A man holds a gay pride flag in front of the Supreme Court on Wednesday (June26) after the court decided to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act.

How I discuss homosexuality as a Christian and why

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By Josie Camarillo

Over the past few weeks, a number of Facebook posts, including a friend’s public “coming out” have pulled my attention in the direction of the homosexuality debate raging in our society and particularly in faith communities right now. There are a wide range of stances across America, across the globe, and even among Christians (see this article and this video for just two differing examples on this spectrum) on this hot button issue. Sometimes, these discussions and opinions are shared respectfully, but often the stories that make the news are much more negative. Regardless of my personal opinions on the topic, it pains me to see the hateful words used by others – including my fellow Christians – during some of these discussions.

At this point, my intention is not even to share my exact view or debate that opinion. Like many others, there are times I still wrestle with where to stand, but what I do know is how I want to stand and how I want to approach others.

No matter what side of this debate a Christian individual chooses to fall on, I firmly believe that he or she has a responsibility to remember the “golden rule” of our faith: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12) or as Jesus urges in Mark 12:31, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Hatred fuels the fire of dissension. In my opinion, there is enough division in the Christian church and the world as it is without hating one another over this issue. Productive debate is one thing, but hatred is another. Even if someone believes homosexuality to be a sin, I would encourage him or her to remember,

1) Everyone sins in some way and in that regard, sins are not necessarily “worse” than one another (see James 2:10), and

2) You can love someone and be respectful toward them and also hate their actions or sins. As St. Augustine said, “Love the sinner, but hate the sin” (or as Gandhi said, “Hate the sin, love the sinner”). It is even biblical (see Matthew 5:43-48)

I imagine that there are few faith perspectives who would disagree with the idea of loving your neighbors – caring for others around you, perhaps even despite some decisions or actions of theirs with which one may disagree. The concept of loving one’s enemies might be a little rarer, but that is not my place to say. What do you say? Despite, or perhaps because of, your stance on homosexuality, how do and how will you respond to others?

Josie Camarillo

About Josie Camarillo

Josie Camarillo is a recent graduate of Whitworth University, where she majored in English and psychology. Currently pursuing her Master in Social Work at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, Camarillo writes for SpokaneFAVS from afar, but plans to return to the Spokane area after attaining her licensure as an independent social worker. She dreams of becoming a relationship therapist and a published author. Her hobbies include photography, horseback riding and writing poetry.

Camarillo has a passion for photography and writing, especially poetry, and is interested in creative counseling methods like narrative therapy and using horses in therapy. Someday, she would like to be a counselor and a published poet. Her favorite poems are "The Singing Woman from the Wood's Edge" by Edna St. Vincent Millay and "The Art of Drowning" by Billy Collins.

During fall 2013, Camarillo worked for Spokane Faith & Values as a copy editing intern, where her specialities included deleting Oxford commas and adding hyperlinks. Since then, she has transitioned into becoming a regular contributor to the site as a writer and photographer.

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  1. Good article Josie. Thank you. Your last question is really the bottom line in how people of faith go about loving and caring for one another. But, I continue to have deep reservations about “Love the sinner, but hate the sin.” I was born left-handed. I never chose to be left-handed. I cannot imagine being right-handed. Whenever I have pretended to be right-handed my entire world has been completely out of whack. If I were surrounded in life by people who I knew – quietly inside – saw my every left-handed act as somehow freely chosen and deliberately sinful, I might be able to endure the tension, but how likely would it be that I would ever feel loved by them? Until the overwhelming majority of people of faith accept the reality that orientation is a biological predisposition of birth, we are going to have severe struggles in this arena. Blessings on you!

  2. Yes, a very good article. And another chance to think about the idea that we can love the sinner and hate the sin. I am continuing to be discouraged by the failure of many well meaning people to distinguish between evidence based on empirical evidence (or on “justice”considerations, as mentioned in the Faith and Politics coffee talk) and evidence based on what are really mental constructs, like authority or dreams. Both are important although very different. When we are considering loving another, or his or her need for equal dignity and respect, we are deciding policy, personal or public, and our conclusions need to be justified. Take a look at the Supreme Court “Brown Versus the Topeka Board of Education” with its call that for decisions concerning welfare and dignity of the individual we must decide on the best available empirical evidence. Maybe by chance relying on an authority, like a statement in the Bible, at that instance, results in good outcome empirically. Show me where reliance on authority does that in many or most cases. Often, I come to the conclusion that I am glad I looked at the authority, it gave me good ideas, but it just wasn’t resulting in as good an outcome as reliance on empirical evidence. Authority said my father-in-law was to be loved but denied communion, because his sexuality was sinful. He asked what harm, and was told, none, except God didn’t like it. He wandered in false guilt, confusion, and anger for years before coming out.
    Love the sinner, hate the sin? Who is the sinner, and what is the sin? Empirically, not the homosexual and not homosexuality.

  3. I’m having terrible trouble pasting the link here, but I highly recommend a HuffPost article by Micah Murray about why he no longer professes to love the sinner while hating the sin.

  4. Sin? Is there anything sinful anymore? Nope Jesus was just crucified on a string of bad luck.

  5. Thank you all for reading and responding to my article. Indeed, I, too, wrestle with the “love the sinner, hate the sin” concept, Mark. And I will look for that article, Neal. You can always post it on my Facebook page if you would like to. I would love to look at it.

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