Regardless of Your Orientation, Seek Holiness

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.

Is there a place for him in the Church?  I sure hope so.  The Church would be missing out on an amazing Christian man if he weren’t allowed to belong.

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.

Much love.

www.themarinfoundation.org

About Andrew Marin

Andrew Marin is President and Founder of The Marin Foundation (www.themarinfoundation.org). He is author of the award winning book Love Is an Orientation (2009), its interactive DVD curriculum (2011), and recently an academic ebook titled Our Last Option: How a New Approach to Civility can Save the Public Square (2013). Andrew is a regular contributor to a variety of media outlets and frequently lectures at universities around the world. Since 2010 Andrew has been asked by the United Nations to advise their various agencies on issues of bridging opposing worldviews, civic engagement, and theological aspects of reconciliation. For twelve years he lived in the LGBT Boystown neighborhood of Chicago, and is currently based St. Andrews, Scotland, where he is teaching and researching at the University of St. Andrews earning his PhD in Constructive Theology with a focus on the Theology of Culture. Andrew's research centers on the cultural, political, and religious dynamics of reconciliation. Andrew is married to Brenda, and you can find him elsewhere on Twitter (@Andrew_Marin), Facebook (AndrewMarin01), and Instagram (@andrewmarin1).

  • http://immersionblogapy.blogspot.com lori

    One of the most beautiful posts on the subject that I’ve read in awhile. Thank you :)

  • Kayla

    This is awesome.

  • Nate

    This is a brilliant blog entry. I think one of the saddest things in life are the labels that so many people attach to themselves or others which are supposed to identify them – however all they do is allow us to overlay our own understanding, which is often blinkered and coloured by our own upbringing and culture and does nothing to allow us to see what we really have in front of us – a person made in the image of God. Someone recently attempted to label me as a Gay Christian and in response I simply said I am not a Gay Christian I am a Christian. My identity is now in Christ. The old has gone and the new has come. That is one label I am happy with :)

  • Debbie Thurman

    Interestingly, as I was writing something earlier today, the concept of “gay Christian” being an oxymoron flashed across my mind. I am sure many Christians who are gay or struggling with same-sex attractions far prefer, as Nate said, to simply be called Christians. And so they should be called.

    I think both Christian hypocrisy and gay pride are two things we’d be better off jettisoning. Holiness covers both, doesn’t it? We all wrestle with something that would come between us and Christ if sin had its way.

    Just want to say a bit about this sentence: “It seems odd to me, though, that some people believe that being gay can discredit a belief in God.”

    I don’t think it is a belief in God that they feel is being discredited when a Christian also identities as gay. Even the devil believes. The area of contention is in what constitutes sinfulness, and therefore negates holiness, grieves the Spirit and short-circuits one’s relationship with Christ. If a gay identity — or any identity — supplants one’s identity in Christ (i.e., being crucified with him and resurrected to new life), it is wrong.

    How do we invalidate the belief that homosexuality may be something one has to crucify in order to attain holiness? What about those of us who have done that very thing? We can’t judge our gay brothers and sisters. But what do they say to us?

    I’ve said this before, but what if the struggle is God’s way of drawing us closer to Him? Why do we see other struggles in that light, but not this one? What if we can only identity with Christ in this struggle by crucifying our same-sex thoughts and desires? Can homosexuality be holy and pure? How can we know that it is? Why do we have to be afraid of Christ’s wounding of us? (“Faithful are the wounds of a friend”). What if we are standing between a struggling sinner and what God wants to do in his life? Can we stand back and allow him to be hurt for his own sake?

    I am speaking here only of God’s dealings with a person who has been through a conversion experience or says he is a believer, not of his fellow man’s or the Church’s dealings with him. That’s another matter. Salvation and sanctification come through the one while harm may come through the other.

    Grace and truth make up a hard road. But they are not an oxymoron when used together. Christ is grace and truth personified.

    • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

      “We can’t judge our gay brothers and sisters. But what do they say to us?” –> Most of us wish you well with your various endeavors.

      • Debbie Thurman

        Thank you.

  • steve s

    I like Debbie’s way of making her points.

    Because some sins are “winked at” by some churches it still does not negate what God’s Law says. But I am confused. It seems that “Gay-Christian” is not an oxy-moron but “Greedy-Hateful-etc Christian” is. Are you saying praticing homosexuality is not sin?

