A twenty-something college friend sent a link to a blog by a pastor in the Raleigh, North Carolina area titled IF I HAVE GAY CHILDREN: Four Promises From a Christian Pastor, by John Pavlovitz. The post has now gone viral. Part one of my reply spoke to his fourth promise, “If I have gay children, most likely I have gay children,” or the nature of human personality development and where “gayness” comes from.
Part two speaks to his other three promises:
1. If I have gay children, you’ll all know about it … I won’t hide it.
2. If I have gay children, I’ll pray for them … but not to change.
3. If I have gay children, I’ll love them … because they’re mine.
I’m a pastor. I have gay friends. I have church friends with gay children. All of us would agree with the gist of Pavlovitz’s promises. We understand his love for his children, and how he does not want to damage them. We understand his disgust and disappointment with those in evangelical and fundamentalist Christian circles who act like the Pharisees with the woman caught in adultery in John chapter 8. But we also agree with Jesus command to the woman at the end of that story: “Go now, and leave your life of sin.” We cannot in good conscience condone a path of life for our loved ones that God condemns. Those of us who are committed to the authority of Scripture and who call Christ Lord are called to a higher, more difficult standard of love. “Brothers” instructed the Apostle Paul, “if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.”
Mr. Pavlovitz also mentions that, if his children turn out gay, he will not pray for them to change. But what is life in Christ if not the power to change, to overcome the destructive force of sin in our fallen human nature? When the Apostle Paul condemned a whole list of sins, including homosexuality, he concluded by saying, “And such were some of you, but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” Notice the three points of restoration: “You were washed,” – the sin, along with its power to destroy, was taken away; “you were sanctified,” – set apart, you are no longer part of that world, the boundaries have been re-established and you are now part of God’s holy family; “you were justified,” – your guilt is taken away. All of this is accomplished not by the force of our will, but by the Spirit of the living God given to us as a result of Christ’s atoning death and victorious resurrection.
We make our choices and then our choices make us. But the good news is that the Spirit has the power to help us overcome and repair the damage done by our sinful reaction to the broken parts of our personalities and the choices we make. This is the gospel. Anything less, isn’t.
Those of us who hold this view and say it publicly, no matter how gently or compassionately we say it, are called bigots and homophobes. It just goes with the territory. But anything less isn’t really loving our children and it is disobedient to our Lord.