By Brian Nixon, Special to ASSIST News Service (Writer’s Opinion)
ORLANDO, FLORIDA (ANS – June 16, 2016) — I was getting ready for work early on Monday morning when I heard the shocking news that Omar Matten, 29, of Fort Pierce, Florida, entered a night club and opened fire, killing 49 people and leaving 53 wounded. Some have deemed it the “worst mass shooting in American history .”
The only thing the news was reporting at the time was that the venue was a gay club (named Pulse) and that the gunmen’s motive (his name hadn’t been released at the time) was unknown. Only later was it revealed that he was a devout Muslim.
Since then various news agencies have been giving hourly updates concerning his motives. Some say he had gay tendencies; his wife said he was mentally ill; his father suggested that he hated gays. And in a new video released from 2010, Mateen, working as a security guard at a Florida site after the BP oil spill, shows him talking about people who make money off disasters. Ironic!
Two things are clear in the midst of the senseless act of violence: the plight of the homosexual community is front and center and terrorism is alive and well. Whether it’s true that Mateen hated homosexuals has yet to be determined. But even if he did, Christians must answer the question: what should our attitude towards homosexuals be? And, did Jesus hate homosexuals?
The answer I propose is, no, Jesus doesn’t hate them; rather, He loves them.
According to http://www.statista.com/, “Two in every 100 males, and one in every 100 female Americans, consider themselves to be gay or lesbian.” . The Williams Institute states that this number translates to roughly eight million ‘adults in the US who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual, compromising 3-5 percent of the adult population.’” . Though some debate these statistics, the reality is that our society — and the world at large — has a population of individuals that are homosexual. This fact can’t be denied.”
The reality of homosexuality cuts across political, religious, and social boundaries. It’s a very real topic discussed in the media, from pulpits, and in political campaigns across the United States and world. To some, the topic is a cultural grenade, exploding every time it is addressed. To others, it is a fundamental topic of human dignity and self-definition. And, possibly, for others, it is a case for mass murder.
You may be someone who considerers himself or herself gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. Or maybe you know someone who is struggling in this area. What they thought was a matter of coming to grips with their identity has taken them away from their identity in Christ, and they need a friend who loves both them and God’s truth.
Sin does not necessitate a sinister attitude towards homosexuals—or anyone else caught up in a particular grievance against God. In fact, our witness to a lost and suffering world calls for pursuing God’s truth with conviction, clarity, and — here it is — compassion. We all need God’s tender mercies.
In order to understand the issue, let’s define and discover what the Bible has to say concerning homosexuality.
Homosexuality (from the Greek homos, meaning same, and the Latin sexus, meaning sex) is defined by Dictionary.com as “sexual desire or behavior directed towards a person or persons of one’s own sex.” The Merriam-Webster Dictionary adds a different dimension when it defines homosexuality as “the quality or state of being homosexual.”
According to this definition, homosexuality is not so much an act as it is a “state of being”; that is, one of the attributes of the person, part of a person’s identity. For thousands of years, however, homosexuality was defined by its practice; identity politics is a fairly recent distinction, aided by current studies seeking to prove that there is a direct connection between homosexuality and genetics.
The Bible is clear in its discussion of homosexuality: it is considered a sin. Yet it is not the unpardonable sin. In a few references, homosexuality is grouped with other known sins.2 Here are some of the more commonly cited Biblical references:
Leviticus 18:22: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.”
Romans 1:24,26-27: “Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves…For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of women, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful.”
1 Corinthians 6:9-10: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.”
1 Corinthians 6:11: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”
And finally, here are some ideas to help you develop a plan in showing the love of Christ to your homosexual friends and family.
When developing a plan to reach a person struggling with—or engaged in—a homosexual lifestyle, Josh McDowell recommends the following approach to Christians: :
Here, the Christian should “strive to create an environment in which sexual issues—including homosexual feelings or practices can be confronted and discussed openly and sensitively.”
Quoting Stanton L. Jones, McDowell suggests “the key to compassion is to see ourselves in another, to see our common humanity.”
The Christian needs to help the person receive and acknowledge God’s love and forgiveness; communicate unconditional acceptance and love for the person clearly and verbally; guide the person to understand that God loves him or her; reinforce their positive traits and abilities.
Point the person to a proper understanding of Scripture.
McDowell states, “Take every opportunity to allow [the person] to make his or her own determination about effecting an exit from the homosexual lifestyle.”
Refer the person to biblical professionals and resources.
With homosexuality gaining political and cultural momentum and horrific action taken against them, chances are good that you’ll have a chance to share the love of Christ with someone caught in that lifestyle.
The topic of homosexuality cuts across political, religious, and social boundaries. It’s a very real topic discussed in the media, from pulpits, and in political campaigns across the United States and world. To some, the topic is a cultural grenade, exploding every time it is addressed. To others, it is a fundamental topic of human dignity and self-definition. And, possibly, for others, it is a case for mass murder.
But the central issue is that Jesus loves all people and yearns for a changed life, a life devoted to Him. The question I have is that if Jesus loves homosexuals; will you? Will you stand up for them in the midst of horror and let them know that Jesus loves them and so do you as a follower of Christ!
4. McDowell, Josh and Hostetler, Bob. Handbook on Counseling Youth. Word Publishing, 1996. Pages 320-321.
Photo captions: 1) Pulse nightclub in Orlando. 2) The shooter, Omar Matten. 3) Sharing grief after the massacre. 4) Brian Nixon.
About the writer: Brian Nixon is a writer, musician, and minister. He’s a graduate of California State University, Stanislaus (BA) and is a Fellow at Oxford Graduate School (D.Phil.). To learn more, click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Nixon.
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