Yesterday Vancouver hosted the annual gay pride parade that also occurs in other major cities around the world. I did not participate in the parade in any way, although there are a variety of ways Christians have responded and participated in the past. The two ends of the response spectrum are probably marching with them in full solidarity and standing on the sidelines shouting condemnations such as, “God hates fags.”
This year I heard of a different response by some Christians. They participated by holding signs that were saying things like, “I’m sorry for the way the church has treated you.” Of course, as this happens to be one of the hottest political and religious issues of the day, any participation by the church seems to be controversial, but I really like this latter response. Regardless whether you think homosexuality is a lifestyle choice or an orientation created by God, the fact that the church has shown disregard for marginalized people in our society is a sin that we need to be sorry for and repent of. This is a way to be a witness for the Gospel message with words and presence.
We will debate the few biblical texts that are relevant to homosexuality for a few years yet [and we should], but the overwhelming weight of the biblical narrative, indeed the very core of the Gospel message is that God loves and accepts people unconditionally, especially those on the margins. This is shown to us in the person and work of Jesus Christ. The church is called to embody this message and we have too often done the opposite. I do not like the line, “Love the sinner and hate the sin.” It has too often been an excuse to vent our anger at the ugliness of someone’s sin that is different from ours, rather than a challenge to love our fellow fallible human beings the way Jesus did.