Christians – If You’re Gay, Don’t Flaunt It. If You’re Straight, Don’t Taunt It.
The above catchphrase is my summarization of the message of Romans 14, as applied to the situation between followers of Christ who believe that homosexuality is permitted, and followers of Christ who believe homosexuality is forbidden.
Now, don’t misconstrue me – My personal conviction is that the Bible quite clearly condemns homosexuality, and at the very least does not endorse it.
This is the stand that mainstreamers (‘fundamentalists’) hold to for the most part – that homosexuality is a wilful sin in God’s eyes, regardless of its source, strength or ‘naturalness’.
However, the convictions of others is that the Bible never explicitly forbids homosexuality. It is thus not a sin to practise it.
Thus it is the stand that Christians who do not accept homosexuality are being prejudiced and antagonostic towards Christians who do accept it.
You can take a look at the comments to Scott’s Unconditional Apology For Any Hurt Caused By Remarks on Homosexuality for a glimpse of both sides of the argument, even as they each believe that they are not in the wrong and being neutral in their points.
I would like to bring into this context the Bible passage I read this morning, with parts I found important bolded.
Romans 14 – The Weak and the Strong
1Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. 2One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. 4Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
5One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. 8If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
9For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. 10You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11It is written:
” ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will confess to God.’ “[a] 12So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.
13Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. 14As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food[b] is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. 15If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. 16Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. 17For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.
19Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.
22So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.
Now, assuming that the matter of homosexuality is a purely intra-Christianity doctrinal issue (but without saying that it is), you can put either pro- or anti-homosexuality as the ‘one whose faith is weak’, the ‘stumbling block’ or ‘doing something that distresses your brother’.
Anti-homosexuality believers must take care in their zeal for upholding the truth (as they define it). They often condemn without trying to understand the difficulties and personal struggles that homosexuals go through.
How many long-term converts are won by comdemnation compared to care and gentle coaxing? The ‘taunting’ attitude of anti-homosexuality Christians, constantly pouring out antagonism, becomes a stumbling block for other believers.
Pro-homosexuality believers must be wary that their behaviour does not become a stumbling block to other believers. Although the pro-homosexuality side may accept homosexuality as God-given and not a sin, other believers do not have that same understanding.
As Paul said, even simple matters as eating (e.g. food offered to idols) and drinking (e.g. alcohol) should not be done in a way that distresses other believers, who may not have the same convictions. The ‘flaunting’ attitude of pro-homosexuality Christians, telling everyone it’s okay with God to be gay, becomes a stumbling block for other believers.
(On a related note, think this through: A new church opens by publicly proclaiming in the media its stand that homosexuality is permitted by Christianity. How does this reflect on all the other churches that do not support this stand? By implication, the teachings of all other churches must be wrong.
It might have been more prudent – and more humble – to start up the church quietly and spread word of its existence by word of mouth, particularly in Muslim-dominated and conservative Malaysia. As it is, the image of Christianity has been jeapordized among the nonbelievers and the mockers.)
To close, I am not saying that we should keep our opinions to ourselves and shut down all discussion, debate and – yes – even argument.
If you are firmly convinced and convicted that your understanding is correct, it is a Christian duty to convince others of your belief – in a gentle and respectful manner. But in the end, it is God Himself who will make the final judgement.
PS. Verses 5 to 8 are a nice refutation of the Ahnsahnghong church’s condemnation of all mainstreamers who do not earn salvation through celebrating Passover!