“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” -- Matthew 22:36-40
Christians do few things worse than share the love of Christ and the reality of healing and forgiveness with the sexually-disses among us. That would be the disoriented, the disappointed, the disturbed and the roundly discussed and often dismissed. Or . . . dissed. Those people who -- like me -- did not travel the development highway primly and properly. People who took a little trip into the byway, either by being run off the road by the randomness of life that lets other people take the wheel or just in our own contemplation-guided search for a different route; curiosity controlling the car, edging in long before truth. For too many, the little trip becomes a full-fledged tumble and stumble, planting them into the dusty roadside rocks like a cactus in the desert, as the "normal" world zips by unimpeded, sucking down a cold Cola while the broken choke on the dust of the glory-bound-and-busy-at-it.
And if we stick out a dusty thumb? Bloom where you are planted . . . you misplaced cactus rose. Enjoy the desert moon and the cold dark night of your own choosing.
Does that sound too harsh? Well, actually, it's not, you see. It's fairly descriptive of people who have decided to distance themselves altogether from the sexually-broken as if proximity to the porn addict strips them of all personal decency, or sharing a conversation with a homosexual somehow tarnishes them to the point of having their number on a bathroom wall somewhere, or standing alongside one caught in adultery and crying out for help will . . . make them Christlike? Zip on down that road. Are you trying to figure out how to best live and let live . . . or are you trying to give life?
Some Christians, of course, do not distance themselves from the broken. Some confront them. Some just 'gotta stop 'em, which, on the surface, is a very good thing, though dependent on the motivation. Is it out of disgust or is it out of love? Is it out of a desire to see someone healed and whole or is it out of a desire to remove those distracting and insistent shards of brokenness from the pretty landscape? Is it because you feel threatened by the presence of a scary "other," or because you long for the closeness of another brother, rescued from the side of the dusty road and set back on the path to pursue peace?
In our haste to make our point about someone else's problem -- all backed up with scripture, of course -- we're often not able to be heard over the sound of the spiritual door slamming shut or the mighty whoosh of the "I'm-out-of-here" wind. That huge sucking sound you hear thereafter? Lost opportunity. You just argued yourself into a safe place and you won't likely have to worry about so-and-so-sexually-hung-up guy being in your face again. It's a truth-is-not-in-you stalemate. He doesn't believe you because, in his own brokenness, he assumes you are also broken somewhere, but way too peachy-keen about your professed purity to own up about it. You don't believe him either. When he says he just can't help himself, you can only think of those verses about reaping and shoo him away to plant.
Okay, well . . . we took care of that. The pervert is gone. Moving on down the list here. Let's tackle the gossips and the liars and the thieves and the envious and those pumped-up people over there. Pull up one weed at a time and we can definitely soon go to the garden alone.
There are a lot of good reasons we should not argue about sex.
1. The Christian disconnect -- (See above.) Too often, we begin our arguments with a presumption that the person we are arguing with has taken "we all fall short" to new and unfathomable depths. Christian arrogance is a poor substitute for Christian love . . . and is not Biblical in any sense. Even worse, we often just go ahead and presume the person never has and maybe never will know Christ and therefore, other than permanent status on the prayer list . . . he hasn't got a prayer. I guess, since he isn't a Christian who's abandoned the faith, we can't label him as an apostate, so we're limited to "lost." Pass judgment and pass on. Think about that for a minute. Suppose someone who is a Christian struggles with something like homosexuality and is really looking for the truth, while dealing with his own shame and guilt, and you offer, not truth, but rhetoric? You not only lost the argument; you preempted it. What did Jesus say about the lost?
2. The ignorance disconnect -- I know we don't have to walk a mile in a man's shoes to understand where he has been. There's no benefit to exploring the gay community to develop some connection. But, there is benefit to exploring a person's life. Are you more interested in him or her . . . or in what they have done? If so, at least level the playing field and lay out all the things you've done. Or, perhaps before you brand someone a deviate, let them give a little uninterrupted testimony of how their life unraveled. More listening and less lecturing. Eye contact; arm around the shoulder; heart engaged. Perhaps there will come a time when they will be able to give a new testimony . . . and the love you shared with them might be one of the strings that ties it all together again. If you don't know anything about someone beyond their sin, it's probably because you don't care. Jesus knew about the people He healed. He wasn't just quote-that-zip-zap and all is well.
3. The conviction disconnect -- Most people think of "conviction" as something that happens after you commit a crime. The motivating and powerful reality of "feeling convicted" is something that comes from within a person who is searching and responding . . . to the Holy Spirit. You aren't the Holy Spirit. The chance that you are going to be able to stir the sinner's heart enough to bring about that conviction we so long far . . . is a long shot. Feel your own convictions. And hopefully, we will all feel convicted, first of all, to share the truth with compassion, cutting the guilt-induced coercion. If gay people had a dollar for every time someone has told them they are going to hell, they could buy their own country somewhere and live in peace 'till death we all part.
The truth is, people who sin sexually will come face-to-face at some point with the consequences of having done so, just like you do when you sin. So, don't get hung-up over "SEX," and cringe. Pray for them because like anything abused, pain results.
Does this sound hopeless? Does this mean we can't care enough to try to point out the dangers and the deception and the potential disaster for those who don't follow the clear and unchanging Word of God regarding the great gift of sexuality? Do we just sit silently by and let people head toward destruction because there is no way to argue them into restoration?
Most brokenness is motivated either by a misguided search for love or a great sorrow at the absence of it.
Think about your life when you either did not know Christ or during a period of time when you had allowed some sin to separate you from Him? What brought you back? At some point, you became aware of His great love; His sacrifice; His forgiveness; His grace; His great desire to know you and to be known by you; His willingness to do anything to have you with Him.
Be like Christ. That's a pretty good argument for success.
Amazing, isn't it . . . the things we say about God? Awesome . . . unlimited . . . all-powerful . . . loving . . . incomparable . . . eternal . . . all-knowing . . . ever-present . . . mighty. Then when our efforts to describe Him finally fall in our inadequacy, we just say He's indescribable. He . . . is. Or, to quote Him directly He is "I Am."
And Jesus, who is God . . . gets His own special description: Savior, friend, lover of my soul, source of strength and hope, "everything to me." Everything.
And the Holy Spirit . . . who is God? My constant guide. Fills me up.
How can we know all these things about God . . . know Christ . . . have the Holy Spirit inside us . . . and then look so glaringly at the sins of others without seeing our own? And if we do see our own and accept the grace and forgiveness, why do we put less energy into sharing those things -- the grace and forgiveness -- than we do into spelling out the rules we require for repentance? Should we not share equally in all things that come to those who know the Lord? And . . . if someone does not know the Lord, shouldn't we start there and concern ourselves about their sexual practices once the Holy Spirit convicts them and they're looking for our help?
Jesus, in His explanation of the greatest commandment, did not say it was best for us to know what's best and judge the rest. He said we are to love God, love ourselves and love our neighbors like we love ourselves.
You really want to win the argument? Love conquers all.
Thom Hunter's book, Surviving Sexual Brokenness, is available at Amazon.com in paperback, hardback, for Kindle or for downloading onto your computer. Please buy a copy for yourself or anyone who struggles with sexual brokenness and needs to hear the truth with compassion. Thom blogs at Signs of a Struggle.