Posts Tagged ‘homosexuality’

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Truly Unconditional Love

August 19, 2014

Hello friends,

It’s been a while. As in more than 3 years a while. If anyone bothers to visit when I publish this post I’ll be amazed. But I have something to say. I might have several somethings to say, we’ll have to see. Today it comes from the story of Vicky Beeching’s coming out. Yup, I’m going there.

There has been a lot of discussion around this. I think it shakes people in ways other Christians who have come out didn’t because she has been a part of so many different people’s regular worship. And this means that her coming out is personal for a lot of people because worship is so personal for so many people.

The backlash is incredible. So much hate masquerading as concern for her soul, her relationship with God. It hurts me. It hurts me more than if it were directed at me, I think. My cousin, who I will say is a liberal conservative Christian responded to a rather disheartening post with an incredibly profound comment. She said:

         “I have been wrong about so many things i was convinced i was right on in my life. Then i felt like God spoke to me pretty clearly that He really didn’t care too much about all the things i was wrong about, because more than likely, I’m still way off. He told me that He loved that i spent time being with Him and talking to Him; that relationship is the ENTIRE reason he sent Jesus. At this point, I would rather be wrong about what the Bible says on homosexuality, knowing that I have put every ounce of my effort into loving people with no strings attached. So if I felt that God spoke that to me, why would His desire for relationship with Vicky Beeching be any different? I think maybe He is a little less concerned about what she is getting right, and more rejoicing over her continued relationship with Him. I realize many opinions differ from mine, that is just where I am currently at.”

I love this. It’s exactly where I am at, although at the end of the day we may end up with different theologies the premise is identical. I can only speak to the relationship I know I have with God. I value the Bible. I value God’s Word. When I came out to myself, a weird idea to be sure, my relationship with God became stronger, better, more intimate than it had ever been before. I truly believe my realizing I am gay, my accepting my sexuality, was the direct result of God interceding on my behalf. I was blind, I was in such deep denial that he had to push his way through. And when he got through he wrapped me up in such intense love, such insane acceptance, that there wasn’t room for me to doubt myself. There was so much love from God for me that I could not have hated myself, nor could anyone else’s hate pierce that love. 

Over the years I have grown to truly believe that homosexuality does not go against God’s will. But more importantly because of the journey I took I am absolutely, positively, certain that God does not call us to judge for him. Our job, no matter what the “sin” may be, is to love. Love without question. Love without hesitation. Love with everything we have, even if we are utterly convinced that a person is wrong. 

God loves us all. Yes, God desires we grow closer to him. He desires that we do our best to live in such a way that we are living according to his will. But God desires relationship with us above all else. Who am I to judge another person and what relationship they have with God? I cannot know what is going on between you and God. I cannot know how the supposed “sin” in your life is affecting that relationship. It isn’t my place. It’s God’s. This doesn’t mean that we are changing what we view as sin. It doesn’t mean I am compromising on any of the things I believe. It means that I am loving. It means that I am letting God do his job, and I will do mine. It means that I refuse to be the person who tries to get in the way of the relationship another person has with God.

If there is one thing I can ask of a Christian it is this. I don’t ask, nor do I want, you to change your theology. I ask that you trust your relationship with God. I ask that you trust my relationship with God. He’s a good guy. He knows what he’s doing. If someday he convicts me that I am wrong, I hope that I will listen. But until that day I know that he loves and accepts me for who I am. You cannot change this, and I am certain he does not want you to. Love. It isn’t compromising your beliefs, it is trusting your almighty God to do his part and you do yours. 

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Dear Church

October 4, 2010

In the wake of all the tragic deaths of GLBT youth this past week I think now more than ever the church needs to wake up and realize that it is not living up to it’s responsibility as the body of Christ, and until the church is willing to let go of always having the answers and always being right and always judging and expecting people to change and conform to it’s culture we will not be able to be effective witnesses of God’s love. Here is my contribution to the conversation. I wrote this letter to the church in October 2009 although I only actually delivered it in June along with my resignation, I feel the church must respond to the sentiments of this letter if we want to have any part in helping bring such tragic death to an end.

