Welcome and affirm
Like Harold Jantz (“Welcoming, Not Affirming,”), I have wrestled personally and as a psychotherapist with homosexual men regarding their orientation, their rejection by the church and their families and their rejection of themselves. I have prayed with them and applied my knowledge as a psychologist to help them change or at least not to act on their orientation.
I agree with Jantz that the church must not simply do what our culture does. Our standard is the life and teachings of Jesus. Jantz is right that maleness and femaleness is the biblical model for sexual intimacy. But I come to a different conclusion than Jantz. The path through Scripture against homosexuality is a selective one — like slavery, head coverings, divorce and remarriage, and militarism. We do not even consider stoning homosexuals, as recommended in Leviticus.
Jesus says nothing about homosexuals. His highest principles are love and compassion. I have known too many homosexually oriented people who have felt the effects of disaffirmation — in church, family and employment. Some have committed suicide. I believe, with Jantz, that the church’s message to homosexual people must be that Jesus Christ is their redeemer and helper — from the effects of our rejection and from their feelings of invalidation and despair. Perhaps the most robust evidence proving sexual orientation has biological origins comes from those who set out to prove otherwise. Leading antigay writers have changed their minds about changing homosexuals into straight people. How can we welcome someone if we invalidate their primary experience? Welcoming without affirmation is a sham.
State College, Pa.
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