I think it’s fair to say there are more than a few American Christians who are hesitant to say that homosexuality is sinful. I offer a few of the reasons, based on some observation and some examination of my own heart. This list isn’t intended to be exhaustive, I’m only submitting it as a description of the temptations to silence that I’ve seen lurking in my own heart and as the ones that I suspect I’m seeing play out in the public words (or lack of words) of some other Christians.
1) A genuine desire to not harm people.
This is obviously a good thing. Though God will slay the wicked, He does not delight in their deaths. He makes the sun shine on the repentant and the unrepentant alike, and gives the unrighteous rain and nature and general order in creation. God has intimate regard for His creatures, and that is especially true of His image-bearers, even those He will cast into the Lake of Fire. The Bible tells us these things. Even in the midst of His great wrath, our God has real and true love that makes ours pale in comparison.
But this desire to not harm has to be steered in the right direction by the truth of God’s Word. We often can’t see past the next e-mail or Facebook post, and so our palms can get sweaty over how someone will react to a digital communication when they should be sweating over how that person will stand before Jesus on the Day of the Lord.
God does not bless two men pursuing each other in romance and attempting to have sex with each other. We should desire the well-being of our friends and neighbors who are pulled in this direction or are engaged in this sin, but part of that well-being will be to pulled out of a behavior that only ends badly. We cannot be so nervous about causing short-term pain that we allow someone to cast themselves headlong into never-ending pain.
2) A desire to see the church of Jesus grow in America.
Again, a good thing. I want to see the redeemed, called-out people of God added to. But it is never a good strategy to try to hide parts of who God is and what He has said. We are not simply selling something, as Christians. Many of Jesus’ followers deserted him at one point, in John 6, after He said some very hard words. They were offended and left. That was okay with Him. The ones who stayed loved Him.
“When many of his disciples heard it, they said, ‘This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?’ But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, ‘Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life…’ After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, ‘Do you want to go away as well?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.'”
When we evangelize, we are hoping for a miracle of God by which a spiritually dead sinner is brought to life. We are hoping a Peter is born, someone to whom God has revealed that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Salvation is when an individual goes from hating God to loving Him. It’s a miracle, not a sales pitch. We should work to persuade, but all the while remembering we are persuading them to someone the natural man will find offensive: A Holy Jesus who is King, Savior, and unapologetically Lord.
Trying to cover up parts of what He has spoken is a terrible method.
3) Sinful fear of what people will think.
I know what it’s like to want to fit in. And I know what it’s like to want to be thought well of and admired. But when that becomes where our identity rests, when we are more ready to act or speak with man’s opinion of us in mind than with God’s, we are in sin.
I’m encouraging you and I’m encouraging myself to internally ask questions about what we choose not to say in this image-obsessed day and place:
–Are there words and sentences Jesus and His apostles and His prophets used that I could never imagine coming out of my mouth, unless they were preceded by something like, “Now I’m not saying…”? Words like “wrath,” “judgment,” “fire,” and “wicked?” Sentences like “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him”?
-Do I honestly think about standing before Jesus and giving an account for my life? And by comparison, how much do I worry about what other human beings think about what I say or do?
-In my heart of hearts, is my goal in what I say and don’t say about homosexuality faithfulness to Almighty God? Or is something else dictating my speech or silence?
The world needs us to have compassion and conviction. Grace and truth. Great mercy towards sinners, as those of us who have been washed were once headed to Hell, and great boldness towards sinners, as we also know what is coming for the unrepentant and would see them spared that.
Ephesians tells us to speak the truth in love, and we should never forget that last word. Love. It carries the beauty of the Cross and of our Savior in it. Speak the truth in love. We should never neglect the last word, there.
But my fear is that many of us are forgetting the first word.