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Dear Church,

I am a 25 year old Christian woman. I was baptized two months after I was born and have been regularly attending church since. In high school I made Profession of Faith and officially became a member of the church. I spent two summers working at a Christian camp and attended a Christian college. I am now working in the church. But I have a problem with you, church. I cannot bring my biggest question, my greatest insecurity, to you. I cannot do this for many reasons. First, I would be unfairly judged. Second, I would lose my job. Yes, it’s true. I’m keeping a secret from you church that would cost me my job. You see church, I am gay.

You might not be willing to continue to read this letter after seeing that. I am a gay woman leading in your church. But to be honest, being gay is not my problem. My problem is that I cannot seek help or guidance or wisdom from you as I deal with this. Officially you say it’s okay that I am gay. I mean, I can never act gay; I can never have a relationship or a family. But it’s okay that I’m gay -officially.  But we both know this is not really the way you see it.

Unofficially to be gay is at the top of the list of things that prove you are not a Christian; because you cannot be a Christian and be gay. It just doesn’t work. That’s what you’re thinking right now, isn’t it? Well let me tell you church, you are wrong. I am a Christian and I am gay. I didn’t choose to be gay. And for years I have ignored and denied that I am gay. But I can no longer lie to myself. And yet, I’m not really gay by gay standards either. I’ve never kissed another woman; I’ve definitely never had sex with one. I’ve never had a date with a woman even. But I am sure that I am gay.

And so here I sit desperate to talk to someone about this; desperate to be able to talk about this reality without being judged. Desperate to talk about this from a biblical perspective and try to work through what is and what is not biblical. Because let’s face it – churches are changing their opinion every day. Some believe it’s perfectly okay to be gay and will even ordain gay people. Others believe that even having gay urges and desires means you are not a Christian. So which is correct?

More than anything in the world I want to have a relationship with the Lord; a relationship that makes everything else secondary. I want to hear God speak to me. I want to be honest with God about who I am and what I’m feeling. I want to know what God desires for me. I want to know that who I am is who God wants me to be. And I’ve thought I could work this out on my own. But I cannot. I need the community of believers to come along side me as I try to understand what this means. As I wrestle with questions that I cannot answer on my own.

Why am I gay? Is God okay with me being gay? Am I destined to be single forever because I am gay? Is it okay to have a gay relationship? What does the Bible really say about being gay? Is being gay a sin or not?

I can’t answer these on my own. But church you have done such a good job of making sure no sin filled gay person feels comfortable admitting their sexuality, if they bother to stick around, that I cannot bring these to you either. 

So I question and wrestle with these things alone. And I realize with every day that passes that I come closer to leaving you behind church- because you are not helping me. Every day I realize that I will go where I can find answers. Every day I take a step further from your door and the comfort of your community. Because I know that unless you change you will hurt me. When I need you the most you will turn your back. When I finally cannot go on alone anymore you will shun me. I will no longer be welcome. And this terrifies me. I want to be a part of you church. But I cannot be a part of you if you will not accept me.

I am not a seeker. I am not a lost soul. I am not someone who needs to be saved. I am a Christian. I love God; I have given my life to him. I seek every day to follow in the steps of Jesus. I do my devotions. I pray. I serve. I tithe. I am just like you church. And I am gay. I do not believe these to be mutually exclusive, but I do not think you agree. So church I am asking you for just one thing. Acceptance.

Walk with me as I work through what this means. Don’t try to change me, but don’t let me stay where I am. Don’t alienate me because I am gay. Walk this path with me. Allow me to be part of the community of believers without first expecting me to become something I am not.

Because church, if you cannot do this, I will leave. It will break my heart and it will tear me apart. But I cannot live in false community. I cannot pretend to be something I am not. God demands honesty and I am tired of pretending. I will not leave God. I will not leave my faith behind. But church, if you cannot help me and support me then I will go somewhere that can. I will find a community that will help me if you will not. But church, it’s your job to be that community. So I am asking you first. Are you willing to become uncomfortable with me? Are you willing to journey alongside me? Or do I need to find someplace else? I love you church, please don’t make me leave.

