Helping with complex issues of sexuality

Loving Lepers by Meleah Allard

“And a leper came to Him and bowed down before Him, and said, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” Matthew 8: 2-3

And if one weren’t enough…

“While He was on the way to Jerusalem, He was passing between Samaria and Galilee. As He entered a village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; and they raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When He saw them, He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they were going, they were cleansed. Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they? Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” And He said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.” Luke 17:11-19

6343979495234b18f82e5be23b564246It’s another one of those wee hours of the morning where the Lord gently whispers my name and calls me out of my cozy slumber. Years ago I argued with Him. Yes, I argued with the God of the universe who spoke the world into existence. “Lord, why do you decide to speak when I’m all curled up, warm and cuddly in the middle of the night?” He told me it’s the only time I’m quiet enough to hear from Him. I do talk a lot during the day. So what could I hear that is so important that would actually cause me to discard the comfort and warmth of my bed on a cold winter morning? He said, “I’m Lord of the Lepers too.” When I decided to write this article a few weeks ago, the original title was “LOVING LEPERS” however God’s words to me in the wee hours of the morning, telling me that He is the Lord of the Lepers changed my title. BUT, I couldn’t quite let go of the loving part either…hence two titles.

I believe we treat the gay community like the people of Jesus’ day treated the lepers. They forced them to keep their distance from the pack and to cry out “Unclean, Unclean!” when they passed by. They refused to associate with, let alone touch them and the reason… FEAR IS THE REASON, in my opinion. My belief is based on my own personal experiences. Having lived as a gay woman for almost 10 years, I can honestly say that this is how I was treated, even by some of my own family members.

Unfortunately, so many Christians don’t see the gay community as a harvest ripe for the picking. I’m not suggesting that we view them as a project to be managed but instead, as people who are hurting and wounded, desperately searching for true love and willing to accept any counterfeit because they are so hungry and desperate. Many believers don’t recognize that because we have the true bread of life and living water, we can be used to quench their hunger and thirst, but instead, many times we throw stones or turn our backs.

I believe so much of the world, Christians included, if truth be told, would rather the homosexual community, just go away – disappear, or at least keep on their side of the fence. I know this because of the comments I’ve personally heard. Recently a string of Facebook comments, Internet blogs and articles from various sources confirmed that my belief is still on target, especially after the Chick-fil-A debacle, State Marriage Amendments and then the election. It’s amazing to me how many people, even Christians will say things through social media that they would never say in person. So cowardly! Then there are those who would say such things in person. Such ugliness must truly wound the Holy Spirit.

This throwing stones approach is not just coming from the world. At a recent Christian event a pastor walked up to my boss’s ministry booth and said, “You know how I handle homosexuals? I just call them Sodomites!” Well now that’s a loving approach and I see it over and over again as well. These wounded and hungry souls need bread not rocks. All they can do with rocks is throw them back.

Having been a part of the gay community for almost 10 years, I can say that gay identified men and women are some of the most passionate people I’ve met and my experience in almost 8 years of ministry has been that when that passion is redirected to the one worthy of it, they become mighty forces for the kingdom. They certainly don’t end up being bench warmers. Highly creative and gifted, they are some of the most powerful musicians, singers, artists, writers, and creative forces in the work of ministry. Their love and passion for God outshines anything I see out in the world.

“Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair.  You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume.  “I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”  Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.” John 7: 44-48

So, the next time that you are feeling that tug to go to a homeless shelter and serve, or throw a few dollars the way of a street person, please remember that there are over one million folks out there, the homosexual community, people who have embraced a gay identity, who desperately need a cup of the living water – a piece of the bread of life, and God’s grace to fill their needy souls. Will you throw rocks? Will you shove a Bible in their face? Or will you hold your hand out with that cup of living water, showing them the grace and love of God through your actions. Jesus said that first we must meet their physical needs before we try to meet their spiritual ones.

In Matthew 25 Jesus reminds us that we are to first meet the needs of the poor. Again in my experience of living homosexually for a decade and now having counseled and worked with those struggling, I would say that these folks are poor in spirit. They are soul starved and it is a starvation that very well could kill them just as much as a physiological hunger could. Our souls were created to love and be loved by God and His family.

In 1 John 3:17 The Apostle John writes, But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?

“It is the kindness of God (through His people I would add) that leads to repentance.” Romans 2:4

For our clients, the ones who are struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions, will you offer them your patience as they walk this journey of healing? It rarely happens as quickly as you are comfortable with. It took me 13 years after I returned to Jesus to become a productive member of the church body. My church at Mud Creek Baptist was loving, kind and patient. They allowed me the time that was necessary to heal. And about 10 years ago one of the associate pastors sent me a CD from a leadership meeting where the topic was “meeting the needs of church members”. The Associate pastor said, “Aren’t we glad we didn’t give up on the Allard’s (we were a mess…me the recovering lesbian and my hubby the recovering alcoholic) “because look what a blessing they are and how they serve and give in our church now. You couldn’t find more committed members.” We were so blessed by his comments. After 8 years of ministry, in this capacity, I’ve found that my clients are no different than me. When they grasp the Father’s love, they fall deeply in love with Him and all they want to do is serve and give with all their heart, all their soul and all their mind. Will you be a part of their healing journey? Will you love those who feel like lepers? They aren’t lepers. They are just hurting, wounded souls, just like you….just like me.

 

Photo courtesy of Revolt Collective: http://www.revoltcollective.com/

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