Worth the Risk

Worth the RiskWe received a variety of responses to the article, Compassionately Caring for LGBT Persons in Your Faith Community. As the editor of the Journal of Christian Nursing, I knew it was a big risk to write on this topic.

One reader responded on the NCF Nurses Blog: “I am delighted to see the issue being addressed by NCF. I worked with AIDS patients in the mid-80s and my father gave me great advice: Do not change your values, do not impose your values – do the best job you can as a nurse.When we truly reach out to others with unconditional love, our own lives are changed and enhanced forever.”

Another upset reader thought we were promoting a gay lifestyle and wanted to see us mention some approaches to this problem to help people be freed from the oppression of sexual sin. We thought about including the resources he recommended but we didn’t for two reasons:

1) The point of the article wasn’t about changing a patient’s sexual identity; it was about understanding people who are gay and their health concerns—not endorse their lifestyle.  As nurses, we can recommend resources for people who ask for help, but it is in the context of an established relationship.

2) We wanted to be sensitive and reach out to the gay community with Christ’s love and not give a typical approach they often hear from many Christians, so we did not include resources for dealing with homosexuality.

Interestingly, as a result of publishing this piece, I have had the opportunity to listen to some very personal and painful stories from gay healthcare providers. I am moved by their stories. In these conversations, I have tried to listen carefully and respond with God’s love.  I pray that I can continue these relationships and help them experience, as I have, our wonderful Savior who offers healing to us all.

I invite you to read more in my editorial, Caring for Gay Persons: Stop the Hurt. My journey continues. How about yours? Please give us your thoughts on the JCN blog, “In the Light.”

by Kathy Schoonover-Shoffner, JCN Editor


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8 Responses to “Worth the Risk”

  1. Crystal Tolentino Says:

    I agree with Michele, (and others) and was basically going to say the same thing. Kathy, I was upset by your article as well. I believe as nurses, at least all the ones that I know, and have known in my 30 years of this profession; all have been sensitive to all kinds of sins of others even with those who choose to be homosexuals and suffer the consequences thereof, i.e., prostitution…
    I suppose I was upset because right now our country, we, are in a culture war. Satan, is fighting so hard and it seems at times to be winning in this battle (as well as others), to persuade Christians and their churches that it is okay to be gay. That it is genetic–that is one of the main lies of this time. That homosexuals are being bullied immensely…
    Well, I do not believe it. Homosexuals are not being anymore bullied than blacks, or should I say African Americans to be politically correct to those who might be offended by me using that word, or to be a blonde haired, blue eyed women, like myself, all of my life in one way or another, I have been bullied. I can tell you tons of stories in my almost 50 years of living of being bullied that I have had to deal with.
    Right now, I along with others am fighting our church, the Presbyterian PCUSA, who have decided to ordain Gay pastors, ordain and pay gay elders and give insurance to them. Seminaries across the USA or letting homosexual partners live with each other while going to school to learn to be pastors, Austin seminary is one of them! We will be leaving the PCUSA because they will not repent.
    I do not believe someone is homosexual when they are not in the lifestyle, anymore than I believe a bank robber is always a bank robber and its in their genes, or a murderer is always a murderer. Homosexuality is an action that becomes a lifestyle.
    The fact is, homosexuals are rejected by God and they will always feel rejected by Him until they repent and turn from their ways. Along with Adulterers, liars and so on who do not pick up their cross and follow Him.
    Yes, we are to love but with Truth.
    I believe all this is coming up because they want to be accepted, however, they will never feel accepted. No matter if we legalize same sex marriages in all states; let them use same sex books to influence our young children in schools, be placed in high positions, politically or otherwise, and so forth.
    Relationships, as I told a pastor this past Sunday, are not more important than our relationship with God and our obedience to Him. Furthermore, if we as Christians continue to be quiet, approve, condone, even tolerate with acceptance those who do wrong in God’s eyes. God say’s in His Word He will turn away from us. And as we have seen in our Holy Bible time and again throughout generations this was happening to them. It will happen to us in America, (and some can argue He is exercising judgment in our country). God is longsuffering, but he is also a God so Holy, full of righteousness and justice.
    I will continue to love all of my patients, no matter who they are as I have always done, and when the Holy Spirit directs me, I will continue to witness to those who need to hear about His love, and continue to do as I have been commanded “To go out and make disciples of all the nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:19.
    I believe I feel uncomfortable around homosexuals right now because they are trying to push their sexuality on me, through the media, through schools and now my church. I believe this is wrong and I believe no matter if you are homosexual or heterosexual, sexuality should be kept to oneself. In the bedroom, it should be a holy act; that was given to us by our Creator, which started with Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. In any case, it should stay in the bedroom, not exploited on TV, in the media, or public schools, and everywhere else.
    As a nation, I firmly believe we need to act urgently on 2 Chronicles 7:14
    “If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
    Otherwise, we will be lost as a nation. I pray for a revival every day. I am saddened how we have practically imploded as a nation in evil and wickedness. I still have hope, even though there is fear, I know He will take care of me because that is His promise. And hopefully, if we will not turn from our wicked ways, He will come soon, and take those of us who follow Him, who are obedient and who love Him with all our hearts away from this place (the Rapture), where there will be no more tears, suffering, pain, bullying, evil, or Satan.
    Most Sincerely, and in His love

