From the Armed Liberal at Winds of Change, comes this distressing little story:
Dear Amy: My husband and I have lived in our quiet suburban Denver neighborhood for six years. About two years ago two young gay men moved in across the street. They've taken the ugliest, most run-down property in the neighborhood and remodeled and transformed it into the pride of the street.
When it snows, they shovel out my car and are friendly, yet they mostly keep to themselves.
Last month I went out to retrieve my newspaper and watched them kiss each other goodbye and embrace as they each left for work.
I was appalled that they would do something like that in plain view of everyone. I was so disturbed that I spoke to my pastor. He encouraged me to draft a letter telling them how much we appreciate their help but asking them to refrain from that behavior in our neighborhood.
I did so and asked a few of our neighbors to sign it.
Since I delivered it, I've not been able to get them to even engage me in conversation.
I offer greetings but they've chosen to ignore me.
They have made it so uncomfortable for the other neighbors and me by not even acknowledging our presence.
How would you suggest we open communications with them and explain to them that we value their contributions to the neighborhood but will not tolerate watching unnatural and disturbing behavior. - Wondering
When I read the above letter early this morning, my initial reaction was one of horror -- horror that this woman would act in this manner. As I considered it further, I began to wonder if she'd been right. After all, aren't Christians called to take a stand against sin? The more I thought about it, however, the more I returned to my initial reaction. I was finally convinced in my reaction when I remembered the story of the Woman at the Well.
The Woman at the Well is a well-known Bible story from John 4:1-42. In it, Jesus is setting at a well when a Samaritan woman comes to draw water. In the story, Jesus commits the double "faults" of speaking to an adulterous woman and speaking to a Samaritan woman. During the conversation, He makes mention of her husband and she responds "I have no husband". Jesus says "You are right in saying, 'I have no husband'; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true."
This conversation is significant because, according to Jewish custom, this woman would have been considered a serial adulteress. It was a massive breach of custom, decorum, and tradition for Jesus to speak to her at all. When He did speak to her, it was with love and compassion. I find it interesting that after Jesus says what He does, He makes no further reference to her husbands or her adultery. For Him, the important issue is not her sin, but her salvation.
I think this is directly relevant to the story told by "Wondering". Homosexuals are looked down on by many Christians in much the same way that the woman at the well was looked down on by good Jews. In some ways, modern Christians are more accepting of homosexuals than Jews would have been of the woman at the well.
I am horrified by "Wondering's" account because she did not show the love of Christ to the men. Rather, she attacked them in a letter. Letters are a very impersonal, passive-agressive methods of communication. (They're passive-agressive because they give the recepient no immediate avenue of response.) Furthermore, it was a letter signed by many of the other people in the neighborhood. Unlike Christ, there is no indication that she forged a relationship with these men, that she addressed her concerns to them directly, or that she approached them with love. Instead, the only emotion she relates is that of being "disturbed".
While Christ did mention the sin of the woman at the well, He did so in the context of her need for salvation. "Wondering" did not do so. Instead, she made the neighbors' sin (and her dislike of it) the entire focus of her communication. I believe it is very unlikely that these men will ever listen to her or respect her after the way she treated them. Indeed, I think it is very likely that their view of Christianity itself has been tainted by her actions.
I am indignant because this woman threw away a golden opportunity to communicate the love and forgiveness of Christ. I believe we should follow His example when dealing with people in sin: address their spiritual needs first through love and compassion. If we do that, the sin issue will be far easier to deal with.