What if?

  1. What if “same-sex marriage”  didn’t make us think about gays or lesbians, but instead about people we know and love?
  2. What if we talked with the LGBT community instead of about the LGBT community?
  3. What if everyone agreed to not say anything about same-sex marriage until someone they love is in a committed, same-sex relationship?
  4. What if people in the church understood that same-sex marriage isn’t a “they” issue, but a “we” issue?
  5. What if when elder boards prayed about including gay people in their churches, gay Christians had a seat at the table?
  6. What if we sought to understand as much as we seek to be understood?
  7. What if same-sex marriage wasn’t about someone else’s kids, but about our own?
  8. What if pastors listened as much as they preached?
  9. What if instead of saying “love the sinner, hate the sin” we loved the sinner and hated our own sin?
  10. What if we extended as much grace to the LGBT community as we do to the greedy people in our community? (1 Cor 6:9; Eph 5:5)
  11. What if Christian wedding vendors refused to provide flowers, cakes, photography, etc to extravagant weddings, citing their Christian beliefs against greed and idolatry?
  12. What if we talked more about suffering for the gospel than about preserving our rights?
  13. What if we grappled with loving the person in front of us as much as we grappled with interpreting the verses on the page?
  14. What if mercy triumphs over judgement?

 

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About Tim Owens

I'm a husband, father, and Christ follower. I also live in Albany, NY, where I work as a pastor.
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6 Responses to What if?

  1. What if “same-sex marriage” didn’t make us think about gays or lesbians, but instead about people we know and love?

    – It surely should. We are called to love our neighbor. Jesus came to save all sorts of sinners, pastors and Pride organizers alike.

    What if we talked with the LGBT community instead of about the LGBT community?

    – We’ll probably need to do both. But I don’t want to say that you can’t speak knowledgeably about someone w/o ever talking to them. If I’m an adulterer or a child-molestor you don’t know everything about me, but you can still know some things about me that need to be taken to Christ, repented of.

    What if everyone agreed to not say anything about same-sex marriage until someone they love is in a committed, same-sex relationship?

    – then we would be ignoring our responsibility to love people. if I knowingly believe you are going to destroy your life and I don’t reach out, then I don’t think I’m showing you love.

    What if people in the church understood that same-sex marriage isn’t a “they” issue, but a “we” issue?

    – true, but what do you mean? I mean everything I do affects others, so my business is their business just as their business is mine. people who say “keep your own beliefs to yourself” are ignoring the reality that we are all connected as people and love compels me to help, even if someone disagrees with my means.

    What if when elder boards prayed about including gay people in their churches, gay Christians had a seat at the table?

    – what would the goal be? We can never condone sin, that would be an offense to God, a hateful move toward people in sin. If you’re going to do this, you might as well just be a club, not a church. Churches are filled with sinners, repentant sinners. Unrepentant sinners can come and hear and learn and be loved (we have quite a number of these at our church). There’s a big difference in having meals with unrepentant sinners and having the Lord Supper with them.

    What if we sought to understand as much as we seek to be understood?

    – Amen.

    What if same-sex marriage wasn’t about someone else’s kids, but about our own?

    – Its about both.

    What if pastors listened as much as they preached?

    – Not sure what you mean. If you mean listen to God through His Word and prayer before we preach, then Amen. If you mean listen to the opinions of fallen people and make your messages tickle their ears, then God warns strongly against that (2 Tim. 4:1-5).

    What if instead of saying “love the sinner, hate the sin” we loved the sinner and hated our own sin?

    – Why get rid of one and not do both? The greatest enemy is not a sinner out there, but the sinner in our own hearts. But this does not mean that the sins of others should be ignored. When I have sin in my life, I need / expect people to humbly and lovingly point it out. If not, that’s hate.

    What if we extended as much grace to the LGBT community as we do to the greedy people in our community? (1 Cor 6:9; Eph 5:5)

    – Amen. All people ought be loved b/c they are created in God’s image, and all repentant sinners ought be welcomed w/ open arms. All unsure sinners should be loved with patience, compassion, tenderness and truth.

    What if Christian wedding vendors refused to provide flowers, cakes, photography, etc to extravagant weddings, citing their Christian beliefs against greed and idolatry?

    – They should have the right to do deny service to anyone if it is a private business. This isn’t a communist nation. Starbucks should be able to say to me, you can’t get coffee from me any more, if they did that, I’d be sad (and grouchy) but would understand they have the right to do that.

    What if we talked more about suffering for the gospel than about preserving our rights?

    – AMEN and AMEN.

    What if we grappled with loving the person in front of us as much as we grappled with interpreting the verses on the page?

