A recent front page article said “A large influential church made the decision to remove a team from their league after a coach spoke honestly about being a lesbian.”
The league was a church sponsored league that was open others within the community and to non members of the church. After a phone call to the church announcing that one of the coaches was a lesbian some things became complicated. The church held a meeting with the coach in which she admitted that she was a lesbian and that there were possibly others on the team that were gay or lesbian. The decision was made to not allow inclusion of the team in their league.
I have been asked by numerous people about my response to this situation so I decided to take some time to include you in my own process. It is really hard for me to be balanced in this situation since I have a burden for the gay community to know Jesus fully and to understand and receive His unconditional love for them. Coming from my personal history with homosexuality I have had my own experiences with biased responses from church folk.
I have toiled more over this article than any I can remember and am still insecure about whether or not it convey’s my heart but I want to get it out there so if you have comments, please leave them below.
I desire more than anything that we as believers in Christ would reflect the love of Christ to all people equally without prejudice. I also know my own human temptation to personal prejudice with those I don’t understand. Somewhere in all of this I hope we grow in our abilities to set aside our bias and spread the gospel in and through all situations without “banning” people without knowing them. The goal is to be honest with ourselves, listen to others, and respect all people – and to understand that respect doesn’t have to agree.
In most cases in scripture where we are asked to “not associate” with others it is concerning those within active fellowship of the church, not in an outreach function such as a church sports league. Well, I’d at least hope that this church had desires for their league to be an outreach since it is an open league.
You may also have strong reactions concerning this situation. What are they? Many people are really passionate about these issues and a great divide exists. This is a very costly situation at a deep kingdom level!
I’d like to invoke an evaluation for us to consider as we ponder the circumstances.
I would say that if at all possible the very best way to handle this would be person to person. The problem here is that the exclusion of the team has already taken place. It seems hasty since the church is called to be a messenger of the redemption of Jesus Christ.
I don’t want to in any way minimize the complexity of this situation but there are some things to think about that may help us all to think this through if not for this situation, for future reference.
What is or should be the response of bible believing and Jesus following Christians? We all know that that there are two sides that are responding to this issue.
1. You believe homosexual relations are biblically immoral?
2. You believe homosexual relationships are biblically acceptable?
No matter which side you feel passionate about the biblical encouragement on how to approach one another remains the same on either side of this divide.
Matthew 18: 15 – 17
“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”
In this case, someone believed that a lady’s homosexuality was immoral. The newspaper article said that someone called the church and told them about her lesbianism. I am assuming that they felt that the lady was sinful and a bad influence for the league. I question whether or not the “caller” knew the lady. Did they speak with her first? When they called the church was it to pray for God’s grace and restoration or was it just to “inform” them of impending danger - in their minds? Or, was it reputation damage control?
Maybe you are having feelings of resentment or judgment regarding the church, or church leader who made the decision. If you feel that the church or the church leader is wrong, see if you can talk with someone who is connected to the decision making process. Learn to know them better and learn from them. Maybe what you thought happened wasn’t really the truth. Remember, the newspapers are often wrong! And, there are always two sides to every story.
Before confronting someone–
Right or wrong, when we feel a burden to approach someone we believe to be “in sin”, it is very important to go through some personal inventories before the confrontation. We can be assured that if we approach somoene in love and personally, our hearts and minds will likely change and soften!
1. Consider these things:
a. Why are you confronting the situation? What is your motivation?
b. Consider your relationship with them.
c. Consider the true character of the person.
d. Consider your own shortcomings, your weaknesses.
Jesus confronted the Pharisees for their lack of personal life evaluation. (Matt. 7:3-5)
e. Consider their current circumstances or situation.
f. Consider God’s grace with you.
g. Consider God’s grace with them.
Dealing with other people’s lives is a dangerous and sensitive matter. Whenever we see things in Scripture about disagreement or conflict, there isn’t a timeline given as to how long it may take to truly get to the heart of a matter. There are specific processes laid out but these matters may take months, or even years to deal with. I understand in community relations we may not feel we have years to deal with something, but it is always good to begin with a personal approach and not be too quick to lay down the gavel.
1. Ask yourself?
a. Why do you feel passionate that this is a problem?
i. Is this situation very personal?
ii. Is it mainly a family or inner group situation?
iii. Do you believe this is primarily a harmful situation to an individual?
iv. Is this a community matter?
b. What feelings do you expect to be confronted in YOU as a result of this action?
“Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.”
