Got your attention?
I was on facebook recently, when I noticed that a friend had posted a link to a YouTube video. I clicked on it to find a young American soldier stationed in Germany, sitting in his room, trying to work up the courage to call his father. He had determined to tell him something that he’d been hiding practically all his life: he was gay. The tension was unbearable as he almost pressed ‘send’ several times, but was overtaken with fear. Even all the rigorous military training he had undergone would not dispel the fear that his father might reject him in this most vulnerable moment.
His hands trembling, he finally forced himself to call. His father answered cheerfully and said that he was happy to hear from his son. The soldier struggled through small talk for a while and then got to the point. “Can I tell you something?” “Yes” his father replied. “Will you love me no matter what?” There was no pretension. This grown man may as well have been a little boy who could be either affirmed or crushed by what was to happen next. “Yes, I’ll love you.” There was a brief pause. “Dad, I’m gay.”
His father’s response was overwhelmingly gracious. There was no anger. While there must have certainly been shock, he didn’t make a show of it. There was no list of flustered questions. There were no questions at all. He only reaffirmed his love for his son. In fact, he repeatedly did so, interrupting himself only to stop and make sure that his son was listening. “I will always love you. Nothing will change our relationship.” His son was shocked and relieved, and he nearly choked up a few times during the conversation.
After watching this, I felt such happiness – dare I say joy? – for this young soldier. I was deeply moved by his father’s response, and I felt a sense of triumph on the son’s behalf. I felt emotions that were, I’m sure , quite similar to those that my friend must have felt which prompted her to post the video. In fact, I wanted to repost it myself! I wanted to share this experience with others, and I wanted them to see the beauty in it.
“But I can’t do that!” I thought. “To do that would be to condone the homosexual lifestyle.” Upon further reflection, it occurred to me that the emotions that I had felt were also condoning homosexuality, and I suddenly became very sad. I felt guilty for rejoicing for this son, and I felt guilty for being moved by his father’s response. But even as this realization came, I still felt those emotions, and so the guilt started building up. I felt as if I were committing treason, placing my allegiance with the world, where it once lay, instead of with God and his kingdom. And as I mentioned, there was a sadness in my heart, because although God is my ultimate source of joy, my joy was presently found in something that I thought to be inherently ungodly.
There have been times in my life when, at that moment, I would have let the guilt overtake me and run away from God. And to numb the sadness, I would’ve run straight toward sin, the old drug that never gives a high anymore; it just temporarily eases the pain. But praise God for his grace, this time was different! Guilt? There is no guilt! Jesus dealt once and for all with my sins on the cross! And through him, I have been adopted as a son! I am God’s son! And he is my father! I need to run to him, not away from him. I can talk to him about anything. He will always love me. Nothing will change our relationship.
Wait a minute, that’s it! As I came to God with the honest feelings of my heart, as I drew near to him, he drew near to me and opened my eyes. I wasn’t rejoicing in ungodliness. On the contrary, I was rejoicing at a glimpse of God’s character! This father had an unwavering love for his son. And that’s exactly what God has for Christians. The gospel isn’t just that Jesus paid for our sins. The atonement didn’t stop there. God isn’t just not angry with us – he passionately loves us with an undying love! We are his sons! When we approach him, his response is the same cheerful one that the soldier’s father had. And when we confess to him the things of which we are ashamed – even if we sometimes fear his reaction – his love, his affections, as with the soldier’s father, are unmoved.
I don’t know anything about that soldier’s father. I don’t know if he is a believer or not. I don’t know if he condones homosexuality or not. But I do know that unconditional love does not equal endorsement of one’s lifestyle. And what was he supposed to do in that moment anyway? Spout off a list of reasons why homosexuality is wrong when his son just needed to know if he still loved him? If he is a Christian or not, I can think of no more godly a response than his.
At this point, let me take some time to clarify some things. I do not at all mean to suggest that the father should just live in denial and act as if his son’s homosexuality is not an issue at all. That would ultimately be the most unloving thing he could do. While nothing can separate him from his earthly father’s love, if the young soldier is not God’s son, he does not enjoy the same graces in regards to his eternity. But even in light of this, what he needs to hear more than the argument against homosexuality is the gospel, because a heterosexual without God will meet the same fate as a homosexual without him.
Shifting gears a bit, I am still reluctant to post the video. And that is primarily because I am afraid of being misunderstood. I don’t want to send the wrong message or do anything that might be perceived as championing the cause of gay rights – especially as a Christian. But should I be so concerned with being misunderstood? Jesus certainly wasn’t. He willingly endured all the accusations against his character so that he could stand with the outcasts, the spiritually sick, and show them something of God’s true nature. Shouldn’t we be more willing to do that? Shouldn’t I? I see things on facebook all the time promoting gay rights, and all the misunderstandings about God that go along with that movement. Each one is a prime opportunity for me to speak out from an all-too-rare perspective and do as Jesus did, showing something of God’s true nature. But I almost always opt out.
As of now, the verdict is still out for me concerning the wisdom of posting the video, so I will err on the side of caution. But I think it’s about time that I stop worrying so much about what other people think of me, and concern myself more with doing the work of the kingdom and imitating Christ. Eternity is at stake. And I want as many people as possible to know the undying, steadfast love of my Heavenly Father.