the sacrifices we make, the losses we endure

the sacrifices we make, the losses we endure

Spring and fall are arguably the seasons when I feel the most in tune with my creative and spiritual energy, and this spring, I've been thinking quite a bit about the cycle of seasons and all the metaphorical wisdom there.

Around March and April is when spring typically starts to roll around in the Northern Hemisphere, and spring always brings to mind several different interrelated ideas. Renewal. Revival. Rebirth. Regrowth. Resurrection. And if you notice, all those words have that prefix re- attached to the front (sorry, everyone, this is where my inner linguist comes out), which tells you that it's a return to something, a going back to a previous state. But the underlying connotation there is that there was a departure from that previous state first, and in all those words, the implication is that there was some form of destruction or deterioration or death.  And as with the seasons, I think this same cycle tends to play out in the lives of queer people as we come into our own. I think many of us tend to wade through a season of sacrifice and loss prior to finding renewal and regrowth. 

e p i d e m i c

This is the response post I promised to the post I just reblogged entitled, The New Club in Town... I had to tell myself to take a deep breath and really analyze what I was going to write about this post before I hit the 'reblog' button. Impulse decisions are something that I have a problem with sometimes, but I've been trying to work on that. Anyway, let me just start by saying that this post makes me very, very sad. However, it also spurs many thoughts that I want to share with you. I guess what I want to say right at the start is that to me, this really is personal, and not in the self-deprecating way that the author may have used that phrase. This truly is personal to me. I have read many articles like this, and nothing good comes out of them, unless, of course, you consider gay teens struggling with how their identity and faith fit together committing suicide or falling into deep depression count. Like last time, I truly believe that the authors of articles like these have the best intentions, but the results don't always line up. Let me unpack what I think about this post and why it's a dangerous way to think and to teach.

Firstly, while I do hold to the inerrancy of Scripture and the belief that the Bible is indeed timeless and meant to apply to every generation everywhere around the world, I do cringe a little bit every time I see someone use one of the so-called "clobber passages" as their defense for what is at the core, homophobia. It makes me sad, because what ends up happening is not a loving interpretation of the Scriptures, but rather a cherry-picking of specific parts of Scripture in order to back-up whatever church cultural topic is popular to take down at the time.

My problem with this specific verse that the author quoted is that the same verse also happens to touch on several other categories of people that many commentators don't seem to care about, simply because they're so focused on tearing down gay people. For example, the verse also happens to note that neither "the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality" will inherit the Kingdom of God. Now, I don't really know about you, but I'm sure that there are many more of us who could be considered idolaters, simply because all that means is that something else in your life takes a higher place in your heart than God. I'm certain that happens to almost anyone on a daily basis. In my opinion, the church as a whole has made an idol out of the sacrament of marriage, but that's a discussion for a separate post... And this verse also states that adulterers will not inherit the kingdom of God either. Where is the rage in the church about that? Where is the outcry from the masses? If I don't recall, Jesus Himself said something about adultery in Matthew 19 (just as a sidenote, I like to include the fact that Jesus did not once speak directly about homosexuality, but again, a topic for another post).

"Jesus replied, 'Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery." (Matthew 19:8-9 NIV).

Notice how Jesus did not make any exceptions for "irreconcilable differences" or any other reasons that people (many Christians) might put down on divorce papers. Right there, I think that several more Christians today would be in the hot seat next to all of the homosexuals that people are insistent on tearing down for simply being who they are.

Next, I'm going to completely disagree and say that homosexuality is NOT a sin, hands down. I'm not really sure what tends to come to mind when people hear the words "gay" or "homosexuality," but I feel like it must conjure up images of dozens of people engaged in group orgies or something of that nature, judging by the harsh outcry every time anything related to those topics is brought up. However, especially for many Christians, that is not exactly what homosexuality and being gay entail. For many Christians who are gay or struggle with same-sex attraction, homosexuality is just another word for the natural attractions that they experience. Almost all of them would attest to the fact that it is not something that they chose for themselves, because many would agree and some have personally told me that if they could, they would change their attractions. Why would someone, especially a Christian, choose to be attracted to the same sex when there’s already so much backlash? For this reason, along with what it says in Leviticus, another one of the “clobber passages,” I don’t believe that homosexuality, or rather, being gay, is a sin in and of itself. It certainly is a very strong temptation that very rarely, if ever, goes away, but I do not believe that we can tell these people that they are constantly living in perpetual sin every moment that they are conscious. All it says in Leviticus is this:

“Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.” (Leviticus 18:22 NIV).

