Truth and Grace

Focus on the Family’s Mike Haley has written a new book on homosexuality: ‘101 Frequently Asked Questions About Homosexuality.’
There is a question posed to Haley by the interviewer Trish Amason, assistant editor of Citizen Link.

Q: There are so many ways that the church has tried to respond to the homosexual. From total acceptance of their lifestyle, to complete judgment. Why do you think the church has such a tough time responding to homosexuality from a right perspective?
A: The two things that constantly need to be kept in balance in dealing with homosexuality are truth and grace.
What I mean by that is, if you get a church that is extreme in truth then what they are going to do is they are going to become a legalistic church, they are going to forget the grace component of it. But if you get a church that is so geared and off base when it comes to grace, they get sloppy and they get permissive in that grace.
But when you balance grace and truth and you remember that homosexuality is indeed against God’s original intent, it’s sin, but you balance grace with that — that Jesus died on the cross as much for that person who struggles with homosexuality as He did for whatever your sin is — if we balance those two, then I think the church will stay very solid.

I agree with this statement, to a degree! I take issue with his position against homosexuality because it is against God’s original intent. Is it? Yes, but so is heterosexuality against God’s original intent as we experience it in this fallen world. We will never be holy as God is holy. That is what grace is all about – despite the fact that we will never be as God intended, we are still brought into relationship with God through Jesus Christ. We live in a fallen world where we have to understand that life lived will never be as God intends, so what then?

There is open argument for the first time in the history of the Church concerning God’s intent in this fallen world (not God’s original intent!, which is impossible) for homosexuals – in the same why the Church dealt with wrong beliefs with regards to the flat earth, the sub-humanness and curse of black people, slavery, women, and numerous examples of wrong doctrine and theology. My belief is that scripture, rightly divided, cannot support the traditional attitudes concerning homosexuals living in monogamous, consensual, life-long relationships by those who are constitutionally homosexual. Likewise, ex-gay theory and practice do not work in changing homosexual people into heterosexuals. Ex-gay ministries may help people control themselves sexually and with regard to substance abuse, but God is not changing people into heterosexuals. I know this from person experience and from the experiences of many, many people I know – let alone the enormous number of examples all over the world.
Haley’s position on the right balance between truth and grace is consistent with the Church “loving the sinner, hating the sin.” This is predicated on the belief that all homosexual conduct is sin. I disagree. The question is now open as to whether all forms of homosexual conduct are actually sin – from scripture and not simply from a capitulation to prevailing culture (which I find a silly accusation against accomodationists, like some in the Episcopal Church, due to the fact that most of the culture is still hostile towards homosexuals).
Sexual sin is the same for heterosexuals as it is for homosexuals, but all homosexual conduct is not sin, at least according to what can be gleaned from scripture. What is clear is that rape is wrong, pedophilia or pederasty is wrong, prostitution is wrong, promiscuity is wrong, incest is wrong, etc. – but for BOTH heterosexuals and homosexuals!
Here is where grace and truth exist in a world that is not and cannot be as God intended. Legalistic righteousness cannot lead to a good Christian life and relationship with God. That is what the Law of Moses showed us, and what Jesus and Paul taught us. Nor is promiscuous grace justifiable, because God does set standards – love God with all our heart (which translates into living in God’s will for us regardless for our own uninformed desires and limited understanding) and love our neighbor as ourselves. We don’t do either very well – it is easier to try to live by a law.
There are those churches that focus too much on grace. I know of one particular church with a large contingent of gay people. On a whole, the people are good and faithful, but there is an attitude of permissiveness that exists which translates into people who do not look much different in their attitudes and practices from non-Christians. I don’t think this is justifiable, although I understand their position. The ethos of the place is that we are all on a journey towards becoming the people God intends us to be. This is true. They would say that their job is not to tell people what to do or not to do, but to encourage them to grow as they feel God is calling them to grow. I can agree with this also, but it is evident in the world that if there is no standard lifted up unto which we strive, then there will be no standard at all.
I also know of a church that focuses far too much on “truth.” Of course, it is only a “truth” that they claim they know, and they know because they are faithful people desiring God’s will to be done in their lives. They have developed into a very legalistic church as they strive to be perfect and completely faithful Christians, or “holy” as God is holy. They live a life of a Pharisee. With respect to gay people, this leads them to advocate complete denigration of gay people, and some even advocate capital punishment for gay people, since that is what the Levitical Code demands.
Neither of the above examples are in good balance regarding grace and truth. I agree with Haley that there must be balance, but he errs on the side of “truth” (which in American is expressed in fundamentalistic legalism). It is a balance, but I will err on the side of grace every time.
Here is a link to the entire interview:

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