Loving your gay neighbor as yourself

By Christine Sneeringer
Feb 14, 2011

My heart pounded as the Sunday School teacher asked us to break into small groups and discuss how we might reach the homosexual community for Christ.

I had often wondered if everyone knew my secret. Now I would find out for sure. In my group of four, Rachel spoke first: “I don’t have any compassion for homosexuals.”

My heart sank.

Mark chimed in, “I don’t have any compassion for homosexuals either, and I think AIDS is God’s judgment against homosexuals.”

These two seemed so smug, so arrogant. Anger burned within me, and I vowed not to speak. But my friend Robert, who knew I was formerly gay, spoke next. “Christine, what do you think?”

I shot him a look that could kill. Then I took a deep breath and shared my secret. You could have heard the proverbial pin drop as the looks on their faces told me they were embarrassed and truly sorry.

What they didn’t understand was that I, like most homosexuals, never wanted to be gay. It just sort of happened as the result of a perfect storm of events—growing up with an abusive father, gender confusion, and numerous experiences of sexual abuse.

Twenty years ago I left the gay scene after becoming a Christian. Through the kindness showed to me by a group of Christians who stood in the gap for me and were Jesus with skin on, I tasted a better love and wasn’t willing to settle for a counterfeit anymore. I’m not talking about an opposite-sex partner but the love and forgiveness my Savior offered.

Over the years as the director of a ministry that helps people with unwanted same-sex attractions, I’ve heard far worse stories of how unrepentant homosexuals have been rejected or maligned by church culture because of the nature of their sin struggle.

This begs the question, if we can’t embrace and support a repentant homosexual, then how much more so will we struggle to show God’s redeeming love to someone who is actively gay?

When it comes to tolerating the homosexual—much less showing love and compassion—it seems we have a double standard in church culture. That is, heterosexual sin is just not so bad and not nearly as frowned upon.

In most of society, homosexuality is not only tolerated but celebrated today. Thank goodness many in the church still uphold the biblical worldview that homosexuality is sin. They understand that just because culture has changed its mind on the issue doesn’t mean God has.

However, what we need to remember is that just because God calls it sin doesn’t justify treating the gay person with contempt or disrespect. Where did we ever get that idea? I meet Christians all the time who think that to love a homosexual is somehow an endorsement of their behavior and a compromise of their Christianity.

On the contrary, when Jesus walked this earth He was called a friend of sinners. Since we are called to follow His example, this gives us full permission to engage and love those around us who may be different from us—who may even be gay!

Living in South Florida, where there is a growing gay community that is sometimes emboldened in its behavior, I have many opportunities for my sensibilities to be challenged by those who are out and proud. The question is how will we respond to the biblical mandate to love our neighbors as ourselves?

Thankfully, as I shared a few details of my story in that Sunday School setting, my two classmates had compassion for me. They also realized they were no better than the Pharisees who wanted to stone the woman caught in the very act of adultery. My two friends wisely put their rocks down.

Now if we could just figure out a way to get the rest of Christianity to do the same!

Some helpful things to remember

Gay people are not freaks. They’re not weird or abnormal just because of their sexual orientation. If you don’t understand homosexuality that’s OK, but that’s no reason to make fun of, reject, or discriminate against gays. They are people, too, and they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect regardless of their sexual preference.

People aren’t born gay. Many people have been deceived into thinking that there is a so-called gay gene. Research has been done to find a genetic link to homosexuality, but it actually proved just the opposite, that homosexuality is not inborn. Its causes are varied but often include childhood trauma such as sexual or emotional abuse, early exposure to pornography, unmet emotional needs, and a breakdown in the relationship with the same-sex parent.

God loves the homosexual struggler. Though the Bible clearly condemns homosexual behavior (Lev. 18:22; 20:13; Rom. 1:26-27), God does not reject the homosexual. He loves gay people just as much as He loves straight people. God sees us all alike, as sinners in need of a Savior. The Gospel is for everyone, including the homosexual.

There is hope for change. Gay people don’t have to stay that way. A homosexual orientation is not a life sentence. With God’s help and the loving support of others, many people have left the homosexual lifestyle. Unfortunately, there are no quick fixes or easy answers for gays who wish to change. That’s why it’s helpful to talk to someone who’s been there.

Christine Sneeringer has been walking in freedom from homosexuality for 20 years and is passionate about sharing God’s love with the lost. She serves as the director of Worthy Creations in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and is a member of the SBC Task Force on Ministry to Homosexuals. Information on the task force can be found at http://www.sbcthewayout.com.

