To the Church: Conflict, Conviction and Compassion

By Joe Dallas Posted: Thu. Feb 1st 1996
In this final chapter, Joe Dallas makes a call to all Christians to stand firm on biblical teaching concerning the sin of homosexuality but to extend the open arms of love to the sinner.
In this regard gay activists mirrored the passage of confrontation politics - the purpose of protest was no longer to make public a point of view, but rather to halt unacceptable practices - the traditional willingness to tolerate the views of one's opponents was discarded.
- Ronald Bayer, 1981

We stepped out of the auditorium single file, facing a crowd of gay activists holding candles, waving signs, and blowing whistles. Security guards had formed a narrow aisle for us to walk through, but there were still less than five feet between us and the protestors. Their banner identified them as "Queer Nation," their signs exhorted us to "Heal Ourselves," "Stop the Violence," and a few other things unmentionable in this writing. Their faces were even more expressive than the slogans they repeated: "Stop the violence, stop the hate"; "Once queer, always queer"; "Sexist, racist, anti-gay, born-again bigots go away!"

Their hatred was louder than their shouting, more colorful than the expletives they were hurling at us. We were a sorry lot, we bigots; certainly we were no credit to the tradition of fascism that they accused us of carrying on. No self-respecting hatemongers would have conducted themselves the way we did. Few of us shouted back, none of us threw punches. Instead, without cue or prompting, we linked arms, faced the crowd, and began singing hymns. Some knelt and prayed on the spot, others tried vainly to engage the protestors in some reasonable dialogue. Most of us watched, refusing to avoid the ugly scene but also determined not to contribute to its ugliness. It was quite a way to cap off an evening of worship and teaching.

It was the 16th Annual Conference of Exodus International at the University of Toronto in Canada. This conference, held in a different location each year, provides Exodus leaders with a chance to meet and network with other ministry leaders; teach workshops on sexuality, relationships, and recovery; and meet with parties interested in our work. Most of us look forward to the week-long gathering. It is usually peaceful and provides a much-needed boost to our morale.

We'd already heard some rumblings of protest before the confrontation with Queer Nation. From the time we arrived in Canada, newspaper reports had carried quotes from gay leaders denouncing us and our view on homosexuality. That's nothing new - the quickest way to be the Bad Guy these days is to question the legitimacy of homosexuality and hold a traditional view on moral issues. But we were surprised at the lengths to which they had gone this year to harass and intimidate us.

So yes, we expected a little trouble. And no, nothing terrible happened. Intense and enlightening, but not terrible. As the confrontation continued that night, I spoke with a few of the activists. "Your presence here is oppressive to us," one of them informed me.

"But how," I asked, "is it oppressive to hold a different viewpoint? We're not forcing it on you; in fact, the way you live your life is your own business and I wouldn't interfere. But don't we have a right to offer whatever help we can to people who aren't satisfied being gay?"

"Well," he said, "we think your ideas are crazy and homophobic."

End of discussion; he walked away.

My ideas? Did I write the Bible? It occurred to me and several other people with whom I later spoke that our viewpoint, which is held by the majority of Christians, was what prompted the outrage. The protestors weren't reviling us; they were reviling the notion that homosexuality is abnormal, immoral, and a perversion of God's intention for sexual experience. As long as we - or anyone - hold such a view, there will be controversy. Our confrontation was a microcosm of what the church at large is about to face.

There are basically two ways we can respond to the confrontation: We can modify our beliefs or stand our ground. Many congregations are opting for the former, sacrificing biblical integrity in the name of compassion. That's tragic, and, as Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel stated recently, "a sign of weakness within the church that it [the issue of whether homosexuality and Christianity are compatible] is even a topic of debate. It should not even be a question because the Bible is very clear on the subject."1

The second option is to stand our ground, refusing to be intimated by the growing number of voices clamoring for a revision of clear biblical teaching. But how we stand our ground is equally important. There we are faced with a seemingly impossible challenge: to express our convictions with reason and compassion. "To be really Bible-believing and true to our living Christ, each issue demands a balance which says 'no' to two opposite errors," says Francis Schaeffer. "We can neither compromise love in the name of holiness; nor can we compromise holiness in the name of love. Or to say it another way: the devil never gives us the luxury of fighting the battle on just one front."2