  2. Jo Says:

    I totally agree with Michelle & Hank.

  3. Hank Says:

    I agree with Michele, very nicely said. We need to be careful that in our desire not to offend people we don’t offend God.

  4. Michele Says:

    You are right, the issue of homosexuality is uncomfortable. I applaud you for approaching it and agree that as Christians the “God hates fags” approach has to stop. But I also sensed a fuzziness in your treatment of it. You quoted scripture that spoke to intimacy between one man and one woman but excluded Scripture that, in no uncertain terms forbids homosexual relations. (Romans 1:26-27, Leviticus 18:22) There is a line, once crossed violates Gods purpose. How does one cross that line? I believe not only by action by the heart. Kathy Schoonover-Shoffner in her “Think About It” article spoke of her gay friends living ‘celibate lives like any other single person. ‘ She also said ‘One’s sexual preference isn’t a sin whether you are heterosexual or homosexual.’ This sentence was highlighted while the next sentence was lost in its shadow. ‘What becomes sin is what we do with our sexual preference. ‘ Are we okaying homosexual desire but not the act? I was disappointed that the desire was allowed to remain okay. Even for those without the temptation of homosexual desire Jesus announced a heart standard. Matthew 5:27-28 “You have heard that it was said ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her is his heart.” Kathy Schoonover-Shoffner said, ‘…it makes perfect sense that Satan would attack and distort sex to twist our understanding of the intimacy God longs to have with us.’ Yes, but I believe in light of what is said in Scripture that it is a distortion to believe that the homosexual act is the only wrong. Matthew 5:29-30 goes on to talk to say, ‘If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of you body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” It would hurt to gouge out an eye. Just as I know it is hard to remove sinful desires. We cannot do it alone. It reveals all our neediness for a Savior. Maybe there has been a “God hates fags” mentality among Christians because we have not struggled with our own heart sins and refuse the risk and struggle it takes to have a pure heart. I think as Believers in Christ it is easy to ‘fuz’ the Truth to make it a little more palatable to those of differing opinion. Especially when the differing opinions are strongly and loudly held. But peoples’ lives and souls are at stake. Care for the Truth as much as the people. It takes great wisdom and courage to stand for both.

  5. shauna Says:

    I appreciated the article and found it to be informative. True, as Christians we should be “Christ’s hands and feet,” and not “go against the Word and accept their lifestyle.” As Ms. Schoonover-Shoffner has pointed out, the article’s purpose was for “understanding people who are gay and their health concerns—not endorse their lifestyle. As nurses, we can recommend resources for people who ask for help, but it is in the context of an established relationship.” Treating patients with respect and letting our actions be the Gospel, may go farther in reaching them than any words we use, scriptural or otherwise. If you sense a need or desire in a patient with whom you have an ESTABLISHED therapeutic relationship, then referral to other resources may be appropriate.

