There have been terabytes of comments presenting both sides of this divisive debate. I have some of my own opinions on this, but I thought I would write this post from the possible perspective of a 15 year-old in our youth groups. What might they be noticing? What might they be hearing? What message are adults sending through this debate?
Here are just a few observations from my imaginary friend Chad who is a 15 year-old rising Junior in your youth group:
LOVE>HATE? When I am at church I hear the preacher and the youth minister talk about how we are to live our life by a compass of love, but I don’t see much of that in the Christian responses I have been reading on Facebook and Twitter, even people at my church. Ought not our response be, “How can we do a better job of loving everyone regardless of their attraction?” I know this is a difficult issue, but can’t we err on the side of love? Hate is far to powerful of an emotion that easily takes refuge in our hearts.
DIVORCE vs. SAME SEX MARRIAGE: When you talk about the Bible and homosexuality, I am able to read similar language in the text about God’s attitude toward divorce. This confuses me a lot! Why aren’t you adults as outraged with it comes to divorce in our churches? It seems to me as though you rank different sin above others and this sends me a confusing message. I mean, I know of so many people in our church who have gone through a divorce, and we let them stay. I read in the Bible that God HATES divorce. I get that. You have no idea what kind of damage those divorces have had on my friends in youth group. I have one friend who spends half a week at one house and the other half at another. They hate it. It is brutal. You should hear them talk about how awful holidays are being split back and forth. I am NOT asking we kick out divorced people. I appreciate how we readily (and appropriately) offer love and support to those going through divorce. We need to keep doing this. But why can we not offer the same love and support with those with same sex attraction?
BEWARE! WE ARE ALREADY HERE: In case you don’t already know, a few of my friends in youth group have same sex attraction (Yes, CHURCH Youth group!). They haven’t told anyone over 18 years of age in our church because they think you will freak out and abandon them. This breaks my heart because in our late night discussions at camp (yes Bible Camp), we talk about these things when no adults are around. I hear their pain and loneliness. I know how much they NEED your support and your love but they don’t think they can get that because of what they are hearing in the hallways of church as you talk (and read what you post) about these topics.
IT IS JUST A MATTER OF TIME…BEFORE THEY ARE GONE: As soon as their moms and dads stop making them come to church they are gone. They have told me this firsthand. They are going to bail as fast as possible to other communities that will love and accept them for who they have chosen to be. I have a few friends that will stick around in church, but as soon as they lose the support they get from others in youth group or campus ministries, I know they are out of here. There is only so much rejection a person can take. I don’t blame them.
THE REAL ISSUE: LOVE : I don’t know, or really care about this issue. We also get the idea of Truth, God’s truth. We need that too. But please hear that what my friends and I do care about is if you all really care about ALL people…every single person. Do you care about PEOPLE more than ISSUES? We know that everyone in our church has their own sin they deal with. Some deal with gossiping, some are greedy, some look at porn, some are living together and aren’t married, I could go on, but I won’t. You get the point. We all have our junk. We see how you love and care for others with those other sins. We are looking CLOSELY at how you treat others different from you, because we see story after story after story of Jesus treating tax collectors, women caught in adultery, Samaritan women, and more lovingly, kindly, and compassionately. If you want us teenagers to be loving, we need to learn how to do that from YOU! If you want us to be divisive, sectarian, and hateful, we are going to have to learn how to do that from you as well. WE. ARE. WATCHING. YOU. CLOSELY!
BIG GOSPEL: The more and more I read the Bible. The more and more I experience powerful love in this youth group and church. The more and more I see God and Jesus through our worship times, the more I really believe this whole God thing. I know it to be true. I want it to be true. I have experienced it to be true. I KNOW The GOSPEL of CHRIST is big enough for us to deal with this lovingly and compassionately.
How big can this Good News be?
How far reaching can the Love of Christ really, reach?
Can God be as loving as I read about?
Can WE be love like we are called to be?
Do WE have enough faith to trust God on this one?
The World is watching US through this debate, can we please show them a vivid image of Jesus?