To acknowledge that something is a sin is not the same as hating those who commit that sin

I really loved what Jean Lloyd recently wrote about the Christian response to same-sex attraction. It really echoed what Ezra Taft Benson has said regarding God’s love and how to best help people who struggle with things like this.

Like Joshua Butler, I am an individual who experiences same-gender attraction and who trusts in and is striving to faithfully obey God’s laws concerning sexuality (and thus feeling like the ultimate minority!)

Like Jean and Joshua, what I, and other Christian LGBT people need is not encouragement and acceptance of spiritually harmful lifestyle choices, but truth and love.

Like a good parent whose child wants to eat all of their Halloween candy in one night, we need you to lovingly tell us the truth: you think that will make you happy, and it may seem to at first, but it is harmful and dangerous, and will end up hurting you.

So many in the world are misunderstanding the motives and intents of Christians who stand by God’s laws.

But just because someone calls you a polka-dotted cantaloupe doesn’t mean you are one. And just because someone calls you hateful and bigoted doesn’t mean you are.

The church is for sinners. Not for perfect people. My local congregation, like everyone’s, has sinners of all kinds. Although they may not broadcast their weaknesses or personal temptations and faults, you will find people who struggle with homosexual relations, porn addiction, drug addictions, alcohol dependence, lying, abusing others, and the whole spectrum of sins.

Lying is a sin, but I don’t hate liars.

Gossiping is a sin, but I don’t hate gossipers.

Treating others unkindly is a sin, but I don’t hate those people either.

To acknowledge that something is a sin is not the same as hating those who commit that sin.

I have many good friends, and each of them, like me, is a sinner. I don’t hate anyone of them. We are all in this together in mortality. We’re all striving to live God’s laws, stumbling, getting off track, and striving again.

Those with same-gender attraction may feel discriminated against or hated because of our affirmation of God’s laws, but feelings are not facts.

Yet, because we know many feel that way, we need to speak carefully and clearly to help those with same-sex attraction understand that we love them even though they struggle with that particular sin, just as we love our other friends who struggle with other sins. We need to walk beside them and help them find the way.

Some members of my church are hurt and confused by recent policy clarifications, and I don’t blame them. It took me some time to prayerfully think through and understand them. We’re all human, and our thoughts and understandings don’t always match up with God’s immediately.

One of the policies is that children living with same-sex couples must wait until age 18 to be baptized. Just like satan quoted scripture while attempting to tempt Jesus, today scriptures are quoted to tempt us to not follow God and the leaders of His church (for example, the scripture “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me” in their rejection of God’s prophet). It is the same tactic and likewise meant to confuse us and cause us to question what God has said. This has been a really effective attack, causing many of us, including me at first, to experience a negative emotional reaction.

Many things in life, when they are seemingly new or unfamiliar, or when they are surprising or unexpected, initially cause a negative emotional reaction, even if they are good things. Going to college for the first time caused me a negative emotional reaction. So did moving out. So do the sleepless nights of new parents. And there are many other instances in each person’s life.

But when we take a step back, and in prayer seek for understanding, God can help us push past satan’s clever emotional and scripture-wresting attacks and understand His reasons for how He runs His church.

I believe each person needs to find their own answers from God, because God knows how to speak perfectly to each of us and how to help us understand things. And its helpful to remember that God teaches us line upon line, precept upon precept. Understanding may not come immediately. So be patient with yourself, and with others.

What has helped me is to understand that asking people to experience hard things or to wait for things isn’t new, and isn’t unkind. It is often for our own growth, welfare and benefit, or that of others (even when we don’t understand how it possibly could be).

Throughout the scriptures, and in our own times and lives, people are asked to experience trials, even children. Here are just a few examples:

-Joseph suffered betrayal by his brothers and and by his employer and was unjustly imprisoned.

-Job suffered the loss of nearly everything he loved.

-Early Christians in various countries—including children—were martyred for their beliefs.

-The pioneers—including children—had to walk across the plains, where many died of exposure and illness.

-Both adults and children throughout history have had to experience the pain and suffering of illnesses that have now been eradicated.

-People of all ages must experience cancer or the death of a loved one.

-Women must suffer the pains and sickness associated with pregnancy and birth.

-Because of sex ratios, there are more men than women, both in the world, and in my church which teaches the importance of marrying another member in the temple. This means that those with same-gender attraction are in good company with numerous women who are asked by God to live their entire lives celibate.

Parents and doctor’s also cause children to go through some painful things like immunizations in order to protect them from illness and tragedy.

Another helpful thought I have had is that God is not abandoning these children under 18. He will continue to nourish and take care of them, and He expects the people of His church to as well. He commands all of us to welcome everyone who desires to meet with us and learn of Him, even those for whom baptism must wait, whether they are younger children, people who are not members, or children living with same-sex parents.

Like in many cases, including those listed above, we don’t always understand why God has us or those we love experience hard things, but we trust God that He has reasons we don’t always understand with our human minds that are limited by mortal experience and learning, and that He has a plan for the welfare of each of His children.

As for the other policy clarification by church leaders, it makes sense to me that same-sex marriage is considered apostasy (which is defined as the abandonment or rejection of a religious belief). When a person marries someone of the same sex, they are obviously rejecting the religious belief that homosexuality is against God’s laws.

But many ask “what about when someone drinks alcohol or does drugs or cohabitates with an opposite-gender partner?” Well, those actually may be considered a form of apostasy too, whether or not church leaders have explicitly stated it. All sin could be considered apostasy, because whenever we sin we abandon practicing our beliefs at that moment.

But there must be a difference here, or why else would church leaders point out this type of apostasy at this time? Well, this is a big issue in society right now and many are confused, so that seems like a good reason to make sure people understand this about same-sex marriage.

I think another difference, though, is that while drinking, doing drugs, cohabitation, and other sins make it difficult to live God’s plan, in our church marriage between a man and a woman IS the plan. So choosing a same-sex marriage is choosing to follow a totally different plan, and thus is a complete rejection of the beliefs and doctrines of the church.

There are many who want it both ways. They want same-sex relations AND the church they grew up in. Wanting it both ways isn’t new. The children of Israel in the wilderness wanted God AND idolatry. Some early Christian saints wanted Christ AND their former customs and traditions like circumcision.

But at some point, each of needs to choose who they will serve—God or the world.

I have heard some say they believe that in the future the law of sexuality that God has had since the beginning of time (and before) will change, that He will tell His prophets to let us know its no longer His law. But the fact is that right now (and actually, till the end of time and beyond) it is His law. If any law of God changes, there isn’t backwards justification where God says “you were ahead of me, I won’t hold you accountable for breaking my law while it was my law.” He expects us to strive to live His laws and obey His commandments, to do things His ways, not our own.

We are all sinners, whether we are attracted to homosexual relations, drugs, pride, selfishness, or the myriad of other unhealthy behaviors our omniscient God has given us laws to protect us from.

To believe God and to acknowledge sin is not hateful. The world, deceived by satan’s sophistry, is telling us that it is evil to serve the Lord, but that is a lie. It is the most loving thing we can do.

May we each strive to do it as lovingly as we can.

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