By John K. Lee
When I woke up this morning, it felt much like any other Sunday. As usual, my oldest boy woke me up at the butt-crack of dawn. Together we strolled downstairs and I prepared him his favorite oatmeal. For the next few hours we ran around the house goofing around until it was time to get ready for church. Next, the wife and I went through the mad dash of packing diaper bags, getting toddler and baby dressed, then shoving them into the car so I could make Sunday Morning Men’s Group. During that hour before worship service, the brothers and I had a very lively conversation that started with the topic of confidence and ended with us tossing friendly jabs at one of the fellas from that unfortunate part of California some refer to as ‘The Yay Area’. Following Sunday School, it was off to do some praise and hear God’s Word being preached. Same old, same old, right? Not quite.
The sermon this Sunday was preached by John Huddle. John happens to be pastor at Westchester Church of the Nazarene and he also works with World Vision. During the sermon, he shared the challenging story of how his dedication to the supremacy of holy scripture forced him to make a hard decision that some feel alienates a segment of the population that he has immense compassion for – homosexuals. In essence, the conflict came about when World Vision officially announced that it would allow the employment of individuals who are in same-sex unions. Shortly after, and because of the leanings of men like John Huddle, this decision was overturned and World Vision returned to its original stance on purity/abstinence for all single employees. While the decision has been lauded by more conservative evangelicals, those who lean more liberal in their theology have expressed disappointment and have formally severed ties with the decades old charity.
Although John had much more to say in his sermon, I was pleased to hear that a pastor of one of our sister churches made the difficult decision to stay consistent with the Word and not compromise the truth in the name of what would appear to be a kind gesture.
So after getting filled with a satisfying message, I returned home to participate in a fatherly practice that I have grown to look forward to every Sunday — a nap with my oldest son. The nap, as expected, was thoroughly enjoyable. However, the news I would wake-up to was quite the opposite.
Fully rested, I checked my email and was shocked by a disturbing message from a friend of mine who is in the playwriting workshop to which I belong (for those of you who know what I look like, I’m sure this might be shocking, but get over it). In the message, my friend Gary had informed me that his same-sex partner, Bryan, had unexpectedly died this very morning. It was less than 24 hours prior that I had heard from Gary that Bryan was ill and would need to go to the doctor. The night before, I even sent a ‘get-well’ email to Bryan thinking that I’d see him at our next group on the 21st.
Now, I’m not writing this blog-post for any sympathy. Admittedly, both Bryan and Gary are new friends that I’ve known for only a few months. Regardless, in the short time that I had the pleasure of getting to know Bryan, I can honestly say that he was an incredibly generous, passionate, accepting and thoughtful man who I would want to remain friends with for years to come. As a result, I found myself horribly upset at the news of his passing.
The most likely reason I had to be upset was the knowledge that someone I was in regular contact with, someone I would consider a friend, was now in hell and I did absolutely nothing to prevent that. Please believe me when I tell you that I did have sincere intentions to one day evangelize to him, but I’d always thought this would only be possible after a prolonged relationship had been established. While Bryan’s health was very obviously not perfect (he appeared to be suffering from complications of diabetes–below the knee amputation of one leg and very poor vision), I never thought that he was one infection away from the grave.
When I consider John Huddle’s sacred view of scripture juxtaposed to the devastating news regarding my friend’s passing, I was left with was confusion and not clarity. The truth is homosexual sex appears to be on the same level as heterosexual fornication. However, a couple that is engaged in heterosexual misconduct can sanctify that relationship by getting married. Sadly, this is not the case for gay people. So while the sin’s damage is similar, the solutions are not.
Ultimately, all of this information begs the following question: If gay people are one of the most difficult groups for the church to reach, then why do those under the general tent of Christendom tend to vilify them the most? I’m not saying that we should sacrifice scripture in the name of inclusiveness. Quite the contrary, but what I am saying is that we, as a church, need a drastic attitude adjustment. I don’t care if you think that being gay is a choice, or if someone is born that way. Quite frankly, I don’t think that matters. After all, we are all born with certain proclivities to different types of sin and we all make choices accordingly.
Although I can’t provide any solid solutions, I do want to make one observation. Whenever you see ‘Christians’ vehemently condemning gay people, I really question whether those individuals truly understand the grace that they claim to represent. I’m not going to go so far as to declare them wolves in sheep’s clothing, but I will go on record to say that those ‘Christians’ must be unclear about the nature and desire of Jesus.
So, for the handful of people who may end up reading this post, I challenge you to understand that for all individuals who are outside of God’s salvation, the simple joys experienced on this side of eternity are the only taste of heaven that they’ll ever know. Therefore, if you lack the desire or ability to truly reach out to them with the Gospel, then at the very least, let kindness be your evangelism and don’t act as a further stumbling block to the Word.
Right now, I wish I could tell my friend Bryan to, “rest in peace” but I know this would be a lie.