Further Learning

Learn more about: Faith, Ministry, , Family, Sexual Purity, Homosexuality,

8 Comments

1 On Feb 15, 2011, at 5:49am, James E Reeves wrote:

Christine, I am encouraged to know you have past from death unto life. That is the issue with any sin, putting and end to the sin that comes so easy for us to partake in.
I read a Jewish Bar-Mitzvahs book that drew a conclusion about bad dreams and thoughts. Interestingly enough it replied, that you may not be able to be a good person so be a good Jew. Now I have a different twist to that estimation
that is “bad thoughts and dreams have no action in themselves so it is up to individuals to put them in the past.”
We can’t help what we think but actions come with accountabilities attached.
Jesus said seek first the Kingdom! Love your neighbor as your self!

2 On Feb 16, 2011, at 8:33pm, Nancy Williams wrote:

I really like Dr. Land’s writing.

3 On Feb 16, 2011, at 9:16pm, Mark wrote:

Christine, thank you for words that weigh on me; I accept your challenge to love the homosexual, who is my neighbor. I may expect more than one can offer in one, well-written piece, but I disagree on one point and ask for help on another. While all sins express rebellion against God perhaps equally (I’m not sure), they are not equal in the degree to which they transgress the moral sense installed in all of us as the Maker’s Standard Equipment. The 8-yr-old’s theft of a piece of candy from the store simply is not equal in these respects to Nazism’s holocaust of 6 million+ Jews and others, including Christians, Gypsies, and homosexuals. Similarly, heterosexual fornication and adultery really are not the same in their violation of the universal, natural law as homosexual acts. (more)

4 On Feb 16, 2011, at 9:22pm, Mark - 2 wrote:

Heterosexual sexual attraction is, in physiological form, wholly natural, even when they are immoral; however, homosexual sexual attraction and any form of sexual acts can never be natural in this manner. Homosexual acts are therefore inherently worse than at least some immoral heterosexual acts. I believe it is this knowledge that we cannot NOT know about homosexuality that propels the nearly instinctual rejection of and repulsion toward homosexuality. And in public discourse today, this natural and proper rejection/repulsion is instantly condemned as “homophobic” or “bigoted,” without due consideration. This knee-jerk slander of the reaction of a well-formed conscience must be opposed, even as it must also be supplemented by the gracious acceptance of homosexuals as equally sought by a gracious Savior. That’s my disagreement with your—and many others’—claim that homosexual sins are not inherently different or worse than heterosexual sins. (more)

5 On Feb 16, 2011, at 9:27pm, Mark - 3 wrote:

Loving individual homosexual persons is one thing, but how should Christians—as citizens—deal with the evils of the homosexual political campaign, which, among other evils (including its immoral strategy to Desensitize, Jam, and Convert), seeks to condemn and criminalize expressions of a healthy conscience in its rejection of homosexual acts? May we not need as much courageous love to resist this immoral campaign in public discourse as we need it to embrace our homosexual neighbor? Do you resist the gay political agenda publicly, reasoning with the body politic not to do anything to approve or encourage this lifespan-reducing way of life, or believe you’ve fulfilled your calling by simply loving homosexuals as individual persons?

6 On Feb 16, 2011, at 10:06pm, Paul White wrote:

Thank you for using your story to encourage others!

7 On Feb 17, 2011, at 2:48am, meg wrote:

Thank you for this great article. I learned this principle when I found out that my dearest cousin (who is like a brother) has been with his partner for over 30 years. I love him dearly! While I am a firm believer of what the Bible says about homosexuality I do not feel that it is my place to judge anyone. God loves all of us. He just does not love our sin. Society seems to rank sins as very bad to not so bad, but God sees it all the same. We need to love others, because we can’t win others to Christlike living by making fun, being critical, and otherwise being hateful. I think your article hits the nail on the head. I love my cousin and his partner. They are wonderful people, just have chosen to be homosexual. I am not their judge. Only God has that responsibility. Our Christian brothers and sisters need to learn that.

8 On Feb 23, 2011, at 5:53am, James E Reeves wrote:

Meg, you are so right about judgement because it is our relationship to knowing Jesus,that His blood covers the sin so that God doesn’t pass judgement.
I pray for your loved ones to find Jesus also to avoid the consequences of sin. Jesus will do the rest.

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