It seems like a hot topic issue, doesn’t it? I find as I even look back at the school I graduated from, many students have come out and shared the struggle they have had in the Christian context.
As a pastor and counselor, the longer I am in ministry this seems to become a more rampant reality. The landscape even in the past 15 years has changed drastically in this area since I was in Bible college for my undergraduate program.
Many young people have left the church for this very reason, and instead of turning to Jesus, they have turned to the LGBTQ+ community in the secular realm to find comfort and acceptance.
This is the reality that families are swimming in. People within our churches and family are navigating, our community, our own families. The more I hear the conversation of the “us” versus “them” mentality, which conversation doesn’t end up in how faith and sexuality (gender) come together.
How do we hold doctrinal orthodoxy who are navigating questions? How are Christians to respond to this entire month of June for being a Pride month? How can we model and emulate Christ amid all that people are going through?
The Cultural Collision of Misrepresentation in the Battle of Sexes
The conversation about “same-sex attraction” is one topic that people seem to try to avoid with all passion, or people are gun-blazing ready to shoot down the person. Either approach, by not choosing to “have the conversation” distances the individual from the issue and creates a greater divide in society.
But it’s understandable, isn’t it? Four spheres are in play as we
(1) Misrepresentation in the Political and Social Media Outlet.
That is the outlet that many turn to first to get information. Newscasts are not as interested in the “facts” any longer but are more interested in how many viewers will converse about what leads to greater participation in the very subject of the matter.
(2) Misrepresentation by the “Opponent”
These people are the “fundamental hyper-conservative crazy people” that get the label. The conversation is not able to happen, as there are automatic walls that are created, and weapons are used as forces to destroy each other’s opinions.
(3) Misrepresentation from the Stakeholders
These are the people who may be colleagues or your friends, alumni, and donors from your organization! Not all of these are necessarily from outside of the community, but in a close relationship of partnership that muddies the water.
(4) Misrepresentation through The Need of People
There can be misrepresentation even from those who are seeking help! These are those as pastors you may shepherd, care, disciple, train, counsel, and pour your resource time into that can turn against you!
The Three Responses Christians to Current Culture
Considering the reality, we live in, Christians often relate to the surrounding context in the following manner. Here are three ways Christians have responded to the cultural climate.
(1) Cultural Warrior
These people are in the posture that often is most vocal and in the space of ready to start a battle and war against the opponent.
(2) Moral Capitulator
These are the people who just raise both hands and say, “Whatever you all say! Yup, agree!” and avoid the hard conversation posture. The stance of no engagement is an engagement by fear.
(3) Biblical Ambassador
Being a citizen of the kingdom of God, engaging as a representative of God is important and crucial.
Now, each role in relation happens because so often we have certain lenses stepping into the conversation (background and experience) that often help navigate through the conversation which are the integrity lens, disability lens, and diversity lens.
The lenses are seen through their fruit of word, action, and attitude that are based on their decision (willful disobedience of the individual). A culture that celebrates differences (for example D.E.I. “diversity, equity, and inclusiveness) the LEGBTQ+ attempts to include the conversation of seeing this not as a disorder or disease, but as something of an identity to be celebrated in the community.
Based on the role and relation to the LGBTQ+ community, ambassadors will offer helpful engagement and conversation by looking at the complexity of the issue on the very topic. How does this help in the level of engagement in our conversation? There are three spheres of seeing.
(1) Political Sphere
From a racial perspective, being a Japanese Christian myself, I think there’s an argument of minority versus majority group.
(2) Private Sphere
These are conversation that I may have after a church service, a teenage student walks up and says, “Pastor, I would like to figure out my relationship with my struggle with how faith and identity comes in collision”
(3) Public Sphere
The public sphere is often where Christians find themselves feeling “awkward” not knowing how to have conversations with friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family members. How should a Christian relate to these public spheres?
This is where ambassadors can build something that no other secular sphere can provide, which is Christ-like love, kindness, and hospitality by practicing incarnational ministry.
Four Applications for Biblical Ambassadors
What does that look like? There are five practical approaches biblical ambassadors can take
- (1) Intentional: Wrestling with faith and in our practice is good. Let’s take an intentional choice of self-control!
- (2) Relational: Often, people believe that God doesn’t want to do anything with the person. No! God is relational, let’s be relational with one another.
- (3) Formational: The Holy Spirit works through deepening our faith by forming our faith in Christ. Discipleship takes time in that formation. Let’s give it some time!
- (4) Security: About sexual and gender identity, there’s so much fear. Children who struggle with this topic often struggle to even talk to their parents. Let’s put our weapons down and give some safety and security surrounding this conversation.
At times, Christians will automatically respond to people who have a same-sex attraction with causation arguments. (1) sexual abuse, (2) bad parenting. Both approaches are the old-school myth of Freudianism (Sigmond Ferud 1856 – 1939).
Sometimes, as a biblical ambassador (or just being a Christian!) We need to not be asking the wrong questions (yes, some questions are foolish questions). The gospel account from the book of John summarizes where people ask the wrong question.
“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2).
How can we avoid asking the wrong questions? There are three postures that we must consider from the three C’s
Biblical conviction matters that lead to a biblical confessional stance.
In layman’s terms, some people are just “jerks”. Don’t be a jerk but be civil.
So often, in the conversation on this matter, compassion will go a long way.