Christians and the homosexual

What do real Christians do when confronted with a spiritually fallen world?

Grant Swank, Jr., is pastor of the New Hope Church of the Nazarene in Windham, Maine.

They're rude, lewd, and obscene!" a Christian friend said to me about the gay protesters marching down the city streets.

A parishioner handed me a videotape of gays staging scenes publicly in order to get attention for their goals.

A political leader asked me to assist in "cleaning up our society" of the "gay debris."

I visited a church in Texas recently. The bulletin said that the congregation was "inclusive" and championed "diversity"— two buzzwords indicating the uncritical welcome of homosexuals. I immediately understood the code language.

I read daily letters to the editor of our local paper. The war goes on: prohomosexual letters versus con. Sometimes I think the page is going to catch fire.

A cousin of mine is dying today of AIDS. He contracted the disease through a blood transfusion, but some people clearly wonder if that is indeed how he was infected.

The dean of a cathedral in our city goes on television to endorse pro-gay agendas before the voters.

The all-gay chorus is invited to sing in a popular sanctuary nearby. A clergywoman will provide the invocation to the proceedings.

It puzzles me what all the fuss is about. I am a Christian. I can deal with this. I do not need a seminar to clarify my ethics. I do not need to listen to some speaker from California clean out my head on the subject. Nor do I need all those books from publishing houses setting forth moral positions. And I wondered ...

I wondered: Does the religious community snarl with others with whom we disagree? Do we put up our dukes against the alcoholic, the promiscuous teen, the thrice-divorced man five pews back? Do we cut on the kid with the ponytail or the man with tattoos all over his arms?

The Christian does not snub these people. Love is not "rude" (1 Cor. 13:5, RSV). Instead, the Christian puts out the carpet for the lost and the weary, the sinful and the wayward.

So why not the homosexual?

So when the newspaper blasted the religious community for its aloofness regarding gays, I immediately wrote that we were welcoming them. Why? Because we have an "alternative lifestyle" that they just might want to consider. Not all of them, after all, are totally convinced of "their way." Some of them are even embarrassed by the shenanigans put on in their name. And there are others who are just plain confused and lonely. They may even be quite tired.

The Christian cannot afford to put up fences or pass by on the other side of the road. He cannot simply play denial—"I don't see a homosexual; do you see a homosexual?" "Love is patient and kind" (verse 4, RSV).

Granted, there is sin on all sides— gossip, live-ins, bickering in churches, intemperance with food and alcohol, fornicating homosexuals and hetero sexuals, meanness on church boards, pornography, and illicit sex on church-related campuses.

So what do real Christians always do when confronted with a spiritually fallen world? They put out the welcome sign: "Come on in, all you who are weary and burdened down. There is another way. Christ provides it. Jesus has come to reveal the way of light and love and peace and holiness."

Is that compromising the gospel message? I think not.

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Grant Swank, Jr., is pastor of the New Hope Church of the Nazarene in Windham, Maine.

November 1996

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