By Elias Ayala (MDiv & M.A.T.)
This is indeed a very controversial question. However, believers committed to a Christian world and life view that is grounded in scripture cannot afford to side-step these issues for the sake of comfort. It is very uncomfortable to talk about these issues, and indeed, sharing our thoughts from a biblical perspective can often lead to hot-headed arguments and disagreements. However, Jesus and the apostles were often embroiled in controversy over the hot-button topics of their day, and so we should be willing to do the same. That said however, we should also seek to engage in such issues with a spirit of gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy saying, “Remind them of these things, and command them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:14-15).
Keeping these things in mind, how do we address the issue of homosexuality, especially when there are many “Christians” who affirm homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle? For those who claim to be Christians and hence committed to the Bible as the standard of truth, and which holds the final word on all matters, we should seek to present our case from scripture, and hold the other person to that very standard. If the person who claims to be Christian, yet is affirming something that the bible clearly condemns, we need to make clear where the bible condemns such things with the hopes that the person sees your point, and hence re-thinks their position.
Making a clear case in scripture against the notion that homosexuality is an appropriate alternative lifestyle, you may be able to help the professed believer understand the error of their thinking and hence adopt the biblical perspective. However, in presenting a clear scriptural case for your position you may also expose the fact that the “professed Christian” does not believe in the authority of scripture and hence, their professed status as a genuine Christian is brought into question1. At this point, the discussion really has moved away from the moral appropriateness of a homosexual lifestyle, to the more foundational issue of the gospel itself.
It may be the case that folks we take for granted as being genuine believers in Christ, are in fact not genuine believers. This point is often made clear when we scratch beneath the surface to see that the person’s commitment is not to God’s truth, but their own. Regardless to say, our approach will be to keep the professed believer consistent with the biblical witness. If it happens to be the case that the person in fact does not actually hold to the authority of scripture, we continue with gentleness and respect, but with firmness to expose this person to the saving gospel of Jesus Christ.
The interesting thing about this topic, more specifically, when professing Christians affirm things that are clearly unbiblical, we can easily move between a simple attempt at correcting a person using scripture, to a more evangelistic approach of having to share the gospel with the person. Either way, to remain consistent with 1 Peter 3:15, the apologist must “always be ready”. Our conversations and discussions, especially on controversial topics such as homosexuality, can go in all sorts of directions. It would do us well to train our minds to be able to navigate these difficult intellectual and moral waters.
1. This is not to suggest that because a “Christian” struggles emotionally with regards to how we should think about homosexuality, that therefore, the person is not a genuine Christian. It is only to bring out the point, that a rejection of biblical authority can be an “indicator” that perhaps the person is not genuinely committed to Christ. It is quite possible, and is indeed often the case, that many committed believers struggle emotionally with the issue of homosexuality, yet, also affirming the authority of the bible, but this is a slightly different issue.