How We Turned God Against Gay People and Why
Click here to read from the beginning of my Blind Spot series.
Bias is nothing more than a shade of the whole truth. When we adjust our posture away from the full glory of God, we lean toward a love with little truth or a truth with little love. As evangelicals, we can only take responsibility for our share of this error. We offered others a shade of God. Why did we do this?
We can think about it quite logically: when bias is our blind spot, we can project to others only what we see. Worse, we miss what we cannot see. Jesus says this is because “planks” blind us. We only need to read Jesus’ parables to understand how blind we can be. For this reason, I refer to our turning God against gay people as the invisible bias. We don’t see it.
Sadly, our bias is quite visible to others. They often can see what we cannot.
I once counseled a teen whose parents told me: “Our son is a homosexual. We need you to convince him to repent.” I never consider it my job to convince people what to do, but I did meet with this family. I learned that this young man has SSA; has never acted upon it; doesn’t plan to; and he gave his life to Jesus at age 14.
I told his parents: your son is a wonderful young man. He is God’s child. They, however, could only accept their son as Christian if he did not experience SSA. They missed not only his Christian faith, but also the opportunity to heal relational wounds in their family. They could not see because their bias blinded them.
Historically, the interaction between evangelicals and LGBT+ people has often been a series of painful encounters. We could say just the right thing to offend them; hurt them; or make them feel misunderstood. We missed their personal concerns and failed to notice their deepest vulnerabilities. This led in many cases to irreparable damage in trust and a painful distance between family members, relatives and close friends.
What are the biases that damaged our relationship with LGBT+ people?
I will highlight several:
(1) We saw whole persons of great worth as one-dimensional sinners of ignoble character. We did not value their talents or gifts, which were merely part of their “lifestyle.” There were few connecting points for gay people to perceive any sense of value or acceptance in our midst.
(2) We saw gay people as outside the church. We spoke about homosexuality as if it were only an issue “out there.” We played a role in artificially inflating the spiritual distance between heterosexual and homosexual persons by creating a false notion of “us” and “them.”
(3) We offered doctrinal counsel to people who primarily needed pastoral care. I spoke at a seminary and a professor who heard my message said: “We invited counseling students who already have a heart for counseling. We missed the opportunity to invite theology students who will routinely counsel.” He got it: we can no longer hit hurting people with theology when what they need is thoughtful care.
(4) We chopped at spiritual roots of faith and failed to cultivate faith identity. We then blamed gay people for holding to lesser identities. It was like pulling food from a child and then shaming them for not eating.
While blind spots still exist and hurt many gay people, God has revealed and is removing the planks that blinded us. The invisible bias could only remain hidden so long. Now that we see it, real work toward restoring a witness that reflects God’s full glory is well underway. I praise God for this progress.
In the early years of this restoration, there is a tendency by some progressive evangelicals to play like nothing ever happened. This is a blind spot that I call the gloss of denial. More about that next time.
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