On Sunday March 6, 2016, I preached on homosexuality from Romans 1. I opened with an apology to the homosexual community on behalf of the church. This is that letter. Dear LGBT community,
The Christian message is really quite simple. It states that God made all people in beauty and dignity in his image. But even as image bearers of God, we decided to live our way instead of his way. The Bible calls this sin and states that every human who has ever lived (aside from Jesus) has been held captive by sin. The consequences for sin are death and separation from God. But, the good news of the Christian message is that God was so full of love for sinners that he decided to take on flesh and die to forgive them and be close to them. This is the hope of Christianity.
Unfortunately, in many ways, we as the church have reduced this message to say that God only loves people who look and act righteous. This is wrong. But because of this kind of thinking, we as Christians have felt justified to demean and shame those in homosexual community. For this I am deeply ashamed, and sorry. I am sorry for the ways we have treated you like you are worse off than us. I am sorry for the ways that we have publicly humiliated you or hated you by saying things that should not be said about anyone who is an image bearer of God. Please forgive us for being more disgusted with you, than we are with our own, gossip, slander, greed, selfishness and pride, all of which the Bible equally condemns as sin.
I am also sorry for the ways we have that we have not been a safe place. One of the hopes of God we see in the Bible is that he is a refuge for the weary, burdened, and anxious. The Bible instructs the church to be the hands and feet of this kind of love. If there is any place that people should be able to come as they are, it should be the church. But for the gay community, we have not been this kind of refuge. We have been more of a battlefield than a place of safety. We have attacked you instead of welcomed you. We have shunned you instead of pursued you. We have avoided you instead of embraced you. I am sorry. We have not taken the time to hear your story, and imagine life in your shoes. This is not the way of our Lord Jesus, who was so full of love for sinners that he got off his thrown in heaven to pursue them. And when Jesus came to this earth, many who had been rejected by the religious system flocked to him because they knew he was a safe place. He even said, “Come to me, all you are are weary and heavy ladened, and I will give you rest.” Forgive us for showing you the stiff arm of religion instead instead of the warm embrace of God.
Finally I would like to apologize for the things we have not done. The book of James tells us that it is just as wrong to act out against God, as it is to not act for God when we know we should. The church has also failed the homosexual community in this way. In the face of mockery and hate, we have often been passive. Whether it was because of cowardice, ignorance, or lack of care, many of us have not defended your human rights in the face of opposition. God is the defender of the down trodden, yet we have let open mockery happen. Forgive us.
Forgive us also, for not being clear with you about what we actually believe about sexuality from the Bible. It is just as wrong for us to not speak clearly when you ask our opinion, as it is for us to treat you as scum of the earth. The truth is, the Bible has a lot to say about human sexuality. Many of its views are likely in opposition to your views. But, because we haven’t wanted to disrupt the comfort of popular opinion, we as the church, have chosen to avoid this issue, or not take the time to discuss it. This is disrespectful to you. I am sorry.
So, in conclusion, we have failed big time. But we cannot fix our problems, nor can we change history. The only thing we can do, is say sorry. I hope we can do better in the future, but I also cannot guarantee it. The only hope we have, is to draw closer to Jesus, knowing that the closer we are to him, the more of his heart we will actually have for you. We need the same grace we preach.
In grace and peace, from a minister of the gospel