31301_Bible_HeartI have to admit that this is a post I didn’t expect to be writing. Over the last few weeks – particularly since the US Supreme Court’s decision to legalise gay marriage caused a flurry of articles and blog posts to pop up all over Facebook – I’ve said to myself and others that I didn’t want to write a post about homosexuality. In fact, when I told my wife that I was writing this, she said “I thought you weren’t going to write about that!” My main reason for this was that I didn’t feel that I had anything to say that wasn’t already being said; I didn’t want to write just for the sake of writing. My other reason was that I hadn’t fully understood what my position is on the issue. However, I’ve had a couple of conversations recently which have made me think that perhaps I ought to write something.

Gay rights is the issue which causes the greatest rift between the Church and the rest of society today. The percentage of people who are gay may be relatively low, but the proportion of society who support gay rights is so high that the Church has very little hope of affecting any change (or indeed preventing any change) in the legal movement of gay rights. Therefore, I’d like to pose a question which I have been asking myself recently: should we really be trying to oppose gay rights? The answer to which I have arrived is no. No, we shouldn’t be trying to oppose gay rights. Allow me to explain why.

Firstly, the battle is all but over already. More and more nations are legalising gay marriage, and including gay relationships under the description “normal”. All the campaigning of Christian lobbyists has achieved is to convince the world of the fallacy that God hates gay people. Those of us who know our Bibles (and who know our God) know that this is just not true. God doesn’t hate gay people. Since governments around the world have already decided that gay marriage is to be legalised, there is no sense in continuing a battle which is only hurting the reputation of the Church, and by extension pushing people away from God. I don’t want to be the one to blame for making someone feel that their Heavenly Father hates them. This doesn’t mean that we have to agree with gay marriage, or even support it. That’s up to our own convictions. Neither does it mean capitulating to the whims of society. What I’m talking about is putting an end to a campaign which has the potential to alienate large portions of the population from the idea of connecting with the God who made them.

Secondly, we are called to love people. “Love is love” is the slogan used by many gay rights campaigners. If only they knew how true that is! Sadly, a lot of the rhetoric used in this debate centres around the idea that being gay is central to who someone is. I don’t want to belittle anyone’s struggles, but I would like to strongly suggest that there is far more to a person than their sexuality. You may have seen my post on transgender people, in which I used the phrase “Trans people are people first”. The same is true of gay people. The more we debate the legitimacy of gay relationships, the more we play into this false idea that being gay is someone’s entire identity. Personally, I’d rather spend my energy on helping people to discover their identity in Jesus, the one who loved them so much he sacrificed his life for them. If we can direct people to Jesus, they will learn that their sexuality is just one part of who they are.

My passion is to help people to meet Jesus. That’s why I do what I do. Therefore, I want to avoid doing anything which might be a hindrance to people meeting Jesus. It doesn’t matter that I believe that the Bible defines marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman, because marriage isn’t what life is all about (although it is great!). I will not oppose people seeking legal rights for gay people, because I understand that what the law has to say for society does not trump what the Bible has to say for me, and neither does it stop me from introducing people to Jesus. Additionally, if someone doesn’t believe that the Bible has authority over their lives, there’s very little that we can do to convince them that it ought to. If anything, we risk convincing them further that they shouldn’t pay attention to what the Bible has to say.

The issue of gay rights isn’t going to go away. As Christians, we need to learn to choose the issues we fight and the ones we don’t. For myself, I believe that our priority should be to demonstrate the love of God to everyone, especially the gay community. The Church has done so much damage to gay people over the years, which we now must seek to repair if we hope to help people discover their inherent value in Jesus. I recognise that there may come a time in the future when we have no option but to fight certain things. There may be a time (and for some in church denominations other than Elim that time may already be here) when ministers will be obliged to conduct same sex weddings despite their doctrinal disagreements. I love how Mark Woods puts it in his article for ChristianToday.com:

“It is entirely up to the state to declare what relationships it will recognise as marriage, and the Church should not have a problem with that.

It is entirely up to the Church to declare what relationships it will recognise as Christian marriage, and the State should not have a problem with that.”

Our priority is to love people. For me, that is more important than what I believe about other people’s sexuality.

What about you? Let me know what you think in the comments.


Graham Hall · 27/07/2015 at 20:41

An excellent blog Jack, from B&B owners to Bakers, Christians seem to be the target for the press and their paper selling headlines, but as you say don’t have agree with gay rights,but when it comes to going to the high courts, Christians are painted, by many, to be totally against anything associated with gay people.

