It's unfortunate that, in the Christian context, homosexuals are the modern day lepers, said a former lesbian.
Beyond the advancement of the homosexual agenda in the nation's school systems and popular culture, the greater tragedy is that Christians have misrepresented God's character to the gay community and have alienated them from the Gospel, said Christine Sneeringer, director of Worthy Creations, an Exodus International ministry.
Sneeringer was walking out of homosexuality for two years when during one Sunday school session on abortion and homosexuality, she was met by harsh comments from Christians that were not unfamiliar to the gay community, she said in a testimony featured in a recent Coral Ridge Ministries broadcast.
One fellow believer said she doesn't have any compassion toward homosexuals while another agreed and added that AIDS is God's judgment against them. Both were unaware of Sneeringer's sexual history.
"It's no wonder that the average homosexual expects rejection from Christians," said Sneeringer, who was speaking to hundreds of Christians in Fort Lauderdale last month.
"There's not a homosexual in North America who doesn't know the evangelical viewpoint on homosexuality," she said. "But do they know there's a God in Heaven who loves them and who sent a Savior to die for them too?"
Not all gays want to be gay, she noted. But in a society that says it's okay to be gay, many don't know there's a way out.
In the wake of the Ted Haggard scandal, Sneeringer said she wished the former megachurch pastor, before becoming a prominent evangelical leader, would have felt safe enough to ask for help to overcome same-sex attractions through a community that preaches Christ's redeeming love and not judgment. Haggard recently moved out of Colorado Springs months after a former male prostitute alleged a three-year cash-for-sex relationship.
Sneeringer grew up in a home where her father verbally and physically abused her mother and was addicted to pornography. At 12 years old, she was sexually molested by her older cousin and later her brother.
At age 15, she got involved in her first lesbian relationship. Lesbians are often trying to protect themselves against further hurt from a man, said Sneeringer. And her homosexual relationship seemed to meet a need in her life at that time.
Not until Sneeringer joined a Baptist church's softball team and met Christians who did not condemn or pass judgment on her did she realize the love of Jesus Christ. The women's team never preached to her, but just loved her and prayed for her.
In this new century, there are only two kinds of churches – the relevant and the irrelevant – she stated. Relevant churches uphold the biblical standard of morality in a culture that has lost morals and is bold to show God's love to those trapped in their sin.
Today, Sneeringer is no longer a lesbian. She's thankful for the relevant church that looked beyond her sin.
Now, Sneeringer is telling Christians to be that relevant church.
"What have we done to offer the gay community an alternative?" she posed to Christians. Just railing against gays hasn't helped them to know the redeeming love of Jesus Christ, the ministry leader stressed.
"Often Christians think that to love a homosexual is a compromise of their Christianity, that somehow their love would be misconstrued as condoning homosexuality."
But the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor, Sneeringer highlighted.
A Christian's message must balance truth and love. Jesus, she said, accepted and loved sinners. And he loved them enough not to leave them in their sinful state but to challenge them to a live a life beyond it, Sneeringer explained.
There are some groups who have successfully reached out to homosexuals, including Exodus International, which helped her walk out of her lesbian life. Still, progress is slow and steady, she said.
"If we can't embrace and support the repentant homosexual, how much more will we struggle with showing God's redemptive love to the active homosexual?" she asked the Christian crowd, adding that many gays are doing their best to walk right with God and crucify their fleshly desires.
Sneeringer challenged Christians to spread Christ's redeeming love to the homosexual community.