In Straight and Narrow? Compassion and Clarity in the Homosexuality Debate (InterVarsity Press, 1995), Thomas E. Schmidt has made it abundantly clear—against some revisionist interpreters—that the Bible does not warrant homosexual behavior. He has also marshaled disturbing and seldom admitted medical evidence that aids is but one of a number of serious health risks to practicing homosexuals. But Schmidt also provides wise advice to the church on how to relate pastorally to homosexuals. The following points are taken from his "final words."

1. We must express our disapproval of homosexual practice in the context of our own sexual fallenness.
Unless we acknowledge that we are all in need of God's grace and healing in our sexuality, we will continue to prevent homosexuals and others from listening to us. They will hear only our fear and revulsion, not our love and similar need of grace. We should always draw a connection between homosexuality and the inappropriate desires and actions of the heterosexual majority. This approach kicks the legs out from under the reaction that we are simply homophobic; but more important, it is the right thing to do. Only when we show that we have a greater concern about our own sin will we have a right to confront sin in others. This is not tolerance. It is justice.

Our heterosexual sin includes hatred toward homosexuals. Whenever we initiate or tolerate slang terms, demeaning jokes, or derogatory offhand comments, we send a strong message that these people for whom Jesus died are, in civil-rights terms, niggers; or in biblical terms, Samaritans. In so doing we make a lie of the slogan "hate the sin and love the sinner." That slogan, known and despised by homosexuals, is tired and ...

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