Random Thoughts

A Christian’s Response to Homosexuality

Well my last couple full posts were about religion and politics (the two things you’re not supposed to talk about), so just to make it abundantly clear that I do not shy away from controversy, I figured I’d cover homosexuality next.

First off, just so you all know where I’m coming from, last year I was involved in the original play Seven Passages: The Stories of Gay Christians, which was an incredibly meaningful project for me, so this is a topic I’m very passionate about, and a topic I feel that Christians have dealt with very poorly (I realize this is no surprise).

I’m eventually going to get to my point, but follow me for a little bit.  I’ve mentioned before on this site that I listen to the podcast “Freethought Radio” which is by the “Freedom From Religion Foundation” who’s main mission is to fight for the separation of church and state.  I listen to this because I feel like a lot of their points are very valid, and I even agree with them often.  However, one common frustration I have, not just with the hosts but with their guests is that there’s is a blatant misconception (which Christians themselves are probably to blame for, I realize) that the Bible is a giant rulebook.  When you need to know how to act morally, you simply look up the appropriate verse, and it will tell you how to act.

This is simply not true.  The Bible is a complicated, intricate, sometimes ugly, and sometimes beautiful story.  It doesn’t necessarily imply nor create logic.

If there’s one thing that the postmodern world can appreciate and understand is that truth is an abstract and not a list.  It is not text.  So when intellectual people, who clearly think of truth in a similar postmodern way, analyze the Bible as a document of rules, it’s no wonder that they would come away disgusted.  To think that slavery is not only okay, but subtly encouraged at times.  To think how miserably awful people a lot of the patriarchs were.  And probably the most illogical of all, the sacrifice of a son for people who clearly care nothing for him.

One of my personal favorite stories from the bible is of David and Bathsheba.  Not only did David seduce her because of his own selfish lust, but when he found out she was married, he basically had the husband killed.  This is King David, writer of the psalms!  To think he was actually a human being, and a pretty depraved one.  It makes me think about how depraved I sometimes am, and it gives me comfort to know that God used some very depraved human beings to do some amazing things.  In fact, in reading the Bible, it almost seems like God prefers it that way.

So all of that to say that I think most thinking Christians would agree with me that that’s a common misconception, and one that can grow immensely frustrating.  The Bible is not a rulebook, but a story.

EXCEPT

when it comes to homosexuality.  That’s the one rule we can take and apply today.  There’s a lot of rules in the Bible that don’t really apply today, but are important to understand in context.  Divorce, slavery, heck even makeup, those we can be okay with because the world is a complicated place.  But homosexuality is always wrong in any context.  In fact, it’s still basically the one last acceptable thing to hate.

I’ve had similar conversations in the last several years, but what put this in my mind again was a recent sermon at a church in Chicago I’ve been attending off and on.  It’s a pretty contemporary church (see my post from a couple weeks ago for more on that), and they were doing a series of “Tough Questions” which were from questions submitted by the congregation.  The second week they covered homosexuality, which I wasn’t sure if they would do or not (due to it’s controversy).  I was hopeful, but was unfortunately disappointed.

The main reason for my dissapointment is that I’ve grown tired of the conditional acceptance of the “love the sinner, hate the sin” stance on homosexuality (which is the stance that this church took).  I feel like it’s sort of the Church version of saying “see I’m not racist, I have two black friends.”

Okay, maybe not exactly like that, but the problem I have with it is that most churches that take that sort of stance claim to be accepting.  But that’s not acceptance, it’s conditional acceptance.  The underlying message to that is “you can attend my church, if you’re willing to change at some point.”  Not only is that not accepting, but it’s completely ignorant to the fact that some people simply can’t change that.  I feel it would almost be better to be completely unaccepting of homosexuals than to be conditionally accepting.

Christians need to come to grips with the fact that science, psychology, and popular culture might be right about homosexuality not being a choice.  I won’t deny that some people really really want to change, and some people who go into programs to try to change really do come out changed.  But most do not.  That’s just the facts.  The Church continues to want the world to be black and white, and it just isn’t.

So if even for one sermon we simply assume that even if I believe that it’s a choice or something that can be changed, the people who I’m claiming to be accepting of might not feel that way.  So if I really want to be accepting of them, I have to take another stance than “love the sinner, hate the sin.”  Otherwise, I may as well be saying “we are accepting of Hispanic people, as long as they try to not be Hispanic anymore.”

Now don’t get me wrong, though I may not think homosexuality is wrong, I am in no way saying the Church should take that stance.  I’m instead saying that the Church needs to take a different approach, one that completely focuses on grace and acceptance, and no longer on hating the thing that makes us different.  It’s hard to not compare what’s happening in the church now with homosexuality to race relations in the church 100 years ago.

I can’t help but wonder what if for some reason throughout history homosexuality was welcome overall in society, or something commonplace enough that it just wasn’t a big deal.  But for some reason women didn’t wear makeup out in public historically.  And now there’s women wearing makeup out in public all over the place, and it’s something that the Bible clearly says is sinful, and we can take several different verses out of context to point out how clear the Bible is.

This is simply my opinion, I just want to give you all something to think about.  I could write a lot more about this, but I’ve covered enough for now.  I’m sure several things will come up in comments anyway (in fact, I hope they do).  There is no conditional acceptance of comments from me.  🙂

8 thoughts on “A Christian’s Response to Homosexuality”

  1. I thought you made a good point about the weirdness of separating sinner from sin, and how absurd it seems if you substitute homosexuality with “Hispanic”, or something like that, although I don’t know if you can equivocate the two, logically speaking.

