Alright, let’s talk about same-sex marriage for two hot seconds.
This is how I see it.
For the sake of argument, imagine one of your siblings whom you love dearly is living in a way much different than you.* I don’t care what it is—pick anything you abhor and imagine that’s what they’re doing. You don’t agree with their lifestyle and you don’t approve. And this sibling knows full well you do not agree with whatever they’re into.
But you share the same set of parents, roughly the same upbringing, and if nothing else, you share the experience of being human.
Thanksgiving is in just a few weeks—when your whole family is together to enjoy each other’s company. But your one sibling, well…it just can get awkward, and you’re not really sure what to do.
There’s a few different directions you could go in this situation. I want you to consider which one you think will most positively impact your sibling.
- Ask your sibling to not come to Thanksgiving dinner. It’s simple: You’re a Christian and can’t possibly stand for anything your sibling does. They are not welcome and they will never be welcome as long as they continue in their sin. (Besides, you don’t regularly commit any lifestyle sins, so you shouldn’t have anyone who does in your house.)
- Ask your sibling to come to Thanksgiving dinner, but spend the entire day giving him or her all the reasons you think what they’re doing is wrong. Have your relic-sized Bible planted firmly in the middle of the table right next to the turkey, and share with them all the reasons you believe they should stop doing what they’re doing. Do this every single time you see your sibling, no matter the occasion, just so they know where you stand and that you still think what they’re doing is wrong. Whenever the topic comes up, make sure everyone knows your thoughts.
- Ask your sibling to come to Thanksgiving dinner. Tell them they can bring whoever they want to bring. Tell them they don’t even have to bring a side dish, though a bucket of whipped cream wouldn’t hurt—you know, for the pie. Welcome them into your home. Hug them when they walk through your front door; after all, you are family. Tell them how glad you are that they came to your house for Thanksgiving. Be genuine. Tell them you love them no matter what they do or who they are. You may have different viewpoints on many things, even some of the most controversial or weighty matters your family has ever seen. But you still love them. You still want them to come to Thanksgiving dinner. You will always want them to come to Thanksgiving dinner.
What do you think? Which one of those responses do you think will most positively impact your sibling?
Which one do you think will be most effective in the mission of Jesus? Yep, I’m going there. Which one do you think Jesus would do? And yes, to be clear—I’m talking about the same Jesus who ate with tax collectors and sinners, and who didn’t rebuke Zaccheus but had dinner with him.
Okay, humor me. Zoom out a bit. Imagine Thanksgiving Dinner proverbially—any event or service your church, or any (conservative-ish evangelical) church offers. Which one do you think happens there?
Do we invite LGBTs to our proverbial Thanksgiving Dinner?
We’re good at preaching. We’re good at calling out sin. We’re good at making sure people know where we stand on hot-button issues. And we’re really good at leaving out Romans 2 in all of the sermons that were preached on Romans 1 following the Supreme Court’s announcement earlier this year.
An Aside on Romans 1 & 2
The major sin in Romans 1 is not actually homosexuality. The problem Romans 1 presents is not homosexuality, but worshiping the created/creature instead of the Creator. Homosexuality is just one result of worshiping the created instead of the Creator. And it is accompanied by a list of other results which includes, but is not limited to: gossip, jealousy, deceit, pride, foolishness, and disobedience to parents. Interesting. I’m sure none of my Christian friends who read Romans 1 as a proof text to condemn (read: hate) homosexuals have ever done any of those things.
Not only that, but the first paragraph of Romans 2 is pretty uncomfortable for those who do not practice homosexuality but pass judgment on it. Conveniently, Romans 2 is often left out of our conversations about homosexuality.
What I’m Not Saying
I’m not saying you shouldn’t have a conviction about homosexuality. I’m not saying you shouldn’t ever have a conversation about what you believe. I’m not saying you should slap a stamp of approval on everything someone does or doesn’t do. I’m not saying you should never confront sin. I’m not saying homosexuality is okay, or excusable.
What I am Saying
I am saying you don’t need to remind someone of what you believe about their sin every time you see that person, controversial or not. I am saying you don’t need to confront everyone’s sin all the time, but it should be tactfully, humbly done and within the context of a loving friendship. I am saying you shouldn’t expect unbelievers to behave as believers. I am saying you should have a conviction about sin but that we as the church shouldn’t remind everyone all the time about where we stand on hot-button issues—believe me, they already know where we stand. I am saying we should love people with open arms, no matter who they are or what they do. I am saying we should remember but for the grace of God, there go I. I am saying we should remember we were once children of darkness. I am saying we must not hate/judge/condemn/shun someone just because their sin looks differently than mine. I am saying we cannot forget that sin, though each bears different consequences, has the same eternal effect—Hell. I am saying we must remember each of us needs Jesus as much as the next guy, whether he’s gay, straight, or just really likes skinny jeans.
I am saying we must open our arms and say please come to Thanksgiving Dinner.
Very well put.
Emily – thanks for writing this! I’ll be thinking about what would be “most effective for the mission of Jesus” and how He loved all sinners (even me!). Miss you, friend.
Anna! I miss you too, friend…more than you might ever know. 🙂 Thank you for reading! Sadly, I think sometimes we forget about Jesus in this whole conversation.
Interesting……I have to remember to be kinder as a gay man who invites Christians to Thanksgiving—-to not abuse them for there beliefs…thank you for this….
Kevin—thank you for reading and responding! You’re right—in theory, it should work both ways. A two-way street of respect is key moving forward.
Good thoughts about the “cultural Christian” viewpoint. My reaction brings me back to Luke 7:36-50 every time. Jesus teaches us what we are thinking, what we are doing and the reality of what we need to do.
That is one of my all-time favorite stories in all of Scripture. Your sin might look different than mine, but at the end of the day, we all need Jesus’ forgiveness.