Tim Keller on a Christian Response to Gays in the Church
Keller here both answers to question of “Is Homosexuality a Sin” as well as “How should Christians approach the issue of homosexuality and those in the LGBT community?” in an interview entitled “Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism” (link to Vimeo video):
EISENBACH: ……I wrote a book about the gay rights movement because I was appalled by the oppression and the discrimination against homosexuals in my America [KELLER: uhhmm..]. And this questioner asks, ‘What do so many of the churches have against homosexuals? And what about your church’s approach to homosexuality, is it a sin? Are they going to Hell?
KELLER: uhhh…let’s talk about my church first which will be a little easier than trying to answer for all the other churches of the world….but I’ll try [AUDIENCE LAUGHTER]. I’m representing all the churches of the world alright, you know? [EISENBACH: but Christianity I mean….you, you…] Yeah, I know but let’s start with mine.
EISENBACH:…. You go to the Bible quite often and there are many evangelicals who would say it is listed as a sin in the Bible [KELLER: sin in the Bible, right.]…and these people are going to Hell.
KELLER: Right. Now…What you..first…ughhhh…Let’s talk about my church again [nervous laughter]. Let’s go back here. What we would say is…I think it’s unavoidable. I think most Protestant and Catholic and Orthodox Christians over the years have said, you read the Bible and the Bible has reservations. The Bible says homosexuality is not God’s original design for sexuality. Ok? There we are…you have it. The Bible also says, ‘Love your neighbor’. The Bible…in fact, The Good Samaritan parable which is how Jesus tells us to love our neighbor…you put a Jew and a Samaritan there. So, what Jesus is trying to say is everybody is your neighbor. Gay people are your neighbors. Uhhh…people who are of other faiths are your neighbors. People of other….. other…uhhhh….uhhh…races are your neighbors. And it’s the job of a Christian to do what Jesus did on the cross which was to give himself for people who were opposing Him and people who were diff….believe….didn’t believe in Him even. And so, a Christian is supposed to say, ‘I serve the needs and interests of all of my neighbors in the city, whether gay or straight, whether Hindu or Muslim. I mean Hindus, for example, don’t believe in the Trinity. It’s a different view than what the Bible says. Gay people have a different view of sexuality than generally what you see in the NT. I’m supposed to love my neighbors. So, what I don’t see is…at this point, I see some churches that are…basically, ignoring the places in the Bible that talk about homosexuality in order to love their gay neighbor. And I see other Christian churches taking very seriously what the Bible says about homosexuality but in a very self-righteous way. So, they actually do single out gay people. I mean, there are a number of conservative churches that will love their Hindu neighbors and will love their Muslim neighbors, and not their gay neighbors. And I really don’t think there is any excuse for that. So…that’s what [EISENBACH: Is…is] I mean, I…I….Therefore, I have to take some responsibility for being a member of the Christian Church for the oppression of homosexuals.
EISENBACH: Are committing homosexual acts sin….against God?
KELLER: uhhhh….What do you mean by ‘sin’? The answer is ‘yes’.
This is certainly a sensitive issue. I think Keller is largely correct. I think his comment, however raises some fundamental question for those who favor bridge-building with gays:
What does it mean to love gay people?
How can Christians & churches better love gay people?
Does loving gay people mean preaching against a homosexual or alternative lifestyle in church?
How can mainline protestant churches re-establish a relationship (and trust) with gay people and gay communities?
Interesting stuff…..after you listen……and reflect on the questions…….you may also want to check this out by NT Wright on the same question.