the issue. It’s a deeply disturbing trend I’ve watched develop my whole life.
People struggling with same-sex desire are afraid to enter the church because they see a response more akin to open hostility rather than loving correction.
As the acceptance of the gay lifestyle continues to saturate our culture, it’s up to us to be there for those who want help. It’s up to us to be the reflection of Christ they’ve never seen before. It’s up to us to welcome them and love them, all while educating them regarding what the scripture tells us about their lifestyle. We aren’t here to spit in their faces, but to be guide posts on their road to Christ.
We need to condemn sin as scripture defines it while respecting the sinner who struggles. In doing so, we can use this cultural decay to save souls that were previously unreachable. But it’s our turn to change. It’s our turn to take what we don’t understand (because we’ve never had to), and learn.
Our world may be on the decline, but that doesn’t mean our job is over. It means we’re only just beginning.