Linda Robertson leads the local HIV/AIDS Outreach Team at the church and volunteers regularly at RoseHedge Multifaith Works in the Capitol Hill area of Seattle.
Linda and her husband Rob are active in the church and in the gay community/Aids efforts in Seattle.
Their son Ryan was homosexual and died in 2009. She says her passion is that Ryan's life and death will matter...and the mistakes she made, as a conservative evangelical mom with a young gay son, "will serve to help someone else learn to really love their children, just because they breathe...and before they no longer do."
Linda writes for Huffington Post and other publications in advocacy of correcting her "mistakes."
I want to take a look at the "mistakes" Linda feels she made in regard to her son.
And is "standing in solidarity and getting rid of the stigma" of AIDS the biblical message of redemption and love according to God's Word?
Pastor Ken Hutcherson publicly expressed disappointment when Overlake Christian Church declined to take a stand for traditional marriage in the 2012 election.
Linda has written an article for Huffington Post-Gay Voices which gives in detail how she feels she failed her son and how others are failing by not affirming the behavior.
She also explains how biblical verses on homosexual behavior are misused.
She begins and ends with the expectation that many evangelicals will attack her over her beliefs.
While disagreement with the homosexual agenda and behavior is almost universally equated to "hate," let me say I disagree, but do not hate.
I have great empathy for parents who are faced with this. As a pastor, I have stood with them in their darkest moments and hours. I have also stood with those who have practiced this behavior, having come to the realization it is a destructive one and were seeking deliverance and restoration.
I have also stood with Christian teenagers whose parent was homosexual, forcing them to live out their Christian faith in isolation in their own home.
In each case, it is heart breaking.
We have reached a point in our culture where anything less than affirmation (standing in solidarity) is considered hate.
In the absence of hate, let me disagree with Linda and Overlake Christian Church.
Linda makes her case in the Huffington Post on a false presumption.
She begins with this:
1.The Bible does not teach that any human being created by God (and we all were) is an abomination. Wow. I have come to loathe that word because of how it has been used to destroy people.
2. The Bible does not include a verse that says, "Love the sinner, but hate the sin." Someone who wasn't thinking very carefully came up with that, and unfortunately, it caught on. After the abomination accusation and the threat of hell hurled at blameless individuals who have done nothing but be born, this is one of the phrases that has been most damaging, not only to the individuals who are hurt by it but to the cause of Christ.
Biblical Christians do not believe that God or they themselves feel that homosexuals are an abomination. The Bible clearly teaches that God loves people, but cannot look on sin. God says homosexual behavior is sin.
While there is not a verse that specifically says, "Love the sinner, but hate the sin," God, in the greatest act of all time, has modeled that truth when He sent His Son to die for our sins (John 3:16).
In the narrative of Christ's death for our sin, we learn that God hates sin in a way that caused Him to turn from His own Son at the moment our sin was placed upon Him on the cross. (Reference: my God, my God).
Linda tells her readers, "When one says 'I love my son John who is gay, but I hate his homosexuality' it's a complete oxymoron. It's like saying I love you Linda but I hate that you are heterosexual."
No it isn't. Heterosexual relations are biblically affirmed in the bond of biblical marriage, which is between one man and one woman. Homosexual relations are condemned as sin and destructive by the Bible.
Homosexual behavior has been revised by those who seek to affirm it and find ways to claim the Bible affirms it, or at least does not condemn it.
For thousands of years, every major religion and every major culture identified the behavior as sodomy---including the Bible. Activists then revised it to "homosexuality"--a condition, then to "Gay"---an identity.
It is a behavior and in no way equates to ethnicity. That behavior is not a civil right.
Linda says, "Rob and I were both raised hearing condemning messages about homosexuality (for me, from the Bible, and for Rob, from more of a general "American moral code"). As young parents, we heard horror stories from conservative "family" radio speakers about the dangerous practices of "those" homosexuals, complete with graphic details about their perverse practices and their number of daily conquests. These came from sources we thought were trustworthy, and though I did doubt their veracity and was suspicious of the agenda behind the tales, I can see now that the power of propaganda to incite fear is, indeed, real and potent."
The lifestyle of homosexuals is well documented. Time Magazine published an extensive report on the matter. This is part of their report:
"As the world’s leading AIDS researchers gather for the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., scientists report that despite gains in controlling the spread of HIV, the disease has continued to spread at an alarming rate in the very population in which it first appeared — gay men."
"In a series of papers in the Lancet dedicated to the dynamics of HIV among gay men — a group epidemiologists define as men who have sex with men (MSM) — scientists say that the continued burden of AIDS in this group is due to a combination of lifestyle and biological factors that put these men at higher risk. Rates are rising in all countries around the world."
Linda continues, "It was after my brother Don courageously came out to us that I began reading books -- from varying perspectives -- about what the Bible has to say about homosexuality. At the end of the day, I came away a bit confused, but sure of one thing: The Bible does not support hate. That, at least, was clear. It was after our own son came out to us 10 years later that the fear that had been planted in our minds years before began to grow and make us feel that our son was in very real danger, hence our many mistakes and our choice to be ruled by fear rather than live by faith in the One who made Ryan."
Living by faith in our Creator does not give one license to redefine Scripture.
There is no scientific evidence that any person has ever been born gay. It is an acquired behavior.
Linda seems to dismiss biblical truth in favor of situational ethics and rationalization based in relativism.
She tells her readers that she and her husband "after much prayer, study and listening to God and others, we've come to believe that this is one of those issues mentioned...infrequently...in the New Testament, like eating meat previously sacrificed to idols. For some it may be sin."
"For us," she says, "love wins out." "Every time."
Love certainly wins out, but true love---God's love, requires a proper understanding of God's Word.
Biblical love and Truth does not seek to affirm sin. God is not the author of confusion.
God's message of love is greater than our ability to define it, but it is never contradictory to His Word.
God's love is so complete and unconditional that it convicts us of our sin, while embracing us, delivering us and restoring us from the brokenness of our sin. And leads us to a new productive lifestyle, free from our destructive old lifestyle.
Remember George Beverly Shea singing the "Love of God" at Billy Graham crusades?---"The love of God is greater far than tongue or pen could ever tell...it goes beyond the highest star and reaches to the lowest hell."
God's love brings Truth to our lives. God's love can heal the broken heart of a parent. God's love does not compromise God's Word.
Linda says her senior pastor at Overlake, Mike Howerton, does not agree with her on all points.
However, one wonders how "standing in solidarity with AIDS" can be seen as the solution to a very destructive and sinful behavior? A behavior that seeks to redefine marriage and family...and even Scripture.
Linda says, "Rob and I continually seek our Lord for truth."
May God reveal His Truth to them.
And may her church embrace the truth that biblical redemption, not solidarity, is God's solution to the issue of homosexuality, AIDS and sin.
Be Informed. Be Discerning. Be Vigilant. Be Prayerful. Be Pro-Active. Be Blessed.