We can't duck the issue of homosexuality, but neither can we effectively address it unless our response is balanced. To take it a step further, not only will our response need to be balanced; it will need to recognize the individuality of the homosexually oriented person we're dealing with. Not all gays are activists. Some are activists, others are more moderate, and others are dissatisfied with their sexuality and want our help. Obviously our approach to these groups will have to vary. I'd like to look briefly, then, at the gay activist, the moderate, and the Fighter and offer some thoughts on a balanced, effective response to each.

The Church and the Activist

In a TaIe of Two Cities Dickens described an uprising of people who had been pushed too far, oppressed for too long, victimized too horribly. The citizens of France had been ground underfoot by the Aristocrats, treated inhumanly and taxed without mercy by the upper-class tyrants. They brooded for years, planning the day they would take over and reverse the power structure. When the revolution came and their position of power over the Aristocrats was secured, they exacted vengeance without reason, blindly striking down anyone who opposed them and establishing a new form of terrorism that, to them, was really justice. They went into overkill, and though their initial grievances against their enemies were legitimate, their newly established system was every bit as tyrannical as the one they had overthrown. The oppressed were now the oppressors, lopping the heads off anyone who questioned them.

You can't look at the tactics and goals of gay activists without seeing the correlation. To begin with, they, too, have been frequently mistreated. And many of their complaints against the church and society are legitimate. Try to understand a bit of their background.

A Genesis of Rage

They never asked for their homosexual orientation. They had no control over whatever influences in early life contributed to it. They never chose to be attracted to their own sex; they only became aware, at some point, that those attractions existed.

Usually their awareness of their sexual feelings came as a vague realization that they were "different." That difference may have been noticeable to others (when boys are effeminate or girls "boyish"), or it may have been a private sense of feelings that other kids didn't seem to have. Most kids in this position are aware of homosexual feelings before they even know what homosexuality is. Sooner or later they hear the jokes about "queers." Not sure what a "queer" is, they assume only that, whatever it is, it's not a very popular thing to be. When it occurs to them that the definition of a "queer" or "fag" matches their sexual feelings, they are aware of their homosexuality, but they're also aware of the reaction they'd get from almost anyone they would disclose their orientation to. Their friends would ostracize them; their parents would be shocked, or devastated, or rejecting (or so they assume, and often they're absolutely right). And so begin the years of secrecy, hiding, self-loathing.

At first they assume or at least hope that, as time passes, they will outgrow their homosexuality. Often they pray hard and concentrate even harder, trying to change. And, sadly, they often assume that the problem is them - that something is fundamentally sick or evil about them to have these feelings. Their environment doesn't help much. By the time they've entered adolescence they know that to be gay is, in most teenage circles, one of the worst things one can be. This drives them further inward, more determined than ever to let no one in on their secret.

Of course, in some cases it's no secret at all. God help the teenage boy who's effeminate, the teenage girl with masculine traits. They are the objects of senseless cruelty, harassed and ridiculed at every turn by their peers. Yet even in the cases of adolescents whose homosexuality isn't obvious (they're the majority, by the way) there's an understanding that they, too, would be openly persecuted if their peers knew the whole truth.

Can you imagine, on top of the inward turmoil these kids experience, the rage that starts fo build inside of them? They are isolated, lonely, and often abused by others who fear them or loathe them or both. The church tells them they're sinning and society (in general) tells them they're oddballs, yet no one tells them what to do about it! They're in pain, to be sure, but someday that pain will translate into anger.

At some point they consider the gay community - a community that will accept them as they are, made up of people like them who have experienced a similar emotional journey. They make a decision to "come out," to quit fighting their inclinations and accept them, and in many cases to advise friends and loved ones of their decision. The coming-out experience is exhilarating. Finally the secret's out; no more hiding, fearing, pretending. For most, it feels wonderful. And for those who are activists today, the decision to come out was probably accompanied by a commitment: "I will never allow anyone or any group to ever put me down, humiliate me, or oppress me in any way ever again!"

