How to keep LGBTQ people from becoming ‘spiritual orphans’
DALLAS — Carrie Underwood’s “Love Wins” video played on the…
Same-sex attraction continues to be a prominent and controversial issue in our fellowship, and often I’m asked for recommendations on resources for those seeking a Christian response.
The best book I know, by one of my favorite and most trusted authors, the late John R.W. Stott, was titled “Why Homosexual Partnerships Are Not A Christian Option” but later renamed “Same Sex Partnerships?” (Revell, 1998). Stott starts in Genesis with creation and then the institution of marriage. He helps us see what God has prescribed and then what God has not prescribed.
He deals with the Greek words for homosexuality and all the major texts. It is a solid piece of biblical work grounded in a deep love and longing to be a blessing to those struggling with same-sex attraction. It’s less than 100 pages, so it’s very accessible to busy elders and deacons.
Mark Yarhouse, a leading evangelical psychologist, authored a revolutionary white paper in 2010 titled “A Christian Perspective on Sexual Identity.” It details the ages at which different stages of embracing a homosexual orientation occur in a typical young person. There is a stage of same-sex feelings, but a later date of same-sex identification. The further process of same sex-public identification comes even later and often is not settled until a person is in their 30s. This means that the church and Christian universities play a vital role in the development of male/female identity.
In a world where it seems to be politically incorrect to have a vibrant men’s ministry, the need is greatest, and young men often without male role models need to be affirmed in their manhood as they would be at age 12 or 13 in Israel through a bar-mitzvah-type experience. Females need the bat-mitzvah-type experience affirming their feminine design by God. This paper helped me see the breadth and complexity of the issue and that easy answers on either side often are not justified by the data.
Yarhouse’s book, “Listening to Sexual Minorities: A Study of Faith and Sexual Identity on Christian College Campuses,” encourages schools to have clarity at a macro-level around their stance on homosexuality so that everyone on campus can show love, compassion and community at a micro-level.
Students with same-sex feelings are at various stages when they arrive on a college campus, Yarhouse writes. They also have different desires and goals while attending. They are not a uniform group. Please also note that folks struggling with same-sex attraction generally score higher in spiritual identity than other students and need the local church and deep friendships in a faith community.
Love and community are needed as students sort through feelings.
Keep praying for our congregations and our Christian high schools and colleges as we navigate grace and truth and strive to speak truth in love as we all grow more into the image of our beloved Jesus Christ.
SCOTT SAGER is vice president for church services and a member of the Bible and ministry faculty at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tenn. He offers a seminar, “A Jesus Response to the Challenges of Homosexuality,” for churches. Contact [email protected]
Subscribe today to receive more inspiring articles like this one delivered straight to your inbox twice a month.
Your donation helps us not only keep our quality of journalism high, but helps us continue to reach more people in the Churches of Christ community.