    Anyhow… I do not think that there is a sin listed in Romans 1-2 that I have not seen within me. I stuggle everyday with stuff. Some sexual and some anger and some pride and… every day. So I could be called a blank-blank-blank-blank Christian but what’s the point? Paul simple says that he’s a sinner and perhaps we just don’t see the depth of what that means. Sure he speaks of some things he did in the past to show how he is convinced Jesus is Lord but I don’t think I recall him using it as a way to define himself. Maybe I am wrong. Does seem to use it as, “and so there is hope for you too”.

    To add to Debbie’s comment specifically about “what if the struggle is God’s way of drawing us closer to Him”? It does seem Romans 1 says that God “gives us over” to do certain things and I think that it is to get us to wake up to the deeper problem we have: an evil, unthankful, unbelieving heart.

    Now why do some of these things stick with us after we come to faith in Christ? I don’t know. But over time I have seen some things weaken a little in my life. Not that they couldn’t be there again big time in a flash. And I am learning not to trust some “improvement” as a marker of “spiritual maturity”. I think that it has been psychology (having been abused as a child really put some weird ways of reacting to life in me) that has been the help in behavioral changes. But not the Gospel in particular (although the pyschological resources that I have used have nothing contrary to the Gospel in them).

    Well that some thoughts.

    • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

      Homosexuality is a sexual orientation. Same as heterosexuality. It’s what we do with it that’s sinful or not. But being gay is not sinful.

      • Debbie Thurman

        If “being gay” means being attracted predominantly to one’s own sex, then I agree with you, Jon, and this view should be axiomatic within the Church. If being gay means affirming in oneself and wanting to have affirmed by others that homosexual desires are acceptable to God and may be acted upon with impunity, then we will have a point of disagreement.

        • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

          The Church is filled with people who disagree on various points. We’re still brothers and sisters in Christ, regardless.

          • Debbie Thurman

            Yes, we are, Jon. With “sibling rivalry” at times. :)

            There will always be disagreements on doctrine and scriptural interpretation. Some of these really don’t matter in the big picture. Some do. It’s not the man vs. man disagreements that are a concern, but rather the man vs. God ones. This topic of holiness is a heavy one, to be sure.

            I undertook a bit of Bible study early this morning after I first read your comment above. When you take the Scriptures in their entire context, from beginning to end, you get a lovely picture of what obedience to and relationship with God looks like and why going one’s own way (eschewing holiness) is not a wise thing to do if we want to be fellow kingdom heirs with Christ.

            I looked at the concept of hardened hearts in my study time. The Spirit just seemed to be leading me there. I hope you all don’t mind my sharing some thoughts on this.

            Does God still allow hearts to be hardened, as the Scriptures speak so clearly to? Why would He not? Jesus referred back to a key prophesy from Isaiah 6:9-10 in all four Gospels. God told Isaiah, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive; keep on looking, but do not understand. Render the hearts of this people insensitive, their ears dull, and their eyes dim, Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and return and be healed.’”

            Check it out. This same prophecy is addressed by Jesus in Matt. 13:15, Mark 4:12, Luke 8:10 and John 12:40. He was telling the people they were the fulfillment of the prophesy. He used future tense, which is interesting. That implies the prophesy would continue to be (is still being) fulfilled. Paul is all over this prophesy in Romans 9-11 and Acts 28:26-27. Moses speaks to the prophesy when he addresses the Israelites near the end of their 40 years of wandering in the desert (Deut. 29:3-4).

            Something that is so prevalent throughout the Bible has to be pretty important, wouldn’t you say? Can we say with assurance that the prophesy only applies to Israel? If the hearts of God’s own chosen people could so readily be hardened, what does that say about the rest of us?

            We are covered by Jesus’ intercessory prayer in John 17 to the Father: “I do not ask in behalf of these alone (i.e., his disciples or those who were given to him to safeguard while he was in the world), but for those who also believe in me through their word” (John 17:20). That’s us in this generation.

            Reading the Gospels and the epistles in the New Testament can leave us with no other conclusion but that we have been given the sacred (holy) assurance of rendering sin powerless, if we will accept redemption and let it soak into our lives.

            What does that mean for the drama represented by the struggle with homosexuality playing out in the world today? Gays struggle within themselves (we all do). They wrestle with the Church, both the true Church and the hypocritical one. The Church wrestles with them, and with how their sins (setting their sexuality or identity uniqueness on a higher plain) can possibly be said to rise to some holy place when other sins or self-centered identities cannot.

            What can make peace between these warring elements? Only loving God and one another can do that. 1 Peter 4:8 is a great verse, and it covers us all. A few verses later, Peter is talking about judgment beginning with the household of God.

