I had a conversation recently where I referred to homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle. The person to whom I was speaking became indignant.
“There is no such thing as an ‘alternative lifestyle’. Jesus didn’t give an alternative. I don’t care what they say, I believe what Jesus says.”
When I advised that I had purposely used that term to prevent offending anyone listening to our conversation, I was met with more of the same. The person actually began talking over my words to drown out and nullify what I was saying. That got me thinking. Not about the issue of homosexuality. God’s position on this is clear as Paul reminds us in Romans 1: 26-32. The purpose of this post is not to offer my opinion. Rather, I was struck by the absolute closed-mindedness of the self-professed Christian.
I knew what the person meant, but I couldn’t help but wonder how someone unfamiliar with Christ would internalize our conversation, especially if he or she were living such a lifestyle? Would that person feel comfortable approaching us to discuss and therefore learn why we take such a position on the lifestyle? Would that conversation make the person seriously consider making a change in his or her life? Or, would that person become apprehensive not just of us but of Christianity as a whole? As Christians, we have to be mindful of our speech and our actions. Proverbs 15:1 ” A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” We should be vessels that direct one to Christ but sometimes we are brick walls for those seeking the Lord.
We should stand firmly against sin, but standing firmly against sin doesn’t mean we should discard the sinner. In Matthew 9:9-13, we are told of the time when Jesus and the disciples had dinner at Matthew’s house with tax collectors and other ‘sinners’, When the Pharisees (a Jewish religious group that zealously followed the Old Testament laws as well as their own religious traditions) saw this, they asked the disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” Upon hearing this, Jesus replied, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.'”
As followers of Christ, we should reach out instead of closing ranks. Christianity is not an exclusive club only for perfect people. If that were true then none of us could be members. In our zeal to confirm our Christianity to ourselves and to others, we tend to vehemently condemn sin by invoking Jesus in our speech. When we do, let’s remember to also take on the characteristics of Christ so we don’t turn away seekers but invite them to the most important relationship they will ever have.