11/24/16 Tom about 40
On my way home from work Monday I stopped to reach out with the Gospel and met Tom, about 40, just leaving his workout gym. He was gracious in responding to my question about his beliefs, and told of his hope for heaven as a sinner forgiven by Jesus.
We talked more and I asked about his background, and he mentioned that he was “half Catholic”. “That’s an interesting way to describe yourself. What does that mean to you?” I asked. “Well, I’m gay, and I just don’t believe some of the Catholic teachings against homosexuality and same-sex marriage.”
Up to this point, I had been pretty sure I was talking to a fellow believer, but he obviously had some different beliefs about this issue. He wondered about my views, so I told him “I want to say right up front that you would be welcome at the church I attend, but we do see homosexual practice as sinful and would want to steer you toward abstinence and would not allow active homosexuals in positions of leadership.”
It wasn’t anything he hadn’t heard before, and he was very cordial about it and respectful of my beliefs. He told me about his struggle and how he truly believes he is not gay by choice but that God made him that way and that he no longer believes it to be sinful.
I told him I didn’t agree but had no doubt that he is sincere in his belief and was cordial and respectful of him in return. We went on to a helpful conversation about the Bible and how it is to be interpreted, because he had some other beliefs that go against scripture, such as a belief in universal salvation. He believes that because Jesus died for the sins of the world, all people are saved and will go to heaven regardless of their beliefs, a belief I would also disagree with. We ended with a mutual thankfulness for the conversation and a sincere wishing of God’s blessing on one another.
I believe this was a “tolerant” conversation. We practiced tolerance in that we didn’t agree with each other’s positions on some issues, but we had a respectful, open and honest conversation nonetheless. Our beliefs are important to us, especially when we look at things from an eternal perspective. But the beliefs of others are important to them too, and hearts and minds, and souls, aren’t won by arguing. They aren’t won by keeping silent either.
We are called to be faithful witnesses, not to win arguments. Especially today, as we are around family and friends who may be very familiar with our beliefs, let’s be faithful, but not obnoxious, witnesses of Jesus.