. . . . . . .

Most of the repenting that needs to be done on this issue of homosexuality needs to be done by straight people, including straight Christians. By far the grearer sin in our church is the sin of neglect, fear, hatred, just wanting to brush these people under the rug.
- Richard Lovelace, 19813

Add to these personal experiences the animosity that's been growing between conservative Christians and gays these past few decades. The burgeoning Gay Rights movement of the late sixties and early seventies begged some sort of Christian response. A natural result of the sexual revolution of the sixties, the Gay Rights movement began to force itself on American consciousness as gays began identifying themselves without apology in larger numbers. No longer were they asking for tolerance; they were demanding acceptance for themselves and their sexuality. Unbeknownst to most of us, they made tremendous political, educational, and even religious inroads. (As early as 1969 some denominations were quietly reconsidering their stand on homosexuality.) Yet by and large, the church offered little in the way of comment. Worse yet, virtually no efforts were made to extend the gospel to these people. Maybe we were afraid of the subject, or perhaps we were intimidated by our own ignorance of it. At any rate, our lack of compassion was marked by our failure to respond to a huge, growing need in America.

Our response accelerated from silence to a deafening roar in the mid to late seventies, beginning with what is now considered a watershed event in the Gay Rights movement - the Anita Bryant Crusade in Dade County, Florida. In 1976, when Dade County passed an anti-discrimination bill prohibiting discrimination in housing or employment based on sexual orientation, Miss Bryant took action. With the encouragement of her pastor and supporters, she spearheaded a referendum which gained national attention. Believing that legislation such as that of Dade County was in fact highly discriminatory toward those holding traditional moral values, she successfully campaigned to have the law repealed. Although the outcome of the Bryant campaign was favorable, the events occurring during the campaign itself would once and forever change the church's response toward homosexuality, a change that was, in many ways, not for the better.

Essentially, we seemed to rise up in unanimous protest against the notions that homosexuality should ever be considered normal and that homosexuals should be granted the same minority status afforded to race, sex, and religion. That protest was good in and of itself, but the way it was expressed was actually damaging in many cases. Remember, these were the early days of Christian television, when ministers were finding new avenues of influence through the airwaves. And so over the air our leaders began expressing strong views not only on homosexuality but on homosexuals themselves. And that is precisely where we erred.

Extravagant, ill-informed remarks about gays were hurled from the televangelists' studios. It wasn't enough to preach against the sin of homosexuality, we needed to underscore our point by degrading, in the public's eye, anyone who practiced it. With little concern for accuracy, we exploited the stereotype most Americans had of homosexuals - they were all promiscuous, they were all effeminate, they all practiced their vile deeds in public places and posed a serious threat to the safety of our children. We weren't always wrong, of course. Some homosexuals fit that description quite well. But far too many of them didn't, a fact we refused to realize. It was politically expedient to cast them all in the same mold, as if to allow that some of them were rather moderate citizens would have somehow weakened our argument against their habits and lifestyles.

Not only were irresponsible generalizations becoming commonplace, they were also being made with a certain degree of relish. We wanted, it seems, to believe the very worst about these people and encourage others to do the same. Even more disturbing was the lack of gospel invitation extended to the gays. At the very least, one would think that having spent time and energy denouncing them, we would have ended our rebukes with an explanation of the grace of God manifest in the cross. Instead, like Jonah preaching to the Ninevites, we really seemed to hate these people and care little for their salvation. We wanted them stopped, but we didn't want them saved. Or so it appeared.

We sent a strong message to the gay community in those days: "We'll fight you every step of the way, and although we claim to "love" souls as Christ loves them, we don't care much for yours. What we do care about is your defeat, and that will be the focus of our efforts when we deal with you."

That is a message they will never forget.4

. . . . . . .

