Me : There's this movie on HBO I really want to see.
Family Member : Really, which one?
Me : It's the one about the gay activists.
Family Member : Oh! The Normal Heart! That's such a good movie, but I didn't think you'd be interested in seeing it.
Me *surprised* : Why in the world wouldn't I be interested in seeing it?
Family Member : Because it's about homosexuality.
Me *completely flabbergasted* : Do I give off the impression that I'd be against homosexuality?
Family Member : Well, yeah.
Me *shocked, disappointed and sad* : It's because of the Christian thing, isn't it?
Family Member : Well, yeah. Christians don't like homosexuals.
This was the beginning of a long, at times heated, discussion about Christianity and homosexuality. It hurt that someone, a family member, would assume that I was against an entire group of people because of my religion.
There are many Christians who support the gay community, many stand alongside them and fight for their rights. There are Christians who are homosexuals, who struggle daily with their religion. Some of these Christians decide to live a life of celibacy, others believe that God blesses marriage. More and more of us - yes, I said US - are coming out of the woodwork, saying that your sexuality is not what defines a person in the eyes of Christ. Everyone has the chance to enter heaven.
Here's what I think is a big problem in the debate of Christianity and homosexuality. Society tends to lump together what is inherent and what is a choice even though a typical religious stance on homosexuality is "Hate the sin, love the sinner." The problem is, no one is really separating the two (assuming that you believe homosexuality is a sin - that's a whole different topic for another time). Typically - although not always - it's the extremes that are preaching this hate, and it gets all mixed up in a way that makes believers turn their hate, not on sin, but on the person in which the sin harbors.
And there's a time and place for this, for sure. We hold criminals accountable by sending them to jail, ect., but for some reason when it comes to homosexuality, hate is concentrated in such a way that it's casting a black cloud of negativity over the church. The actions of believers against homosexuals is driving away potential believers.
I've spoke about all of this before, so please forgive my redundancy.
It pains me that someone would consider me "anti-gay" because of my religious beliefs. Why? Because I'm not "anti-gay" and because I'd much rather be known for what I stand for, not what I potentially stand against. That's what the church should strive for, because if all we're known for is what we're against, we'll lose potential believers. We'll lose ministry opportunities. We'll lose chances for open conversation.
But this requires respect, on BOTH sides. It requires calm discussion. It requires listening, rather than hearing. It requires prayer.