Love the Sinner? Then Support Their Rights

In his latest opinion piece for Baptist Press, Mike Goeke, an “ex-gay ministry” leader at Stonegate Fellowship Church in Midland, Texas, scolds churches for trying their best not to make homosexuality a “worse” sin than any other:

The truth is that homosexuality IS different. It is not different as a “sin.” God sees the sin of homosexual expression as He sees all sin. It is different, however, in that no other sin (or, better said, an identity based primarily on sinful behavior) has impacted, or is likely to impact, culture in the dramatic way that homosexuality has done and will do.

Goeke goes on to argue that what makes this different is that, “Homosexuality is the only sinful behavior that has a cultural identity and movement surrounding it. What other sin is encouraged to be celebrated? What other sin has a “pride” movement attached to it? What other sin are people so quick to identify their lives by and to adopt as the defining characteristic of their lives?”

He also complains that homosexuality is “also the only sinful behavior that has a growing, accepted theology built around it.”

I’ll stay away from the tired example of anti-slavery and pro-equality-of-the-races movements based very much in “cultural identity,” which were, in their turn, decried by good Christian people as against God’s design for humanity. It was certainly seen as “sinful behavior” to oppose slavery and to serve black people at the same lunch counter as whites. In addition, each of these movements had “growing, accepted” theologies that sprang up around them. Martin Luther King Jr. comes to mind for one of those movements.

Instead, let us take the example of women’s suffrage, which did have a movement, a cultural identity, and a theology that challenged conventional readings of the Bible. Women fighting for the right to vote was, just as homosexuality is today, decried as an ungodly behavior for women to engage in.

As an example, in “The History of Women’s Suffrage,” the writings of J.H. Holliday are quoted, in which he says the “women suffrage scheme” is “anti-Christian”:

We wish our legislators would go home and ponder this thing. Read the Bible and understand the scheme of creation. Read the New Testament, and appreciate the creation of the Christian home, and the headship of things. Reflect upon what rests the future of this government we have reared… then reflect upon what would become of the Christian homes if men and women were to attend to the same duties in life.

Another letter, from Francis Abbot is also quoted as saying: “I believe from my soul that the woman movement is fundamentally anti-Christian, and can find no deep justification but in the ideas, the spirit and the faith of free religion.”

Mr. Abbot seems, on the surface, to agree with the sentiments of Goeke. The church must stand firm in its “truth” and fight this evil. Yet, Mr. Abbot understood what Goeke doesn’t—the fight for suffrage for women was not a sinful behavior. Though he can find no justification for women’s rights in the Bible, he finds his conscience is overwhelmed by their movement.

”Yet, I should vote for woman suffrage all the same, because it is woman’s right.”

Would that Goeke and his fellow anti-gay Christians could realize the same about their LGBT brothers and sisters.

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