Love: Our highest calling

Gay, straight or in-between—all are precious in Jesus’ sight

KAMPALA, UGANDA—By now you’ve heard plenty about Uganda’s new toughened laws on homosexuality, the news that spread to the West with the fanfare of a dark sporting event.

Even short of jail—terms range from seven years to life—it’s a new day of survival in a horrible state-sanctioned chill.

Several weeks in, like so many things in developing nations, it’s hard to know all that’s happening. Was that murder really a robbery gone bad? And that street beating? Why did she really lose her job? Many things simply don’t make the news here in Uganda.

What we know is that Uganda is not alone. Homosexual acts are illegal is 67 countries. In 10—all in the Middle East and Africa—they officially carry the death penalty. Just prior to Uganda, Nigeria toughened its own anti-gay laws.

Uganda’s influential Anglican Church pleaded for the government to reconsider. Some others didn’t. One minister, to make his point, reportedly showed gay pornography to his flock of 300.

Then there’s you, a believer in the West. Your church likely doesn’t encourage much relationship with the gay community. At the same time, from the other side, you, so strangely religious, are easily stigmatized by mainstream culture.

Which is why a new way is needed, the way where there’s no “us” and “them” but only “us,” all of us broken in one way or another, getting through life in humanity’s quiet desperation.

This is what Easter reminds us of, that Jesus loves the little children, the little gay children too. Jesus died for all the children, the little gay children too. Red and yellow, black and white—straight, gay, somewhere in between—we, all the world’s dirty-faced children, are precious in His sight.

Moderate believers—not those with ‘God Hates Fags’ placards and not activists flying to Africa to warn locals about the so-called global gay agenda—have spent energy on other things.  Fearful and hurtful things, like clinical and cold analysis of homosexuality that has missed the mark over and over.

None of this is our high calling. It’s not the core of Christ. It’s not the message of the resurrection. Relationship is. Gathering at the table is. Love is. Love, after all, destroys fear. And what’s the most-used command in the Bible? “Don’t be afraid.”

Don’t be afraid of death. Don’t be afraid of life. Don’t be afraid of…gay people. Really? Really.

This is why Exodus International, the long-time ministry that attempted gay reparative therapy closed its doors last year. President Alan Chambers apologized for “beating-up people for being human.” He was earnest and sorrowful and full of remorse. “This is the great tragedy of the Church,” he said. “We’ve turned the grace of Christ into a bunch of rules and regulations.”

This issue won’t go away. In the West, any believers’ response to homosexuality is the one litmus test, fairly or not, on which they’re judged. Anyone who claims allegiance to Christ needs to come to terms with this.

Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, a declared Christian, claimed cultural sovereignty when signing Uganda’s new law. Ugandan commentators say, in fact, he has his own fears, that in a religious and conservative culture this was a move to help win the next election. This, after 28 years in power.

As believers, that is thoughtful believers, we can make our own sovereign decisions too. One is to show common decency to other human beings: to act justly and love mercy and walk humbly.

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About the author


ChristianWeek Columnist

Thomas Froese writes on themes of culture and faith. He blogs on fatherhood at dailydad.net. Read his other work at thomasfroese.com

  • Alan Chambers

    Thank you for this thoughtful, inspiring, and encouraging post. It’s time for peace! Well done.

    • pev

      God loves the sinner not the sin! His death on the cross for all sin, not just the ones, we think is the worst. Sin is sin, one is no bigger or smaller than the other. Also, we are not the Judge, God is!!!!

  • shane

    Thank you Thomas. Well stated.

  • JamesBountros

    Wonderful passion Thomas Froese, I agree with some of what you say as it reminds me of the Pauline letters on God’s love and mercy. However, Paul also had other things to write to the believers in 1st Century Rome; he had made observations that are chillingly difficult to read in North America’s sexualized cultural context.

    Can you tell us why the laws have been toughened in Uganda?
    Were there discussions about this issue?
    If so, what were those discussions about?

    Has this only to do with religion / politics?

    Is it a cultural mindset? If so, then, why the mindset?

    Before I join you in criticizing the Prez of Uganda, I need to understand the cultural dynamics that the country is facing. I would need to know the ‘Ratio’ for the toughening of existing laws.

  • icebiker

    There are many problems with this article. It is not an article that should be in “Christian Week”. There is no solution here. While We are to love all. Jesus died for all who accept him. I know that we are to reach out to all people (including gays) but then what after they have accepted Christ. There are many in the gay community who call themselves Christians–Churches for gays how we deal with this as Christians (don’t think showing gay pornography in church is the answer).

    • JamesBountros

      I certainly agree ice; sexual sin is not the only sin, and, we are vulnerable to it in one way or another. Nevertheless, this article lacks any depth. What are the specifics in the new law? What distinguishes behavior that warrants a seven year sentence from behavior that warrants a life sentence?

      Furthermore, has the country ever experienced high rates of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases? Is there a high incidence of male prostitution that spreads disease?
      Has the country experienced a high rate of male rape?

      This is a complex issue, the article fails to provide good investigative journalism.