    I just had a big discussion with my sister about this, since she attends a care group led by a gay couple at a church in Denver. I think one of the biggest problems with this whole debate is that for many people, the Bible teaches that homosexuality is a sin, and that’s that, regardless of what science or psychology says about whether it’s predetermined or not.

    To me, that is the crux of the issue: what does the Bible teach about homosexuality? While you’re right that the Bible on the whole is a story more than a rulebook, however, there are some rules that are integral to the story (i.e. the 10 commandments).

    Just some thoughts – I appreciated the thoughtfulness of your post, keep em’ coming!

  2. There are some very good thoughts here, and I appreciate you being willing to share your opinions on some very tough subjects.

    Often I’m very simplistic when it comes to the Bible. I don’t get Revelation. I’ve tried to, but ultimately, in the context of my life, it’s not that important to me. I feel like there are many other areas that I need to continue to work on to be closer to God.

    I don’t pretend to know the answers about how the church should respond to homosexuality. But I do take exception to one of your paragraphs, and this is obviously just my opinion. You said:
    “The underlying message to that is “you can attend my church, if you’re willing to change at some point.””
    I understand the point you’re making, but I believe your argument is flawed in this basic way: God is in the business of change. I think we should expect EVERYONE to change. True worship is about coming into the presence of God, and the Bible is filled with examples of people who come into the presence of God and are changed–often radically–just by being in his presence. The problem comes when we expect others to change while assuming we’re already fine. And I think this is where the church messes up. It should be acceptable for the church to expect changes in people, but for ALL of us–not just one demographic.

    That said, I agree with your theme of grace and acceptance. Those are universal things that should always be a part of any church’s mantra.

  3. That’s a very good point, Dave. I guess the thing I was focusing on was expecting people to change to be like us.

    But you’re right, if there’s not a true change in being a believe in Christ, did anything really happen? There should be a change, but does every homosexual’s change have to be to cease being homosexual, and that would then prove their faith? I guess that’s more what I was trying to say.

    But I do completely agree with you. Good call.

  4. Peter, you do bring up valid points, as I knew you would, but I think we clearly come at it from different angles. As always, I appreciate you never hesitating to butt heads with me, and always appreciate the ways you try to keep me well rounded. I hope I do the same for you.

    However, I feel like I’ve been misunderstood on the Hispanic analogy. I’m not at all suggesting that saying “stop being Hispanic” is the same as “stop being homosexual,” my point was that if you’re preaching to people who feel they have been created homosexual, and you’re telling them to change, you may as well be asking them to stop being Hispanic. That was my point, which is why it was a quick analogy, and not one I tried to use for any length of time in my argument.

    One major thing I left out of this post was talking about homosexual relationships. The common stereotype that a lot of Christians I’ve talked to hold to is that gay people are not into monogamous relationships, and just want to sleep around. I’m paraphrasing, obviously, but the idea of promiscuity being completely part of homosexuality. Now I could go into a lot of depth about why that is, but no one really brings up the idea of committed long term relationships for homosexuals.

    Sexual perversion and adultery is the same whether you’re gay or straight, the key difference in understanding is that in Christianity, all homosexuality gets lumped into perversion, whereas I believe that the same concepts of committed loving relationships apply similarly for same sex couples as they do for heterosexuals. Unfortunately, there really is no way for homosexuals to get married (although thanks to California, that may be changing :-)), so the concept of monogamy is lost, and the very people who criticize homosexuals for promiscuity are the very people who deny them chances at monogamy. Obviously, I recognize you can still have committed relationships without being officially “married”, I hope you get my point.

    I may very well write a whole additional blog post on that.

    And Chris, sorry, I hadn’t really responded to you yet. You’re right that people have been taught that the Bible teaches that homosexuality is wrong, but how exactly does it “teach” that? The Bible teaches a lot of things that can be misconstrued and can be manipulated to all kinds of awful ends (look at the rich history of brutality by Christians). So I just want to challenge what we think of when we talk of the Bible “teaching.” Certain things we very easily say “ah the Bible is clear on this teaching” and other things we say “well let’s look at the culture to understand what this means.”

    Morgan

  5. ‘That’s the one rule we can take and apply today.’

    I think this is where this gets unhinged.

    Having a rule, means ‘an authority’ is stating ‘what is right and wrong’ and instructing people about what they ought to do.

    I keep telling my kids, the great thing with being an adult is we get to make our own choices. Heck. I think God put us on this earth for the express point of all of us having 100% freedom to choose. And that is also why he doesn’t send specific memos to each of us to tell us, “No, don’t do that do this”. It’s our job.

    I agree with Peter. Sin is sin. None worse than the other. Sin separates us from a Holy God, and we’re all messed up: one way or another. So saying homosexuality is worse than other things, or the one specific sin that has a rule is heading down the wrong path.

    We all must be open, self aware, and realize that we’re broken and need God. Then we rely on good friends to dialog with in community as we all make our choices on how to choose God and not choose sin.

    As soon as we brazenly state we know what is right and speak for God I think we’re in trouble.

  6. Totally agree, Bruce! That’s the main point I wan to make is that we need to focus on grace (and community) first and foremost before judgement. I like when you say:

    We all must be open, self aware, and realize that we’re broken and need God. Then we rely on good friends to dialog with in community as we all make our choices on how to choose God and not choose sin.

    I completely agree. We all have our own takes on things, and we all need to allow others to have that as well. Which is why I say even though I may have certain opinions on this, I don’t expect everyone else to. What I do expect is for everyone to assume the position of grace over judgement. Few do (it seems).

    Thanks for your comments Bruce!

    Morgan

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