Jesus did not see disease as God's judgment but as an opportunity to show God's glory and mercy.
- Glenn Wood, M.D. and John Dietrich, M.D., 19905

If irresponsibility marked our public stance toward homosexuality in the seventies, we outdid ourselves in the eighties during the advent of the AIDS epidemic. Our hearts were unmoved when we saw pictures of emaciated young men crying in agonized confusion. They were beneath our compassion; instead, we pronounced (with smug satisfaction) the judgment of God upon the perverts of America. We seemed to feel they'd gotten what was coming to them and one would almost think we rejoiced in it. Preacher after preacher reminded his congregation that homosexuals were tasting God's wrath, and it was about time. We judged, we pontificated, we rambled.

But where was our compassion? We'd become adept at hard truth, but couldn't see that AIDS was affording us the greatest opportunity we'd ever had to finally reach the gay community with the gospel. Didn't it sink in that people were dying, alone and desperate, waiting to be harvested right before our eyes? Where were our missions, our visitation programs, our calls to action? Did we really feel that the soul of a homosexual was of less value to God than the soul of a heterosexual?

The greatest chance of a decade went up in smoke before our eyes. Our pronouncements of judgment did little good for these people. Doing good and showing mercy to them was relegated to the liberals, the New Agers, and the gays themselves. They filled the gap we should have bridged from the beginning. They stepped in with service programs, hospital visitation, and human comfort. While we pointed our fingers, the non-believers and the cults extended their hands. If the message we'd sent to the homosexual in the seventies was one of contempt, the message of the eighties was one of indifference, even in the face of death.

And so they perceived our response, accurately so in many instances, and they reciprocated. They returned our contempt twentyfold, considering us to be a community of cruel, twisted people. The hatred we felt from the Queer Nation protestors was, I believe, the fruit of our own mishandling of the homosexual issue.

You might well say, "But all Christians didn't blow it! Many of us really did care about AIDS patients and gays, and never meant them any harm." You may be right, but remember that the church, for better or worse, is represented by its most visible spokespersons. When they speak, those to whom they speak assume that they represent all of us. And so the anger many of them felt during their early years was fueled all the more by their perception of us, a perception that was not always inaccurate.

Maximum Overkill

But our errors will never justify the antics of the homosexual militants. Like the French citizens in Dickens' story, they've gone into overkill. In TaIe of Two Cities the citizens forbade anyone to speak against their new order under threat of the guillotine. And gay activists, not content to allow anyone to speak against them or their goals, are equally open about their intolerance:

Articles in Outweek [a gay publication] have backed taking away free speech from anyone alleged to be homophobic and have urged the use of violence against straight oppressors.6

The French citizens railed against the violence the Aristocrats had committed against them, yet they advocated mass violence against their former oppressors (and anyone they deemed an enemy of the republic) without apology or exceptions. So gay activists consider terrorism an acceptable method of achieving their ends and silencing their enemies:

A recent cover [of Outweek] featured a lesbian pointing a gun at the reader, with the headline: "Taking aim at bashers!" [Presumably "gay bashers," which often means anyone who opposes homosexuality.] Another proclaimed, "We hate straights."7

The double standard here is nearly unbearable. Activists unanimously decry the violence committed against gays. In some cases they cite violent acts of gay bashing in which clearly disturbed people physically, randomly attack gays. This type of violence should be decried by all of us, and its perpetrators punished to the full extent of the law. At other times, though, they consider verbal slurs to be acts of violence, acts which they themselves commit boldly and openly (and not against the people who directly attack them, by the way, but against those of us they've targeted as "homophobes"). And in some cases, they encourage the very sort of violence they condemn when it is directed against them.

