This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT)
As I have been praying over our church and the Biblical Conversation Café series we have initiated to discuss controversial issues, I have been reflecting on some memories of friends and past acquaintances and the topic of same-sex relationships. Ever since college, I have known a number of people who identified themselves with the LGBTQ+ community, some of whom are good friends. I feel called to share what is on my heart about this issue and how we relate to it.
I begin with a memory from college. During my first-year core program, everyone wrote personal essays, which could be on any subject, that were printed together in a collaborative book at the end of the year. One woman wrote an open letter to her mother describing her relationship with another woman and how she had come to identify herself as bisexual. Two things really stood out to me from that letter. First, she said she needed her mother to love that she was being loved. Second, she described being bisexual as having “the ability to fall in love with someone, regardless of gender.”
Prior to reading that, I was quick to turn a non-understanding mind from any mention or observance of same-sex relationships—not judging, but simply dismissing with an apathetic shrug. This got me thinking, however: can love really have rules or conditions outside of the context of marriage? If how we love is part of our nature, do some deny it out of fear? People tend to fear what they do not understand, but why should fear of love mean hatred?
While I do not share the nature of the LGBTQ+ community, I admire those who have “come out,” because it essentially means that they have found themselves and no longer have to be held back by fear. I have been able to say the same thing only after encountering Jesus and deciding to follow Him. And He calls us to share His love, which is unconditional, with others. The apostle Paul states that love “keeps no record of wrongs… [and] does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:5-6). I believe that if we are to live up to this definition of love, then we should be welcoming and supporting of the LGBTQ+ community. We should pray with them and for them, attempt to nourish their relationships with Jesus, and let those take their own course.
I know some will not agree with me, but as Jesus asserts in Matthew 7:1-6 and demonstrates in John 8, we have no business judging whether others are sinning, lest we be judged for our own sins. No one is blameless; we all have natural tendencies that can lead us to sin. I think that if Jesus were present in a scenario where LGBTQ+ people were being publicly attacked or humiliated, his response would be extremely similar to his in John 8, where he refused to condemn the adulterous woman.
So does that mean, given today’s culture, I believe marriage should be redefined and church policies amended to allow for the LGBTQ+ community? No. But I also do not believe that LGBTQ+ couples should be denied the same legal rights as married couples or be unwelcome in church because of their nature.
If someone is happy in a loving relationship, then I am happy for them. God, and not any of us, will do the judging in the end. I simply encourage us to see the rainbow through the clouds and approach the LGBTQ+ community as Jesus would approach them.
The Covenant denomination clarifies our beliefs about human sexuality in this resource paper.