Writings by Cole Huffman

The Longest Mile

The tension between our religious liberty and anti-discrimination considerations for LGBT people is thick. Should you get into a conversation about this with someone and they discover you are religious, they might ask you what you have against LGBT people. How do you respond? If someone flatly states you must think all gay people are sinners going straight to Hell, how do you respond? I have four ideas on this.

First, don’t get pushed into a corner. Slow the conversation. Ask clarifying questions like: What do you mean by “sinner”? They think that’s your question to answer as the Christian, and it is, but try to get their thoughts on it first.

Most people don’t want their LGBT friends to be thought of as evil. That’s fair. Many of them are good neighbors. Sin does not make one a bad person in the sense of monstrous. It makes every one of us condemned before God for our unrighteousness and self-righteousness both. But as God’s image-bearers all sinful human beings possess dignity and the potential for eternal glory.

Our sinfulness is what harms God’s shalom, a Hebrew word that includes everything that leads or lends to human flourishing. LGBT is sinful because it neither leads nor lends to human flourishing. This is not meant to be a cold bottom line, but why God discourages these things in Scripture and life.

Second, ask your questioner if they believe gender concerns are of equal importance to race concerns. They will agree, likely. The scorn aimed at racism extends to anything that looks discriminating to LGBT people. Opposing what homosexuality or transgenderism is, even in principle, is considered discriminating on its face. We live in a time in which disagreement equates to rejection, even hatred.

Gender and race are equal in importance. The difference is that race is a superficial distinction (skin deep) between otherwise full human beings, while gender is a fundamental distinction (male and female) between otherwise full human beings. Racism makes superficial differences fundamental. LGBT makes fundamental differences superficial. A thoughtful person can see the problem: it is inconsistent to treat race sacredly as fixed but then desacralize gender by treating it as fluid.

Third, love your neighbor. LGBT people and their friends are right to complain when we appear more focused on their sin than ours, or give the impression theirs is a fast pass to Hell. Heterosexuality is not what takes you to Heaven! Only Jesus’ righteousness does. If homosexuality puts one in Hell it is because the LGBT person has added self-righteousness to unrighteousness, refusing Jesus’ righteousness to cover both. There are plenty of heterosexual people in that boat.

Fourth and finally, don’t rely on winsomeness to win the day. Culturally, we’re too far out past the shallows. LGBT people have successfully fought to have their orientation privileged. It is still part of our gospel stewardship to point people to the sexual ethics of Jesus. Let’s be as gracious about this as we can be but realize our convictions are considered bigoted even when we’re nice.

Recently, I gave a couple of my daughters an analogy for how these cultural shifts run. (Christian teens feel incredible pressure now to legitimize LGBT experiences.) I used the four laps of a mile relay. The gun went off some fifty years ago at the sexual revolution; the first lap was “free love” heterosexual hedonism. The baton was then passed to “L” and “G” and homosexuality was normalized. “B” and “T” are running the third lap now, gaining speed. (This discussion with my girls was prompted by one of them volunteering to me that a pop artist on the radio is “bi.”)

Who will run the fourth lap? Perhaps it will be the polyamorous, or pedophiles seeking legitimacy, or bestializers, or sex bot lovers, or all the above making a grab for the baton to make their run at mainstream acceptance. The mainstream crowd seems ready to cheer anyone on this track because, to adapt the assassins’ maxim in the video game Assassin’s Creed, nothing is true when everything is permitted.

Have you heard Alexander the Great’s famous line about not being afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep? He said he was afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion. Jesus leads his sheep to resiliency and greater fidelity to creeds. He leads us to build the kind of fellowship that emboldens faithfulness at cost.

Israel was told that “strong” and “courageous” were to be her watchwords as she entered a land where the inhabitants ran wild. I’m not spending a lot of time worrying about religious liberty nowadays. I don’t want to lose it, but the fear is not keeping me up at night. I’m not keeping time by the stopwatch down at the track.

Let’s train ourselves for godliness. Let’s look to Jesus, the undefeated author and finisher of our faith. Let’s give ourselves to gospel wakefulness and unrelenting engagement with reality for Jesus’ sake.

The world around us needs us to be more completely the Lord’s, not less. If it seems dark outside to you, remember that every day Jesus is calling people into light. Until all sheep fall in step behind Him.

Posted by Cole Huffman at 1:39 PM
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