  6. Kathy Schoonover-Shoffner Says:

    I am sorry that my editorial and LGBT article in the 2012 Oct/Dec JCN have offended some of our readers. I do hope NCF members do not drop their membership because of the articles. NCF and JCN remain whole-heartedly and fully committed to Jesus Christ, the Gospel, and God’s Word. Unfortunately, and sadly, I’m not sure what I tried to communicate is what is being understood or concluded. I said the act of sexual intimacy between one man and one woman within marriage is God’s design put forth in scripture (see Editorial, p. 197). I tried to relay that when we act on sexual preferences toward others of the opposite sex (heterosexual) outside of marriage, or toward others of the same sex (homosexual), it is wrong. However, if I have urges to do something wrong (steal, lie, cheat, lust) but don’t act on those urges, is that sin? I would say that’s temptation, but not sin unless I act. I was trying to convey that simply having same sex preferences is not sin. I don’t know why some people have same sex attraction but it’s not always a conscious choice. I also know people with same sex preferences don’t always act on their desires; just like heterosexuals don’t always act on their sexual desires. I personally know gay Christians who remain sexually pure who pray about and seek God’s will and healing in their life, just as I do. Is their same sex attraction, which they don’t act on, a sin? I’m not sure that it is.

    I hope and pray that as Christians we welcome all people with all kinds of temptations and struggles with sin as people to care for and have relationship with, and welcome them into our churches. We should help them with the struggles in their lives just as we need help with the struggles in our lives. We don’t condone their sin, but we don’t say “you can’t come here until you stop stealing, lying, etc.” Should we treat gays any differrent?

    I encourage our readers to carefully read my editorial and the LGBT article to discern what is being said. This is such a sensitive topic and it’s easy for our emotions and thinking to see or not see ideas in the words.

    Most of all, please pray about this issue. And pray for me as JCN editor to clearly hear God’s leading. I don’t claim to always get it right, but my heart’s desire is to do God’s will with this journal.

  7. Jo Villanueva Says:

    I agree with Jo . I did not even want to read the article as soon as I read the title. I said to myself, what has NCF gotten into? I have treated all my patients the same irregardless of who they are. I’m nursing the person not their lifestyle but in the same token I do not approve of it & not have a condemning attitude but try to reach out to them, share the Gospel hoping the Holy Spirit will convict them of their sins & be saved through Jesus . Let us be careful not to compromise our beliefs & not use nursing as a cloak to condone their lifestyle. Ms. Kathy, I’m also surprised at your editorial encouraging us Christians to “welcome” homosexuals. You are treading on dangerous waters. I’m appalled at your comment that homosexuality is not a sin, & it’s not being heterosexual or homosexual but “it’s what we do with our sexual preference. If you remember Mary Magdalene’s story & learn from what Jesus said to her. She was forgiven & Jesus said to her to “Sin no more”. How about the story of Lot & what happened to the city? Did you forget why the city was destroyed?
    I’m not sure about my membership with NCF if you continue to propagate this philosophy.

  8. Jo Erkel Says:

    I am disappointed in the article. Much of it is what I have read in liberal theological articles on the subject. Why should they be singled out when society continues to condone treating other individuals just as bad because they are not pencil thin and can grace the cover of a magazine. In my 37 years as a nurse I have had much contact with LGBT people and have always treated them with respect. I have followed the philosphy of loving the sinner but hating the sin.
    The only time I conveyed your philosophy was to a gay man sitting next to me on an airplane who was coming to Michigan to meet a man he had been conversing on line with. When he asked me how I felt about gay people, I said that we all sin and that his sin was no worse than any of mine. He took that as approval of what he was going to do and that what I said eased his fears which was not my intent. He did not want to listen to Scripture when Jesus said to GO AND SIN NO MORE even though he professed to be a Christian. I will continue to be Christ’s hands and feet to all of my patients, but I cannot go against the Word and accept their lifestyle.

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