Hope · 27/07/2015 at 22:26

Great Blog! I think it’s really true that ultimately our aim is to introduce people to Jesus and to the God that created them and loves them whoever they are and whatever choices they’ve made. Although I also think it’s so important that we in the church do not consciously or unconsciously dilute the Bible’s teaching re marriage and who we are to be in relationship with. Ultimately the Bible is crystal clear that choosing to live a homosexual lifestyle is sin (1 Corinthians 6:9–10; Leviticus 20:13), and whilst I definitely don’t advocate beating people over the head with it in an agressive, yelling on a street corner, repent or perish type way, we have to ensure that we hold true to our Father’s teaching which is for our (and society’s) good – which means we inevitably will end up offending some people – but that’s ok I think as loving people sometimes means we don’t condone all their actions and in that sense we should oppose the state legalising gay marriage even if only theologically, as we know from the Bible that God’s guidance for us is for our good and provided by a loving, heavenly Father. But yes, as you say our aim is to lead people to relationship with Jesus – that is the ultimate relationship!

So yes! Great blog! Keep on keeping on, well done!

Pete Skett · 27/07/2015 at 22:40

Great article Jack. I have long thought that the church needs to get over this issue or it will define our interactions with society for generations to come. I have made my peace with homosexuality and have now come to a position of affirming same sex relationships and gay marriage. I know many of my fellow Christians will struggle with that, but whatever view we have on the rights and wrongs, we have to choose whether or not we are going to be a Christ-like church which welcomes those on the margins, the ostracised, the alienated. Sadly, too often the church has done the opposite and driven gay Christians into unsustainable heterosexual marriages or even driven them to suicide. We have to get back to the gospel of the Kingdom of God, which will not break a bruised reed, which will not lay burdens on other people we aren’t prepared to bear ourselves (like lifelong celibacy), where the focus is the log in our own eye rather than the speck in someone else’s.

martin í grund · 27/07/2015 at 23:02

Does that mean that christian politicians, in your opinion, should not try to get their points across on this subject.

    Jack Skett · 28/07/2015 at 07:12

    Good question Martin. I would say that contributing to debate on this matter (and other matters that they care about) is part and parcel of their job as politicians. That being the case, Christian politicians should carefully consider how they go about objecting to things, so that their arguments do not alienate people from faith, but present their position in a loving way. The other part of this is that politicians have a mandate to represent the people who voted for them, so while their personal convictions are important, ultimately they must lay those aside to some extent in favour of the will of the people. I think I’d find it very hard to be a politician!

    Stephen Skett · 31/08/2015 at 23:19

    The other point I think Jack’s blog raises quite effectively (although I don’t think this was the primary purpose of it) is the important distinction between the civic and religious notions of marriage: these are fundamentally separate concepts. So, when Christian campaigners talk of same-sex marriage as ‘redefining marriage for everyone’, I would respond that yes, the new legal status for gay couples is, indeed, a significant change to the LEGAL definition of marriage, but does not necessarily have any effect on anyone’s religious concepts of marriage, including the traditional Christian view of marriage – we are still entitled to conduct marriage ceremonies in this way and believe in the sanctity of the life-long marital covenant between one man and one woman (if that is our view of things). In light of this, it is perfectly legitimate for a Christian politician such as Tim Farron (the new leader of the Liberal Democrats) to adopt a political position of “absolute support” for gay rights (see http://www.premier.org.uk/News/UK/Farron-hails-absolute-support-of-LGBT-equal-rights) whilst maintaining a different view about the spiritual status of any such relationships – there is no inherent contradiction or double-standard there.

    Stephen Skett · 31/08/2015 at 23:21

    P.s. Thank you Jack, for your excellent article – very enjoyable and well-written, and with many good points raised. 🙂

John W · 31/07/2015 at 20:07

The church is often seen as anti-gay and that has to change – we are here to show the world God’s love through his son Jesus’ Love the post and the courage it takes to contribute to the debate. Keep going. God bless.

Matthew · 10/08/2016 at 16:00

Thanks for your thoughts on this Jack. Putting these points across have been particularly challenging for relatively conservative countries on this subject, like Nigeria, where gay unions have been outlawed with penalties imposed. In these situations, the church is best placed to show love to these people where society itself is now legally and institutionally characterised to show them hatred. Your blog provides a very straightforward perspective to an issue that most who share these thoughts have rather decided to approach evasively.

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