For Sunday, April 29, 2012
Fourth Sunday of Easter
Last weekend I heard a National Public Radio broadcast on which a speaker was describing to a live audience that while he grew up in a church, in wrestling with his homosexuality the conclusion he had reached about Christianity was, “That can’t be right.” The sympathetic audience cheered loudly.
Christianity was being portrayed as intolerant, out of touch, authoritarian, and just plain wrong. How could a loving God condemn to eternal damnation a guy who is just trying to listen to his heart?
I thought back to that broadcast while reading Acts 4, one of this week’s readings. The first century Christians were not operating within a friendly audience either. Yet their focus was to teach and proclaim in Jesus the resurrection of the dead (Acts 4:2). At the same time their ministry did not stop with words. They had also healed a crippled beggar (Acts 3:1-10). The powers of the day (the priests, captain of the temple guard, and Sadducees) were saying, “That can’t be right“, yet the early church’s ministry served to put a question mark on the end of the statement: “That can’t be right?” The crippled beggar, now healed, was standing for all to see. This made Christianity and the resurrection of Jesus most difficult to dismiss.
We need to prosecute the church’s ministry today likewise. First, we need to teach and proclaim the resurrection of the dead in Jesus. This life is not all there is and this life can be filled with peace and joy if we will only let God come in and redeem our brokenness and alienation from him. Then, just as the apostles pointed to a cripple healed we need to point to crippled lives healed as well. Maybe the healing will be physical or maybe of some other kind. In my own case I would point to the healing that continues to take place in me since the childhood trauma of my Mom’s mental illness.
To the homosexual who was speaking on NPR and to his sympathetic audience I would like to put this question: How do we knowwhat is really right and really true? Is it really up to each of us to put our faith in the emotions of each of our hearts? How sound is this approach, especially if our hearts have been corrupted, which seems most likely given the brokenness we see in the humanity all around us. The Bible speaks to this: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9).
So yes, one way to look at the speaker’s situation is to say, “My heart tells me I’m attracted to my own sex so to claim otherwise just can’t be right.” Yet another way to look at it is this: “Maybe there is something wrong with all of us. Maybe part of this often manifests itself as a warped sexuality that sometimes presents itself in the form of homosexuality. Yet maybe this isn’t what God intended and really isn’t the way it’s supposed to be.”
Secular culture encourages us not to address this issue. The famous Seinfeld episode puts it this way: “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” Christianity says something different: there is something wrong with that. First and foremost, the plumbing just doesn’t work that way, does it? Why is that?
That can’t be right?
Readers Corner: How do you think the church might best be good news to homosexuals?