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Summary: As the homosexual movement has developed a strong political voice, the response from traditional conservatives has become equally impassioned. A deep animosity has grown between portions of the homosexual community and many who represent a Christian unde

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I want to address a topic that is as difficult as any topic we could address today…. that of sexual identity and homosexuality.

It’s a subject that has become the most politically and personally polarized as any in our lifetimes.

As the homosexual movement has developed a strong political voice, the response from traditional conservatives has become equally impassioned. A deep animosity has grown between portions of the homosexual community and many who represent a Christian understanding of human sexuality.

As with other issues like this, the rhetoric has become so demeaning and dismissive of ‘the other side’… that there is a total loss of real dialogue and discussion.

With so many strong feelings surrounding this topic… it may seem dangerous to address it… certain to cause division between us. I appreciate the concern. I’ve watched how the issue so often plays out… plenty of intensity but little interaction… plenty of compulsion but little compassion… plenty of heat but little light.

It only draws me more into the calling for us to engage this topic well. I want to address it as honestly as I know how. But I want to begin by making a few foundational statements.

First, if you don’t hear anything else I say, I want you to hear this: if you live with homosexual desires… perhaps even in gay or lesbian relationships… you matter to God. He loves you, cares about you, and has a plan for your life.

I know that pastors and other Christians haven’t always made that clear. In fact, those with homosexual desires have often been cast as an enemy, which you’re not. You may have been ridiculed and rejected by Christians and the church all your life, and I want you to hear me say I’m sorry. Many of us need to repent and ask for forgiveness for the hate they’ve expressed toward the homosexual community.

Secondly, we don’t all have to initially agree in order to gather. I believe that our weekend gatherings should be as wide open as the hillsides and crowds where Jesus first taught. But like those first settings, he is at the center… and ultimately it is a place of engaging and entering the life he has for us.

The only boundary we place on are gatherings is that they be a fundamentally respectful place to seek God and grow.

I can’t abdicate my responsibility as the pastor… shepherd… teacher for this spiritual community… that of seeking God’s mind and heart for our lives.

Let me just say up front… some may disagree with the perspective I share today… so I know some of us may need to begin with respectfully agreeing to disagree… and to listen and learn from one another… but ultimately with openness towards God. (As noted at the end of your notes, I welcome you to email me to discuss this further.)

Thirdly, the ability to engage beyond the rhetoric may be directly related to the degree by which you personally know people who live with homosexual desires.

We can’t forget that homosexuality isn’t just an “issue,” it’s about people.

Some of those people whom I know, though I’ll change their names, include…

• Jeff - Jeff never had a lot in the way of parental involvement. He tried a lot of things in life to try to find out who he was…. including experimenting with homosexual encounters which left him confused about his own nature well into adulthood.

• Laura - Laura was made to be her father’s wife… never allowed to just have a mom, she had to be one. Later she would spend years in a lesbian relationship looking for love.

• Hank - So demeaned by his father that he was always like a child longing for love… from men and from Jesus whom he loved… until he died of AIDS.

• Julie - Julie was recently helping me at a store I was shopping at. As I was checking out… she asked if I was Brad Bailey. As she asked I immediately connected her familiarity. By her look I thought she must be the sister of a guy named Roger I knew in high school. What she said next I could never had imagined. She was Roger. “She” was really “he.” He knew I now pastored the Vineyard Christian Fellowship because he had been here before and he asked if we could step into a back room where he proceeded to tell me his story; a story he had told few … a story he wanted to share with me as a pastor … a story of never fitting in as a guy… of always feeling intimidated in his masculinity and deciding to change his gender to find a better fit in life.

What we must realize is that behind all such stories is a longing for love… that even if confused… is not entirely different than our own.

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