This is the weekly Minister’s Letter that I sent last week. It articulates some of my thinking on the Gay Marriage issue in a way that’s meant to be constructive.
The conundrum that faces every Christian at present is how we address the issue of ‘gay marriage’ and that of same sex attraction without appearing to be singling out gay people for special (unwelcome) treatment. We want to stand for the truth and say what the Bible says on this issue. We want our Government not to make it confusing for gay people (Christian or not) by endorsing a sinful lifestyle. But we want to be compassionate to those for whom same sex attraction is their normal. And more than anything we want them to realise that knowing and following Christ is more valuable than sexual expression.
And yet we find it difficult, don’t we, to show sinners that their sinful lifestyle expresses their sinful rejection of Christ and at the same time show sinners that their sins can be forgiven through that same Christ. I think it’s a difficult thing to say (as we would to every sinner) that their lifestyle choices are expressive of their rejection of Jesus Christ as Lord and yet want to encourage them to turn to him for forgiveness. They just feel picked on. And it’s made significantly worse with the mistaken presupposition that sexuality is like race and gender and therefore asking a gay person to repent of their sexuality is as preposterous and outrageous as asking a black man to repent of his skin colour.
But my worry for us is a different one. My worry for us, living as we do, among a predominantly middle class metropolitan culture which overwhelmingly affirms homosexual activity, is that many of us will compromise and say nothing. And our silence on this issue, perhaps well intentioned, is taken by our friends, family and colleagues as unspoken approval for the Government sanction of a gay lifestyle. We may, of course, have had a number of painful conversations with friends on this issue such that the matter is now taboo. I can understand why we might want to make this a conversational ‘no-go’ area. There may be little ground to cover or progress to be made in revisiting a discussion where nothing was left unsaid. But I’m not really talking to those of us for whom that’s the case. I’m talking to those of us who simply wouldn’t venture to express our view on the issue. We may assume that it’s unnecessary; that your friends know the score. And you may be right. But it’s worth asking ourselves what they would say our position is. Do they know, for example, that you think that a gay lifestyle is incompatible with faith in Jesus Christ? Do they know that you think it’s something to be repented of (along with a whole host of other things)? Let’s not be found wanting on this one. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6, that persistent unrepentant habitual homosexual activity is something that keeps people out of the Kingdom of God. It’s that serious.
But let me reiterate what I hope to be self-evident. This is not our gospel. It’s a truism to say that what we talk about, that’s our gospel. And there’s clearly danger that people might form the impression that the good news that we want to share with the world is that concession to gay culture is bad. It is. But that’s not our gospel. We ought therefore to be known so much more for our gentle compassionate declaration of the gospel of the forgiveness of sins and transformation through the Spirit through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ than we do for our position on ‘gay marriage’.
So don’t duck the issue. But don’t bang on about it. Bang on about the cross of Christ for that has the power to create repentance in the heart on even the most vociferous proponent of ‘gay marriage’.
With best wishes in Christ,