A great friend of mine, Preston Sprinkle sent me this story and he wrote this response a few months ago.
Hi. My name is ____________. I read your book “Living in a Gray World” and I’m struggling with same-sex attraction. I was wondering if you could help me cope with a problem at school. Well I don’t know where to begin. My so and so friend told the bus driver that I’m gay and things went south quickly. First he moved all the boys forward and me to the back of the bus. When I asked why he said, “I may be a Christian, but I won’t have an abomination sit next to the rest of my kids I need to get home. I don’t need you doing stuff with them.” The word got around school and now I can’t go 23 steps without being looked upon like I grew a tail or being called f*g. And I’m scared to talk to my pastor. (Yes, I go to church) I was wondering if you could help me.
I wish this were only an isolated incident, but it’s not. It’s actually quite common. According to the largest scientific study done on the religious background of LGBT+ people, 83% of them were raised in a Christian Church. And more than half (51%) have left the church by the time they were 18. What’s fascinating is that of the LGBT+ people who have left the church, 85% left primarily for lack of kindness and care. In their own words, they did not feel safe, they didn’t feel loved, they experienced a relational disconnect with leaders. They got tired of the hypocrisy – they were seen as monstrous sinners for being gay, while greedy, divorced, gluttonous straight Christians got a free pass. They had to wear the scarlet LGBT+ letter and they got fed up with it. And so they left.
Please don’t miss the magnitude of this statistic: 85% of LGBT+ people who have left the church did not leave primarily because the church said “gay marriage is wrong.” They left because the church said (in so many word) you are an abomination and you belong in the back of the bus.
Here’s why, for your children’s sake, we need to change our attitude toward LGBT+ people without changing our theology! Most younger straight Christians consider the church’s posture toward LGBT+ people to be the litmus test of whether they want anything to do with the church. And, many of them are leaving the church. They may be your own children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, friends and neighbors. They’re sick of seeing Christians sending kids, struggling with their sexuality to the back of the bus. You can quote the Bible until you’re red in the face. But until you show love and compassion to LGBT+ people, they will never be convinced that the gospel we cherish is good news for them. Only some.
Where Did That Idea Come From? Let’s circle back and talk about that bus driver. What would cause him, as a Christian, to send someone to the back of the bus because he was gay? Why would he call my friend an “abomination” and think he would “do stuff with them?” (Apparently, he didn’t separate the hormone-charged straight boys from all the girls…) I’m sure if we asked him, he’d probably say, “the Bible says so!” But herein lies the problem. Most of our beliefs about sexuality and gender do not come straight from the Bible. It’s not as if we sat down with a blank mental slate, studied the Bible for ourselves, and then drew certain conclusions about LGBT+ related issues.
For instance, tell me how you’d answer the following questions:
Do you think it’s okay for two men to get married? Is it ever okay to get a sex change? Are some people born into the wrong body that doesn’t match their true gender? Can someone be both gay and a Christian? Is all sex outside of marriage a sin?
My guess is that most of you responded with a quick mental “yes” or “no” to all of these questions. I know I did even as I was writing them! But let me ask you another question:
Most of you would probably say “because the Bible says so!” But if we’re honest, most of us formed our opinions about all of these questions long before we knew all the chapters and verses that may (or may not!) support our view.
Of course the Bible ought to be the pre-imminent source of truth for Christians. But most of the “truths” we have come to believe about homosexuality didn’t come from the Bible. Not directly, anyway. Like barnacles on a whale, we’ve picked up our views about sex and gender unknowingly through conversations around the dinner table growing up, where Uncle Eddy the bigot would make fun of “homos” and our parents would include “the gays” in their mantras about why this country is going to hell in a handbasket. In Sunday school, we learned about homosexuals in Sodom getting nuked by divine fire for being abominations, and we were shaped by the banter in the high school locker room, and our own need, particularly for men, to broadcast the message that “we’re not one of them.”
Friends, family, sermons, social media, Christian talk radio, sports teams, rumors of “loud and proud” gay activists trying to push their agenda on our once wholesome country – you get it. In 10,000 ways our worldviews have been slowly shaped by sources outside the Bible, and some of them are actually antithetical to a biblical worldview. And most of us stay locked into these worldviews because our Christian friends believe and reinforce the same ideas we have. I’m sure that bus driver didn’t learn to fear and hate gay kids at a Bible study.
And it goes both ways. Affirming Christians, that is, Christians who believe the Bible allows or affirms loving, monogamous, same-sex marriages, didn’t start with a Bible and clean sheet of paper either. They’ve been heavily influenced by pop culture, social media, friends and family who are gay, or their own sexual desires. And while searching to make sense of their experience or relationships, many have imposed a “wishful” interpretation of many passages of the Bible that clearly oppose same-sex, sexual relationships.
Here’s where I’m going with all of this. We all need to weed out unbiblical thoughts about LGBT+ people and issues by taking a fresh look at what Scripture actually says. We need to let Scripture shape our thinking, rather than blindly following the wisdom spouted off either by Uncle Eddy or Oprah.
My recommendation is to buy Preston’s book, People To Be Loved. Study it and discuss with a small group of friends. Ask God to help you separate fact from fiction. Once that’s done, I think you’ll feel far more comfortable sitting down with your own children and grandchildren to discuss these ideas.
Next week, I’m going to introduce you to one of the most dangerous ideas your children are being exposed to about their own sexuality.
How following Jesus works in real life.
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