By the way of example, one of the best known AIDS activists in America is Larry Kramer, founder of the militant group ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Porver) which is the forerunner of other such groups. Kramer is on record as advocating violence and even murder:

He [Kramer] then began the meeting with a soft spoken announcement that he wanted to set up a group to do target practice, to learn how to use guns against the police and gay-bashers.8

Asked to be more precise, Kramer looks grim and says that "the new phase is terrorism...I don't know whether it means burning buildings, or killing people or setting fire to yourselves."9

"I think, when I am ready to go," referring to his health after learning he'd been exposed to the AIDS virus], "I'll take somebody with me."10

Many in the gay community disagree strongly with Kramer, and many would not back his call to violence. But think for a minute: If a Christian leader ever made such statements, would there be a major newspaper in America that wouldn't splash his words on the front page? If Randall Terry, Jerry Falwell, or Phyllis Schlafly (all of whom are considered bigots and homophobes by the gay community) advocated any form of violence against gays, wouldn't there be a national outcry, and rightfully so? Yet somehow a nationally recognized leader in the gay community can publicly encourage murder with impunity. Something's very, very wrong here.

As the French citizens had a common name for a common foe, "an enemy of the Republic," so the gay activists have a name they slap on anyone they're at odds with, "the homophobe."

Few modern words have been so inaccurately and unfairly utilized as has the word "homophobia." A phobia is an unreasonable fear or dread of an object, causing a person to avoid the object and provoking a panicked response in its presence. Now, there may be people who are terrified of homosexuals and homosexuality, unable to tolerate its presence, and thrown into panic when confronted by it. But in most cases, the term simply doesn't apply. There are bigots, of course, who unreasonably hate and mistreat gays. The term "prejudice," "bigotry" or "stupidity" might better apply to them. But the misapplication of "homophobia" doesn't stop with them. It is slapped without hesitation on anyone who states that homosexuality is wrong, unnatural, whatever. How convenient to simply dismiss the arguments of anyone who opposes gays by saying, "He's homophobic - end of discussion." And in more and more circles, the label "homophobe" carries a stigma as great as the label "white supremacist" or "neo-Nazi."11

So a clever system has been set up here. The homophobe is the enemy that has to be stopped. The homophobe is anyone expressing views on homosexuality contrary to the pro-gay viewpoint, whether his views are founded in religion, personal conviction, or prejudice. The "damage" the homophobe does warrants a removal of his freedom of speech and religion through any means, and, of course, the church is the major promoter of homophobic viewpoints.

In short, the church must either change its views or be silenced.

How can we respond to the militants? First, through repentance. We can, and must, admit our wrongs. Yes, their tactics are deplorable and unwarranted, and no, there's no justification for the terrorism they're inflicting on us. But we have to admit our part, however large or small, in the animosity, and so perhaps we are reaping, in part, the very hatred we've sown.

Second, we cannot allow ourselves to become what they say we already are: Hateful, mean-spirited bigots. It would be easy to respond to their hatred with a bit of our own, but - and this is vital - that's exactly what they want us to do! It will only validate their accusations against us. Evil cannot be overcome with evil; it can only be overcome with good.

But good doesn't mean weak, which is my third point. We cannot afford to be coerced into silence. The Christian church is perhaps the last organization that continues to promote values which forbid homosexual practices. The militants know that, and that makes us an important target.

In a way, this is a continuation of the controversy of the gospel. Whenever Christianity is preached in its fullness it challenges prevailing viewpoints and inconveniences somebody. Christ Himself is a case in point. He gained popularity through His teachings and miracles, which made Him a distinct threat to the position of power held by the chief priests and Pharisees. They openly admitted that if people continued to follow Him, Rome would sense an insurrection, step in and take over the local government, and thus remove the Pharisees and priests from their position of power (John 11:47,48). Paul found himself in a similar position when he preached in Ephesus. His preaching caused many Ephesians to abandon their idolatry, which put a noticeable damper on the sales of idols and infuriated the local "idol manufacturers" (Acts 19:25-27). In both cases, a concern for the people who might benefit from the gospel had nothing to do with the actions taken against Christ and Paul; rather, these actions were taken because the promotion of Christian belief was undermining the political and social agendas of certain people who demanded that its promoters be silenced.

There is the possibility, then, of nothing less than full scale terrorism in the near future, terrorism intended to frighten us into either changing our views or never expressing them. If we allow ourselves to be so intimidated, we will deserve the contempt of society, the displeasure of God, and the place of spiritual impotence we will surely find ourselves in.

