Monday, December 5, 2011
Hate the Sin NOT the Sinner--Is it the other way around?
There are certain "BIG SIN" items that grab our attention. For instance, some swear words are "little SINS" while other swear words, like (I won't go there), are "BIG SINS." Despite our rationalization, we should remember, that no matter how acceptable, "BIG or little SINS" are still in need of forgiveness and our lives, all of us, need redeeming--thank you Jesus! Oh the joy of "there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1).
You will hear Christian's say "Hate the sin NOT the sinner" because we (church people and non-church people), if we are honest (yes, I used that word), know the destructive power of sin and its ability to make people unapproachable and, frankly, unlovable at times. The statement helps Christian's remain lovingly focused on sharing Jesus with people caught in sin's destructive power. But what if the person is involved with a sin on our "BIG SINS" list?
How do you react to a student who reports being involved in a same sex relationship? You know--homosexuality? Are you feeling the "BIG SIN" radar turn on? Theologically, we know, "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Even so, the topic of homosexuality has so many levels of societal angst attached it is easy to feel backed into a corner by those who believe, "If you can't accept the lifestyle then you can't accept the person." As a result, there is often a polarizing hate thrown around by those on either side of the homosexuality argument. Hate that is unproductive and leads to a lack of needed conversation on sexual topics (homosexuality is only one of these topics) with students who are continuing to develop their sexual identities. Adults can not afford to be labelled as "haters" in such a tense sexual climate. We have to remain open to any and all questions related to sexuality and provide Godly advice while maintaining appropriate and loving boundaries for the student's we share responsibility with in our ministries.
My connection of the word "sin" with "homosexuality" has placed me in the camp of haters by some readers. However, I am not in a position of hate. As a matter of fact, LOVE is the motivating factor for this blog post. I received an e-mail this morning from a worship minister friend thanking our student ministry team for the difficult job we have in working with hurting students (these are the kind of e-mails you like to receive). The e-mail contained a link to the video I have posted below. It is a powerful video of a student named John who is clearly emotional yet resolute not to give into the bullying he has experienced. Upon further investigation, YouTube is amazing and admittedly unverifiable at times, it appears one of the main reasons John is being bullied is because of a same sex attraction issue. I don't agree with the lifestyle choice, yet my heart goes out to this young man who is being treated with such contempt and hatred because of his "BIG SIN." (Yes, there is some talk on the authenticity of the student's experience. It is hard to determine the validity of such videos. Still, this powerful video struck a chord with teenage viewers and has gone viral over the last few months--it has our attention).
Chances are, you have a student struggling with sexual identity and same sex issues in your student ministry. The chances are even greater they need a conversation with a loving adult who can help them navigate these feelings. I know there is a difference between attraction to and actual same sex contact. I also realize there is a whole other messy conversation on what it means to live in community with believers who struggle with same sex relationships. IT IS NOT my intent to get into any of this on this blog. At the core, what you need to know is there are students in your ministry that really need you to "hate the Sin NOT the Sinner" and start the conversation.
Question: What resources, website(s), conferences, etc. do you recommend that assist student ministers, parents and adults in having a productive conversation with students concerning same sex relationships?