We know that Jesus associated with the outcasts of his day. Luke 15:1-2 is very clear that he not only associated with tax collectors and sinners, he ate with them. He went to their parties (Matt 11: 19) to such an extent he was called a glutton and winebibber.
Not only that, but at one of the parties he accepted and defended the adoration of a woman known to be a “sinner,” and we can probably guess what that meant. (Luke 7:36-50)
Samaritans were regarded as having a corrupt religion and questionable ethnic background. Jews hated them and would not talk to them unless absolutely necessary. They took pains to detour around Samaritans settlements when they traveled. But Jesus purposely traveled to a Samaritan city to spend considerable time talking to a woman. And that was while the woman was still in a life of sin. (John 4:5-32)
Religious people condemned Jesus because He associated “with sinners” who were an “abomination to the Lord.” And that probably damaged His credibility with the Pharisees and Scribes.
There are various kinds of social outcasts in our society too, but I would like to focus on just one group that is often excluded from society in conservative Christian churches, including Seventh-day Adventist churches – gay people, also often called homosexuals. Sermons reference homosexuality as one of the signs of the last days, and pastors seem to use the word “abomination” exclusively in referring to homosexuality. Thus, often the only way we know to deal with gay people is to ignore or condemn them.
It seems to me that the example Jesus showed during his life for those who were outcasts demonstrated compassion and concern while they were yet sinners. He reserved His condemnation for professed religious conservatives whom He denounced as hypocrites! (See for instance Matt. 22:18; Matt. 23:13-30)
So we must wonder, if He were here today, in person, would Jesus associate with homosexuals, visit in their homes and go to their parties? Or would He only associate with “good” church people?
What do you think?
And what about our churches? Do we make gay people feel welcome? Do we treat them as our equals? Can they see the love of God in us? Would we invite a gay couple home for dinner? And I’m not just asking whether or not we would make “redeemed” homosexuals, such as those found on Coming Out Ministries or Beholding His Love Ministries feel welcome. I’m asking whether we would do the same for someone who made us feel uncomfortable, while we’re thinking, “he’s probably gay.” Do we honestly welcome an obvious gay couple to our church?
If we have to answer No to these questions, how can we expect gay people to trust God enough to surrender their sexuality to Him? How can we expect gay people to trust God with obedience when we make Him appear to be unloving and judgmental by the way we act as His representatives? They already know the “abomination” texts in the Bible. What they don’t know for sure is whether or not God really loves them. And that’s why so many just abandon the church and, ultimately, God. Some commit suicide for lack of hope.
We often fear the people who are different. And if we associate the different with an “abomination to the Lord,” we feel righteous about avoiding such people. But is that the way of Christ? I read that …
The last rays of merciful light, the last message of mercy to be given to the world, is a revelation of His character of love. The children of God are to manifest His glory. In their own life and character they are to reveal what the grace of God has done for them. (Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 415)
If I understand this correctly, the last message – which is the message we are to give – is a a revelation of God’s character of love in our own lives and character. Seems to me that means that we are to act out the love of God in our relationship with those around us. It’s the same old message as found in John 3:16 proclaimed not just in words, but in lives.
But it’s hard to love people who make us uneasy. To banish the unease, it is helpful to purposely get to know gay people close-up. In case you don’t know of gay neighbors to invite into your home, you may visit with six gay people through the magic of a movie. It is called “ Seventh-Gay Adventist,” and some of you may have heard of it.
Now I don’t agree with some of the views expressed in the movie, especially those of the first person featured – a Seventh-day Adventist pastor who left his wife and family to fulfil what he saw as his own needs. In my view, that’s no more honorable than a straight person committing adultery. And I don’t agree with the way he interprets the Bible. But I don’t need to agree with him to empathize with his longing for a relationship with the Lord and the church body. And the movie does get better. It provides an intimate glimpse into the lives of several gay people who also identify as Seventh-day Adventists. We may not agree with them, but I hope we can all learn to understand them a bit better – and learn to allow Christ to use us to love the next gay person (or gay couple) that we meet.
Here’s how you can download this award-winning movie for free – on your computer, your tablet or your phone:
Go to the buy page of the Seventh-Gay Adventist movie site.
When you are there, select the “Regular Version $9.99” (not the Deluxe Version $14.99) and click on it.
You will be taken to a payment page, with the most obvious choice being “Pay $9.99.” But right above that, you will see a link called “Use code.” Choose that link and put in the code “ssnet2014” without quotation marks.
This will be treated as a “purchase,” and you will receive an email that will allow you to stream the film to a computer, mobile device, smartphone, etc. You can also download it and play it at a higher quality. Choose whatever works for you.
And, yes, you may share this code. But there are a limited number of free copies available. So it’s best not to procrastinate.
I believe God wants us to love the outcasts of society before they get their act cleaned up. After all, He’s still working on me. Jesus promised to make his followers “fishers of men” not “cleaners of men.” Our job is to bring them to Him. Christ’s job is to clean them up. And He will surely do it, if we allow ourselves to be channels of His love.
After watching the movie, you may still wonder about all those “abomination” texts. If so, please read, “What Is an Abomination to the Lord.” And if you’re wondering what the sins of Sodom really were, please do read, “Sins of Sodom – What the Bible Really Says.”
And then there’s a story that demonstrates how to love a gay family member or friend. It’s the story of Christopher Yuan and his mother.
I want the madness of this planet to end. I want Jesus to come, but I also know that before He can come, He needs us to demonstrate to the world what He is really like – a wonderfully loving God who wants nothing more than to see us happy, healthy and holy – both here and in the hereafter.
Would Jesus associate with homosexuals? Is there a way we can know?