As harsh as that is, it is not condemning homosexuality broadly as a category. This verse from the Old Testament solely condemns homosexual sex. That is far, far different from simply experiencing same-sex attractions. Yes, like I said, it is a constant temptation and a constant struggle. Yes, lust is still a sin for those who identify as gay, but I do not believe that simply being attracted to people of the same gender is a sin in and of itself.

What this author is suggesting about the connection between homosexuality, attraction, and lust is a dangerous path of logic, because it would also condemn many straight people in the same way. If attraction causes one to lust, then I think that what this author is saying would apply across the board to EVERY SINGLE PERSON on the planet, because straight people also happen to be attracted to other straight people, and I'm sure that many of those straight, Christian people have also lusted before. I'm not saying that lust is not a sin. It definitely is. But the conclusions that this author is drawing about the implications for people who identify as gay seem to be extremely one sided, especially because the meaning of "men who practice homosexuality" is such a vague statement that I think it is impossible to draw concrete conclusions from the verse that the author quoted alone.

Also, the statement about what people who advocate for same-sex relationships want to do to the church could not be more wrong. "All they wish to do is compromise beliefs and drive the church away from Biblical marriage"? Really? Last I checked, neither myself, nor any of my gay friends was planning on destroying or taking down the institution of marriage. I think that statement is pure opinion that does not reflect at all what gay people, especially gay Christians believe. I'm still trying to figure out my own personal beliefs on this topic, but for the people that do support same-sex marriage, all they want is equality. They don't want to drive people away from marriage. They just want to be able to do the same thing that everyone else is doing.

Finally, I do agree that the world has been turning more toward creating their own moral standards, but honestly, that's been occurring since the middle of the 18th century when the Enlightenment started. Immanuel Kant was the one to say "have the courage to use your own reason." So, inventing your own moral compass is not a new thing that has just happened along with the "rise of homosexuality" as a threat to the church and the institution of marriage. It's been happening in the realm of philosophy since basically the founding of our country. While I don't think that is right, and I believe that, as Christians, we are to use the Bible as our sole moral compass, I don't like how this author seems to be blaming gay people and homosexuality for that decline. It's simply not true.

Lastly, it honestly breaks my heart to hear this author call being gay a "disease." Can you imagine actually going up to a person and calling them a disease to their face? I don't think I could do that. I wouldn't do it to torturers or rapists or murderers in prison, and I certainly wouldn't call those who happen to be attracted to same gender people that. This veers, again, into the territory of treating people like a stack of problems to deal with rather than people.

This author stated at the very end of his post that, "if we lose our foundation, the Bible, then we lose everything." I agree with that. I also agree with the idea that we are supposed to be emulating Jesus. Jesus very rarely condemned sinners. Remember the woman caught in adultery? Jesus didn't tell her that she was going to burn in hell. Instead, he dispersed the Pharisees who were condemning her and told her that He didn't either.

What Jesus taught and lived was a life of radical love to the outcasts. In my opinion, gay people are the outcasts of today. Much of Christian society wants nothing to do with them, because they are "a symptom of the increase of man rejecting the basis of the Bible" or something else along those lines. Gay people often feel unwelcome in churches and constantly feel judged by Christians. But that isn't what we have been called to. We have to remember that it isn't our responsibility to change people's beliefs or to convince them that the lifestyle that they're living is wrong. All we're supposed to do is tell them the Gospel, and the Gospel says that Jesus died on the cross, in their place, for their sins and that no sin is too great or too dark for the blood of Christ to wash away. The fire and brimstone talk is meaningless. That doesn't change people or save people. It might scare them, scare them away. And that isn't what we've been called to. We've been called to love. And God will take care of the rest.

So remember that our mission is to spread the Gospel, not the fire and brimstone talk. The Gospel is a message of love and that's what we're supposed to do. Love. So never forget that Jesus loves you and that nothing can separate you from His love.

"Is Being Gay a Sin?"

This article articulates a lot of the different things that I believe and many of my own perspectives and experiences in dealing with this issue. Yes, this article was also written by a straight, married professor/pastor, but he nails a lot of the things that he's talking about. http://andygill.org/is-being-gay-a-sin/