In 1872, there was a vampire story that predated the classic tale of Dracula. It was the story of a female vampire named Carmilla. All of the classic vampire tropes were there: the charismatic loner, the bloodlust, and the very obvious analogies to sexual predation. That lattermost concept was even more prevalent in Carmilla, however. Why, do you ask? Because she was one of the first fictional characters in the modern era to be a homosexual.
In 2013, the French film Blue is the Warmest Colour was released. It won a plethora of awards at the Cannes Film Festival, one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world. It was made as a love story between two women—two lesbians—and it was met with heaps of critical success.
These two examples display quite well the sharp difference in our culture’s treatment of homosexuality. Those who identify as gays and lesbians were once seen as predators, the most depraved and rotten of society. Today they are held up in a way that society has never seen before, comforted as victims of oppression and encouraged as the heralds of a new supposed civil movement.
Unfortunately, the Christian response to such a sensitive social issue has become convoluted and muddled, with seemingly every religious group saying something different about the same issue. Should we accept them with open arms and marry them and even encourage them to become ministers of the word? Or should we lash out with ferocity, emphasizing that they are going to Hell and everything they stand for is Satanic? Or, maybe, just maybe, the answer lies in neither approach.
In any careful consideration of the Christian response to a social issue, Scripture must be kept at the forefront of the discussion. In light of that, I point you to Romans 1:26-28 – “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.”
The first point can be made quite clearly: homosexual relations are sinful. And if there could be any doubt what the result of that sin would be, 1 Corinthians 6:9 makes that clear – “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality”
So I guess it’s time to start the Bible-thumping and Hellfire and brimstone, right? Well, not exactly. The thing that has been most often missing in this discussion is a sense of balance. We tend to want to preach God’s wrath without his mercy. We enjoy and “Amen” Matthew 23 when Jesus rips into the Pharisees, but we avoid the fact that Jesus forgave an adulteress and suffered the company of a prostitute. And most significantly, we forget that we are no better than an adulterer, prostitute, or homosexual.
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” – Ephesians 2:1-3
While the first step in this discussion is to acknowledge that homosexuality is a sin, and those who engage in that sin are sinners, the second step is to realize that we are not better than them. We need God’s grace and God’s help every bit as much as they do. There is no ranking of sin with God. In fact, when God does mention specific sins that he especially hates, homosexuality is not on that list . . . but pride is (Proverbs 6).
Once we acknowledge that we must approach those involved in the sin of homosexuality with humility, the next step is perhaps the hardest. We must accept the fact that homosexuality can be, and many times is, a legitimate struggle. Not everyone who is involved in homosexuality wants to be. Does every alcoholic want to be one? Does every person addicted to drugs want to be addicted? There might be Christians, and you might know some, who have turned aside from that lifestyle, but still find that they have those desires or those temptations. The fact that they have those temptations, we must realize, is not a symptom of an especially depraved mind, but rather a sign that homosexuality is his or her particular weakness that Satan has chosen to exploit.
So then, what those in homosexuality need from us is neither justification for their sin nor a condemnation that having those temptations makes them somehow demonic. What they need is a loving, compassionate hand to tell them of the sacrifice of Jesus, what God offers them through the plan of salvation, and the hope they have to be reconciled with their creator.