Monday, January 02, 2006

Culture, Homosexuality, and the Christian Response: Getting Past the 'Yuck' Factor

It is my hope that this post will cause a few people to think about how they deal with people who are homosexuals. I do not believe that the evangelical response, by and large, has been a good witness. Perhaps. I could be wrong, but I have a sneaking suspicion that our reversion to homosexuality has been more fleshly pride than godly grief. Here is what I mean.

In the West, and in the East, homosexuality has been a cultural taboo. This, I believe, is a sign of the common grace of God that has kept our culture from sexual debauchery. But common grace is not enough to bring someone to saving faith, and a reaction to a cultural taboo is not the same as a godly sorrow.

In our culture there are certain things that are deemed "disgusting" by virtue of our societies mannerisms. Belching at the table comes to mind. We may also find the custom of eating fresh monkey brains revolting, or cooking our food over cow dung, or etc. In other lands, these things may not only be acceptable but even encouraged! These are cultural issues, not Biblical ones.

Sometimes cultural taboos and biblical prohibition intersect. Such has been the case with homosexuality. It is clearly defined as sin in Scripture, and our culture has attached a 'yuck' factor to it. I would submit that the latter cultural factor is slowly being eroded, but the biblical prohibition will remain. Evangelicals can get mad about this, but there has already been an amazing acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle in the public eye over the past thirty years that would have been undreamed of in the past. I think that this bodes well for evangelicals if they are mature in their faith.

I believe that as often as not, when an evangelical condemns homosexual behavior, it is because he or she is reacting to a cultural, perhaps natural response and not a godly conviction. This fleshly reaction is not compassionate or loving, but rather it is fleshly and hateful. This is the reaction of the beastly redneck drunkard and not the Spirit-filled disciple of Jesus Christ. The redneck farts, drinks himself into a drunken stupor, and picks fights for fun on a regular basis. He will sleep with any woman that he can dupe into a short-term relationship as often as he possibly can. Yet he will display the most extreme form of predjudice against homosexual conduct than anyone could imagine or muster. Would you say that this reaction is 'godly'? Would you encourage it? How should the Christian react differently?

I would submit that he is acting this way because his culture has taught him that homosexual behavior is disgusting, weak, and to be despised. It is not part of his cultural manhood to accept such behavior. So he would boast about beating up gay guys. By the way, this same redneck probably claims to be a Christian as well. His home church probably still has him on the active roll of the church membership and makes jokes when he comes to church.

Here is where the arrogance plays in for the Christian, and here is how we can recognize the rebellious redneck in all of us. First of all, if you think that you are less disgusting of a sinner than a homosexual you do not understand your own depravity. I do not have a problem with someone finding homosexuality repulsive for the right reasons. In fact, I applaud it. But I wonder why we do not treat divorce, adultery, thievery, and fornication with the same disdain? Why, o sinner, do you not act with revulsion when your own heart burns with lust towards someone of the opposite sex? Is this not appalling in the eyes of God? Why is it, O man, that the very fact that you know that you can be tempted by your neighbor's wife not enough to teach you that you are capable of the most horrific crimes of sexual debauchery?

Homosexuality should grieve us for reasons beyond the Yuck Factor. But I am afraid that is all the grief that the average evangelical can muster. Why is that? Because our view of sex has been so eroded, our view of marriage has been so dismantled, and that our eye has grown so lustful that the understanding of the sacredness and holiness of the marriage bed is not elevated high enough to teach us to grieve over the loss of innocence and purity. Not just a purity that comes from a legalistic abstinence, but an understanding that is born of the knowledge that the consumation of marriage is the closest model on God's earth to the relationship between Christ and His beloved. I would be willing to bet that the average teenager in America could not define the word 'chaste' other than to associate it with prudery and sexlessness. Chastity is not equal to virginity. A Christian wife who delights in the pleasures of sex with her husband is declared chaste by the Word of God (Check 1 Peter 3:1-8 and look for the word 'chaste' to see if I am telling the truth.)

When we react with an ungodly revulsion towards homosexuality, we hinder our witness and shame ourselves before the Lord. It is a prideful thing to believe oneself above even the most shameful sins. It is a poor understanding of depravity.

How then ought the Christian to react? I would submit that it should be with pity and hope. Pity because someone in that lifestyle is lost and missing the fulness of joy which God has promised. Hope because God can teach them yet how sex is meant to glorify Him, and that no one is beyond His grace or reach; you yourself are living proof of that. Finally, you must not be too harsh in your judgment. Apart from the grace of God, common or special, you may have woke up this morning in the bed with someone of the same sex. We have no room for boasting save in the mercy of our Lord. May God give us the grace to overcome pride that we may be the salt and light of the earth.

3 comments:

brother terry said...

Thanks!

peace,

Gummby said...

You've hit upon an interesting topic here. I think much of what you say is a good corrective to our own worldly beliefs about the nature of sex, abstinence, purity, etc., and even about sin. Pride is ultimately the one that gets us all, even if none of the others do.

But on the other side of the coin, there is something different about homosexuality, I think. Not from God's perspective, of course, but from ours. When a person decides to engage in that behavior, they are rejecting what is natural for what is unnatural, asserting that they will be rulers of their own lives even if it means rejecting the natural order of things.

Your recommendation was to respond with pity and hope. I would add love--true love. My experience with some homosexual co-workers is that they are very insecure, desperately seeking love, so desperate that they are willing to do anything to get it. Only love and God's grace can show them both the love they are seeking, and that the behaviors & lifestyle they are in leads only to pain and destruction.

Thanks again for your post.

Sojourner said...

Matt,

You are correct, of course. I should have put love. It is, I believe, the source for the two that I have listed.