Sometimes I think about who I spend my time with and I wonder if it really is pleasing to my King. While He was here during His incarnation He spent His time with either the world's nobodies or the religious world's outcasts. His disciples were nobodies and He spent an awful lot of time hanging out with tax collector's. He was scandalously friendly with people known to be sexually immoral. Jesus only had so much time to spend with people here and He chose to invest in these people.
Reflecting on this I am embarrassed to think on the mistakes made by the church in the past. Times of compromise and foolishness. And even times of hatred. Yet we are called to be much different than this. Especially when we are certain of being right. We must be right with compassion and love. Remember Jesus not only taught us to love the outcast and the immoral through His actions He absolutely commanded it when He told us to love our neighbor. Immoral people and people who are wrong are still our neighbors.
There is also the issue of the image of God. The fact that all humans are made in the image of God should drive us to respect and cherish every living human, whether they share our convictions or not. As Francis Schaeffer said there are 'no little people.'
So who do I have in mind particularly - I am thinking specifically of how we as Evangelicals have interacted with homosexuals. I recently was exposed to two different ways of responding to our culture's embrace of homosexuality. One was a man was denouncing homosexuality as an awful sin that deserved hell and that they shouldn't talk about some gay gene, because people choose to be that way. Then I heard another Evangelical (that I respect and appreciate a great deal) say that in a few decades we are going to be sorry for not embracing homosexuality in the same way the southern church should be embarrassed for supporting a racist society.
I found them both distasteful for different reasons. The first man for his lack of compassion and willingness to show grace. The second man for listening to culture rather than the clear truth of scripture. We must find a balance.
I want to say clearly that I believe that the Bible teaches that homosexuality is sinful. I also believe that it is destructive to individuals and families. I also fear that it is a particularly enslaving sin that it is difficult to escape once begun. I also believe that there is a distinct possibility that there is some sort of genetic proclivity toward homosexual attraction (like some people are born with addictive personalities or struggle with chemical depression). But I also think that homosexuals are still our neighbors, that they are made in the Image of God and therefore have inherent dignity and should be treated with respect.
We need to learn to be understanding, to acknowledge the difficulty of escaping this lifestyle. Be willing to acknowledge that some people will always struggle with same-sex attraction. To show mercy and grace. To develop real friendships with homosexuals. And at the same time be clear that even as we love homosexuals we are still opposed to their sin.
We must learn to be right with compassion and grace.
PS - I bet Jesus would have been friends with homosexuals and still told them to leave their sin.