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Judge and Jury

April 21, 2010

If your church is anything like mine you probably have a couple members of the church who stand at the doors and greet people as they walk in. Usually it’s just a simple “Good Morning” and a hand shake. If it’s a new person they probably say “Welcome”. Sometimes it’s a bit more. I think it’s a good gesture, a way of tangibly welcoming people new and old to the church. But I think it’s also a lie.

I think a more honest “greeting” would be, “Welcome to my church, assuming you agree to believe what I believe, follow the rules- written and unwritten- that I follow, act in a way that doesn’t make me uncomfortable, and never commit any ‘big sin'”. This may seem cynical, but I don’t believe it is untrue at all.

Jennifer Knapp came out last week and the responses from Christians who have responded have been largely judgmental and condemning. We seem to believe that it is our duty to determine who is and who is not going to heaven (news flash: God is the only one qualified and authorized to make this decision). I use Jennifer Knapp as an example because it is recent and many of you have probably already heard about it. But what about the guy who goes to your church and one day makes the decision to admit that he is gay? Or the woman who bravely steps forward and shares that tomorrow she is getting an abortion and would appreciate your prayers? How do we respond to these people? How should we respond to them?

I think that churches are starting to recognize that we are not responding appropriately to these situations. I think there is a shift that people in the church now think we need to accept women who are going to have an abortion or gay people or alcoholics or prostitutes. But the mentality is completely wrong. When I talk to people in my church about this they are all gung-ho about welcoming these people but they always say “we’ll love them so we can change them and make them Christians”. This is also not our job. That is another thing that only God is qualified to do, and if he chooses to use us that’s great, but it isn’t my job or yours to make someone a Christian. Also, loving someone so that they will change is not truly loving them.

Often I have heard the argument that Jesus didn’t allow people to stay the way they were. And while I agree with that I don’t think Jesus every required that someone change before joining him. It was through their relationship with him that they changed, not because he expected it of them but because they made the decision because of the relationship. We seem to lose sight of the fact that he unconditionally accepted an anointing- a religious practice- from a prostitute. Or that Jesus chose to forgive the woman caught in adultery and THEN told her to go and leave her life of sin, not the other way around. What about the guys Jesus called to follow him? There were no pre-requisites but that they follow. And clearly their transformations all occurred at different times and in different ways. They grew and were transformed because of the genuine relationship. Jesus did not associate with them in order to make them change, he knew that the message he had to share, the person he was and the God he was introducing them to would take care of that. And he’s God, he could have demanded these things but he didn’t.

So why do we think it’s our job to decide who is and who isn’t a Christian? Just because our understanding of the Bible says it’s a sin doesn’t mean we are right. And even if we are, isn’t it our job to love people and let God take care of the rest? Honestly, if we don’t stop acting as judge and jury to the world’s “sinners” we are going to run out of people to judge because there won’t be anyone left that will ever qualify to be a part of our “elite community” that certainly cannot be called church anymore. In fact, it may be far more accurate to call ourselves Sodom.

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Honoring all life

January 24, 2010

A friend of mine and I have been talking about homosexuality a lot. She is not a Christian and she is majoring in some field relating to GLBT rights. She is not gay, but I know for her that is not relevant when we are talking about this issue.

Today is Sanctity of Life Sunday. It’s a day when we take time to focus especially on life and fighting to protect it. During our service we spoke a contemporary confession about our responsibilities to value life in all stages. During the sermon (which was on blessing others) one of the points was that we bless others by giving them value above ourselves, not in a way that demeans us, but in a way that honors them. We say we are a 9.8 and they are a 9.9 sort of thing.

During the entire service I couldn’t stop thinking about how we treat GLBT people. I don’t think we honor their life, I know that the majority of Christians do not give them a higher value than ourselves. I know it’s not the point of the day, but to me, refusing to show any person- whether because of sexual orientation, past mistakes, current mistakes, skin color, social standing, disability, age, whatever- respect and honor is not valuing life.

In the church this is one of those topics that seems to either be all or nothing. Either your church focuses intently on homosexuality, either for or against it, or you don’t talk about it at all. But the underlying message in most of these churches is that homosexuality is a sin. I don’t know if it is a sin or not to be homosexual.