            How many within that household have hardened hearts? How many are reprobates who have been cut loose by God and how many are prodigals, with reconciliation awaiting them still? God knows, and He is at work through this very drama to bring His own to Himself. I am content to let him do just that. It’s not my light to shine.

            Jon, I’d be curious as to whether or not you know of any essays that have been written by any deeply searching Christian gay people that might address their take on holiness. That could be instructive for us all. I’ll ask that of anyone here, in fact.

            • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

              An easy one is Justin Lee. (http://www.gaychristian.net/justins_view.php)

              That said, that’s a pretty long response to my statement that we’re all brothers and sisters in Christ despite disagreements, as well as some pretty indirect assertions about my place in the Church and the sincerity of my faith and salvation (and others like me). Unless I’m reading between the lines incorrectly.

              • Debbie Thurman

                Thank, Jon. I will go and read that. I have read some of the stuff there.

                What I wrote wasn’t intended to all be in response to your brief comment, but it was your comment that somehow sent me on my excursion. Not sure exactly how or why.

                When I pointed to Peter’s statement about judgment beginning in the household of God, I was thinking of all of us. The possibility of hardened hearts also applies across the board.

                You know from my previous comment that I don’t see why homosexuality should be treated differently from any other struggle, that it does have the potential of drawing us either closer to or away from God. What He says to each individual through that struggle is something I can’t know. I can look at the broad scriptural themes for clues about what is common to all of us in the realm of temptation and how we can resist and grow stronger or acquiesce and grow weaker.

                It would be hard for me to question another’s sincerity or salvation.

            • Eugene

              “It’s not the man vs. man disagreements that are a concern, but rather the man vs. God ones.”

              I think these disagreements are a concern only because some men are acting “on behalf” of God. :)

              “What does that mean for the drama represented by the struggle with homosexuality playing out in the world today? Gays struggle within themselves (we all do)…”

              Actually, no, many gays don’t “struggle with themselves”. They live good, fulfilling lives. The so-called “struggle with homosexuality” is driven by conservative Christians and their belief that homosexuality is a sin.

              • Debbie Thurman

                Of course not everyone struggles. The world would be a lot better off if more people did. I meant that internal struggle (in the sense of unrest until one gets certain questions settled) is a good thing because it compels us to comes to terms with the really important stuff. That starts first in our hearts and in our relationships with Christ and works outward. I would find it hard to believe that nearly every gay person has not struggled internally at some point in time, earlier in life.

                I’m not sure we have even clarified for purposes of this discussion what most of us mean by the term gay. The word tends to connote certain things, but not always the same things for everybody. It can have individual, communal or social, political and now even religious connotations. Is gay an orientation or a philosophy? It is both for most, perhaps.

                As an orientation (strong predisposition no one chooses), it cannot be opposed, only sanctified over the long haul. As a philosophy or accepted way of living, it can be opposed for reasons of conscience and faith.

                Will all gay or same-sex-attracted people remain settled within themselves? Some will. Not all. I never called myself gay, but I was unsettled for a long time about my sexuality and my identity in Christ. I simply ran from him for a while.

                There is not a part of us that is not called to be holy. Some gay folks apparently have put it all together in a way that gives them peace — a healthy sense of self in relationship with God. They are humble and gentle in spirit. And I will not, cannot judge them as individuals. Others firmly believe that holiness for them means celibacy, perhaps even seeing themselves as “eunuchs for the kingdom.”

                Yes, there is a struggle perpetuated from the outside, as you say Eugene. But when I use the term, I don’t really refer to any kind of external guilt-trip imposed on folks. I mean the struggle that comes to the heart that is being convicted to repent.

              • Eugene

                The thing is, the “internal struggle” you’re talking about is only internal when it comes from within. But the majority of gay people are still under the influence of “guilt-trips”, aren’t they? Heck, only a few decades ago many gay people probably thought they had to choose between heterosexual family and homosexual promiscuity. But it isn’t true now and wasn’t true back then. Very few of us – gay or straight – are actually free from this influence. That’s why many gay people pretty much had to struggle “at some point in time, earlier in life”. So I think it’s a little too early for us to talk about the internal struggle.

                “Is gay an orientation or a philosophy? It is both for most, perhaps.”

                It’s both for most because the orientation necessarily informs the philosophy. A gay person knows more about homosexuality than straight people – especially when straight people are conservative.

