I am so excited by all the comments which allow me to continue refining and developing my understanding.
A fundamental concept of my approach is that change is needed. There are a lot of well meaning Christians that in their heart would love to see all humans know the love of Jesus, but are unfortunately ignorant of how deeply entrenched cultural norms have left certain people excluded.
If you are under, say, 50 years old, you can still have the interesting experience of hanging out with your older relatives, and hearing them say things that are so blatantly racist as to be almost humorous in how it points out the depth of their ignorance of how far we have come as a people called Americans. You still love them, but you don't accept their view of the world.
Think of your life as a devout Christian, and all the personal struggles you have to live out your faith, to avoid temptations to sin, and to find the time to pray and actually walk in faith alongside God. Now just imagine a hundred years ago, some Christian going through all those same struggles, similarly hoping to be faithful to Jesus who they know has saved them, and who they desire to serve with their whole heart as they read their bible and try to find the time to pray, etc. And that Christian one hundred years ago, happens to own amongst their possessions, some humans that were recently exported from Africa.
They had just as real a faith as you have. Yet they owned Colin Powell's great, great, great grandfather. They hoped that their children would be good and get good grades and that their community would be warm and peaceful, and yet they owned Miles Davis great, great grandmother. They owned humans. They inspected their teeth like cattle in order to be good stewards of the money God had given them so they could invest wisely in a healthy slave - as you spend hours making sure you're buying the best washing machine.
Rosa Parks was 42 when she refused to give up her seat, and the Mother of the Civil Rights Movement only just recently passed. I am only 42 years old myself, and I was born in 1963 before most of the big events of the Civil Rights movement happened. We are just now barely emerging from our institutionally racist past, and have a long way to go to be free from our still culturally racist present.
With all that in mind, knowing that fellow Christians we will be with in heaven one day only recently owned humans, it must force us to our knees to say, "Lord! What areas of our culture are we abominably ignorant of our own superiority??"
"Where do we fail to see that a fellow Christian has been treated as less than a fellow Christian?"
Or a fellow human as less than a fellow human.
It's amazing to me that the people who were treated as less than human by their Christian owners, themselves became Christian - and whose Christian faith has been one of the most remarkable cultural phenomenon's of our Country's history!!!!????!!!!
What if homosexual Christian's one day are the most vibrant and amazing Christian's in America, and you look back and remember when you thought they couldn't even be Christians??? (or at least your actions and words represented that, although you wouldn't say that).
We must be vigilant to see who we are. There were a bunch of vigilant slave owning Christians a hundred years ago, and they became the abolitionists that lead to change.
Here is a good observation of how we don't understand ourselves, and how our views really manifest themselves:
When Brian McLaren was on the Larry King show with a bunch of evangelical leaders because he like them had been named by Time Magazine as among the 25 most influential evangelicals in America, Larry asked them about their views on homosexuality. Some of the other evangelical leaders spouted the party line about their views, and a caller came on and reflected to them how they are viewed as very hateful people by the gay community - they all looked so wounded, and said things like, "We don't hate gay people!", "We love gay people, we want gay people to know that Jesus loves them and died for them!", and so on.
It was so informing to see how sincere they were - how deeply they believed that they truly were loving to gay people - and then how soberly the callers reflected back to them how deeply hated they in fact were, by a very large group of people who has no ability to see anything of Jesus in them because all they feel from them is hate.
Imagine being a gay person, trying to live your life, trying to pursue happiness as an American, and you observe society changing. You observe a lot of corners of the American landscape being open and accepting of you in a way they never were before. You see young Americans changing in their views and being very supportive of you and your community. You see various streams of progressiveness changing the very feeling of how you experience your day to day life.
You used to go out and about, and in the vast majority of daily contexts you would be mistreated and maligned for your gayness, and in most of those areas you found it wisest to just hide that part of yourself. You had to live daily with the dichotomy of having to hide a huge part of your very person in order to avoid being mistreated by people who were hateful towards homosexuals.
But now things have been changing, and you get to experience a greater freedom from that restrictive duality - you get to be yourself in many more daily contexts. Wow, what a real and significant change this has been in your life. You can really understand what it has meant to be a black person in America and experience a similar change.
Yet, of all the groups and contexts where you see change - it is from the Christians that you feel a huge resistance. And because the Christians hold a lot of political power, it is their excercise of that power against you that you feel the most institutional sting. In talking to Christian people you are confused when you hear them say that they love you and want you to know Jesus, because you feel more love from high school kids that lobbied to have their gay and lesbian club allowed on campus, than you do by the Christians who lobby against you every chance they get.