I used to think the Bible was really clear on it, but since spending time reading and studying and looking at both sides of the argument I am not so sure. Personally, I still lean toward the homosexuality is a sin side, but I am not fully convinced of these arguments at all. But I don’t think that’s the point.

It’s not my job to judge what God deems sin and what is not sin. My job, my Christian duty, is to walk with God, to know what God has told me is okay for me, to share the love of God with everyone in a NON-JUDGMENTAL loving way, and to walk alongside them as they work through what it means in their life to love God and be a Christian.

Not that long ago I believed that homosexuality was a sin. I believed that we should not allow gay marriage. I thought we should not allow practicing homosexuals to serve in leadership positions in the church. I’m not saying I totally support all of these things, but I am open to them now. Now if I am ever put in a position to do so, I will support gay marriage in the secular realm. When I meet a GLBT person I will not automatically judge them to be living in sin. If there is ever a person who is in every other way qualified to be a leader in the church and also is homosexual I think I would be okay with that.

I am a sinner. You are a sinner. Our sin may not be as obvious, but until God convicts a GLBT person of living in sin I do not believe that I have any right to judge them for it.

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The Manhattan Declaration

December 1, 2009

Religious leaders from many different denominations have joined together to create and sign the “Manhattan Declaration”. Perhaps you’ve heard of it? A little over a week ago it was released, at least that is my understanding. The declaration covers three specific areas: sanctity of life, marriage, and religious liberty. It’s a well written document, and so far about a quarter of a million people have “signed” their name to it.

 “Like those who have gone before us in the faith, Christians today are called to proclaim the Gospel of costly grace, to protect the intrinsic dignity of the human person and to stand for the common good. In being true to its own calling, the call to discipleship, the church through service to others can make a profound contribution to the public good.”  (Manhattan Declaration) I fully agree with this, and through the reading of this document believe the writers truly believe this, but there are still issues.

First, I applaud the writers for acknowledging the failure of the church to uphold the institution of marriage. That is something that is too often ignored, and admitting our failing in that area is important. They continue saying “We must work…to instill in young people a sound understanding of what marriage is, what it requires, and why it is worth the commitment and sacrifices that faithful spouses make”. I also appreciate that the writers have recognized that there are Christians who have a differing view on marriage from theirs, and they are respectful of that position, at least in the declaration. It wasn’t until a little ways into this part on marriage that I ran into a real issue. It’s an issue that people just don’t seem to grasp: you cannot say a homosexual disposition is acceptable but the action is not. It doesn’t work. You don’t say having a desire to murder someone is okay as long as you don’t. I also feel that the writers have done an excellent job of arguing for marriage in society but their argument also seems to suggest that we should not allow adults to remain single because so much of it is based upon the societal benefits of married people. Biological arguments are pretty status-quo as well, but the thing that irritates me is that they use vague scripture to support this. Finally, I have a huge issue with the writers calling the desire for homosexual marriage a “fashionable ideology” because this is a base human desire, as established by the writers of this declaration and while some may same that the same-sex aspect is just fashionable, I do not think that homosexual’s desiring marriage would in any way agree.

 I appreciate the attempts made in writing this declaration. I appreciate that the writers have done their best to stand firmly in their convictions and beliefs but yet don’t fall hard on those of differing views but I’m still not sure what I think overall. What do you think of the Manhattan Declaration?

 

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A Response

January 6, 2009

I just finished reading an article on homosexuality that I’ve had bookmarked for a couple of weeks but haven’t taken the time to read until today. It’s from Newsweek’s Dec. 15 issue and argues that Christians cannot base arguments about homosexual marriage based on the biblical teachings. Go here to read it.  Having no other effective space to respond to this article, and feeling a need to respond, I am going to do so here.

First of all, I don’t feel this article really presents too much of a challenge to the majority of Christian’s biblically based arguments. Most Christians would respond to critiques such as not wanting our modern marriages to look like those of Moses and Abraham by arguing cultural relevance and how some aspects of their marriages were culturally based while other aspects are not. At least, that is probably how I would choose to go about it.