                The point about “eunuchs for the kingdom” is pretty interesting – except that gay people aren’t actually eunuchs, and if you become a “eunuch for the kingdom” because you’re gay, you aren’t actually a eunuch for the kingdom. So it seems to me that it’s mostly an attempt to “fit in”. More importantly, it’s a tenuous attempt to fit homosexuality into the Biblical passages that don’t mention it. So we probably shouldn’t idealize a struggle just because it’s a “struggle” in the name of “holiness”. Not all things in this life are meant to be difficult.

              • Debbie Thurman

                (The thing is, the “internal struggle” you’re talking about is only internal when it comes from within. But the majority of gay people are still under the influence of “guilt-trips”, aren’t they?)

                The struggle I am talking about actually is precipitated from without to the extent that it comes from God and His Spirit seeking to connect with our spirit. Just to be clear. We don’t think and reason in a vacuum.

                Are more gays simply just angry because of would-be guilt imposed on them by the Church? If their consciences are clear about their sexuality, then they can’t be made to feel guilty. Marginilzed, yes.

                (A gay person knows more about homosexuality than straight people – especially when straight people are conservative.)

                Hmmm. How do straight progressives or liberals understand more about homosexuality than conservatives do? Perhaps you could enlighten us.

                I think one will know if he or she is called by God to be a eunuch for the kingdom.

              • Eugene

                “If their consciences are clear about their sexuality, then they can’t be made to feel guilty. ”

                But didn’t you say that we don’t think and reason in a vacuum? The state of their conscience strongly depends on the information they get from other people. If they are always told that homosexuality is a sin, they will probably feel guilty regardless of what their inner conscience tells them. Of course, eventually they will realize that the directions they’ve been given are wrong, but it can be a slow and painful process.

                “Hmmm. How do straight progressives or liberals understand more about homosexuality than conservatives do? Perhaps you could enlighten us.”

                A person like Nathan’s friend will not be “shunned” by them, so they’ll get to know him better.

  • Eugene

    “It seems that if our identity is Christ, we should not be modifying it with any adjectives.”
    “Too often, the Christian community overly sexualizes the term gay.”

    Avoiding the term “gay Christian” is the best way to keep the term “gay” sexualized. I think “gay Christian” is mostly a response to conservative homophobia, not really an identity. The message is that you don’t have to choose between being gay and being Christian. If you insist that the term “gay Christian” is wrong, you will scare many gay people away.

    “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.”

    It makes sense only if you believe that homosexuality (or sexuality in general) is inherently dirty, evil and unholy. You say that people in a relationship can “continue to pursue holiness and purity”. Or is it impossible for gay people?

  • tom

    It’s ironic that Christianity objects to a gay yet celibate person as being part of God’s community and yet can somehow ignore that a heterosexual person (see Ted Haggard) had sex with someone of the same genderl, accepting him back into the fold “with some accountability, repentance, and perhaps counseling.” To the extent that this is true, we admit hating the sinner rather than the sin.

    • Eugene

      I think it may be fear, not hate. The very existence of people who were born gay raises difficult questions. That’s why it’s much easier for conservative Christians to pretend that people having sex with someone of the same gender are straight, but broken, immoral, evil, etc. (in line with Romans 1). And celibate gay people are even worse because, as it turns out, the can control their urges, so they aren’t sex-obsessed monsters! :) Finally, conservative Christians surely realize that a gay man who’s “humble, kind, loving, patient, gracious, and gentle” would stay this way even if he stopped being celibate. So I guess it seems scary from their perspective.

      • tom

        Eugene, I agree totally. I was riffing off the oft stated “hate the sin, love the sinner” expression popular with many in Evangelical circles.

      • Debbie Thurman

        I’m a Christian and I don’t believe those things you have assigned to us above, Eugene. I know there are many others who believe as I do. What is there to intrinsically fear from gay people? I see nothing. I do see things to be concerned about, such as the influence of a new cultural ideology being more and more accepted and what impact that will have on society and on the hearts of those who need to know God.

        Actually, if born-gay people were proven to exist beyond a shadow of a doubt, it would not raise difficult questions. It would only raise the age-old ones that Scripture addressed long ago, the chief being “Why is the world fallen?” (answer: pride, the first sin).

        I see the need to isolate the words “humble” … “patient” … and “gracious” from your list. A humble heart is one that knows its place with respect to God, and is open to His truth. A patient heart is one that never ceases to see the higher meaning in what life has dealt or is dealing him, even from birth. A gracious heart is one that knows how to receive God’s grace, because one cannot give what one has not first received.

