[In response to several recen tragic suicides of LGBT youth, Dr. Tony Campolo will be speaking at an upcoming event with The Marin Foundation. Campolo has also posted a guest post on Andrew Marin’s blog. As always, Campolo is straight-to-the-point and worth reading. Below is is post in full.]
Anyone reading the New Testament will become aware that Jesus broke from conventional religion in order to connect with and love people who lived on society’s margins. He was well received by those in the synagogue and even appreciated until He made it clear that He wanted to include in the household of faith those people who had been pushed aside by the religious establishment. In Luke 4:16-31, we read how, in His inaugural sermon at the synagogue in Nazareth, Jesus was greatly honored and appreciated until He pointed out that His message would be more likely accepted by those who were generally considered unacceptable in the household of faith. He specifically mentioned the widow who lived in Sidon and a Syrian named Naaman, along with lepers. Neither of these people were proper Jews who fit the requirements of what would be deemed “godly people.”
Elsewhere in scripture, we recognize that Jesus made a special effort to extend the invitation for inclusion in His Kingdom to the maimed, the blind, and the halt. According to the laws of the Torah and Talmud, such persons were to be excluded from the Temple, and were considered “unclean.” Yet Jesus makes a special effort to extend His invitation and love to these marginalized persons.
In our own day and age, the Evangelical community has marginalized our gay and lesbian and transsexual brothers and sisters. It doesn’t take much imagination to conclude that the Jesus who was always reaching out to the marginalized would be making a special effort in our contemporary society to express His love and to extend His invitation for fellowship to our modern day brothers and sisters who are estranged from our churches.
To reach out to the LGBT communities and join them in their cry for justice, and to champion their efforts for inclusion in our churches, is to simply imitate Christ. Being followers of Jesus requires this.
I often hear my fellow Evangelical brothers and sisters talk about loving gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered persons in the name of Christ, but then they turn around and stand opposed to these oppressed brothers and sisters enjoying all the same rights that the heterosexual community enjoys. It is obvious to any thinking person that you cannot tell people that you love them if you do not stand up for justice on their behalf. Justice is nothing more than love translated into social policies.
To not affirm the LGBT community as being people loved of God and, hence, loved by those of us who are straight, is to deny them any awareness that the love we talk about is real. When, at the end of an evangelistic service, we sing the old gospel hymn, “Just As I Am,” we have to really mean it. One of my homosexual friends said, “But Evangelicals do mean it when they sing, ‘Just As I am,’ but they ought to complete the sentence by saying, ‘but not as you are” which is what they really mean when referring to those who have different sexual orientations.
Responding to those Evangelicals who like to say, “I love the sinner, but I hate his sin,” a homosexual friend of mine said, “That just the opposite of what Jesus said. Jesus said, “Hate your own sin, before you look for sin in your brother’s eye.”
Even if there is not agreement about whether certain forms of erotic behavior are acceptable, there should be agreement among Christians that we are to plead for justice for all children of God; and when we say “all,” we must mean ALL!”