I love that the author draws on the point that the Bible is a living document and that is why it has remained relevant for more than 2000 years. That is so true, but they immediately follow that with a comment about how looking at it in this light we have no reason against gay marriage from the Bible and many reasons why it should be allowed. I disagree. When the Bible says something, culture must be taken into consideration, but I believe that the truth is still in it. I’m not going to go into this more because that would be entirely too long.

One of the “random” thoughts thrown out by the author is that Paul was much more focused on people not getting divorced than on gay marriage. In America today about half of our population- Christian or not- disregards this teaching which the author goes on to suggest we might as well disregard the teachings on homosexuality as well. No. We need to pay more attention to the teachings on divorce, but just because I already took a cookie without asking doesn’t mean I should just help myself to a glass of milk as well. One wrong doesn’t mean we should go ahead and do something else that’s wrong.

There is so much more, but my diatribe is already plenty lengthy and not anything most people wouldn’t say. But I have to end with two final thoughts.

First, “The practice of inclusion, even in defiance of social convention, the reaching out to outcast, the emphasis on togetherness and community over and against chaos, depravity, indifference-all these biblical values argue for gay marriage”- all these biblical values argue for unconditional loving acceptance of gay people, and alcoholics, and prostitutes. This doesn’t mean that we should encourage and support alcoholics as they continue in their ways, or support prostitutes by using their services. It also doesn’t mean we should accept gay marriage.

“Should gay people be married in the same, sacramental sense that straight people are…to deny access to any sacrament based on sexuality is exactly the same thing as denying it based on skin color…” Different colors of skin are not a result of the fall. However, whether you argue for genetics or not, I would argue homosexuality is. But, this was perhaps the only part that really made me stop and wonder, and I continue to wonder, how do we decide who has a right to participate in the different sacraments? We are all conciously living in sin despite our best efforts, part of participation in the sacraments is a recognition of this fact.

Finally, I just finished reading a book called “Real Sex” by Lauren Winner in which she talks a fair amount about how sex- the physical act- is part of the every day life, the cooking and cleaning and going to work and school and sharing life together. So when I read the statement that what happens in the bedroom really has nothing to do with the rest of a person’s relationship I was bothered, because Winner’s argument won me over, it is intricately tied up with day to day life. It is formed by and informs every part of the relationship. And so, if that’s the best argument you can come up with, I think you need to try harder.

“…If Jesus were alive today, he would reach out especially to the gays and lesbians among us…” Amen. Let us also reach out in true love. Of course, I don’t know what that means as far as gay marriage is concerned. Do you?

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Closed Borders

November 14, 2008

America is a country of immigrants. The only people who can say they are not immigrants are Native Americans, and they are a distinct minority in the U.S. now. So why is it that we are so strongly against letting people in? Are we afraid of losing jobs? Are we worried that by letting more people in we lessen our value as an American? Have we actually become so elitist that we think we have a right to be here, but the woman fleeing the middle east because she has no rights and no freedoms doesn’t? I wonder what would happen if anyone could come to America and live with our freedoms. What if the only thing required to live in America was an agreement to the rules and regulations of America- you pay taxes, you follow the same laws, and you can live in America. People argue a lot of legitimate reasons to not do this, but isn’t this what America is all about?

Why are we so closed off in the church? Aren’t we all sinners saved by God? The only person who had a right to judge was Jesus, and he chose to spend his time with the scum of his time- prostitutes, tax collectors, lepers, beggars, lowly workers. I wonder what would happen if the church threw open it’s doors welcoming in everyone- alcoholics, porn addicts, homosexuals, abortionists, prostitutes, drug addicts, beggars, etc.  Preaching and teaching the Word, the Truth, but not judging those walking through the doors. I understand the arguments- what if these people cause us to sin? what if the prostitute distracts the good Christian man from his worship? what if we start to see these “sinners” as people like us? What if the only thing required to be a part of the church was a desire to be? How might we see God move among us in new and powerful ways? What could possibly happen that would make it not worth the risk? Who are we to keep these people out? What will it take for us to change?