      • Don Baxter

        You can easily answer your own questions by googling ‘kill the gays bill Uganda.’ A group of American Evangelicals including Scott Lively, – do a search on him! presented themselves as world ‘experts’ on homosexuality at a conference they organized, – that demonized gay people so badly, that part of Uganda’s proposed law including a prison term for people who did not go to the police immediately when they learned that someone was gay. It’s a horror story, and easily researched.

        • JamesBountros

          Hi Don, thank you for the reply; I have heard of Scott Lively but never read up about him. Nevertheless, it seems a stretch to say that a small group of Evangelical activists from the US could influence a government to such an extent with just a conference or two.

          Also, just for the record, I did not write the article criticizing Uganda’s Prez. Thomas Froese did. My critique is not meant to disrespect Froese, indeed, his passion, during Lent, about the us-and-them construct of the issue is well placed. However, if he is to criticize the Prez of Uganda about the stricter laws, then, one would think, he should also provide more in depth coverage of the issue that the stricter laws were intended to address.

  • RickT

    Wonderful Jesus full article, may Lent be a season of repentance of our us vs. them attitude

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  • Lyndon James

    Thank you for posting this reflection. It’s long overdue.

  • Ernie Epp

    May I express my appreciation to you for publishing–and to Mr. Froese for writing–the column, “Loving beyond legalities.” We are involved, at St. Paul’s United Church in Thunder Bay, in the work of becoming an Affirming Ministry within our denomination (of whom there are still only a small minority–strange as that may seem!). This task has taken us into many discussions and has made us conscious of the prejudices and misunderstandings that continue to prevail in this area. I appreciate the clear and loving Christian position that this column expresses. The theology is clearer than we in the United Church often are, and I would hope that the column would speak to our brothers and sisters across the diversity of the Church that the Spirit is creating in our time!

    Ernie Epp

    Professor Emeritus of History

    Lakehead University

  • Glen Shepherd

    I wish to express my gratitude for the courage shown by ChristianWeek and Thomas Froese in running his column “Loving beyond legalities” (April 2014). It is not easy to balance mercy, morals and our own individual sinfulness as we think through issues like homosexuality. It is so easy to gravitate towards morals and protect standards. By the same token, it is just as easy to become lazy and let everything go and challenge nothing. The words of Ezekiel 33 compares God’s people to a watchman who must speak up and warn the community of the consequences of actions. At the same time it underscores that the root of all we do must be God’s love and mercy. Froese has sensitively worked his way through this seeming contradiction of values. And you have shown courage in publishing his column. Thank you.

  • Glenn Krobel

    I’m very disappointed with the editorial board of Christianweek for publishing this article.  Mr. Froese unfairly mischaracterizes those who proclaim the Bible’s teaching on sexuality and sin as fearful, off the mark Christians who are missing Christ’s expression of love.  Not only is this grossly unfair to the honest student of Scripture, it also misrepresents the biblical teaching of true love.  

    I John 4:10 gives us the ultimate definition of God’s love: sending the Son to be the propitiation for our sins (including yes, homosexuality).  God’s love is always most fully expressed in the cross: dealing with the penalty and power of sin.  God’s love is not acceptance of sin in someone, His love is deciding to save us from sin while we were still hopelessly trapped in it’s clutches (Rom 5:8).

    The thrust of this article treats the homosexual more as in need of loving acceptance than true repentance.  It treats this sin as part of someone’s unchangable identity rather than holding to the Word’s clear teaching that Christ can break sin’s power in anyone (Rom6:11; Ephesians 5:8).  and it makes a mockery of God’s “love” by making it mean what we want it to mean rather than what He defined it to mean.  But it’s clearly wrongheaded.  No one is made new in Christ without the power to change.  Sure, they might struggle with some sins more than others, but their new identity is in Christ.  Jesus loves us in that while we were yet sinner, He died for us, precisely because He could not accept the sin we were in.  And we have the power to overcome through the Holy Spirit (Eph 5:18).  To state otherwise is to make God a liar and condone a destructive sinful lifestyle that will only further ensnare people, which is anything but loving to the person in need of delivery.

  • Colleen DeViet

    I am deeply disappointed by the article written by Thomas Froese in ChristianWeek April edition. This article seems to say that being gay is on the same level as the colour of our skin. God did not create gay people. The homosexual life is sin. I believe that we should love people but hate the sin. I fear that we are preaching a social gospel but the real and true gospel according to scripture is that Christ died for our sins (homosexuality included). Jesus came to call sinners to repentance.

    It is time that we as Canadians stood up and called sin exactly what it is. Our country is fast slipping into the belief that sin is just a way of life and that it can’t be helped. Oh yes it can be helped. God can take lives and turn them around from any and all sin. With God, all things are possible.

    Please do not allow articles in your paper to stray away from what the Scriptures teach.

    • Dueck

      With all respect, God did create gay people. I beg you to educate yourself about the truths and reality of being gay, about the facts of orientation. And please don’t be afraid to learn these things. Someone’s life may depend on you enlarging your understanding.

      • Glenn Krobel

        Herein lies the crux of the issue: whose authority do you live under, man’s or God’s?

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