Author of this article David Aikman was a senior fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Centre in Washington, D.C. His is also a former foreign correspondent with Time magazine

A few years ago a Christian friend of mine, who happens to be an ordained clergyman, was participating in a pro-life march in New York City. Several evangelical and Roman Catholic groups were represented, so there were, predictably, vigorous counter-demonstrations. Many of these were led by homosexuals.  My friend said that for many long minutes a counter-demonstrator kept pace with him from a few feet away, screaming hateful obscenities at him. His tirade slowing down for a few seconds, he shouted this strange question at my friend: “Why do you people hate us?”

The question seemed quite unrelated to the pro-life issue, which of course it is. The questioner identified himself as a homosexual activist. With remarkable presence of mind, and graciousness, considering the hostility expressed toward him, my friend replied: “I don’t hate you at all. I’ve probably committed far worse sins than you have, at least in my own mind.” Then, breaking away from his fellow pro-life marchers, he simply hugged the man. Stunned, the would-be antagonist now kept pace with my friend for a different reason. Instead of hurling more insults at him, he peppered him with questions.

“Why did you do that? What were you trying to convey?” and so forth. He was absolutely stunned that an evangelical Christian would ever express any affection at all toward an obviously homosexual person. The moral of this story is clear:  Homosexuals in general, regard evangelical Christians not just as critical of them, but also as implacably hostile toward them. It is certainly true that a few conservative Christians – the handful, for example, who have waved placards reading “God hates fags”- have expressed enmity toward gays, undoubtedly providing a basis for homosexuals to use the term “homophobia.”

It is also true that most Christians simply don’t believe homosexual behaviour to be “natural.”  The overwhelming majority of Christians I have met all over the world don’t “hate” homosexuals or wish them any harm whatsoever. But they do believe the Bible emphatically prohibits all sexual acts outside of marriage, including – but not singling out – homosexual activity, and they clearly do not believe there is any notion whatever in the Bible of same sex “marriage.” So why is the homosexual perception that Christians “hate” them so widely held? Why, for example, are Christians not assumed to “hate” bank robbers, forgers, adulterers, even murderers?

One reason is that very few churches have learned how to live out in practice, in relation to homosexuals, the principle of loving the sinner but hating the sin. Evangelical Christian churches, by and large, have failed to reach out effectively to the gay community. This, in part, is due to sheer fear. If they exhibit grace and openness to homosexuals, will this be seen either by homosexuals or other Christians as “tolerance” of the gay lifestyle? Alternatively, many churches would like to pretend the homosexual phenomenon simply doesn’t exist. If they have to express a biblical position on sexuality, they may run the risk of the dreaded accusation of”homophobia.”

Some of the fear is based on ignorance. The fact is, the homosexual lifestyle can be physically very dangerous. Medical studies galore have confirmed this. Life expectancy can be up to 20 years shorter than for the heterosexual population, almost entirely as a result of sexually transmitted diseases. Depression, attempted suicide and drug abuse are significantly higher among homosexuals and lesbians. This is true even in the Netherlands,where 77% of the population fully accepts homosexual behaviour, and so it cannot be attributed to traditional “homophobia.”

By their own admission, homosexuals are far more likely to be sexually unfaithful-even to partners with whom they claim to be in a “loving, committed, consensual relationship”- than heterosexual couples, hence more vulnerable to sexual disease than the general population. In short, is this something Christians should encourage, regardless of moral attitude?  Of course not.  But as the evangelical church we must find ways of reaching out effectively to the homosexual community.

Source: by David Aikman