Who knows? Persecution has traditionally strengthened the church. Perhaps the onslaught of gay militancy will unite us in ways unthinkable until now.12

The Church and the Moderate

Not all homosexually oriented adults are radicals. Most, in fact, probably don't approve of radical tactics, although they rarely speak out against them. In my opinion, the majority of homosexually oriented adults are moderates. They live and work among us, make major and significant contributions to our culture, pay their taxes, and want simply to live their lives as they see fit.

There are the people we wouldn't normally envision when we think of "gay." Whether or not they're open about their sexuality, there is nothing in their demeanor or behavior that is offensive. Many of them are likable, responsible citizens.

We seldom identify them because they seldom identify themselves to us. When they do, our response to them should be no different than to any other person: one of respect, consideration, and the normal concern we express for anyone's soul.

Remember, the goal of the church is not to make "straights out of gays." It is to preach the gospel, and there's no reason an exception should be made for the gay moderates. They are not forcing a political agenda on us, as their radical brethren do. So our first priority, as with anyone else, is to share Christ and treat our fellow humans with courtesy and honor.

Often people ask, "How do you witness to a gay?" The question itself shows a certain misunderstanding. Why should witnessing to gays be any different than witnessing to anyone else? Their homosexuality is not our main concern. The state of their souls is. And if the gospel is something they're not interested in, we should respect their free choice as we should anyone else's. We needn't feel obligated to argue over sexual matters with people who have no interest in such an argument. I see no reason why a Christian should automatically target a gay friend or co-worker as an object of reformation. "As much as possible," Paul said, "Live at peace with all men." That's a good Scripture to keep in mind when responding to moderates.

Actually, I feel the best way to witness, at times, is to listen. And when witnessing to a gay friend, listening may be your most effective tool. It may also be educational for you.

Glenn Wood refers to a friendship he struck up with a gay university professor. The professor is someone Dr. Wood obviously admires; he describes him as an outstanding teacher and an intelligent, likable individual. He didn't know the man was gay until they'd had several conversations together. Once he acknowledged his homosexuality, he began telling Dr. Wood what his life was like - how it felt to have watched 32 of his friends die of AIDS, how being a victim of gay bashing had affected him, how cruel he felt some Christians had been to gays in general. Dr. Wood, who apparently did more listening than talking, describes his reaction:

I had been transformed in that thirty-minute conversation. I had vicariously experienced the pain of another human being... by the grace of God and the openness of a fellow mortal, I gained new insight into the anguish of this world.13

The Church and the Fighter

We are all playing Christian club games while men and women around us are tormented by sin, too timid to bare their bosoms, too ashamed to ask our help.
- John White, Eros Defiled

The church's response to the Fighter largely determines whether or not he'll keep fighting. All the counseling offered to him in this book is still in vain if he doesn't have a church to love him, support him, and relate to him.

So first off, we need to recognize the existence of homosexually oriented believers in our churches. I hope by now you will agree that they exist, and if they exist, a need for ministry exists with them.

There's no reason ministries to such people can't be developed in our churches. After all, when we preach against the evil of a lifestyle or activity, we should also be seeking alternatives to offer in place of the thing we're condemning.

Our response to abortion is a good example of alternative action. For years we've railed against the crime of murdering the unborn, yet to the woman in crisis pregnancy we offered little in the way of alternatives. Naturally, telling people they were doing the wrong thing without helping them do the right thing was unsatisfactory. Finally we realized we had something other than condemnation to offer. Christian ministries to women in crises began to appear. Halfway houses for single mothers gave women a safe place to complete their pregnancies without financial burden. Christian adoption networks took some of the administrative burden off women who opted for adoption instead of abortion. Crisis pregnancy counseling became a common outreach activity of many churches. We had cursed the darkness long enough; it was time to light a candle.

To this day few such candles exist for the Fighter. Yet we can't deny the prevalence of homosexuality and so, as we did with the abortion issue, we've got to establish ministries that will meet the special needs of the Fighter.

