“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.’”
Every day, headlines across the world mention the LGBTQ+ community. This topic is overwhelming our news outlets, our clothing stores, our advertisements, our places of employment, our doctor’s offices, sports, and even our schools, colleges, and universities. So, why is it that all we are getting from the American Church on this topic is nothing but crickets?
According to a NBC news report done in 2020 by Dan Avery,
“The vast majority of religious LGBTQ Americans are Christian — split fairly evenly among Catholics (25 percent), Protestants (28 percent) and other Christian denominations (24.5 percent). Only about 2.5 percent identify as Jewish and 2 percent as Muslim.”
Even with these numbers, the American Church continues to conduct business as usual. What is it that has made such a large group of people leave the Church in preference of the LGBTQ+ community? Or, to put it more plainly: How has the Church hurt the LGBTQ+ ?
When it comes to LGBTQ-identifying members of the church, we typically see two extreme approaches. On one hand, we have a watered-down gospel approach, full of acceptance and even an unchanged message. On the other hand, we see the opposite approach–they preach a message of condemnation, creating a hierarchy of sin, which leaves no hope.
Neither of these approaches follow what God’s Word says the Church should do; and both of these approaches hurt the LGBTQ+ identified individual. Even more than this, it makes the challenge of sharing the need to repent an even more difficult task. We are Christ’s ambassadors and, therefore, have His message to bring–not our own. We have hurt LGBTQ+ identified individuals by not bringing them the message of Jesus Christ. Instead, we have sent our message, and have become a stumbling block to those who are lost.
“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
2 Corinthians 5:20
The world around us is changing; but if the Church focuses on being progressive and inclusive, instead of being doctrinally sound, we are bound to have some problems. All of the churches that desire to be inclusive and affirming of LGBTQ+ individuals may be coming from a place of wanting to show Christ’s love, but they have lost sight of the truth. They have conformed to the thought process of this world–they have lost sight of what God’s Word says; and that His Word is the highest authority.
“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
“Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin.”
“So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, ]excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; 19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. 20 But you did not learn Christ in this way, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, 22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”
When we preach a message of acceptance rather than that of repentance, we are preaching a false sense of security, and that is not love. This message gives the lost the sense that they have no need for a Savior. They have nothing to be saved from because they can remain unchanged. There is nothing that they need to die to, and nothing to “put off.”
And He was saying to them all,
“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”
Would we say that it is love to allow our child to run through a burning building? It’s what they want to do, and that is how they express themselves. However, I think that we would all agree that love in that case is to do whatever we need to do to protect our child from harm, or even death. This is what we are doing when we preach a message of acceptance rather than that of repentance; we are allowing others to run to the flames while we stand there and tell them you are loved.
Example: “This is what the Church is doing when it preaches a message of acceptance rather than that of repentance. This false gospel affirms people in their current state–standing by and watching them run into the flames while the Church just stands by and loves them to death.”
In addition to this fallacy, there is yet another error the Church clings to:
“You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.”
It is from this word abomination that many churches use as a launching pad into a hierarchy of sin. This is the other extreme. Instead of being progressive, they are more legalistic. Their practice is led out of fear and leads to a lack of compassion as well as a lack of hope.
When we are led by fear it cripples us so that we are unable to move. If we are unable to move our lips, that makes us silent on issues that we should address. If we are unable to move, our hands we are unable to embrace the hurting. If we are unable to move our feet, we are not able to go to those who are so very lost. If we are unable to move our minds, from the things of this world to the things above, we will lack compassion. All of this breeds a lack of hope.
“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.”
2 Timothy 1:7
These churches have lost sight of the fact that mankind is made in the image of God. To be made in the image of God means that, in the eyes of God, each of us are worth saving. All of us are in need of a Savior; and Jesus is willing to go get the one while leaving the ninety-nine. He does this so that each one can have a relationship with Him.
“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
It is also here that we see a lack of understanding to what Jesus has commanded us to do– love! This may stir up some people who stand on this point, believing that to love is to accept everything and everyone just as they are. But is that what the Bible instructs?? What is it really that drives churches to say, “I don’t want to compromise the doctrinal stance of our denomination by showing the LGBTQ+ Community love.” Couldn’t one even argue that not showing love IS compromising your faith?
If these two sides are not what the Bible tells us, then what is the solution? The American Church has hurt LGBTQ-identifying individuals by watering down the message of Jesus, as well as poisoning the Gospel with a lack of compassion for the lost.
When Jesus commanded us to love, He wasn’t telling us anything goes. He was telling us that love is selfless. Love is costly. Love keeps no record of wrongs. Love is not harsh. Love rejoices with the truth, but does not delight in evil. All of this tells us that to love is not easy; but loving one another is how the world will know that we are His.
The greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God with everything we have so that means everything stems from that commandment. If we first must love God and to do so we must keep His commandments, then that should lead us right to proclaiming what Jesus proclaimed, “Repent!” and that message is to who Jesus came for. Not the healthy but the sick. Sinners, not the righteous. He came to seek and save the lost. As His ambassadors, shouldn’t it be that we are to do the same? As His disciples, shouldn’t we be preaching that same message to the ends of the earth and walking as He walked?
God loved us–each and every one of us–while we were of least value. It was while we were there that He died for us. Not when our value increased, but while we were of least value. He did it all so that we could come to Him. That is love. It is that same unconditional love that we are to have as we encounter the LGBTQ+ community in order that we may share with them the message of hope found in repentance. If we remain silent, we only bring death, rather than life. If we continue to bring a false security, we allow them to be burned for all of eternity.
“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”
In order for the American Church to show the love of Jesus to the LGBTQ+ community, we are going to have to start by humbling ourselves, and then ask God for the grace to love the way He wants us to love them. We need to understand that no matter where we have come from, or what we have done, nothing is so great that our God can’t handle it. No sin is so heavy that Jesus’ blood can’t cover it.
We need to come to a place of seeing that the hierarchy of sin is man made, and that every sin was bought at a price–the same price. Do we really want to show anyone that Jesus’ blood was not great enough to cover their sin?
We have created an atmosphere of hate rather than that of love. We are not to love the practices, but the people. Hate their practices, but to the people, we are to show love. Our battle is not against the LGBTQ+ individuals, but we–the American Church–have forgotten this. Our battle is against the principalities and powers of this dark age.
We need to put on our armor of God and get rid of the spirit of fear. It has no place amongst God’s people! This spirit of fear has caused us to be silent far too long. It has caused us to show a lack of compassion far too long. It has caused us to accept sin far too long. It has caused us to allow a lack of accountability far too long. But love . . . casts out fear.
How has the Church hurt LGBTQ+ individuals? In so many ways, but in short, we have made it so difficult for them to come to the feet of Jesus. We need to ask God to help us show them love, and be armed with the truth, seasoned with grace, in order that we may share with them the message Jesus has, Today is the day of repentance!
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.”
1 John 4:18
Finally, I want you to consider that these two extremes that we, the American Church, display are a fantastic comparison of the Jews and Gentiles. The Jews were very focused on the law. They were all about the law! The Gentiles were all about loose living. They lived the total opposite of what God required. They were the progressive type. It was Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection that bridged the chasm between the Jews and the Gentiles.
In the same way, Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection bridges the gap between the Church and the LGBTQ+ Community. It is not either extreme that God calls us to, but rather something more in the middle. He calls us to love with a love that demands change or rejection. This is the love that God showed us by sending Jesus to die when we were of least value.
Lord, please help the American Church show your love for the LGBTQ+ we pray!
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”