I recently revisited one of the churches I used to attend. The sermon was about Christians and the world, and was given by one of the pastors who I have known for many years and who I respect. He spoke about the troubles facing the world in general, but especially about the problems facing Western society, such as drug addiction, family abuse, alcohol dependency, and marriage equality. I was in shock!
Many Christians, such as my ex-pastor, do amazing work with the oppressed, the downtrodden, and the destitute. But sadly, they also treat homosexual people with contempt, fear, and disgust. Why? In 100 years, will our descendants look back at the church of today and wonder what all the fuss was about? The church is a living, evolving, and welcoming thing—isn’t it?
The Church versus the Secular World
I wasn’t a Christian until I was in my adulthood. So where did a young person, me, learn how to treat people? First, through my parents, who taught me about respect and kindness. Second, at a young age I found that I had a love for acting and the arts (and I still do). What I discovered in amateur theater was that people of different backgrounds, social standings, and beliefs were all welcomed. Specifically, gay people were—and still are—welcome in the theater community. The first gay people I met were through theater. I now have many gay friends and, quite frankly, their sexual orientation is of little interest to me. In theater we all work together for a common goal—shouldn’t churches do the same?
Why is the church so different? Are some professed Christians using their faith and Holy Scripture to feed their prejudices? Why do they focus on the Old Testament’s laws for some things and not for others?
What about the Bible and the Law?
The Old Testament says that homosexual behavior is an abomination (Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13). It also says that homosexuals should receive the death penalty! It also says the same thing about eating pork or shellfish, charging interest on loans, and a great deal of other stuff that were part of the Old Testament Laws.
But for Christians, the Old Testament Laws are now void. Romans 10:4 says that “Christ is the end of the law,” which is probably why most Christians today use credit cards, eat meat, wear clothing made from different fabrics, wear makeup, and support equality for women. As Hebrews 8:13 says, the old law is obsolete. Why do so many Christians continue to cherry pick the laws they want to uphold and ignore the ones they don’t?
We live in a different world now. We do not possess slaves or own wives. The Apostle Paul said that men having long hair is “unnatural” and that women shouldn’t speak in church. Times have changed. We have changed. Jesus made things new.
Marriage Equality and the Church
Change happens, albeit slowly, in the church. It is not a smooth process. Many will be dragged kicking and screaming into enlightenment and fairness. When Martin Luther protested (hence the word Protestant) against the Catholic Church, and when many Christians martyred themselves over the centuries, it was to try and bring the church closer to God. And today, because of that continual process of change, English language Bibles are the norm, and women pastors are increasingly common.
So why can’t a couple who love each other, but are of the same sex, get married? In many counties they can, because the law allows them to, even if churches don’t. Church and State separated long ago, and the issue of same sex marriage is now simply a matter of equality. Yet the church continues to too often stand up and rage against the wind of change. But Jesus was a man of change. Has the church today become like the Pharisees of old?
Matthew 28 says:
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Doesn’t all nations also mean all people? Shouldn’t the church be welcoming of all people?
It is not our place to judge, but rather to love. In John 8, Jesus says “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone.” Later he said, “You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one.”
Jesus loved prostitutes and money lenders. He knows all our sins, yet he still loves us. We are all sinners, so even if you think that homosexuality is a sin, then Jesus died for that sin. He died for all our sins, yours and mine.
Anyone with a seeking heart must be welcomed into the church family. When I hear hateful words spoken by church leaders, I feel like crying. I am sure Jesus also weeps. No Christian should ever prevent another person from seeking God.
If Jesus loves all, shouldn’t we also? We are all made in God’s image, and we need to try and reflect Jesus in our words and our actions, even though many Christians do not.
Image via Pixabay.
About Christopher Newport
Christopher Newport wants to see fairness in the world and desires to see the doors of Christianity open to all. He has been a drama junkie for decades. He found God in the 1990’s but too often sees faith and belief being used to promote individual doctrines. Chris enjoys reading, theatre, good food and good company. Chris loves music but can’t play a note. He has two grown children and a patient wife. He lives in Melbourne, Australia.