        • Eugene

          The thing is, conservative Christians, being conservative, probably aren’t as “open to His truth” as they could be. It’s much easier to believe that you know all you need to know about gay people when they aren’t around. But the presence of gay people in a church may open their minds. Does homosexuality really belong on the list of sins like prostitution and adultery? Or is it more similar to heterosexuality? Are gay people “broken” and “fallen” or humble and kind? They surely seem at least as gracious as everyone else. But it looks like you have made up your mind.

          And, of course, I knew that not all Christians fear gay people. But, obviously, people in power either fear them or hate them.

          • Debbie Thurman

            I’m not sure any of is as open to truth as we need to be. Conservative, progressive or liberal — it’s all of a piece. A convenient excuse sometimes for us to lionize ourselves and demonize others. Either ideology can be distracting.

            Look again at your sentence: “But the presence of gay people in a church may open their minds.” See how that goes both ways? :)

            Homosexuality does not automatically = broken. And fallen applies across the board. The whole world is fallen.

            Not sure in what way you believe I have made up my mind.

            “People in power.” Interesting phrase. From where I sit, those lobbying for gay rights wield a unique kind of influence and power. Look at what they have achieved and what they are likely to achieve imminently.

            • Eugene

              “Homosexuality does not automatically = broken. And fallen applies across the board. The whole world is fallen.”

              Then why do straight people have no same-sex attractions? The point is that the majority of gays and lesbians are decent people, so it’s not immorality or lack of self-control that makes them gay. And even if it was – it would be “anything goes”, not homosexuality. Likewise, straight people are straight not because they’re Christian but simply because they’re straight. If homosexuality is a sin, it surely isn’t “across the board” (unlike, for example, adultery).

              “Not sure in what way you believe I have made up my mind.”

              It looks like you have made up your mind that homosexuality is a sin.

              “People in power.” Interesting phrase. From where I sit, those lobbying for gay rights wield a unique kind of influence and power. Look at what they have achieved and what they are likely to achieve imminently.”

              I believe their power comes from gay people’s presence. They disprove the negative stereotypes and demonstrate who gay people actually are. The anti-gay side simply cannot offer anything as convincing. That’s why those who personally know gay people are much more likely to support gay rights.

              • Debbie Thurman

                “Then why do straight people have no same-sex attractions?”

                The point is they have opposite-sex attractions, which are as tempting for them as sames-sex ones are for gays. No one escapes temptation. We don’t have to categorize temptations.

                There is a strong desire among many gays for vindication because of the injustices they have suffered at the hands of ignorant, mean-spirited Christians. You keep going back to this theme. But vindication is an ungodly pursuit. There’s a higher road. One side will not beat the other into submission or finally arrive at the place where they can say, “Aha! I’ve out-argued you. You have to give in now.”

                I haven’t had to make up my mind about what constitutes sinfulness. I have simply believed the words of God on the subject. I cannot be selective in doing that. Again, “gay” … “homosexuality.” What concept do you want the words to represent? Both choice and lack of choice are contained within them.

                We all have a predisposition toward sin. Does anyone really come into the world without at least one strike against him? We have gifts of grace and things to overcome (the fallen part). For the silver-spoon set, it is their very giftedness that easily leads to pride, and that may be their stumbling block.

                Life is not fair from our perspective. It is simply life as God has ordered it. We get to choose what to do with it.

              • Eugene

                “The point is they have opposite-sex attractions, which are as tempting for them as sames-sex ones are for gays. No one escapes temptation. We don’t have to categorize temptations.”

                No no no no no. :) There is a major difference. Straight people have a legitimate outlet for their attractions: marriage. So they only have to control their attractions and focus them on their wives. On the other hand, gay men have to reject a part of themselves – no amount of self-control will make them straight, so they can’t love a woman in the same way that a straight man does. It means that homosexuality is either an exceptional kind of brokenness or a morally neutral variation of human sexuality.

                “I haven’t had to make up my mind about what constitutes sinfulness. I have simply believed the words of God on the subject. I cannot be selective in doing that. Again, “gay” … “homosexuality.” What concept do you want the words to represent?”

                You mean, God personally told you something? Or have you read a book written, translated and interpreted by men, many of whom didn’t even know the words “gay” and “homosexuality”? You see, that’s exactly why it doesn’t matter what concept I want them to represent – there isn’t an equivalent concept in the Bible.

              • Debbie Thurman

                “Straight people have a legitimate outlet for their attractions: marriage. … It means that homosexuality is either an exceptional kind of brokenness or a morally neutral variation of human sexuality.”