Tempted in what way?
To inappropriate judgment?
To false mercy (enabling)?
Tempted in like weakness?
Are we willing to be involved in carrying someone elses burdens?
“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?”
In either case, pray for Gods incredible, transforming, redeeming kindness will penetrate all of our lives and souls. Become part of the answer to that prayer by being kind, generous, and loving towards others whose perspective you may struggle with. Loving your enemy can become a personally transforming relationship for you. It is in His kindness that changes us, not in condemnation.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
“Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.”
You believe that the team should be banned from the church league. How does this line up with Jesus asking us to go into the world? I can’t imagine a better way to minister to others regardless of where they are coming from than to play ball with them and rub elbows with them. We are told to be “in the world, but not of the world”. We too often focus on the “not of the world” part and do not go “into the world” enough. There are a lot of people who will not attend a fellowship gathering at a church but will join extracurricular church activities. Have you considered that maybe who choose to join a church activity might be looking for a closer walk with Jesus but they are afraid to come too close!
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
“He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.”
I can’t believe what that church has done!
In any divide over spiritual convictions nothing is any better than to walk together and listen to one another whenever possible. If the door is closed, move away, shake the dust from your feet and keep moving forward with the Lord. Maybe God wants to do something in your heart. There may also be something that He is doing in the church that you are unaware of.
“How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
I just want to see what they are made of!
Some people come into a church activity to “test” the water. In some cases, this is a dishonest attempt and the motives might be to challenge them rather than to look for something positive. This would be inappropriate. It is not really fair to go into an organization incognito to test their responses. It is better to go in honestly if you feel there will be problems ahead.
“Well, being gay is just wrong!”
That depends on how you define “gay”. Being gay and engaging in sex are two different things. Being gay doesn’t mean that someone is giving themselves over to promiscuous sexual relationships. Being gay doesn’t mean that someone is not a Christian. Someone who is gay may have a closeness to God that may not make sense to you but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Sometimes people are crying out to the Lord in deep groaning that we aren’t aware of. We should not make assumptions about people and act upon those assumptions rashly.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
There are some other things to consider
Some have said: ” Doesn’t God say, one man, one woman for life?” Really?
How many do you know who have been with only one woman/man – for life?
50 % + of church attendees have been divorced.
He says he hates divorce.
“I hate divorce,” says the LORD God of Israel”
Others have said: “He speaks against homosexuality!”
Well, He speaks against fornification, adultery and lust.
A large percentage of regular church attendees practice sexual promiscuity,
Also- addictive use of pornography or practice idolatry.
Are we really prejudiced? Do we really act upon our spoken beliefs that “sin is sin”?
1 Cor. 6:9-10
“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
I intentionally underlined the negative patterns that are not called “homosexual”. There are far more of them in the church than homosexuals! Many who are regular church attendees are sexually inappropriate, greedy and selfish with their worldly possessions, not sharing with those in need when they can. Do we practice what this scripture refers to?
“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.”
” nor slanderers?”
The story of the lesbian coach was begun by someone who contacted the church to tell them that this coach was a lesbian. Was it their place to divulge this information if they didn’t go to the individual first? What about the other coaches? Is there anything in their life that is sinful or non-productive for the league? We might never know because it isn’t likely someone will call the church on them. I’ve known plenty of people who have negatively influenced others with inappropriate heterosexuality such as loose sexual talk, negative references to the opposite gender and the like. If we want to “pick nits” this can be a never ending hunt for sin issues.
Before you start judging the church-
I am certain the coach and her team were aware that this church was very conservative. I am also certain she was aware that there may be some possible challenges in joining the league. It would not be appropriate to use this situation as a testing ground for acceptance of homosexuality. this would be dishonest in the intentions.
There may be some who are harboring resentment because of the stand the church has taken? The same scriptures apply for you. To go about slandering the church or its leaders is just as inappropriate and unbiblical.
We are called to be a peacemaker within the body of Christ and to love others into His kingdom. What is the greatest goal here? Reconciling relationships and spreading the gospel.
The commandments are summed up like this:
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
So, what am I saying here?
Don’t be too quick to judge someone else’s life, motives, or actions. Go to them personally if it is possible. Don’t slander others, and don’t be dishonest with your intentions.
“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.”
What I am saying is that for those of you who believe the church needs to be protected by those kinds (homosexuals) it may be a good idea to evaluate the other’s equally.
And if you believe the church has descriminated or misjudged someone, it may be a good idea for self examination there too.