The other day I read a blog post by Owen Strachan called, “Dear Rob Bell: The Church Isn't Giving an Inch on Gay Marriage.” It was one of those rare and unsettling occasions where I wished I could take back something that I had read. Not only did this post break my heart and make me sick to my stomach, but it caused me to realize that the Church has a long way to go regarding our relationship with the LGBTQ community.
(On a side note, the author wrote, “Unlike the culture, we don’t hate and silence those who oppose us,” in a piece that--ironically--is trying to silence Rob Bell, a prominent Christian leader with an opposing viewpoint.)
All too often among Christians, I have heard the terminology “War on Homosexuality.” I have even heard this phrase quoted by leaders in my own denominational tribe, the Church of the Nazarene. It is usually along the lines of, “The Church cannot afford to lose the war on homosexuality!”
But why does this have to be a war? Why are we even using a metaphor that is based on bloodshed, violence, and death?
Regardless of your stance on homosexuality, we have all got to stop using this type of hateful terminology.
We are going to lose thousands of people from our churches. We are going to lose too many from the LGBTQ community to suicide, homelessness, and hate-crimes. We are going to lose large numbers of homosexual and transgender men and women to lives of addiction and sexual promiscuity. We are going to lose the rich and beautiful diversity that comes from humbly engaging in conversations with those that have differing opinions and views. We are going to lose the opportunity to speak out against injustice and stand alongside the powerless.
So please, lay down your arms. Stop fighting a battle against the LGBTQ community. Stop trying to wage a war against homosexuality. The collateral damage isn't worth winning this war. What do we benefit if we “win the war on homosexuality” but lose thousands of LGBTQ souls in the process?
As the author of the original blog post rightly acknowledges, “The message of Jesus Christ is not a self-affirming message. It is a call to death. It is a summons to submission.”
Let’s actually take that to heart and follow in Christ’s footsteps by choosing to work for peace and showing mercy--even to those we disagree with--instead of engaging in cultural warfare.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Matt. 16:24-26)
To me, that sounds like a call to surrender, not a call to arms.