In various countries around the world, homosexuals are being beaten and even killed with their governments’ approval.
For example, in Nigeria, a recent law criminalizing homosexuality provides punishments, like whippings, to men who are caught having homosexual relations. The New York Times reports that crowds in the African nation are demanding their local officials to go even further, because local Islamic law requires the penalty for such an act to be death by stoning. In many places these same types of punishments are also meted out for other nonmarital sexual behaviors.
As a Christian, I’m troubled and heartbroken when I read of such things, as I suspect you are, too. Beating or killing someone because of their personal sexual expression is not the answer.
But as American Christians, how should we react to such news beyond expressing sadness and carrying around the burden of a heavy heart?
To be clear, as someone with a conservative Christian worldview, I believe we’re commanded to adhere to a biblically defined sexual ethic. God’s parameters for sex are clear and I believe that practicing homosexual acts clearly falls outside of those standards.
Yet it should go without saying that every person is made in God’s image and worthy of dignity and respect regardless of what may ensnare them in this life.
I’m reminded of the time in John’s gospel when Jesus was asked to judge a woman caught in adultery. Do you remember his response? He refused to condemn her but instead shared truth and admonished her to “sin no more” (John 8:10). He reminded the people that only the sinless are to cast stones.
Columnist and commentator Peter Wehner recently penned an important article encouraging Christians to speak out against these injustices happening around the world. He writes, “One need not endorse same-sex marriage to believe that the rising tide of anti-gay legislation in other parts of the world is quite troubling, that gays deserve to be defended against persecution, and that the Christian church is one institution that might have some power, at least in some nations and in some circumstances, to make a positive difference.”
One of the very best things Christians can do, I think, is to pray for those around the world who find themselves being targeted for mistreatment, no matter the reason. There is power in prayer, and those in foreign lands being mistreated would benefit from our petitions and supplications.
But what causes someone to lash out violently at another person about their sexuality in the first place?
I think the problem is sin.