So, then you turn on Larry King and hear these idiotic sounding people proclaim how much they love you, when you know they are the cultural leaders of the one group in your daily landscape that continues to hold you back from total freedom and acceptance.
So, we must search our heart and see how we are in fact blocking gay people from finding Jesus.
If Jesus were here, and they surveyed their landscape - Jesus would be the one they felt the most loved and accepted by.
If they asked him, "Jesus, what do you think about my having sex with my gay partner?" I'm not sure what Jesus would answer, but importantly, I know that I do not know. And so my position, my plan, my strategy is that I need to do whatever I can do to make sure that gay people will let me open the door to the room that Jesus is in so they can ask him that question.
Right now, gay people will not allow us to open that door.
Jesus is in that room!!!!
Jesus is so wanting to talk to anyone who will go in that room and talk to him. But we are blocking gay people from going in that room.
I for one will block no more.
Okay, I can just hear those struggling with the issue that I also struggled with for some time - but what about same sex intercourse being an act, and the "gay community" just being a bunch of people that do that act, rather than with race where you are definitely born that race?
Once again, you have to listen to people.
If you spend any amount of time talking to gay people, or reading what they have written, you will very quickly have no more questions about the nature or nurture question. Gays will all tell you that at a very young age they just felt an attraction to the same sex, and that was it. They made no choice, they didn't even know what sex was, just like heterosexuals when they were young, and then one day, they started getting those feelings - surprise! Just like everyone else.
The only reason you would have to doubt this almost universally attested to story is if you had an agenda against the gay community. Hating gays is always a good reason for not believing them.
Aha! - but though they didn't have a choice of the feeling, they did have a choice to act on it!
Just like you had a choice to act on being an adulterer, or an internet porn user, or a lyer or whatever things you struggle with - and no one is hating you and blocking you from receiving certain benefits socially because you are a fornicator. The point is to not single out one group.
We all need Jesus in every area of our life.
Heterosexual sex that produces children needs spiritual guidance to be healthy. All human behavior needs spiritual input to be whole.
Whether same sex intercourse is a sin or is not a sin is not my question, but how can I get all people to go into the room with Jesus and let him love them?
Consider how Jesus treats you regarding your sin, as seen in your life and in stories of how he treated people in the bible.
When "outed" sinners like prostitutes and adulterers came to him, he didn't pounce on their sin, but showed them compassion and reached out to them to love them.
Who did he pounce on? The religionists that were judging everyone and condemning them.
How has he treated you in your life?
There have been areas of my life that it took years for me to understand were sinful or deeply unhelpful to my life and my place in community. But during all the years that I was blind to it, Jesus still loved me and allowed me to be his child. I wouldn't have been able to receive others input or rebuke about it because I didn't see it. I was spiritually fruitful at the same time I had those things in my life.
On the other hand, there were years that I thought certain things were wrong, that I later discovered were not wrong. I have also discovered how many areas of life that the context of the community and the individual mind and heart of the person and their background determine a lot about what is good and community building and what is bad and community destroying.
The slave owners did a very evil thing by literally stealing other humans rights to their own dignity and personhood - yet Jesus allowed them to be his children because he knew they just couldn't see that yet, and when they died he accepted them into heaven by the same way he will accept you and I - by his Son's great sacrifice for us.
The very core of the kind of ugliness that causes people to become religionists of the ilk that God the Father rebuked over and over in the Old Testament, and that Jesus rebuked over and over in the New Testament is this form of self-righteousness where you think that you have it figured out and you condemn others whose actions you judge to be sinful.
The fact is that we all survive by grace and mercy. We don't know how to live, and we have to ask God to give us strength to live, and if we are particularly spiritual, we will ask God to show us how to change areas of our lives that we don't even see.
My gay position is that because this is all true, and because we have been so willing to cut ourselves plenty of slack in many areas, but with the gay community we have only pounced on them and judged and rejected them, and done so many things that appear to them to be hateful - so that in their special case we have to go out of our way to not speak against them, to not act against them, and to do whatever we can to heal their woundedness, so that instead of viewing the church as a bunch of religionists always looking to reject them, they view the church as the place where Jesus lives, and the place they go to get the love and acceptance that Jesus gives.
Here's an inverse way of saying the golden rule, or the greatest commandment:
Cut others as least as much slack as you cut yourself.
How dare we receive all the love and acceptance Christ gives us, and not give it to others.