Republished, with permission, from Voice magazine, Jul/Aug 2013.
Several years ago, the philosophy department at Franklin & Marshall College invited me to be a featured guest on a panel discussing gay marriage. They wanted to pick up on the significant community focus on a column I wrote for our local newspaper.
In a large room of full of college students, professors and community people, I was drilled with questions and comments for two hours. The panel included a professor from a liberal seminary, a visiting law professor (whose lesbian partner was in the audience), a gay German professor and a liberal campus minister. God granted me grace the entire evening to patiently respond with kindness to those who questioned me. The students were exceptionally polite but a bit confused as to why I would be opposed to gay marriage. The professors were rude and belligerent.
The evening ended with the German professor looking over at me and asking how I could respect him if I consider him immoral for being gay. Although panelists were not directing questions at each other, I assured the professor that I would always treat him with the utmost respect as a fellow human being even if I disagreed with his sexual behavior. After the event concluded, about 20 students remained to discuss my views with me for another hour.
Despite the pervasive wrongful accusations of militant homosexuals, I am neither fearful nor hateful of those who live a gay lifestyle. But the popularity of such accusations makes it important for us to tone our debate and discussion with true concern and compassion. When we place the discussion in the general context of sexuality, we find important perspective for shaping the tone of debate.
Most Christians believe that we should “hate the sin but love the sinner” when it comes to homosexuals. But when it comes to our actions, we end up hating the sin but leaving the loving part to someone else. We are not sure what the loving part should look like and are afraid to try.
Compounding this dilemma is a sense of siege. Not only have liberal denominations affirmed homosexuality, but a growing number of self-identified gay evangelicals are also demanding affirmation. Fundamentalist and evangelical churches are largely silent.