by Ted Wise
In an ever changing vain world we as Christians are being asked how we stand on a variety of issues. We are never asked what our understanding is on these issues, but rather merely whose side we are on.
The issues themselves seem to be already stated without our input. For instance, we are being asked whether we are on the side of human rights, justice, and equality. And if we are, are we for or against homosexual human rights? An explosive issue to be sure, but I think it is a moral issue, not a political one.
If we look at the bigger picture, not just the yea or nay, a new insight is gained that demands a deeper understanding and a more appropriate response to the gay activists' cause than simply being for or against it. Are they actually a people or ethnic group whose rights are being denied? Or are they individuals who have forfeited their identity to their sin and mistakenly think that they are a race of people?
If we respond to the homosexual issue as if they are indeed a people, whether for or against, then a small group of crafty individuals will have hoodwinked us all into indirectly declaring that there is a third sex, a minority whose rights are being denied, and who as such are entitled to all rights and privileges inherent in being such a group. Consider this: if one signs a legal petition against homosexuals who serve society in any way at all, one could inadvertently be helping such individuals achieve this goal, whereas advocating standards of morality for all citizens does not.
For example, because of the very nature of the job, it would be ridiculous for a bank to hire an avowed thief. Qualifications for lots jobs more often than not include some kind of moral discrimination.
There is no doubt that leaders influence their followers or for that matter, that students emulate their teachers. This fact makes the observation of moral standards by those in authority not an option but a necessity.
To be sure, there is more at stake here than the civil rights of one who practices homosexuality. For instance any teacher, whether in church or school, who espouses immorality of any kind is not doing the job she/he was hired to do. In such a case, an offended party or parent certainly has the right and responsibility to demand that corrective action be taken by the organization's administration.
However, if a pastor or teacher openly announces that his/her sexual preference defines his/her gender, I would assume that this person intends to do as they have identified themselves to be. I think I'd find myself reacting the same way I would had they declared that they were a thief.
In such circumstances, I would have serious doubts about his/her qualifications as an instructor in general, not out of fear for the students, but because of the lack of wisdom in such a announcement. Like it or not, in everyday pop English, the term "homosexual" is more graphic than the oddly semi-scientific sounding "heterosexual".
As to the legality of denying a person their right to indulge his/her own particular taste in sin, that is a question that was settled long ago. One of our most cherished freedoms is that as individuals we are entitled to a fair trial in matters of where one individual's personal liberty has transgressed another's. For our own sakes, let us leave it that way. If anyone is accused of sexual intimacies with a minor, or of unwelcome erotic advances in the work place, it must be resolved by due process of law on an individual basis. You cannot charge a person with a crime until the deed is done.
It is clear what the Bible teaches about homosexual relationships and all other forms of sin as well. In the first chapter of Paul's letter to the Romans, we read that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness. Our concern for those who are subject to that wrath should be expressed in evangelism. The legislation of morality, whether by man's laws or by God's law, does not decrease sin, it increases it. After all, it is Christ who is delivering us, not the law. Odd, isn't it? Saved by God from God. It is equally odd that the whole downward spiral described in Romans, from general ungodliness through darkened minds into idolatry, lust, and homosexual behavior springs out of refusing to honor or give thanks to God whose very existence is proclaimed by the whole of His creation.
To reverse the downward direction of things we begin by example. We can allow our hearts to be filled with thanksgiving and praise for our salvation; we can pray for the lost, look for opportunities to share Christ with these individuals, and welcome them among us to learn the truth. If you feel that a campaign is necessary, may I suggest a proclamation, not a petition, pointing out what a pathetic tragedy it is for a human, created in God's own image, to find that their identity is being defined by what they do with their sexual organs rather than by what they do with their minds and hearts.
The Bible teaches us, as does common sense, that there is a place in a person's life where one who steals becomes a thief, where one who lies is a liar, and where one who sins sexually is known by that sin, whether hetero or homosexual. Yet Jesus said that simply calling someone a fool is a hell bound statement. It follows then that it has not been given to man, woman, church or secular associations to decide when this loss of identity has occurred. It transgresses the commandment that we judge not lest we be judged.
As for the individual who has willfully abandoned his or her identity so as to be known as a homosexual, may God help you find the dignity of your individuality again.
May I suggest to the church, "Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned as it were with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person." (Colossians 4:6)
Let us gracefully call each person by their name, not by their sin.
May 2, 1997
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