Before October 24, 2011 I didn’t even know who Stuart Walker was. I wasn’t even aware that he existed. Some of you are only aware of his existence because I have his name in this paragraph. However, he was a real living, breathing and hurting person…was…that is until 4:30am this morning.

Stuart was found this morning beaten, burned and tied to a lamppost in Cumnock Scotland. (I suggest you search the news stories) There is some belief that this killing has been linked to homophobia. I have no reason to doubt that this reason may be true.

Homophobia is defined by Merriam-Webster as “: irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuals or homosexuality.”

Christians are often referred to as being “homophobic.” As a Christian myself, I can assuredly tell you that I do not have an irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuals or homosexuality.” I don’t even dislike homosexuals. In fact, I have been known to have friends that are admitted homosexuals, both male and female. Guess what, that doesn’t earn me a trophy or a badge on Foursquare or in real life. However, it does mean that I have came to accept that there are people in this world that are different than I am and do not see that behavior in the same light I do. They know I don’t agree, I know they don’t agree with me and we have still found some ground to correspond with one another on. Sometimes that means we have worked next to one another in the workplace, other times that means we have went to a concert together, or even shared conversation over a meal.

Some of these PEOPLE have struggled to control their urges to express their affections. That means they admit there is an on going attraction to the same sex, yet they have expressed they know those feelings and attractions are not appropriate. In fact, they have confessed that acting on their desires or giving in to lust is sin. They proceed in living a life (in which sometimes they find themselves giving into their desires) that is focused upon being holy and following what God has taught in the Bible as behavior that is sin.

There are others that I have known who have given themselves totally over to their affections and desires. They have come to define themselves as “gay.” They express that they feel God made them that way and there is no reason to fight their desires or actions. They have chosen to define themselves by their feelings (I didn’t say they chose their feelings).

At the end of the day, both of these people have expressed similar desires, affections and feelings. The ways they choose to deal with them are totally different. At the end of the day I still care very deeply for both. At the end of the day they are both people that God loves. At the end of the day God continues to ask me to express Christian love to them and encourage them. Encourage them, not to define themselves by their affections or feelings, but rather to encourage them towards meeting and experiencing the Creator, Saviour and Lord of redemption. Encouraging them to see that they were created with a purpose.

At the end of the day, God is reaching out to all three of us. Two of us may have answered, as imperfect as we are. However, two of us have come to realize that the truth has led us to new life, abundant life and a life of love. (Two of us who struggle with sin, although the sin themselves may be very different, to understand that we were created to bring glory to God.)

I didn’t write this for critics of Christianity. I didn’t write this for those who consider themselves “gay” to agree with or to critique. I wrote it for my fellow Christians who are struggling to understand that our beliefs aren’t what people will know us by; it is our love (John 13:35). Homophobia isn’t a fruit of the spiritual life in Christianity. Hatred is never what Jesus has saved us to express for Him. He has saved us so we can love freely those who have yet to experience Him.

Christians are the people that make up the church. The church is the body of Christ. The body of Christ encourages one another and seeks the lost, teaching others to do all the things Jesus has taught and making disciples of all ethnic groups and types of people.

Hatred and aversion will never allow us to function as the body of Christ. Are you a Christian who will ask God to show you what you need to do with your homophobia? Are you willing to confess your hatred so Christ can heal you, so in turn you can be used to heal sinners, even those who are struggling with homosexuality?