Most of us are affected by homosexuality in some way, even aside from the nonstop news and political noise. It’s personal. But how do we think about homosexuality as Christians? Some of us feel conflicted between what our friends believe, what our pastor is saying, and what the media is saying.
That’s why we thought it would be edifying to dedicate our most recent 20s Night to discussing homosexuality and Christianity with someone who has spent time and effort studying the topic. Allison J. Althoff, who wrote the popular feature for Christianity Today, Hope for the Gay Undergrad, came to facilitate a discussion about this potentially awkward topic.
We spent time discussing what the church is doing well, what the church is doing poorly, and what we can do to be part of the solution, instead of part of the problem.
Here are some take-away points from the discussion:
1) Gay = straight. No matter what your sexual orientation, God sees us all the same. Period. The second you think you are “superior” to someone who is attracted to members of the same sex is the second you need to go wash the plank out of your eye.2) Don’t develop canned responses. It’s okay to say “I don’t know” to someone’s questions about sexuality and Christianity. You can’t save anybody, and God will ultimately be the judge of their sins. All we’re called to do as believers is to intercede in prayer and love.3) Admit you yourself are a broken person. Be a doormat for others struggling by opening up first and telling people why you need Jesus. Your vulnerability and authenticity will inspire others to search and reveal their hearts as well.4) Admit your own ignorance and naivete. If you don’t know anything about homosexuality, don’t be afraid to admit it.5) Do not pity someone for their sexual orientation. “I’m so sorry you’re gay” won’t score you points with anyone.
We’re all social creatures, or as David Brooks put it “Social Animals.” We are highly influenced by the people around us, our friends, family and coworkers.
That is why Jesus set up the Church, for us to build up one another according to God’s teaching and be able to live with, and influence one another to become more like Him.
This is how Dietrich Bonohoeffer put it in his great book Life Together:
“Christianity means community through Jesus Christ and In Jesus Christ. No Christian community is more or less than this.”
1. Christians need each other because of Jesus Christ.
- “God has willed that we should seek and find His living word in the witness of a brother, in the mouth of man.”
- “The community of Christians springs solely from the Biblical and Reformation message of the justification of man through grace alone; this alone is the basis of longing of Christians for one another.”
2. Christians come to one another only through Jesus Christ
- “Christ became the Mediator and made peace with God and among men. . . . Christ opened up the way to God and to our brother.”
- “Only in Jesus Christ are we one, only through him are we bound together.”
3. In Jesus Christ we have been chosen from eternity, accepted in time, and united for eternity.
- “If, before we could know and wish it, we have been chosen and accepted with the whole Church in Jesus Christ, then we also belong to him in eternity with one another.”
- “He who looks upon his brother should know that he wil be eternally united with him in Jesus Christ.”
The Navigators group over in Florida recently put up a blog about post-college life. The writer, Sammi Feliciani, shares her experience of emerging from college with big dreams but no sure plan. With the world before you, but no structure or order to navigate it is daunting. It’s easy to get paralyzed.
But when the fifty-first person asks me, “So, what’s next for you?” and writes me off as an aimless slacker based on my, “Uhh, well, I don’t really know,” answer, I think about Emily, Sam, Victoria and Nicki. These are some of the women who have poured into me over my college years. They’re ladies I have admired, learned from and imitated. I would be overjoyed to be a woman like any of them someday. But I don’t admire them because they’re perfect or because they never question or mourn or mess up or struggle. In fact, as I have seen each of them walk through death’s shadow, seen their own plans and dreams fall apart, and heard them share their hearts: the raw, real, sticky, tangled mess of lives wrecked by sin but redeemed through Christ, I’ve seen what trusting God really looks like. These women who have shepherded me didn’t always have everything together. In their moments of weakness, though, Christ’s strength was displayed most powerfully. These women brought me to Jesus, not to themselves and not to some amazing be-the-best-you-can-be life plan. He was, and is, more than enough.
When life seems to be losing its sense of order, and we encounter challenging new territory, our best bet is to look back to the rich heritage of blessings he has given us, through mentors, friends and family. God does not drop us off at the curb of life, or end after four years of undergrad. He has a plan for our lives, and that is to live with him in righteousness and peace.
Have you felt paralyzed by life after college? What have you learned about God’s faithfulness during transition?
by Jay N.
This last week was the Navigators Collegiate Fall Conference where 20s MIssion Chicago did a short breakout session for college seniors. During the course of the conference, I heard quote from Helen Keller and it struck me as very relevant to this stage of life.
“All control is an illusion.”
What thoughts does it bring to mind? I often find myself wanting to have control even when I’m praying. I want to know what I’m getting, and what I need to do to get it. But if I limit my prayers to ones that I know will come true, then I won’t pray for anything bigger than what I can control myself.
And that would be a pity, because evidently God wants me to pray a lot (“Ask … seek … knock …” Mt 7:7), and not just for the things I think are possible. One of the speakers at our collegiate conference, Tom Yeakley, also shared this from J. O. Sanders:
“God encourages us to ask for the impossible as well as the possible, because to him all things are the same – less than himself.”
Emerging graduates have a lot to pray about as they consider their future plans. We wanted to help them to ask and expect the impossible from God.
What impossible things are you asking of God?