Thursday, May 2, 2013

Christianity & Homosexuality: Christians Do (Should) Care

Jason Collins: First active pro sports athlete to come out as gay.
In the wake of Jason Collins' coming out as gay and the prevailing issues on same-sex marriage, I admire the courage of ESPN NBA analyst, writer and Christian Chris Broussard. He did the unthinkable by expressing his Christian beliefs publicly regarding homosexuality. However, in a time when we all talk and preach acceptance and  tolerance, I wonder if there is such left for Christians and for Chris, who politely and explained clearly his position. Chris cared enough to be real about his faith, and be real even to a friend who is a homosexual. 

So for Chris to be real about his faith, I'm going to be real with mine as well. Christian principles and beliefs may be old fashioned, but that does not mean we all have a pitchfork, noose and fire ready for every sinner we see doomed for the eternal fires of hell. Please, it's not like that at all. 

So let’s get down to it. What do we really believe and feel about this issue? Where are we coming from?

The Bible & Sin
Old school as it may seem, what does the bible say about the issue? For Christians, the bible is clear about sin, and there are plenty of references to go to: 

"The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God." -Galatians 5:19-21 (NIV)

“So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.  Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming.” - Colossians 3:5-6 (NIV)

To be more precise, the bible also mentions homosexual sin along with other sins:

"Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality" -1 Corinthians 6:9 (NIV)

"For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done." -Romans 1:26-28 (NIV)

So that's getting it straight. We are not sugar coating this. The bible stands firm: All people who practice these sins, are sinners. No, its not just the LBGTs. Practically everyone and anyone who commits these acts are all sinners. Period. Just as adulterers, liars, sexually active unmarried men and women... all of them are sinners. So, in the same way, homosexuals are also sinners, just like everybody else. This is where Chris Broussard is coming from, and this is where I am coming from as a Christian. We're not singling people out, we're saying we're all in the same boat of messed up people in need of Christ!
  
But that does not give a complete picture does it? Because the reality is that so-called spiritually mature and enlightened men and women of faith (whether Christian or not) do have pitchforks ready against the LGBTs! Just scroll down the comments sections on any Jason Collins article, and you will see what I mean. People do hate. Christians hate. But again, that's not the entire story. 

Faith ≠ Hate
Back in college, one of my closest friends is a bisexual. She knew about my faith, and I knew hers, but our beliefs never became an issue with regard to our friendship. We went to classes together, had lunch and dinner during breaks, rode to and from school together, visited each other's houses, and hung-out even outside of school! We knew we were genuine friends regardless of our personal beliefs. Even for  Chris Broussard, Faith was never an issue in terms of how he related to his friends: "I'm a Christian. I don't agree with homosexuality. I think it's a sin, as I think all sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is. [ESPN's] L.Z. [Granderson] knows that. He and I have played on basketball teams together for several years. We've gone out, had lunch together, we've had good conversations, good laughs together. He knows where I stand and I know where he stands. I don't criticize him, he doesn't criticize me, and call me a bigot, call me ignorant, call me intolerant."

I'd like to believe a lot of Christians feel the same way. We're just getting bad rep. 

Our principles and convictions may be different than what is now widely accepted, but it's never an issue with regard to how we genuinely see and treat people. Does that change who I am as a Christian? Of course not. Does that change how I view sin and homosexuality? No. But that doesn't change how I am genuinely fond of my bisexual friend. It never was and will never be an issue.

The “Perfect Christian”
I myself admit to struggling with sexual temptation day by day. Any Pastor, Priest or even Rabbi who says he has not had any sexual struggle, whether they're married or not, surely is not being honest about their faith. I've talked to many Pastor-colleagues of mine who express that even marriage does not solve their problems with lust and sexual temptation! The struggle they faced since puberty? It still haunts them today in their married life. But does that make us lesser humans? No. I’d like to believe it only proves that even Pastors too, do struggle like everyone else. So then should two men who struggle with pornography but have differing sexual preferences be viewed and treated differently? The bible is clear that God sees both as sinners, so why should we, especially Christians, treat them differently? Shouldn't we care for them both like how Jesus would care for both?

The real problem lies when “Perfect Christians” believe that homosexuality is more disgusting, inhumane, revolting, and more sinful than their lesser sinful lives, only committing "lesser" sins. They're perfectly better off than gays. For them, they're the normal ones. To those guys who feel this way? To those who feel disgusted about homosexuals? To those who doesn't want to do anything with homosexuals because they're surely 100% bound for hell? Check and re-read your bibles please: Psalm 86:15; Job 34:19; John 13:34-35; 1 John 4:7-8. Realize that we are all just as much disgusting because of our sins against God. 

I repeat however, not all Christians feel they're so much better of. In the same way that not all Muslims are Terrorists, not all Christians preach and breed hatred toward LGBTs. A lot of us do care. There are those who genuinely provide support and a helping hand at a time when the world, including Christians unfortunately, choose not to. Heard of the Gay Christian Network? They minister to LGBTs! They even have healthy dialogue and discussion about homosexuality so much so that despite members having differing views on homosexuality, they're still all committed in one accord trying their best to love, care and understand better LGBTs.

