The following post was written by Nathan Albert, Director of Pastoral Care at The Marin Foundation for the Sex and the Soul Blogathon that is currently underway. Head on over to their website to check out the posts for the first three days.
I do not think that “Gay Christian” is an oxymoron. I do, however, think there are other adjectives being put before Christian that create an oxymoronic term. “Greedy Christian,” “Judgmental Christian,” “Hateful Christian,” “Violent Christian,” Graceless Christian” are a few that come to mind. But not “Gay Christian.”
Lately, I have been questioning if putting any adjective before the word Christian is such a good idea. The wise and late Michael Spencer, aka the Internet Monk, thinks that sticking so many adjectives in front of the word Christian has, in actuality, forced the term to lose some of its meaning. Being a Christian for him means knowing God as the Father through his Son, Jesus; experiencing forgiveness and a right relationship with God; following the way of Jesus in a community; and participating in the mission and life of the Kingdom of God throughout the world. (For more, see his Mere Churchianity).
I think I believe with the Internet Monk on this one. Regardless of our orientation, if you believe the above, I’m pretty sure you can call yourself a Christian. It seems that if our identity is Christ, we should not be modifying it with any adjectives. Christ is our all in all. Because of Christ, I have decided to make my own life Christ-like, as flawed as I am. It seems odd to me, though, that some people believe that being gay can discredit a belief in God.
Too often, the Christian community overly sexualizes the term gay. As soon as one hears the term, the often-immediate response is thoughts of two people of the same sex having sexual relations. But that shouldn’t be the case. It needs to stop. It’s dehumanizing. Just because one identifies as gay does not mean they are sexually promiscuous. They might be, sure, but I know countless heterosexual Christians that seem to enjoy sleeping around even though they “preach” sexual purity.
I have a good friend with whom I attended seminary. He is one of the most knowledgeable Christians I know, from his actions and life I learn about God. His preaching is amazing. He loves the Lord and I know that the Holy Spirit dwells within him. He loves hymns. He knows Scripture. He is humble, kind, loving, patient, gracious, and gentle. He loves communion and was baptized and confirmed into the Church. He is also gay.
What is so interesting is that he is more sexually pure than I am, a heterosexual Christian. I do not even think he has held hands with another male. Although gay, he is currently celibate and abstinent. Yet, because he identifies as gay, he will be shunned, people will question if he actually is a Christian, he may not be able to pastor, it is assumed he isn’t sexually pure, among other things. However, if as a heterosexual pastor I become addicted to porn or am sexually promiscuous, I will most likely be allowed to continue my pastorate; with some accountability, repentance, and perhaps counseling all will be considered fine. Most churches will hire me, a heterosexual Christian with some past sexual promiscuity, over him, a sexually pure gay Christian. This doesn’t make sense. This just might be hypocrisy.
I am convinced that all Christians, regardless of our sexual orientation, must pursue a “holy-sexuality.” (This language comes from Christopher Yuan). That means we pursue holiness in all aspects of our life. Therefore, it’s not about heterosexuality or homosexuality, but instead “holy-sexuality.”
If we are single, we keep our thought life pure and pursue holiness. We decide that countless sexual partners may not be what God has intended. We work to stop lusting after and objectify other people. If we are in a relationship, we continue to pursue holiness and purity. We work for the edification of our partner. We put them before ourselves, we love self-sacrificially, we keep our thought life pure, we encourage them, we pray for them, and we love them as Christ does.
So if you are a Christian, regardless of your orientation, pursue holiness. Be holy like God is holy. Don’t be holy because I told you or a pastor says so, but seek holiness because of what God has done for us through Christ. For there is nothing we have done that will make God love us less and there is nothing that we will do that will make God love us more. Even though we are more jacked up and sinful than we ever imagined, in Christ, we are more accepted, loved, and cherished than we ever hoped at the same time. That is why I pursue holiness.