                OK, I get it. We’ll have to leave this as something to be explored more. This divine mystery has depths to it that we won’t plumb in this one discussion.

                I can’t layer my life over another’s. To attempt to do so would be showing myself to be insensitive or demanding. I do believe God has options for the person who is dealt a hand of same-sex attractions. It is a rather harsh form of brokenness, if that is what it is. Not as harsh as the plight of a child born into utter poverty and a caste system, say on the streets of Calcutta. Or a child born into slavery. But quite harsh all the same.

                When God created sexuality, He sure gave us a two-edged sword, didn’t He?

                Just one question I’ll leave you with: Could homosexuality be one of God’s extreme ways of getting His people to understand what “poor in spirit” means?

              • Debbie Thurman

                Forgot to respond to your last question/paragraph.

                There is nothing new under the sun. Same-sex attractions did not just spring up in modern times. Human nature is the same now as it was then.

                God’s words spoken through men divinely inspired. In that sense (leaving aside my prayer life and the active work of the Holy Spirit), yes, God speaks to me. If we are going to disagree on this, then there is not much of a basis for rational discussion, is there? God is. God says. God does. “I AM THAT I AM.”

              • Eugene

                “Just one question I’ll leave you with: Could homosexuality be one of God’s extreme ways of getting His people to understand what “poor in spirit” means?”

                How exactly would it work? Are gay people supposed to show a good example of staying celibate in the name of God? But straight people can’t fully relate to this, and this kind of sacrifice actually seems less valuable to me. If they do it because they think they have to (or obliged to), they are giving up a life of sinfulness and marginalization. On the other hand, straight people who choose to be celibate are giving up something much more pleasant. They surely wouldn’t be marginalized for having a family, and, knowing that it isn’t sinful, they wouldn’t feel bad about it.

                “Human nature is the same now as it was then.”

                And yet our understanding of it has improved. As evidenced by the word “sodomy”, people had been conflating homosexual rape with loving consensual relationships. Would Jesus do this? I don’t think so – and he doesn’t do it in the Bible. He doesn’t condemn homosexuality at all . So your claim that you “have simply believed the words of God on the subject” is a little weak.

  • jjJoniJ

    Gay Christian is a term that early gay Christian leaders used to counter the hate propaganda against gay people by right wingers and even mainstream churches in the late 1960s. I think it’s a useful term, because so many Americans actually believe the hate propaganda sprewed out by right wing forces against gay people. What better way to maginalize and degrade human being then to say they are not Christians, and that gays are sinners by virtue of their birth.

    • Debbie Thurman

      I don’t seek to defend people who may actually say “gays are sinners by virtue of their birth” or spew forth hateful propaganda. But be careful not to appear to be denying that we are all sinners by virtue of our birth, either. I think we really to stop getting hung about what we are or aren’t born with. Why does it matter?

      More and more Christians are awaking to the fact that same-sex attractions, regardless of where they come from, do not in and of themselves constitute sin or damnation.

      We will never be rid of ignorant, hypocritical Christians, so how about just diluting their false mantras by gently reminding them we are all born into sin? That’s why we need a savior.

      Again, Christians is all we need call ourselves, regardless of the infirmities, temptations or predilections we have that may cause us to stumble.

  • jjJoniJ

    I’m not sure you can use the term homophobia all the time to describe anti-gay people. How people react to gayness often depends on how secure they are within themselves and their own sexual orientation. For those who don’t feel 100% straight, or who are opposite sex married, they might be more threatened by gay people. Straight men overreact all the time, it’s why they kill and beat up gay people, and yell insults from cars. In our gay churches, the most common straight people who joined us where straight women. I don’t recall a gay father ever showing up. So it might be the male fear of being treated the way men treat women– as sex objects. Straight men are fine with gropping waitresses, buying prostitutes and chocking them (What Eliot Spitzer did), but turn the tables and straight men freak out. So some straight people do fear gays, others hate us, the internally secure in their sexuality are cool. It’s more individually complex than we realize. Some people are born gay, others become it, either way, it’s ok. The born argument negates those who really do want a choice of partners, and talking to a lot of lesbians who came out later, making the “born” argument is an effort to force women to have sexual relationships with men, and they might have very good reason for not wanting to do this, and be with women.

    • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

      Two gay dads showed up for worship at our church today. We all survived and the church is still intact. Then we shared cookies in the fellowship hall. FWIW…

  • jjJoniJ

    I think I just don’t listen to any straight person talk about my relationship with God and certainly the use the term “holiness’ coming out of straight people’s mouths is always suspect. And Debbie gay people don’t have institutionalized power, we are merely a very vocal self-protecting collections of indivudals united for civil rights. We do not rule congress or the courts, and I believe our population is equal to Jews in America. It is often a misnomer that minorities have institutional power. Majorities get threatened when the minorities shatter the status quo, and even secular saints like MLK actually were unpopular in their own communities- in 1967 55% of black Americans didn’t support King and 75% of white Americans thought he was the devil.
    Holiness, God’s word etc., gay people have to discover this for ourselves. I don’t think it is up to straight Christians to determine what is in our own best interest, and most of the time don’t have the cultural knowledge to get there anyway. My greatest spiritual teachers continue to be lesbians and gays throughout time, and the populations that weren’t reproducing children or living heteronormative lives. The world is much more interesting than that, and exploring the lives of gay mystics, saints and teachers is powerful and dramatic. In a profoundly gay hating institutional church, it is imperative that we found our own sense of holiness, our own idea of what Jesus is.

    • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

      jjJoniJ – I have never seen that statistic before: that in ’67 55% of black Americans didn’t support MLK and 75% of white Americans thought he was the devil. Fascinating stuff. Thanks for bringing that to light!

  • Debbie Thurman

    “In a profoundly gay hating institutional church, it is imperative that we found our own sense of holiness, our own idea of what Jesus is.”

    I lament that gays have been compelled in this direction. Not all of the Church has hated or feared them. Man’s inhumanity to man can be stunning.

    I believe God means for something positive to come out of this great rumbling, for there to be an awakening that opens the eyes of both sides. And I know that Christ longs for his Church to reflect the holiness of his Bride. I now find myself repeatedly coming back to the two great commandments. If we love God with everything we have, we will be holy. If we love our neighbors as ourselves, we will reflect Christ’s reconciliation and usher each other into his arms.

  • Debbie Thurman

    Me: “If their consciences are clear about their sexuality, then they can’t be made to feel guilty. ”

    Eugene: “But didn’t you say that we don’t think and reason in a vacuum? The state of their conscience strongly depends on the information they get from other people.”

    As sometimes happens, this response thread ran out of room. But if Eugene and I are not annoying others and the discussion remains pertinent, we can talk some more.

    You are right to press me on my statement above. More than spiritual input from God affects the conscience, as you say.

    I taught in my small groups from a wonderful book for years. It’s called “The Search for Significance” (Robert McGee). I may have mentioned it here before. I am not aware of a Christian resource that does a more masterful job of getting us to see how our self-worth in based in Christ and not in others’ opinions of us or our ability to “perform” or measure up to an impossible standard. Man, can some folks really shape our feelings of self-worth! I feel like saying “Duh!” because you pointed out the obvious thing I didn’t go far enough to point out myself. Thanks.

    When a wounded person contemplates the human condition vis-à-vis a holy God, that may also lead to feelings of worthlessness or failure. God only means for it to bring us to the realization of our spiritual poverty apart from Him. Hell and all its agents, witting and unwitting (hateful Christians, included), condemn. Condemnation brings false guilt. God convicts us where we really need it with a different kind of sorrow that breaks the power of condemnation so we can pursue holiness (Romans 8). I hat-tip Robert McGee for teaching me this in a meaningful way.

    You also said, “A person like Nathan’s friend will not be “shunned” by them (progressive-minded or liberal people), so they’ll get to know him better.

    Yes, I see what you mean. Open-minded conservatives are a rare breed. Working to change that. :) Still, it’s hard for anybody who has not experienced same-sex attractions to understand what it’s like. It’s also hard for anybody who is not a Christian to understand Christianity.

    • Eugene

      “Condemnation brings false guilt.”

      That’s not exactly what I meant. I have specifically used the words “information” and “directions”, not “condemnation”. Other Christians could be the nicest and most loving people ever. They could give you as much freedom in your spiritual journey as they could. But if the map they gave you is misleading or outdated, you will be seeking holiness in the wrong place.

  • Debbie Thurman

    Eugene, I believe it’s time to give this a rest. We are going off the rails, I think.

    Maybe we can take some of this up again down the road, if the occasion arises. Thanks for the discussion.