How Jesus Dealt with Sinners
Jesus and the adulterous woman: "Neither do I condemn you."
So how did Christ himself deal with this issue? How did he relate with people deemed "outcasts" of society? For that, we look at an example from scripture: 

"At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus,“Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”" -John 8:2-11 (NIV)

This did not happen just once. This was how he showed he truly loved all people regardless of their background. Time and again, Jesus spent time talking to tax collectors, to adulterers and prostitutes, spent time conversing with them, eating with them and being with them (Luke 15:1-2; Luke 19:7; Matthew 9:10-11). He chose to love the seemingly unlovable, those rejected by society in order to give us all a picture of the type of patience, understanding, mercy and love he expects from his true followers. That's what being a Christian is. Being just like him. But are we really being like him? 

Jesus came for all sinners, that every sinner would have life through him, by people understanding that they can only live life through him, the savior who bridged the gap between the holiness of God and the sinfulness of man. He came that all of us may have a sure hope (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; Ephesians 2:4-5; 1 John 4:9-11). That's what Jesus did. If Jesus had only chosen the perfect ones, then we all would never make the final cut. 

Sadly however, some Christians do shove their faith down people's throats to a point that it suffocates, that it bleeds and that it hurts others. Some Christians just simply can't get over the fact they are just as fallen as the guys they are trying to "minister" to. Christians have lost friends and have lost favor from people because of what some brothers and sisters are doing, and I apologize for them. If only we can all be in the same page as Christians. And if at times we have portrayed hate even though we genuinely don't? We are sorry. Admittedly, even I myself am guilty of this. We are sorry for our ignorance, for not caring enough, and for not caring at all. We're sorry for hating, for not understanding, and for not loving like how Jesus loved. 

Hear Us Out
I can only hope people can give Chris Broussard and the rest of the Christian community the kind of tolerance, understanding and patience they would give to others. We're still a work in progress, but a lot of us are really trying and we are doing what we can. Not all Christians are morons, ignorant, insensitive and hateful. So help us out then:

1) Get to Know us! Get to know us first. Have coffee with us, play basketball with us, have dinner with us! Don't judge us right away, please. My church, Greenhills Christian Fellowship - Ortigas, has regular basketball pick-up games every Tuesday night after work, open to everyone and anyone. Even GCF members and PBA players Bitoy Omolon (Air 21) and Jireh Ibanez (Rain or Shine) played with us one time. It's part of our project and ministry called The Shed. So go ahead and attend, we want to hangout with you! For more info about The Shed, please visit: facebook.com/TheShedAtGCFOrtigas.

2) Partner with us! Let's work together to help out those who need help (homosexuals, poor, marginalized, orphans, etc). We understand you don't need pity but simply just want to belong like everyone else. So let's work together then? Check out your local churches and Christian organizations. Have you heard of Liberty Street Clothing? They're helping out survivors from challenging backgrounds through a sustainable business. Ask them how you can help them out! Check out their facebok: facebook.com/LibertyStreetClothing.

3) Pray with us! Christianity is not a faith by and for good people only. It's made up of messed up, sinful people in need of Christ. We're all in the same boat here. So let's all pray for each other: Struggles, concerns, joys, triumphs, everything! In GCF, we have a prayer chapel and a Prayer Hour every Saturday, 4PM led by volunteers and leaders of the Youth and Young Adults Ministry of GCF. Join us!

Final Thoughts
I know this isn't comprehensive enough and still comes of subjective even on a Christian standpoint, but I feel it serves its purpose to establish that we all have common ground. I can only hope for a time when people can just simply play basketball without looking at the color of people's skin, looking at their social status, looking at their physical appearances, looking at people's sexual preference. But as we wait for that day, may we all find the patience and love toward each other as imperfect people, still being chiselled into the masterpieces that we are intended to be.

*Any thoughts on the matter? Suggestions? Likes? Dislikes? Let me know how you feel about the matter by commenting below. Be polite and kind with your comments though please. Thanks!

4 comments:

  1. thanks for speaking out. a lot of us do need to be more vocal about our stand on issues like this. well said. truths not watered down but spoken in love. i'm sharing this.

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    1. Praise God! I pray it inspires more brothers and sisters in Christ to be bold about their faith and be loving and caring to all people regardless of background, just like Christ! Thank for commenting!

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  2. A wonderful article. I agree with the comment above - "truths not watered down but spoken in love." I struggle with homosexuality, and much too often I feel that I disgust Christians because of my issue. It makes me feel disgusted at myself, too. I never wanted to be this way. It makes me feel like I'm a "special" sinner, and that my sinfulness is at the highest in the hierarchy of sins.

    I don't hate them for reacting/feeling that way, for in my mind I somehow understand why they do so. But it still hurts, and I'm sad.

    Thank you for this...

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    1. Hey there. Thanks for replying! I pray that you find a community/ small group/ people who can walk with you as you go through this, because a lot of people do care. If you need someone to talk to, you can email me: david.miguel@yahoo.com and we can talk further about this! I'd love to help you out and connect you to people who knows exactly what you are going through. You don't have to go through this alone :)

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