COMMENTARY | Lisa Sergent
Recently, I’ve had several opportunities to talk in IBSA meetings about “modern families” in our communities. I often ask the group I’m speaking to if they know anyone who is gay. Some say no, but others, especially younger people, begin to tick off a list.
And a fair number choose to say nothing. They appear uncomfortable. But then, aren’t we all?
When we hear about a florist being sued for declining to provide services for a same-sex wedding, or former megachurch pastor Rob Bell telling Oprah the church is just “moments away” from accepting gay marriage, our heads spin. We’ve come a long way from the early 80s when we were trying to figure out if singer Boy George was indeed a boy.
As I share how the Illinois Baptist newspaper has covered the rapidly changing marriage culture in Illinois, I tell how I’ve met same-sex couples at the Capitol eager to be married. I mention a former high school classmate who came out on his Facebook page. In my own extended family, a second cousin recently married his longtime companion/partner.
After the presentation, there are always a few people who come up and share with me in hushed tones about a family member or friend who has announced he or she is gay. They whisper how they are struggling with this knowledge. They want to minister to these loved ones but don’t know how. And they’re afraid to bring it up at church. They’re worried about how they will be looked at by fellow church members. On some level, there is a fear of guilt by association.
As the culture changes around us, we have to seek guidance from God’s Word, and be Christ-like in our actions. People are trapped in sin and are hurting, even if they don’t recognize it themselves. As a result, people in our churches are hurting for these friends and relatives.
But they keep silent.
We need not only to minister to homosexuals, but also to the friends and family members who love them. Figuring out how to minister to people who hurt, whatever the source, can’t be avoided.
While the church is trying to balance Christ-like outreach to people who are gay with biblical truth about their lifestyle, we can’t forget the Christian aunts, cousins, grandmothers and parents who are wrestling with the same tension. We need to create an environment in church where the relatives are free to talk about their struggle and receive biblical, loving counsel, so that they can in turn minister to their loved ones.
We’re way past the time for keeping quiet.
Lisa Sergent is director of communications for the Illinois Baptist State Association, and contributing editor of the Illinois Baptist newspaper.