How We Turned God Against Gay People and Why
Click here to read from the beginning of my Blind Spot series.
Any evangelical can say “God is
love.” We can all say that we should reflect God’s love for others. Jesus routinely confronted the Pharisees for their failure to do so. He came down hard on the religious spirit that leaks compassion. No wonder none of us would ever want to play the role of Pharisee.
The trouble is this: we can easily become the very
person we never intended to be. This happens so naturally that we miss it: hence, the term blind spot. We intellectually understand Jesus’ warnings against blind spots, but we go and fall into these traps anyway. In a sense, knowledge is good but it too easily slips away.
We can think of blind spots quite logically. Our Heavenly Father is simultaneously and perfectly truth and love. We are human and tend to lean toward one or the other. When this happens, our posture literally turns away from the fullness of God’s glory. Our reflection of God dims as we become partially blinded. We end up possessing accurate beliefs but miss the whole of God.
It is my opinion that God is not so shocked by such mistakes. However, his wrath is provoked when our dim view of His glory leads us to act as blind guides to others; when we propel people away from God; and when we excuse our own sins while condemning others for their sins.
How does this relate to evangelicals and gay people?
The generational shift from culture war to social justice unexpectedly revealed our truth-centric posture as a blind spot over the last decade. I call this particular blind spot the talk of love and this is how it formed in our witness many years ago.
We always knew that the Great Commandment is to love God first – and like it, to love others as ourselves. The failure to do so would be a direct violation of the most pointed teachings of Jesus. Thus, we had a deep motivation to think of ourselves as loving. This is where we went wrong: our effort to avoid the mistake of the Pharisees only propelled us further into their error.
Our knowledge of the command to love crashed against our moral convictions whenever we encountered gay people. In the stress of this spiritual dissonance, we feared that loving gay people might convey our support of gay relationships. This fear caused us to entrench further into a truth-centric posture as a defensive reflex to protect orthodoxy. The more we leaned toward truth, the less love gay people perceived in us. Sadly, many were pushed away from God altogether.
Our knowledge of the requirement to love was lived out as a religious need to appear loving rather than an authentic reflection of God’s love. Our claim that we loved gay people was merely correct rhetoric without practical expression. We fell into the talk of love yet we rarely understood gay people, listened to their deepest concerns or ministered to their greatest vulnerabilities.
Love ultimately flows through all of our actions, attitudes and words. Any claim of progress will be measured by more than our words (including mine). The world has heard our talk. They know our beliefs. Now, they – along with many young evangelicals – are watching and waiting to see the love of Jesus.
Every day, I see this waiting come to a close as one church leader at a time walks out a meaningful repentance of past blind spots. Many of my LGBT+ friends are experiencing genuine Christian love in the evangelical community for the first time ever. In the years ahead, I expect that it will get even better as more evangelical leaders explicitly reject the talk of love in favor of actually loving gay people. Amen.
Join me next time when we will look at another blind spot: the invisible bias.
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