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Know When To Fold ’em

Know When To Fold ’em

I’ve been married 10 months. While my wife, Kristin, grows increasingly more beautiful, I simply grow chubbier. A dual income has afforded us more opportunities to eat out. Lucky for me, it also affords more money for clothes—as I no longer fit into most of my old jeans. Kristin, seizing her opportunity to preppy me up, insisted we go to The Gap.

From the checkout line (factory faded jeans in hand), I noticed the blond highlights in the cashier’s spiky hair. Then I noticed his eyeliner and his makeup. He’d rolled the sleeves of his shiny black t-shirt high and tight around his bony biceps. I smiled, looking at the floor. Giggling, I nudged Kristin and nodded towards him. We both snickered.

A few months later, my uncle—who’d led my mom to salvation in Jesus Christ—wrote us a warm-hearted letter anticipating our visit to Chicago. “I want to be completely honest and open with you,” he wrote, “I’m gay and in a relationship with an amazing, intelligent, fun, big-hearted Christian who loves God and life.” His coming out instantly brought us closer. Close enough to talk about his sexuality—and mine. Close enough to challenge one another with what we thought the Bible said about this. We parted on very good terms and are planning another visit.

Returning home, I couldn’t stop thinking about the cashier. I didn’t snicker because he wore make up or an iridescent T-shirt. If I just stop, take a breath and dare to be honest with myself, I must admit I snickered because I believed he was gay. This is not an isolated incident. I’ve poked fun at my wife’s eccentric hairdresser (behind his back) because he’s a homosexual. I’ve joked with roommates and male friends, calling them queer and speaking with a lisp—acting “gay.”

I don’t make fun of an alcoholic’s predisposition for Jack Daniels or a murderer’s affinity to violence. I certainly don’t giggle at my own battles with pornography and lying. So, why is homosexuality any different? Should it be? Why do I approach it with stereotypes and jokes instead of grace and truth? Living like this, I aid the work of sin in our culture because it is a mindset that demeans people and honors their sin.

My aim here is not to prove homosexuality is a sin. I’ll leave that to God’s Word (Romans 1 in particular). My intention is to point out my own sin, because I don’t think I’m the only one who snickers at effeminate cashiers. I’m certain I’m not the only person who shakes his head at the sight of two men kissing—not out of prudence but out of some pompous belief that I am above them. The only reason one is shocked by sin is because he denies his own. Jesus hated sin more than anybody, but He was never shocked by it.

It is a tragedy that this topic is so taboo, because so many people suffer from it. The next time you’re in a group of five people, remember that it’s likely that at least three of them have had a homosexual experience or desire to at some point in their lives. I’m willing to bet one of those three people will be you. I’m one. I’m also one who’s been blessed with enough mercy to not have been “[given] over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper … [and to] give hearty approval to those who practice them” (Rom. 1:28 & 32). I say this taboo is tragic because there is so much pain when peace is made with sin.

In Gangs of New York, Amsterdam begins to make peace with Bill the Butcher—the man who murdered his father. During a few brief moments throughout the film, Amsterdam’s inner pain comes out as he tries to reconcile both his love and hate for one man. He desires to both please him and kill him. Throughout the whole film, we want Amsterdam to make his identity known and to honor his father. Eventually he does, and the picture his character paints early on should resonate with all of us.

Sin is crouching at our doorstep, seeking to devour us. Let’s not continue to laugh at it on primetime television after we’ve declared war on it in our morning devotions.

Peace with sin is no peace at all. Talk about homosexuality—but talk about it with your sin on the table. Have you experienced victory in your life? Are you not grateful for that victory? Do you resent the vulnerable people God worked through to bring about your repentance? Of course not. So, show others mercy because you have been shown mercy. Honor them by hating their sin and yours.

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