Chuck Foreman – Teaching Pastor
Well…we had an interesting day on Sunday, August 3, 2014 at FCC. Some good, but hard questions and some good discussion then, and since. I received the following comment about my message on Sunday, August 3, 2014 at FCC. I’m sharing it here because I believe it is important for us to see how our position on this issue, one way or the other, may affect people who don’t agree with it.
Subject: Anti-Gay Message
“I’m assuming from your message today that openly gay people are not welcome in your congregation. How sad. I feel really bad for anyone in your congregation who just had to hear a message of hate and conditional love today, especially those who might be gay or, heaven forbid, a young person questioning who they’d want to love. Shame on you for the psychological and spiritual abuse you are perpetrating! I pray that someday no one will have to hear such messages from churches. The answer to your questions should have been…who am I to judge anyone? That’s up to God. All are welcome. We love you unconditionally just as you are. Don’t change a thing…especially your sexual orientation.”
I’ve also included my response here and I invite you to chime in on this discussion and encourage others you know, on both sides of this issue, to participate as well. Please don’t feel the need to come to my defense just because you may agree with me. Let’s try to understand this issue and how those on either side think and feel about it.
Subject: RE: Anti-Gay Message
Dear (name withheld),
Thank you for writing and for being frank with me about your reaction to yesterday’s message. Honestly, my first reaction when I read your note here was, “Did you and I go to the same church yesterday?” Or, perhaps you didn’t stay for the whole message. I felt like I took great care to communicate love not hate yesterday. So I’ve been thinking, since I read your note last night, about where I went wrong, because obviously that’s not the message you took with you. I want to claim responsibility for that.
What I believe this issue between us boils down to is this: we disagree about whether homosexuality is a “sin”. You have to understand that my starting point in this discussion is the Bible. I have absolutely no agenda against people who consider themselves gay. I have several gay friends whom I love very much. They know I love them and they love me back. Although the Bible clearly lists homosexuality among many other sins, it does not single homosexuality out as a more serious sin, as some people seem to do. I don’t believe that same sex attraction in itself is the sin, any more than opposite sex attraction is the sin. The sin happens when one acts upon that attraction and has sex outside the parameters God has designed sex for. Think about this, any heterosexual is predisposed to be an adulterer if they don’t control themselves. God’s intention for all of us is that we control ourselves and remain faithful to our mates, if married, or remain celibate if single.
(Please bear with me as I process my thinking with you.) I believe the reason the Bible teaches against homosexuality is because it is contrary to natural design. Nature has no design or provision for homosexuality. Procreation is impossible with homosexuality and would mean the extinction of the race. Natural selection would lead any species away from homosexuality. So, considering the issue of homosexuality or same sex attraction, which obviously exists, one could reason (even an atheist) that something in nature has gone wrong. This should not surprise us at all, since from time to time nature does not guard us against things going wrong, both biologically and psychologically. That’s why we have birth defects and mental illness. But you never hear anyone say, “Oh well, just live with your cleft palate or bi-polar chemical imbalance.” No. We do our best to love that person and help them correct it. And if we have a down syndrome baby, we love and care for it perhaps even more than if it had all of its chromosomes.
I’m willing to allow the possibility that same sex attraction does occur in some people–at least there are many people who claim this phenomenon. Most of them will tell you that they don’t believe it’s a choice. It’s just how they feel they are. We should not judge them for that. We should not condemn them for that. Just as no one should condemn any heterosexual for his or her opposite sex attraction. But what my closest homosexual friends have shared with me is that even though they feel a same sex attraction, they are not ultimately fulfilled when they act upon it.
So what should my response be as one who claims to follow Jesus? What would he do? I can’t look at his life and teachings and come to any other conclusion than that I must love the homosexual and help them also find God’s love, just as I must love any heterosexual and help them find God’s love. I believe he understands them if anyone does. I believe he is the only one who can help them find healing from whatever has gone wrong and find fulfillment in life. Ultimately, fulfillment for any of us never comes in acting upon our sexual preference, whether homosexual or heterosexual. Sex does not necessarily equal love. Sex does not ultimately fulfill us. Jesus proposed that the reason he came as Immanuel, God with us, was to give us life, life to the full (John 10:10). Perhaps we all need to take our focus off sex and put it on him. That isn’t going to be easy in a society with has made sex such a focal issue, but it might be worth a try.
And, I agree with your final statement here, and wish I would have made it myself on Sunday–with a couple slight additions… “Who am I to judge anyone? That’s up to God. All are welcome at FCC. We love you unconditionally just as you are. Don’t change a thing–especially your sexual orientation, for now. Come as you are. Join us on your journey to find God. And when you find him, trust him to change whatever he wants to change in you. And pray for me that I will let him do the same in me.”
For the record, everyone is unconditionally welcome at FCC. No questions asked. You might be interested in another message on this same topic which I gave at FCC on February 2, 2014, called, “Good Neighbor to the Offensive–Love”. You can find it under messages at www.fccphx.com
PS. For Blog Readers: One thing that has been pointed out to me since Sunday is that when Christians say things like, “Hate the sin; love the sinner,” it doesn’t sound very loving to anyone in the gay community. What they hear from us is rejection. Perhaps we just need to put our worn out slogans to rest and start really loving someone who is gay. Be their friend. See what God does in both of you.
One thing I have always admired about FCC in the 12 years that I’ve been attending is that its leaders unfailingly turn to God’s word as the basis for their lessons, regardless of social norms of the day. I truly feel the leaders and elders seek God continually in their decisions and messages, and I pray that those attending will recognize that and do the same. This subject is hard for everyone, but especially for those truly trying to do as Jesus would have us do – gay or straight. I’m sad that one would walk out of church yesterday feeling Chuck’s message was offensive (he has a heart of gold for all people), and possibly not return because they didn’t like what God has to say about the subject (though I understand the feeling). I pray he/she will give FCC more consideration, and that we will all allow ourselves to be convicted to live God’s way, not the world’s.
Thank you for your support, Tina. This dialogue and interaction has been very helpful to me in understanding how those who consider themselves members of the LGBTQA community feel about people like me/us, and has helped me better understand the reaction that some of our language elicits from them. I don’t believe either side has used their best thinking about this issue. Nor do I believe we fully understand each other yet. That’s something we need to keep working at. For the record, I am hot a “hater”. One thing we should all be clear on is this: to disagree does not equal hate. What if we all just kept asking ourselves everyday, WWJD?