Wednesday, November 22, 2006

family feuds

As we gather with our families to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, many of us face relationships strained and even broken by sin . . . . our own and others.

Homosexuality is becoming more socially acceptable and more and more common in many of our extended families. So many have shared with me their struggle with a family member involved in the homosexual lifestyle. What is the proper Biblical/Gospel response to these loved ones?

Here is one perspective from John Piper that I think provides some helpful guidance in these challenging relationships. . .

Letter About How to Relate to a Relative Who Is Homosexual


Joe Pollon said...

Tim, I appreciate you raising this topic. No one seems to want to touch it, but it is relevant to me as I have a brother, an aunt and a cousin who are gay and I want to understand the Christian view on it.

I have many questions and writing this helps to clarify my thinking on how to continue incorporating these family members into my life and, far more problematic, that of my three young children. Any feedback is appreciated.

On the issue of including them in holiday celebrations such as Thanksgiving I have a few thoughts.

1) With the exception of the militant variety, my experience is that most homosexuals are considerate of people’s sensitivities and therefore aren’t likely to start making out in the middle of the feast.
2) It is the rare family for whom bedroom antics is an appropriate topic for holiday discussion.
3) I think only the very fragile would be offended if respectfully asked to use more platonic terms than “lover”, “boyfriend”, “husband”, “wife” or “partner” when conversing with the children.
4) Children who are likely to notice and raise questions can be prepped and debriefed as parents see fit.

So it seems to me that unless someone intentionally raises the topic, sexuality isn’t the main issue. The real problem is our tendency to take the humanity out of the homosexual and see him/her as little more than their particular sin, rather than a full person who just happens (by nature, nurture, choice or some combination) to be pulled toward a sin that most of us are blessed not to struggle with.

As for Mr. Piper’s letter, I have the following questions.
1) Does loving ostracism only apply to the homosexual? He quotes Paul’s list of believers’ sins that call for shaming. Are we not all guilty of at least one on the list? Or is it only the openly sinful that must be banished? And would this not just drive them to the enemy camp?

2) How much bearing does what Jesus would forgive have on what the believer should forgive? Can just anyone forgive another for what they do to God, themselves or a third party? And other than not fulfilling our hopes, are they harming us?

3) I’m way out of my depth here, but I believe Jesus did dine with sinners. And though Luke 5:32 says that Jesus called them to repentance isn’t dining with them a demonstration of loving them first?

I make no claim that this is biblical or fulfills any religious mission, but my approach has been as follows. I will try to nurture relationships with the homosexual relatives with whom I enjoy being and who are respectful of my family and its limitations. I avoid those that do not and those whose choices are harmful to others (as I believe is the case with my lesbian cousin).

I don’t know if this helps anyone else, but it helped me.


Brianna Heldt said...

Joe, great post. What an amazing opportunity we have to share the love of Christ by being loving and gracious with gay family members/friends, as we would be with anyone else. With anything I think it is SO important to remember the humanity of others and to see them as having been made in the image of God.

I'm no Bible scholar but I think I would differ from John Piper in my approach to the situation--is that allowed? :) Definitely a relevant topic, how we as believers relate to those around us.

Bryce said...

Brianna, you may howaver, its a really bad thing to disagree with John Piper