As a young Christian I committed un-repairable harm against those Christ loves and cherishes. Though the Lord has grown me in many areas since I first came to Christ in high school, the sins I committed after faith of which I may be the most ashamed are subtle but perhaps deadly forms of bigotry. Though I never stoned anyone with a different sexual orientation from me nor did I support the atrocious laws of some countries that inhumanely outlaw consensual relations between unrelated adults, I was very much homophobic or a bigot towards those who either embraced or even struggled with same-sex attraction. A few years ago I regularly would have referred to something I didn’t like as being “gay” or I would have jokingly suggested a friend must be attracted to other men as if that desire were somehow more disgusting or more immoral than heterosexual unbiblical sexual urges. Regrettably I gave little thought to this until a close friend and brother in Christ informed me he struggles with same-sex attraction or ssa. My friend has spoken into my walk with the Lord in many ways and since that time I have also found myself greatly influenced by a giant of the faith from centuries past who very likely did not have significant heterosexual desires. My awareness of Christians who are not attracted to the opposite gender has made me more sensitive to the hurt I can and have brought upon people who are treated as disgusting or second-class citizens. Sadly, too often the Evangelical Christian church does not display this same concern. Those who experience ssa both outside of and within the church are seen as disgusting or sometimes even deviant and as a result most Christians who do struggle with ssa are too afraid to open up about it with fellow believers and lost members of the LGBT community justly feel ostracized by Christians.
I want to be impeccably clear on three things. First, the Bible is extremely clear that homosexual sexual relations are sinful just as gossip is sinful and sleeping with your girlfriend outside of marriage is sinful. I don’t care to debate that here and if you need clarity instead read these wonderful articles https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/bible-same-sex-marriage-6-wrong-trajectories or http://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/why-is-homosexuality-wrong. Secondly, I am aware in both the LGBTQ community and among Christians who struggle with ssa terminology can be debated and I frankly lack the awareness to address this in a way that does nor accidentally offend someone. If you prefer to say celibate gay Christianity, asexual Christian, or anything else other than a Christian who suffers from same-sex attraction that is fine and I hope we can better educate the church and myself on terminology. Lastly, I am aware that homosexuality is being talked about because the biblical stance on it is being culturally rejected in our day. Though I believe one can hold varying positions on the relationship between Biblical sexuality and the social order, I make no attempt to decry Christian attempts to protect marriage or religious liberty. This all being said, neither of these factors can justify the way in which we treat homosexuality as so uniquely disgusting.
The response many Christians have to homosexual desires is actually more humanist than actually Christian. Too many Christians have not only indulged their culturally influenced gag-reflex but have even let it define their moral hierarchy. Perhaps for all of our arguments the reason we are more bothered by honest gay couple than the man with a tally of female sexual conquests is because we find homosexuality more disgusting, but God certainly does not. The right response to our gag-reflex is not to indulge it in condemning those with sins unlike what we struggle with but to direct it inwards at our own inner darkness and sin. The gag-reflex moral hierarchy is made worse when we apply it towards those who merely struggle with same sex temptations. Among much of American culture men who don’t desire sports, red meat, or good looking girls are seen as somehow sub-male. Though Christians worship a celibate middle easterner, many Christians assume this basic definition of masculinity even if it’s given somewhat of a Christian spin. Scripture validates very little of cultural masculinity and in truth real Godly men can be anything from a vegetarian coal miner to an athletic interior designer. The simple lack of sexual attraction to the opposite sex casts men and women who have never committed sexual sin (other than perhaps pornography regardless of what it is) into the categories of disgusting less than-ness. Most Christians who struggle with ssa don’t tell anyone and sink into spirals of depression and shame because uck factor morality in the church tells them they are disgusting and unworthy of Christ’s love. In reality many of these individuals should be esteemed for fighting a battle on two fronts and we should reinforce that no temptation is in and of itself sin no matter how gross we think it might be.
One might be reading this and wonder where exactly does this homophobia exist within Christian churches. Perhaps your Christian community treats homosexuality as no different from other sins and treats Christians with ssa with complete dignity. But perhaps it may be that homophobia has so pervaded the Christian church that we don’t even think about it when we see it. Have you heard Christian men parody homosexuals with a stereotypical lisp? Have you ever seen a Christian mother warn their children of the evil corrupting influence of assumedly gay people they notice while neglecting to point out the cultural evil of on demand divorce or promiscuity? I suspect if you pay attention, you will notice regrettably this bigotry even when its minor bigotry pervades the church.
Christians who realize the cruelty that society and even other Christians have shown towards both the LGBTQ community and those struggling with same sex attraction should seek to bring changes that make the Christian church a loving place for those who struggle with all kinds of sin and even those who practice sin openly. We should treat a gay couple who visit our church no different than the couple who visits that’s living with each other outside of marriage, though this is not to say we should ever give false assurance to anyone who lives in open unrepentant sin. We need to make it clear including from the pulpit that those who struggle with same sex attraction or do not fit our cultural definitions of masculinity or femininity are no less valuable than others and have nothing to be ashamed of. When someone opens up about same sex attraction we should neither be disgusted nor suggest they somehow need to be fixed in a way that might be similar to the shame producing conversion therapy. We can see members of the LGBTQ community won to Christ and we can see Christians speak of their struggle with same-sex attraction without feeling dirty but these beautiful things can only start when we begin to treat those we might be uncomfortable around with love and dignity.