One of my friends on facebook posted the story yesterday about Jennifer Knapp, Christian rock singer, who has just revealed that she is in a same sex relationship. She realizes there will be repercussions among her fans, but needs to be honest with who she is. Then in today's Arizona Republic is the story about this months gay pride festival, the 30th anniversary of the event here in Phoenix. And as I sit here and think about what my response as a Jesus follower should be, I wonder if you're having the same internal struggle between what my old nature pushes me toward and what I believe about Jesus and the grace of God.
Now I don't know Jennifer Knapp, but I do know that she's expecting the Christians around her to respond with moral outrage and to quote what she calls the "clobber verses" about homosexual behavior in the Bible...I guess that's how we're perceived as using those verses, to clobber people with. And I have to confess to some clobber mentality in my mind.
But thankfully there's also another thought that comes alongside that, and it's only there I'm sure because of God transforming my heart to be like his (and I'm still a long way from the full reality of that). That thought has to do with mercy and grace. Mercy is not getting what we do deserve and grace is getting what we don't deserve. That's what God has done for us in Jesus, and I think it's probably the way he'd like us to respond to those in our world as well.
We've been looking lately at the Ten Commandments at Oasis and have said that God gave us these as fences to keep us from behavior and choices that would lead to brokenness and pain in our lives, while pointing to how we were made in his image. Adultery. lying. stealing, murder...homosexuality...all of these lead to emotional and relational destruction.
But far from making me homophobic, that realization should lead me to be homo-compassionate, like it should adulterer-compassionate, or cheater-compassionate. For one, when it comes to God's love and acceptance, I am simply one beggar among everyone, all of us on the same level, none of us deserving more consideration than another. I am no different than the gay person--same problem (wanting to run my own life), different expressions. God's acceptance is not of works, that's what keeps us from judging others for their mistakes. And secondly, as a child of God, wanting to see people as Jesus sees them, shouldn't our Jesus follower response be sadness for the person who has been deceived by the enemy, no matter what his or her failings are, and compassion, caring, love and acceptance for them.
We say this all the time around here--Jesus was known as a friend of sinners. He wasn't very discriminating about who he hung around with--cheaters, prostitutes, betrayers, and I'm sure there must have been some gay people too. And he hung around with them because he loved them and was saddened by the effects of sin on their lives. Our lives. That's why it says he came to bring freedom to the captives, release to the prisoners, sight to the blind, healing to the brokenhearted. Like Max Lucado says, he loves us just the way we are, but too much to leave us that way.
I'm not sure how coherent all of that is, there's so much I want to squeeze into this short space. When we've gone through difficult things in our past, so many of you responded so gracefully, saying "hey, we're no different, there but for the grace of God go us!" That's seeing people with grace-healed eyes. Those are the kinds of eyes I'd like to have.