“Affirm our gay identity!” This is the demand made by so many gay-identified individuals today. This loud and persistent demand is wooing and winning the hearts of our culture at large and their mainstream media cohorts. That does not shock us. Sadly, though, in the name of compassion, many in the organized church—lacking a Biblical understanding of God’s intent in our sexuality and gender—also are affirming the gay identity. Indeed, some in the visible church have responded with a resounding “yes!” by choosing to ordain gay-identified persons, by performing “marriage” ceremonies for the gay-identified, and by condoning the gay social construct.
Along with the culture at large, many in that segment of the visible church do, indeed, believe that they are acting with compassion toward the person with same-gender attractions. They see and hear that gay-identified persons are experiencing hurt, suffering or pain and believe that the compassionate response is to stop their pain by condoning and/or affirming their homosexual identity and behaviors.
Then, too, there is another part of the church that proudly offers no compassion to such individuals. This segment, also, is not extending the genuine redemptive and restorative hand of Jesus. Those in this segment point an accusing finger at those who identify as gay, even calling them an abomination to God. Such condemnation is thin and cruel and often has the effect of furthering the distance between such persons and the healing love of Jesus. Where else can a person be introduced to and experience the grace and knowledge of Jesus, if not in the Church? It is through His Church that Jesus continues His healing ministry today.
I am convinced that neither of these responses is Christ-like or compassionate.
Here is a definition of compassion to which I believe Jesus would agree:
The acute awareness of the hurt, suffering or pain that is in another accompanied with an overwhelming desire to remove the source of the hurt, suffering or pain.
Many in the gay-identified community have been convinced that the source of their hurt, suffering and pain is that society is not condoning and/or confirming their gay social construct. They believe that affirmation by the culture and the Church would take away their pain.
But hundreds—indeed, thousands—of gay-identified individuals who have come to Prodigal Ministries over the past 30 years have come to understand the true source of their pain. They have come to discern that the true source is the effect that sin has had on their sexuality and their relationships. They have come to see that the source of pain is the wounds and depravations caused by fallen natures in a fallen world. Most importantly, they have come to understand what our loving Savior did to restore us to His perfect and joyful plan for our lives, including our sexuality and relationships.
One client said to me, “It was easy to stand in a pro-gay parade with my sign, but dealing with wounds, deficits and stuff is work!” And, I quickly add, it requires reliance on Christ’s strength to do the work and a network of truly compassionate friends to keep us on task.
If the Church is to extend Christ-like compassion, then we cannot condone and/or affirm a person’s gay identity and behaviors that we know to be outside of God’s perfect design for their lives. To be sure, it is the opposite of compassion for the Church to give them over to their homosexuality.
As I understanding the true source of their hurt, suffering and pain, I cannot condone or affirm. And I certainly cannot shun these dear ones, because I see the image of the Divine that God desires to be restored in each man or woman made in His image.
I accept every individual whom Christ brings into my life, and I try to understand the journey through which they are traveling. In His strength, I love them with the same love that Jesus expressed to me. I do not dislike or shun persons who are identifying themselves as gay. I am free to love unabashedly and with great abandonment all people and express true compassion to all as well.
How can I do otherwise? Years ago, I was on a journey to self-destruction, and Jesus, through His Word, His Spirit and through compassionate, loving Christian friends, showed me the path that leads to life abundant and eternal.