    – Tim, this is by far the worst thing you’ve said so far. What in the world do you mean my friend? We cannot love people rightly apart from God telling us how. Why pit truth against love? I can love because Christ first loved me (1 John 4:19). There is common grace love people have for one another, but this is not even comparable to the great love we have received from God through His Son Jesus who died a bloody death on the cross to take the wrath that sinners deserved. God loved His enemies, me, you, us. This kind of love is rooted in the truth that flows from the very character of God. Please, in your attempts to encourage people to love sinful people, do not ever lose your love for God’s perfect Word. I grapple with interpreting verses on a page so that I can rightly love people in front of me. I would beg anyone who is a Christian to not lose this or we will eventually cease to be Christian. Christians are guided by faith in the Son by the Spirit through His Word.

    What if mercy triumphs over judgement?

    – Amen. And it did at the cross, which is where we all must look first for forgiveness of our sins so that we can walk in love and show mercy to others, leaving the ultimate judgement to God, but doing our God-given calling of warning each other of the sins that will bring us under that judgment if we do not repent.

    I love you friend, thank you enduring my answers. Happy to talk any time.

    • Tim Owens says:

      Garret, thanks for the answers! You’re someone I’ve learned from by watching how you love God and love people.

      As I read your comments I wondered a few times if we were reading the same question. So, couple of additional thoughts:

      What if everyone agreed to not say anything about same-sex marriage until someone they love is in a committed, same-sex relationship?
      –then we would be ignoring our responsibility to love people. if I knowingly believe you are going to destroy your life and I don’t reach out, then I don’t think I’m showing you love.
      ——–Why would we be ignoring our responsibility? Nothing about the question suggests that Christians shouldn’t reach out, or shouldn’t ever say anything. I’m just suggesting what if we made some more friends before we started talking about them?

      What if Christian wedding vendors refused to provide flowers, cakes, photography, etc to extravagant weddings, citing their Christian beliefs against greed and idolatry?
      – They should have the right to do deny service to anyone if it is a private business.
      —–As I asked the question, I wasn’t thinking about civil rights. I was wondering about the impact on the church and the watching world if our consciences were as sensitive to greed as LGBT issues.

      What if we grappled with loving the person in front of us as much as we grappled with interpreting the verses on the page?
      – Tim, this is by far the worst thing you’ve said so far….
      —–If you read the question again you might not disagree with it as much. Nothing in this question suggests pitting truth against love (no false dichotomy here). This isn’t a suggestion that we read the Bible less; it’s a suggestion that we work harder at loving the person in front of us. The question also doesn’t suggest that loving people is incompatible with teaching them about sin and obedience. Nor does it suggest that we have to compromise our beliefs or water down our interpretation in order to love people. I’ve just observed that many people who spend hours and hours and hours and hours studying what the Bible says about LGBT issues don’t actually have any LGBT friends. I’m not even saying they have to have any LGBT friends. I’m just wondering what would happen if we took that same energy and commitment we bring to the scriptures and applied it to loving people who bear the image of God.

      Thanks for taking the time to write some answers! Miss seeing you, hope to connect next time I’m down there.

    • Tim Owens says:

      Garrett, one more quick thought:

      What if we talked with the LGBT community instead of about the LGBT community?
      – We’ll probably need to do both. But I don’t want to say that you can’t speak knowledgeably about someone w/o ever talking to them. If I’m an adulterer or a child-molestor you don’t know everything about me, but you can still know some things about me that need to be taken to Christ, repented of.
      ——it’s true; you can speak knowledgeably about someone without ever talking to him or her. But talking to him or her often changes our approach. To use your example–i used to talk about child molesters as if they were all evil monsters who deserved to be locked away for life. Then my friend molested a bunch of kids in our youth group. Nothing about that experience made me condone what child molesters do, but I don’t talk about them like they’re monsters anymore.

  2. violetwisp says:

    This is an interesting post but I see from the comments that you probably do think homosexual activity in any context would be sinful. I’d be interested to know, how you believe Christians who experience same sex attractions should live their lives in terms of romance? Do you think they should attempt a heterosexual marriage or just remain celibate for their whole lives? I’ve asked this question to several Christians with strong opinions on same sex marriage and have yet to get a clear answer.

    • Tim Owens says:

      Violetwisp–Thanks for asking the question–it’s an incredibly important one. But I don’t know how valuable any answer I could give would be. That’s kinda the point of this post–it seems there are already enough people telling strangers on the interwebs what to believe. While I do appreciate that you seem interested in what I believe, I’m not sure of the value of adding one more opinion to the mix.

      Here’s the deal: We need less of strangers telling strangers what to believe, and desperately need more friends and families walking this journey with Jesus together.

      So next time you’re ever in Albany let me know–then we could grab a drink or a bite, talk about life, and maybe we can look at this question, as well as a host of others, together!

      • violetwisp says:

        Thanks for taking the time to reply. You make some really good points and it does seem like you come from an angle that genuinely seeks to help people as opposed to judging them.

        But do you not think it’s important for people to be upfront about what their opinions are and why? It’s only through dialogue and careful consideration of issues that we make progress as a society. People ‘taking journeys’ with those closest to them sounds lovely in one way, but in another way could close vulnerable people off from a more useful wider debate.

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