Wednesday, July 6, 2011

How Should We Respond?

By Maria Boccia, PhD
Professor of Pastoral Counseling and Psychology
Director of Graduate Programs in Counseling Charlotte campus

Last week, I was on our South Hamilton campus, teaching my Human Sexuality course. In the airport on the way up, I read the story in the NY Times about NY State passing its “gay marriage” law. The part that I found most distressing was the description of how the law came to be passed. Several key Republicans had to be won over. One wanted to change his mind because the woman he was living with had a gay nephew, and she was making life at home difficult for him. Several others changed their votes because the governor rallied rich donors who made them offers they could not refuse. The article admitted there was little political rationale for passing this law, as there was little support for it in the majority of the state. But the Gay Lobby wanted it and the governor wanted it, so it happened. And so NY State went the way of 6 other states in our country to endorse “gay marriage.”
I found myself thinking about this story during my week of teaching. Here are some of my thoughts:
Homophobia - throwing this word out is an ad hominin argument. When you cannot make a rationale defense, you attack the person, which ends the discussion. This has been used very effectively to silence the opposition to “gay marriage.”
So far in this arena, our society, and Christians, have let the gay lobby set the agenda. They have, for example, framed this as a “civil rights” issue. This requires homosexuality to be like race and gender: biologically determined and fixed & unchanging. They will shout down any information to the contrary (and there is plenty), because that would undermine their argument for seeing them through the lense of civil rights. However, this is permitting them to set the agenda. In apologetics, one should never let the opposition set the agenda; they will on this basis invariably win the argument. In this kind of debate, whoever sets the agenda has a significant advantage over the other and usually wins, in this case, at great cost to the witness of the gospel.
Grace and Truth. As I was teaching on the subject of homosexuality, I talked about Grace and Truth. The church has erred in two ways on the question of how to relate to individuals who identify as homosexual or gay. One has been to completely capitulate to their demands, emphasizing grace to the exclusion of truth, and ending with licentiousness. The other is to violently oppose them, erring on the side of truth to the exclusion of grace, and ending with legalism. If we are to be faithful to the truth of the Bible and the God who authored it, we must always balance grace and truth. We must walk that fine middle line, loving the sinner while hating the sin. My students asked how we should respond to homosexuals. I suggested we should love them, genuinely and honestly, while holding fast to God’s truth on how we should live. We can trust God for the rest.

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