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Loving the Neighbors

How do I respond to the married lesbian couple next door?

A. When it comes to issues like homosexuality and same-sex marriage, many Christians feel caught between a rock and a hard place. Most of us aren't comfortable with the idea of homosexual relationships. We're concerned that redefining the historical and cultural definition of marriage will harm our children and ultimately undermine the very foundation of our society. But many of us have friends, relatives, or coworkers who are gay. Is it possible to oppose same-sex marriage but still reach out in love toward homosexuals?

There are many compelling arguments that support traditional marriage and refute the claims of same-sex marriage advocates (see some suggested resources at the end of this article). But before discussing the topic of same-sex marriage with gay friends and colleagues, we first need to educate ourselves about the nature of homosexuality itself.

In my work as a licensed clinical psychologist, I've found it's critical to distinguish between the homosexual person and the gay activist movement. As human beings made in the image of God, both heterosexuals and homosexuals are ascribed incomprehensible worth and value. But homosexual behavior grieves God because it violates his law and distorts his created intent for human sexuality (Exodus 18:22 Leviticus 20:13 1 Corinthians 6:9).

As Christians, we're called to love homosexuals, and we always should treat gays and lesbians with respect and dignity. But I believe God also would have us stand up against the very real evil that's represented by the gay activist movement, which often engages in deception and manipulation.

Gay activist groups have propagated several myths about homosexuality that have been popularized by the mainstream media.

First, contrary to popular belief, scientists no longer believe homosexuals are "born gay." Several studies conducted in the early 1990s appeared to show a genetic or biological cause for same-sex attraction, but according to the American Psychiatric Association, none of those studies has been replicated.

Second, though gay activists deny it, many homosexuals have been able to change their sexual orientation and achieve fulfilling heterosexual relationships.

Finally, there's no truth to gay activists' claims that homosexuality is "normal and natural." Gay men have a 1,000 percent greater risk of contracting AIDS than the general population, and their life expectancy is cut by up to 20 years. In addition, research indicates that both gays and lesbians have extremely high rates of psychiatric illness, drug and alcohol abuse, and suicide.

Sadly, many gays and lesbians themselves don't know these facts and are being kept in the dark about the true nature of homosexuality.

In regard to your lesbian neighbors, remember that what they need most is to experience Christ's love. Your neighbors will be much more open to hearing your perspective (and God's truth) if you first reach out to them with love, kindness, and respect. Be sensitive to the pain that may lie just beneath the surface of their lives.

Homosexuality may well be the most controversial topic in the U.S. today. As we discuss it, whether inside or outside the church, may we be ever mindful that we are Christ's ambassadors to a hurting world. May our words and actions always be "full of grace" and "seasoned with salt" (Colossians 4:6).

Dr. Bill Maier is a licensed clinical psychologist. He's the co-author of Marriage on Trial: The Case Against Same-Sex Marriage and Parenting (InterVarsity).

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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