When the Pharisees threw the woman at the feet of Jesus they did so in order to entrap Him. Would He let the prostitute go – thus violating the law of Moses – or would He show no mercy and enact the law – showing Him to be uncompassionate? Rather, He responded with the ever-famous phrase, “He who is without sin cast the first stone.” All walked away ashamed because they too realized that they sinned as well.
This passage keeps playing over and over in my mind as I think of the current debates over homosexuality. Even more so, I keep pondering the young people who have taken their lives because of their effeminate actions being brutally mocked or having their homosexual encounters publicized without their knowledge or consent. For young people such as this they feel so ostracized from society, so bullied and beat down, the only viable option is to take their own lives.
To make matters worse there are many self-proclaimed Christians who support such bullying. While they acknowledge all sexual sins are wrong, somehow homosexuality is just ‘different’ and ‘worse’ than other sexual sins. If a man looks at pornography that’s just different than being a homosexual; there’s no reason to mock a man for looking at porn, but if he’s with another guy then maybe our mockery will make them ashamed of their sin.
Others are much more subtle in their silent support for the brutalization of homosexuals, where they argue that such suicides aren’t the result of bullying, but a sudden realization that one’s actions are outside of the norm. Rather than learning to cope with such difference or turn to Christ, they take their own lives. Thus, the bullying isn’t the problem and only receives a hand-slap; the real problem and cause for the suicide is the homosexuality.
As a response to this, many pro-homosexual Christians claim that such vitriol is fostered by the belief that homosexuality is a sin. The mere mention or belief that homosexuality is a sin only entrenches hetero-normativity (the believe that heterosexuality is normal and all other practices are abnormal and therefore wrong) and therefore perpetuates bullies. If a Christian says, “Homosexuality is a sin, but so is watching porn, and while I don’t struggle with homosexuality I do struggle with porn, so I see myself as equal to the act of homosexuality,” according to the pro-homosexual crowd such a Christian is only allowing the bullying to continue.
In full disclosure I find all of the above arguments both deplorable and illogical. The first type (the pro-bullying) attempts to degrade humans based upon what they do without looking to humans as who they are (beings created in the image of God). They strip humans of their dignity and ignore that Christ’s blood was spilt on the world’s behalf, including homosexuals. Not to mention the illogical nature of abusing those we see as sinful; we certainly don’t cast out the church gossip or condemn ourselves to Hell when we sin, so why do we elevate homosexuality to the level of “THE sin?” The second group (blaming the suicide on homosexuality) is simply cold in its approach and vastly underestimates modern bullying, that or they vastly misunderstand homosexuality (both are more probable). Furthermore, it is quite illogical; IF (and that’s quite the “if”) the suicides ultimate cause is the sudden realization that, “I’m not normal,” then such people are emotionally volatile and therefore bullying is the last thing that should occur. The third group is as equally deplorable and illogical as the first. The third group seeks to silence any and all discussion on the issue; whatever your arguments are it doesn’t matter because you’re a bully and therefore we don’t have to listen to you. It shuts down any potential conversations or attempts to understand one another. It is likewise illogical because it would disallow us from speaking out against any actions we perceive as wrong. If I speak out against adultery and someone kills a couple engaged in adultery, am I responsible for their deaths? Unless I called for the death of adulterers, the obvious answer is “no.”
I am one of those Christians who finds the act of homosexuality to be a sin, but I do not see it as the biggest sin a Christian can commit nor do I believe acting on homosexual urges somehow means a person isn’t a Christian. At the same time, I recognize that I too am a sinner. I recognize that I commit sins that are far worse than homosexuality, sins that are sins against my body, against God, and against others; thus I violate the image of God, I violate the economy of God, and I violate the wellbeing of others. Homosexuality does not create a victim while my sins do, meaning my sins are worse.
But rather than waste time discussing what sins are worse, it is important to pay attention to the reaction of Christ when faced with an adulterous woman. People wanted to stone her and kill her for her sins. Instead, Christ urged those without sin to cast the first stone. Is there a more appropriate passage to apply to the bullying situation? For those of us who do believe homosexuality is a sin, would this not urge us to treat them (and all other sinners, for we are sinners ourselves) with the same love and compassion Christ showed? Yes, He told her to go and sin no more, but how many of us have followed this command of Christ? Rather, we have all sinned against God and therefore all deserve His judgment. What right does the man on death row have to mock his fellow inmate for being on death row? What right do we have to bully homosexuals or to ostracize them when we have committed sins against God as well? Compare the passages dealing with homosexuality to the neglect of the poor. You might bully the homosexual for his sin, but how have you helped the poor lately?
Christ said that if we are without sin, we could cast the first stone. None of us are without sin, so none of us can throw any stones. None of us can bully those engaged in homosexuality or treat them as different. Rather, they are our brothers and sisters in the flesh and we should treat them as such. Many are brothers or sisters in Christ (who are admittedly misguided or immature in their faith) who we must treat as such.
Sadly, everything I wrote above is going to make everyone mad. Those who are against homosexuality will defend their case that homosexuality is worse than other sins (even though there is no victim in homosexuality, other than those engaging in it). Those who are for homosexuality will argue that I’m simply perpetuating the bullying – no matter what I say – and that I should just change my mind or shut up about it. I will be called mean, hate-filled, and many other things. But I ask those who wish to say such things, no matter which side you represent, to truly consider what you’re saying.
To those against homosexuals, before you comment or lambast me, are you one of the Pharisees? Are you casting the stone? How did Christ deal with those in sin as compared to your actions towards those in sin? Then remember that He alone is without sin and that you are a sinner. If He can show absolute grace, why can’t you? To those for homosexuals, before you comment or lambast me, I ask you the same question; aren’t you being a Pharisee? If I’m wrong then I’m sinning, because I’m delegitimizing a practice that is God-ordained. Thus, by attempting to silence me, aren’t you simply casting a stone?
In short, I am asking for both sides to truly think about how they approach this issue. I’m asking for civility and a serious attempt at understanding each other. Not because this makes the world a better place, but because that is what Christ wants from His followers. It’s time both sides put the stones down.
To those reading this who are being bullied because of who you are or how you act, I promise you that it does get better. You’ll find those who do affirm your lifestyle or you’ll find those like me who, though I disagree with your actions, I still view you as an equal and as a human being. You’ll find those who won’t mock you for what you do and will be your friend, no matter what.
It does get better. Hold onto that hope. Don’t let the bullying get you down or discourage you from life. Such ignorance will not haunt you forever and one day you will be rid of it. If you’re considering suicide or feel like you have no way out, seek help from a friend or trusted adult, but don’t end your life. You’re far too valuable to simply throw your life away.