Recently, some people including some Christians have urged the Church in Malawi to embrace and tolerate gays. Even some church leaders have also added their voice to this call. Of course, in most cases this call has remained hazy to me in the sense that these people have not come out very clear on what they really mean by ‘the Church should embrace and tolerate gays’. Do they mean that the Church should extend the love of Christ to gays or that the Church should condone homosexuality and lesbianism under its roof?
If by ‘embracing gays’ they mean the former, then I don’t have any problem with that. Actually, that’s what the Church is there for namely to love the sinner and lead them to Christ the Savior who alone is able save from sin. Christ already made this clear. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest,” he calls in Matthew 11:28. Christ also says “I have come to seek and save the lost.” So, if by saying that church should embrace gays they mean leading them to Christ the Savior then this is already the core objective of the Church.
However, if by ‘embracing and tolerating gays’ they mean that the Church should welcome gays as they are and let them continue to practice homosexuality and lesbianism in Church, then I have a big problem with that. In fact, it is not really about me having a big problem with it, but Scripture has a big problem with it. Throughout Scripture, we find that the Church ought to be a haven where a sinner can run to for salvation but not a roof under which sin flourishes. Some examples in scripture come to mind right now.
First, in John 8:1-11, we read a story of a woman caught in adultery. Some scribes and Pharisees brought to Jesus the woman and asked Christ to affirm the punishment of death by stoning. However, Jesus wisely protected the woman and later told her to go and sin no more. This is what Scripture says: “Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” (10, 11).
Jesus did not only tell the woman to go but also ordered her to sin no more. I believe that this is what the Church should do. The Church should not condemn gays just like Christ never condemned the woman caught in adultery; however, the Church should not just stop there. It should go further and help gays, thorough the saving power of Christ, to go and sin no more. The gays should also be willing to forsake their sin by the grace of Christ. If they, deliberately, refuse to go and sin no more, then they should not be in Church.
If one, willfully, refuses to allow Christ help them forsake their sin, then they should not be allowed in Church because to borrow the words of St. Augustine, “If Christ is not the Lord of all, He is not the Lord at all.” You cannot say that Jesus is your Lord yet you, intentionally, refuse to obey him in some areas of your life.
Secondly, the word of God in 1 Corinthians 5:1-13 warns the church of tolerating someone who says they are Christian but they openly and willfully live in sexual immorality. The Scripture goes further to tell us not to allow such people to come and fellowship in church. The word of God in this passage is very clear and it needs no further commentary.
“I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people – not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of the brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler – not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. ‘Purge the evil person from among you.’” (1 Corinthians 5:9-13 – Underlining added)
Thirdly, the word of God does not leave Christians in the dark in regard to how we should treat those who are living in sin like gays. It clearly tells us:
“But you beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh,” (Jude 20-23).
God tells us to continue building ourselves in our faith by his grace and mercy. He then tells us that we should have mercy on those who live in sin, in this case, gays. And while showing them mercy, we should hate their sin and not tolerate it.
Homosexuality or lesbianism just like any other sin breaks the heart of God. God sent his beloved Son, Jesus Christ to the world to keep all the commandments of God on our behalf, pay the penalty of our sin on our behalf and completely defeat and destroy sin so that when we believe in him we should no longer live under the slavery of sin.
Therefore, if the Church allows sin to flourish under its roof yet the head of the Church, Jesus Christ came to destroy sin then the work of Christ is rendered useless. In the process, the Church loses its saltines and light. In the end, the Church is no longer a beacon of hope for those in darkness and are heavy laden with sin but just any other club where one can go and come back week after week while remaining enslaved to sin. That’s a pathetic ‘church’ which I pray that I should never belong to.