Last week I wrote a blog post questioning why so many confessing Christians support same-sex marriage. It sparked a long tail of comments both speaking against and defending such actions. For the most part, the conversation was civil … until I started receiving crit mail about my original post. Which surprised me.
To be honest, I sort of dismissed it. And then I got a personal e-mail from the director of gender issues for Focus on the Family, Melissa Fryrear. In a very gracious and humble way, Melissa said I really didn’t represent well the “tremendous message of redeeming grace” to complement my strong message of biblical truth on homosexuality.
And after re-reading my post, I agreed with her. So I took it down. Then I asked her to write a post on balancing truth and grace when speaking about homosexuality.
Here’s what she wrote:
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What comes to mind when you consider the concept of Truth? Perhaps synonyms like fact, reality, certainty, precision, or exactness. What about Grace? What comes to mind when you consider this concept? Perhaps synonyms like kindness, mercy, benevolence, leniency, or compassion. Without a doubt, what does come to mind is intricately connected to your worldview.
Because Focus on the Family is a Christian ministry, for us Truth refers to God’s reliable message and Grace refers to the undeserved goodwill God extends to humankind. It other words, Truth and Grace always need to go together. This is especially important for Christians to keep in mind when they participate in dialogues related to homosexuality.
OK, now that I’ve mentioned one of the most ardently debated and emotionally charged issues of our day, let me first share why issues related to homosexuality are so personally significant to me.
Twenty years ago I was a liberal, anti-Christian, card-carrying feminist who celebrated a lesbian identity (and subsequently lived homosexually for a decade). Today I am a conservative, evangelical Christian woman and heterosexual. (Yes, you read all that correctly!) I’m also privileged to serve as the director of Focus on the Family’s Gender Issues Department which, among other responsibilities, hosts Focus’ Love Won Out conference. It probably comes as no surprise then why I have such a keen interest in issues surrounding homosexuality, especially as those issues relate to Christianity and to Christians in particular.
Through the years I’ve seen Christians respond to issues surrounding homosexuality either by forfeiting truth or forfeiting grace. In other words, some Christians lean so heavily toward God’s truth that they lack any compassion for those who struggle with unwanted same-sex attraction or those who identify as gay or lesbian. Or other Christians lean so heavily toward God’s grace that they abandon the biblical mandate regarding sexual behavior. Both of these extreme responses are less than ideal.
There is a better response and Jesus Christ, of course, provides the perfect example.
You may recall in John’s gospel that he describes Jesus as being full of both truth and grace: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). That’s the best response — balancing both truth and grace.
Given that I have a personal history related to homosexuality, I am especially passionate about sharing unashamedly what Jesus Christ has done in my life — first for eternally saving me and second for so radically transforming my life.
I’m also passionate about helping Christian families that are directly affected by homosexuality — moms and dads who have a son or daughter living homosexually; men and women desiring to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction; and other family members and friends who have a loved one identifying as gay or lesbian.
It’s also my heart’s cry that those who do not yet know Christ personally will hear and learn about Him and as a result one day make the most important decision of their life by accepting Him as their personal Savior and Lord.
And I am committed to helping equip Christians to balance biblical truth regarding sexuality with Christ’s compassion toward those who are living outside of it.
And here we come full circle.
Christians have a right, even a responsibility, to proclaim (and sometimes defend) the biblical sexual ethic meaning God’s created intent for gender, sexuality and marriage. And how Christians do this is just as important meaning our attitude and tone must be one of gentleness, compassion and love.
Lest Christians forget … we all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way (Isaiah 53:6) and it’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). As God has been gracious to minister the truth of His Word with compassionate love in each of our lives, may we emulate Him and minister to others in similar fashion.
We can never forfeit one for the other; the answer is always both truth and grace.