This past Sunday I tackled one of the most difficult topics a pastor in my faith tradition can tackle: homosexuality. It was a long journey personally for me to share my heart about such a sensitive subject in the church. God did a number on my heart along the way, humbling me to my own sinfulness and the expanse of His grace to all of us.
The gist of my message was that we extend grace and acceptance to all others on the lists of sinful behaviors, but find it most difficult to extend that same grace to homosexuals. I did not go into the reasons why, but I did challenge us to stop weighing sins as if one is more serious than another. As Paul reminded us, "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." To judge and to exclude is the opposite of God's grace shown all of us in Christ Jesus.
You can hear the entire message from the Legacy website.
I used a couple of references from Paul's letters generally used to condemn homosexuality, but I made sure we read the entire content and the context around them. For example, Romans 1:24-31 is a classic passage which lists same sex relations as sinful. We often forget to read the other "sins" in the list and that Paul is setting up his argument we all fall into that category. If you read on into Romans 2:1-4 Paul slam dunks his religious community for judging the "ungodly" while doing some of the same things. By doing so, they "show contempt for the riches of his kindness."
If you read Romans 2:17-24, inserting "Christian" for the word "Jew," you will come to the same conclusion Paul did about his faith community's reputation in the world, "God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you." (v. 24) We are accused of teaching hate and acting nothing like Christ when we call ourselves Christians and do not extend the grace we received for our sins to others.
I also referenced 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and reminded everyone not to forget verse 11 and the hope we all have of being "washed," "made right," and "being changed" in our relationship with Jesus.
I leaned heavily on Philip Yancey's story of his friend Mel White in the chapter "Grace-Healed Eyes," in What's So Amazing About Grace. If you have not read it in awhile, read it again.
I told my experience of walking with a friend as he has dealt with his own sexuality. I suggest you listen to the entire message and then join me in loving others like Jesus loved us.
When I see my sin like God sees sin I am the worst of all sinners. And, when I see myself as God sees me and still extends his grace and forgiveness to me in Christ Jesus, then and only then can I love others like God does.