by David Souther
Most of you probably saw or heard about Joel Osteen’s interview with Piers Morgan. What struck me most about the interview was the fact that Piers took his time to ask Pastor Osteen several questions about one topic, the pastor’s view of homosexuality. Here is a sampling of the questions and statements made by Piers: “Is homosexuality a sin in your eyes?”
- “Why are they sinners in your eyes?”
- “When you say things like ‘homosexuality is a sin’, it’s a big statement to make. You are a judge, and you’re encouraging your congregation to believe that.”
- “You are judging the person, aren’t you? Aren’t you?”
- “What would you say to a homosexual watching this? What do you — how do they change — what do they have to do to change to be better people?”
There is a pervading perception that Christians have it in for homosexuals, that they have contempt for them. To some degree, this perception is deserved. Consider what the general public sees on the news. They see “Christians” protesting against homosexuality with signs saying “God hates gays”, “Homosexuals are possessed by demons”, “Gays die, God laughs” (these are actual signs from news reports).
They also hear Christian ministers make prophetic statements about natural disasters, declaring that God sent the disaster as judgment against homosexuality (as if they had heard directly from Him). It is very easy to assume that all Christians hold these beliefs and to dismiss Christians as prejudiced or bigoted against homosexuals.
How can believers overcome this perception in their relationships with unbelievers while remaining true to the teachings of scripture? Here are a few thoughts:
1. Remember that ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Yes, the Bible declares that sexual activity outside of a marriage between a man and a woman is sin. However, we all are sinners and deserve God’s judgment and are in need of His grace. That includes homosexuals and non-homosexuals.
2. Recognize that God has commanded us to be salt and light to everyone in the world, taking the gospel to everyone. Do you put limits on your interaction with particular non-believers? If you learn that someone is gay, do you automatically treat them differently than someone else you may meet? No one falls outside of Jesus’ command to love your neighbor.
3. Drop any self-righteous or morally superior attitudes you may have. Realize that the only thing that sets believers apart from non-believers is the righteousness of Christ that is ours by grace through faith in Him. Christians are not “better” than anyone else because of our adherence to a moral code or a set of “family values.” We can take no pride or credit for the grace of God in which we stand. Jesus alone makes the difference.