Support group ministries are one good alternative. We see such groups in many churches for believers dealing with substance abuse, divorce, relationship difficulties, smoking, and eating disorders. Why is homosexuality, clearly a major problem, so often neglected? Forming a group to address the issue is no major undertaking. I'd like to offer a few ideas on establishing such a group.

Specialized ministry groups should never take the place of church fellowship or a normal social life. They should, rather, supplement it. That should be made clear from the start.

The function of such a group is to provide a safe, godly environment where people can openly discuss their homosexual struggles; learn from the experiences of others who've gone through similar struggles; be accountable to a group of Christians who are genuinely concerned; and know they have friends who are regularly praying for them, available to them, and rooting for them.

Mature leadership is mandatory for a group like this. And the leadership does not have to be made up of people who've experienced homosexuality. (That's a common misnomer - only "ex-gays" can minister to gays, only "former drug addicts" can minister to drug addicts, etc.) It would be far better, in fact, if more people who've never been involved with homosexuality would involve themselves in these ministries. All parties could learn from each other, and come to realize how much they really do have in common.

It doesn't take a lot of expertise to develop these ministries. Some basic knowledge about homosexuality is helpful, of course, and groups like Exodus International can provide useful information. But a willingness to be involved in the lives of Fighters is the starting point from which solid, successful ministry to them can develop.

Which brings us to the larger issue of discipleship and intimacy in the church. When we function as a body - a group of believers who acknowledge their need for each other, who take time to know each other, and who commit themselves to each other's welfare - we create a godly environment where healing of all kinds can take place. That is the most effective way to address the needs not only of the Fighter but of all Christians. Solid, bonded relations in the church are a more noble goal than large congregations, fancy programs, and bigger buildings. That is the essence, the form of Christianity that expresses Christ's intention for His people.

Love, and the unity it attests to, is the mark Christ gave Christians to wear before the world. Only with this mark may the world know that Christians are indeed Christians and that Jesus was sent by the Father.
- Francis Schaeffer

Sources

  1. "Non-Traditional Churches Welcome Gays to Flock," the Los Angeles
    Times
    , June 21, 1991, section B, p. 12.
  2. Francis Schaeffer, The Great Evangelical Disaster (Westchester, NY: Good News Publishers, 1984).
  3. Richard Lovelace, professor at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, from "Homosexuals Can Change," Christianity Today, Feb. 6, 1981, p. 27.
  4. Rev. Troy Perry, founder of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan community churches (MCC), the largest pro-gay church in existence, adds an interesting point here. "If the Church had really done their missionary work - I don't think that MCC would ever have existed" [from Paul Morris, Shadow of Sodom (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1989), p. 29]. Though Perry doubtless means that the church should have both evangelized homosexuals and accepted their homosexuality, his words hold true nonetheless. If the church had concentrated more on reaching souls regardless of background or orientation, it is entirely possible that, as Perry states, there would be no "gay churches."
  5. Glenn Wood and John Dierrich, The AIDS Epidemic: Balancing compassion and Justice (Portland, OR: Multnomah Press, 1990), p.279.
  6. "Guy Life, Gay Death," The New Republic, Dec. 17, 1990, vol. 203, no.
    256, p.24.
  7. Ibid., p.24.
  8. Ibid., p. 25.
  9. "Kramer Vs. Kramer," the Los Angeles Times, June 20, 1990, section E.
  10. Ibid.
  11. A good argument against such misuse of terms is found in an editorial entitled "Is Homophobia the Equivalent of Racism?" in Newsweek, Mar. 12, 1990, vol. CXV, no. 11, p.27.
  12. It looks as though we're finally beginning to fight back. A Christian who was sharing his faith in the West Hollywood section of Southern California, which has a large openly gay population, is suing the city officials of West Hollywood for failing to intervene when he was assaulted, spat on, threatened, and intimidated by gay activists. According to his suit, city officials took no action on his behalf though they were aware of the incident(s) (Christian Times newspaper, Aug. 1991, vol. 12, no. 8, p. 5).
  13. Glenn Wood and John Dietrich, The AIDS Epidemic: Balancing Compassion and Justice, p. 114.