LGBTQ+: Acceptance Vs. Love
LGBTQ+ Should the Church Accept it?
A recent hot topic in America was the United Methodist Church’s General Conference. Typically, these things go under the radar and do not make national news or trending pages on the internet. However, when you are a global church presence and the major topic for debate has to do with the LGBTQ+ world, you tend to make ripples. Unfortunately, for the church, this was really a lose-lose situation. This topic of conversation seems to always been a lose-lose situation. Why? Because if you choose acceptance, you are branded a liberal church that goes against the Word of God. But if you reject acceptance, you are branding as unloving, which is the exact thing that the church is supposed to be all about.
LGBTQ+ topics have been at the top of American politics and media for a number of years now. Over ten years ago I said this was going to be the great schism of my generation. Since then, I believe I have only been true in this belief. The reason things like this cause schisms, or church splits, is because there really is no gray area. Either you believe that LGBTQ+ lifestyles are sinful and should be rejected, or you believe they are not sinful and we have been wrong to chastise them for the last 2000 years.
Reconciling these two theological differences may not be possible.
Outside of a great miracle from the Holy Spirit, these two opposing camps will likely never agree. One group is going against Scripture, Reason, and Tradition and solely relying on their personal experience to justify their decisions. The other group is holding to values the church has held since its inception. One group is wrong, the other is right. While you might be able to argue we will never know the answer until God tells us after death, I think we can deduce that if God does not change what he said was a sin, then we can come to a reasonable conclusion on this earth.
However, while churches may split over how far into acceptance they are willing to go, there are some universal truths that all churches should be following when it comes to LGBTQ+ people and their supporters. While the church does need to love, the church does not need to not embrace acceptance. This is the real problem and perhaps the fundamental reason that the church is splitting over these issues. It goes back to something that doesn’t have anything to do with LGBTQ+ issues.
It goes back to a blurring of the lines of acceptance and love.
These two things are not the same – not even close. They are entirely different. Is it love to accept your child who is doing dangerous things? Is it love to accept that your teenager smokes cigarettes or vapes? What about accepting pedophiles because it is their preferences? Is it love to accept date rape because someone wanted to have sex with someone? Is it love to accept an alcoholic who doesn’t want to change? No. Of course not. All these things cause harm or are sins. (Although, mark my words when pedophiles receive pardons because it’s how they identify or something ridiculous like that).
Loving someone is doing what is right for them even if it hurts. In many circumstances the answer “no” is the most loving thing to do. This is what the church should be doing when approached by the suggestion of sinful lifestyles. They should said no. However, this standard is a thing of the past. Instead, the Church has become more and more lax in how it treats people who are living in a sinful lifestyle. As a matter of fact, LGBTQ+ issues are some of the only ones left that modern churches even care to address with fervency. As such, I want to suggest that it is unfair for churches to attack LGBTQ+ issues without equally attacking other sinful lifestyles. For example, premarital sex, drunkenness, divorce, gluttony, greed, selfishness and all kinds of other equally sinful lifestyles.
There is a difference between some of these sinful lifestyles.
For the most part, these other lifestyles remain sin. No one walks into a church and says, “I am selfish and I am proud. Don’t you judge me for it, God made me this way!” On the other hand, LGBTQ+ lifestyle are being desinified. Unfortunately, the Church (or at least its members) are focused on this sin right now (which causes it to appear as the sin that matters most). That said, God created sex for two purposes. First, to populate the earth (See post on Abortion), and second, to bind the union of marriage. Outside of these purposes sex is a sinful act that hurts human relationships. No married person ever says to their spouse “I wish I had sex with more people” – to say this would be beyond deplorable.
The point is church should not and cannot accept LGBTQ+ lifestyles. It can’t “accept” ANY sinful lifestyle! The whole purpose of following Christ is to become more like him in order to best serve and love God. When we sin, we separate ourselves from the life God wants us to have. However, the church can, should, and NEEDS to LOVE people in sinful lifestyles. However, this doesn’t mean we desinify their choices. Likewise, it is not encouraging people to live how they want as long as they claim Jesus as Lord. We need to preach that God loves everyone, no matter what sinful lifestyle tempts them. We also need to preach repentance and to “go and sin now more.” It is important to remember the difference between love, which the church is called to be, and acceptance, something that neither God nor the church can or should be.