This post on Christian identity is the 5th in a 7-part series called “Gay or Same-Sex-Attracted?” Each post covers a reason to use the words “gay” and “lesbian” as a Christian. This Wednesday, we’ll examine a few problems of practicality when it comes to using the term “same-sex-attracted.” On Friday, we’ll conclude the series by addressing any lingering questions that still remain. So if you have a question, and it hasn’t been addressed yet, please shout it out!
To check out other posts in the series:
- Gay or Same-Sex-Attracted? Navigating the LGBT Language Police
- Christianese Like Same-Sex-Attracted Pushes Away the LGBT Community
- Gay Doesn’t Mean ‘Sin’ And Neither Does Same-Sex-Attracted Mean ‘Holy’
- Why Gay and Lesbian Identities Don’t Undermine Identity in Christ
- Why Homosexual Christians Are Called To Identify With Gays And Lesbians
- LGBT Words Are More Precise than the ‘Same-Sex-Attracted’ Umbrella
- Gay or Same-Sex-Attracted? Answering Some Lingering Questions
Or to read the full article:
Also, I feel the need to clarify that I am a celibate lesbian and fully committed to a traditional sexual ethic as outlined by Scripture. If you haven’t read my About page or previous posts, this could get lost in the conversation. I want to avoid misunderstandings as much as possible, so hopefully this information is clear!
UPDATE 4/23/2018: As this series has been getting read by more people, I’ve realized that there is an important background post on Christian identity that I wrote earlier on. If the topic of identity interests you, check this post out in order to get a fuller picture of where I’m coming from:
Identifying With People And Fulfilling the Great Commission
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, and being born in the likeness of men.” – Phil. 2:5-8
Learning the language and ways of the people you’re trying to reach is one of the most fundamental laws of missionary work. Ignore this law, and you might find yourself etched into the margins of The Poisonwood Bible one day. But follow it, and you’ll be joining a 2,000-year-long history of imitating the example of Christ.
Christ remains the single greatest missionary of all time, our ultimate example of delivering God’s truth to the world. He did it by giving up his divine power and becoming like one of us. By speaking our language and using our words. By choosing to identify with a broken race. With you and with me.
And he calls the Christian to do the same. He calls us to identify with everyday people using their everyday language. Everyday people like gays and lesbians.
Same-Sex-Attracted v. Gay v. The Cross
A common reason why some Christians prefer “same-sex-attracted” to words like “gay” and “lesbian” comes down to association. Why would the Christian identify with a group of people that largely reject a biblical worldview? Regardless of what the word means (the argument goes), it’s legacy is steeped in anti-Christian belief. Applying such a term to the believer (they say) only harms the message of the Gospel.
Laying aside the problematic assumption that gay people reject God’s truth in ways more deserving of ostracism than the rest of the world, let’s focus instead on the more worrisome assumption that identifying with sinners thwarts the Gospel.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, identifying with the worst of the world is at the heart of the Gospel message. After all, why do you think the “cross” happens to be the universal symbol of Christianity? The Roman Empire reserved crucifixion for the most reprehensible members of society. The very worst of its criminal world. And now we wear this badge of shame around our necks as jewelry. The very symbol of our faith is a symbol of sin.
That’s the legacy of our Savior.
Following the Example of Christ
“I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” – 1 Cor. 9:22b
Paul identified with whomever Christ gave him to serve. “To the Jews, I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews,” he said in 1 Corinthians 9:20. “To those outside the law, I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law” (v. 21).
Paul became “all things to all people, that by all means he might save some” (v. 22).
If there was any way to sully your reputation as a Jewish man in the first century, it would be to identify as “outside the law.” But the Apostle Paul did it anyhow. Because that’s the way the Gospel spreads.
Make no mistake, Gospel ministry cannot take place when we refuse to identify with the people God calls us to reach. He calls believers to incarnate the risen Lord to our fellow man. He calls us to be “little Christs.” And to do so, we must follow the example of our Savior. For 33 years, he walked and talked like every sinful human on the planet but never sinned himself. Jesus identified with fallen creatures while simultaneously demonstrating perfection. If you miss this, you miss the Gospel.
So Where Does That Leave the Homosexual Believer?
In the same way that Christ became a man and Paul became an outlaw, so we must become “all things to all people.” We too must identify with sinful mankind. Not for the sake of sinning beside them. But for the sake of living in holiness amongst them.
That’s how the Gospel transforms the world.
Paul became weak to the weak, a Jew to the Jews, an outlaw to the outlaws, and homosexual Christians must do likewise. Be gay to the gays. Don’t be “same-sex-attracted.” Just be gay. Just be one of them. Live in holiness amongst them. Let the Gospel transform the LGBT+ community by incarnating the risen Lord from within.
Let the Gospel transform your community by being a “little Christ” in the midst of it.
In my next post, this Wednesday, we’ll examine a few matters of practicality that make “same-sex-attracted” both imprecise and confusing. Then, on Friday, I’d like to conclude the series by tying up a few loose ends and addressing any lingering questions that still remain.
So if you’ve got a question related to this topic, and it hasn’t been addressed yet, please shout it out! I’ll respond in the comments, and if it seems relevant to other people, I will definitely include your question in my post on Friday.
In the meantime, what are your thoughts on identifying with other people? Have you ever been personally impacted by someone in your own life who chose to identify with you? Or have you ever been able to bless someone else by choosing to identify with them?