We have seen in recent years the growth in what's known as the Gay Culture - famous people "Coming Out." The Gay culture is a complete world view / way of life. Gay identities growing in strength. The Gay lobby is growing in influence.
So where does that leave us as Biblical Christians. As Christians who seek to live in today's world as it is rather than we would like it to be. But are also seeking to remain true to God's unchanging truths and standards.
I want to speak on three areas this evening.
An attitude we must renounce
A distinction we must retain
A standard that we must maintain
An attitude we must renounce:
Tony Campolo in one of his books tells of a Christian meeting in America. The preacher was speaking on what he called the 'plague of Homosexuality'. His message was laced with statistics - many of which were false, and terrifying horror stories of what gay people do. When he finished speaking the congregation was so incensed and so stirred that one stood up and stated, "these filthy people are an abomination to God and should be wiped out from the face of the earth." There was hatred in his voice and venom in his eyes.
We call it Homophobia or Gay Bashing. There is no place for that in the Church of Jesus Christ for three reasons.
1] Because we are all human beings. We are all people made in the image and likeness of God. Therefore every person, whatever their lifestyle, has dignity, value and worth and is precious in God's eyes.
However much we may disapprove of certain practices we have no liberty to de-humanise those who engage in them.
In Biblical terms there are no homosexuals - there are just people. People who God loves. Fallen people, sinful people, precious people. We are all human beings.
2] We are all sexual beings. Our sexuality is basic to our humanness - it says in scripture that angels are without sex but people are not. God made us male & female. The bible celebrates human sexuality. Yet we are embarrassed to talk about it in the Church of Christ. And sadly because we fail to speak of it and speak out about it - so many other voices are so much more dominant and influential in our community.
3] We are all fallen sinful beings. You see the theological doctrine of total depravity which we believe says, "because of the fall of man, because of sin, every area of human life has been twisted and distorted and tainted in some way and that includes our sexuality. There is a very real sense in which we are all sexually deviant because we have all deviated from the perfect standard of God. Nobody, except Jesus Himself, has been sexually sinless. Therefore we all stand under the judgement of God. We all stand in the constant need of the Grace and mercy of God.
Our society rather than scripture has put sexual sins at the top of the list as the worst in God's eyes. When you read in the press "Vicar tells of night of sin." You would be surprised if the accompanying text talked about a vicar spending the evening gossiping about his neighbour. Or spends an evening boasting about the size of his congregation. We know what the reporters really mean.
If there is any kind of hierarchy it seems to me that the top of the list in God's eyes are things like pride, hypocrisy, selfishness. We must confess as Christians that often our attitude has been wrong towards those with a homosexual orientation.
That comes out sometimes in our response to the issue of AIDS. Approximately 30 million people in the world are infected with AIDS. A new infection takes place every 9 seconds. 8,500 world wide daily. 60% are young people between the ages of 15 & 24. 61% of infections caused in the UK are by sexual relations between men. HOW DO WE REASPOND?
An illustration may help. Tony Campolo was preaching in an evangelistic crusade in Sacramento, California. The committee were discussing what they should give the offering to. One suggested it should go to care agencies working with AIDs sufferers. The media picked this up because here was a right-wing evangelical mission seeking to give money to AIDS sufferers. So they turned up to interview members of the crowd and Campolo was a bit worried as he watched the TV report that night to see what some of the might say.
The first guy that was interviewed was introduced with the question, " the offering tonight was for AIDS victims and they are often homosexuals. Does that mean you approve of homosexuality?"
The mans response was ideal. He said, " I don't know about all that homosexual stuff all I know is that when people are sick - Christians are supposed to care for them."