Cultivating spiritual identity among those who identify by sexual orientation requires a multitude of efforts similar to the garden parable I presented last time. The traditional approach of planting seeds of truth by preaching against homosexuality may elevate God’s morality, but as a single effort it fails to truly nurture spiritual identity.
Watching this singular approach fail over several decades, some churches move into a culture war stream to battle the gay agenda. Today, a growing number of churches move into a love stream. The problem is that many seem to get hung up about how to biblically love gay people, so they resort to silence. Have you noticed that homosexuality is getting addressed less and less these days in our largest evangelical churches? When a “preach against” approach fails, what do we do? We either fight – or we get noticeably quiet.
Truth-inspired “preaching against” lacks fertilizer needed to nourish spiritual longings. Love-inspired “silence” allows spiritual weeds to confuse the mind and choke the soul thus stymieing growth. The rocks of “culture war” risk breaking the entire stalk of faith preempting any opportunity for spiritual roots to grow deep.
In these three approaches are two underlying themes that will be helpful to understand as we start to build “a foundation” upon which gay people can discover their spiritual identity.
First, we alternate from one approach to another as a passive response to outer stimuli rather than as a purposeful attempt to nourish spiritual identity in gay people. We learn that gay marriage is on the ballot in our state, so we sow the seeds of culture war to battle immorality. Our community complains that we are hatemongers, so we sow the seeds of silence to prove that we love gay people. Church members complain that we are too seeker-friendly and never address truth, so we preach a sermon on homosexuality as sin.
Second, these three common approaches ultimately address homosexuality the same – as if it is “out there.” We are detached from how close it is to our home – or our church – because we have inherited a posture in which we view gay people through an “us versus them” lens. This lens convinces us that they are not – or should not be – among us. Whether we throw rocks, preach truth or stay silent, we encounter gay people as over or out there.
Meanwhile, our kids who grow up into non-heterosexual orientations largely do not get their needs met and end up being propelled into the Gay Community where they receive a welcome they have never known. We do not notice, because they do not exist. Because they do not exist, we do not think about their needs. Failing to think about their needs, we passively respond to homosexuality using one-dimensional approaches.
The “foundation” we are seeking to grow can only be built if we first recognize that it is “our” kids that need us. People out or over there may not even want us, but our own kids: they need us. They need us to understand them; to feel their pain; to walk in their loneliness; to hug them in the midst of hopelessness; to encourage them when they feel judged; to remind them who they are in Christ when they fear that God hates them; to protect them when they get bullied at school; to get them connected with others who experience SSA so that they are not so isolated and alone; and to share their load on their journey forward.
I shared the garden parable because it conveys just how exhausting fruitfulness can be. Like growing a garden, cultivating a foundation upon which those who experience identity around sexuality can discover spiritual identity in Christ will exhaust us. Join me next time and we will return to work.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION: We all lean toward the comfort of one-dimensionalism. What are the benefits – and the drawbacks? To add your feedback or share other thoughts, simply use the comment form below. You may elect to comment as “Anonymous.” Share this article with others on Facebook, Twitter, Buzz or by email.