  • jjJoniJ

    I think just about every gay person I meet agrees that there is this huge machine called the gay hating institutional church, and that we’ve all walked out of it and don’t intend to return. We don’t use the road maps to life of heteros, don’t care really. We have our unique lives and loves, and a great and powerful spiritual culture filled with gay priests, saints, ministers, spiritual directors. I love all my gay and lesbian teachers and preachers, and how far lesbians and gay men have come in the good will churches, the UCCs, the MCCs, the More Light and the Lots-a Light :-) Our most wounded brothers and sisters come out of the Big Hater traditions– the usual suspects, gays know who they are… Lesbians certainly would just laugh at terms like “bride of Christ” for example, or even the term bride seems treacely and fundie to me. Yuck. Wife is not a term I like either, call me old fashioned there, wife denotes the ownership model of marriage–hey no thanks. Gays need the most authentic and best educated spiritual directors and pastors. Our families need the most support, because there is plenty of hetero couple this and that nationwide, but rare to have really good quality retreats for lesbian and gay couples, or pastors who can really understand our community. I prefer going to churches pastored by very liberal fair minded straight people, and churches pastored with gay and lesbians priests and pastors on staff. Holiness can’t be found amidst gay hating institutionalism, and as we develop an adult spirituality, with a more sophisticated view of Christ, we know that the heteronormative is just that… a majority view that holds no truck with gay life. Yes, straight people have same sex attractions, it’s why they freak out the most I would imagine. Or why we waste time on science. I don’t care how gay people become gay or are born gay or who choose gay. I say this is a personal thing. It’s not part of public policy to determine anyone’s sexuality, and I think we need to know the origins of hetero marriage and its sordid history to figure this out.
    A lot of closeted types really try to stay straight or stay in straight marriages, and it’s going to be hard for them. I have no words of advice, other than advice I would have for anyone in a good marriage–just stick with your partner, because it’s not all about sex. Het people think gays are all about sex all the time, and it is a tactic of haters to sexualize and demonize and objectify “the other.” Blacks have been put in the sexualized box, women have… it’s a tactic.
    Some gays are less affected by the gay hatred coming out all over the place from “men of God”— some are deeply sensitive and the wounds might never heal. I meet gay atheists all the time, they’ve had it, Christians drove them from connection to Jesus and God, and I think Jesus is gonna be real mad about those who drove his children out of church.
    Ironically, gays take spiritual lives a lot more seriously, you’ll find incredible diversity of spiritual belief in gay people– amazing combinations of things, creativity, joy… I love it. I love our gay centered spiritual lives, and I know we have a unique and wonderful Christian path, always have had one, always will have one.

  • HateLiberals

    this is just liberal crap

    Here is the truth

    UNLESS THEY TURN
    GAYS WILL BURN
    IN HELL
    WELL WELL WELL

    • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

      Classy…

    • Kayte

      Trolls be trollin’, I see. And it’s patently obvious.
      Go back to Kansas, Fred.

  • Ils

    Two of my great friends and dear brothers are a gay man and a gay woman who have left “the lifestyle” to pursue holiness as a result of their salvation and the direct command to “be holy, as I Am holy” from Jesus. They fell in love and are now married and believe that God does not want them to engage in sexual relations outside of the marriage covenant. Their past life as practicing homosexuals is behind them. I am a hetero female and I agree that sexual purity in thought and deed is what Jesus demonstrated and taught.

    • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

      I’m glad your friends are happy with their marriage. I am happy with my marriage, too.

  • anya

    It is not an issue of “can you be a gay Christian?” That is akin to saying, “Can you be a prideful/greedy/self-absorbed/duplicitous Christian?” It is not a matter of saying, can you feel attracted to the same sex but still love God. That is not the debate, because we know any of us can struggle with lying and still love God or struggle with substance addiction and still love God; we can engage in any number of sins or peccadilloes and still love God. The operative word is “struggle”…and the real heart of the matter is, what are you doing with that sin? She’s gay but loves God; that guy over there is dishonest but loves God. How are they handling their tendencies? If you believe these things are sin, you cannot simply keep on truckin’ with Jesus: if the Holy Spirit is actually indwelling in a person (as illustrated by the author of this article), then we’d expect that he would feel convicted about those things which contradict God’s statements, they would be disturbed by the division in their lives and how those ‘truths’ do not align. If we say God is okay with someone living out their same-sex orientation, and we understand this orientation to be contrary to God’s design, then we must likewise allow that God is okay with someone living in sin as a cheat, or a gossip or thief. Otherwise, this simply perpetuates the Christian as hypocrite motif. This is a difficult issue for me, which requires compassion and grace, but not at the expense of the Holy Word. I pray for my friend who struggles with his love for God and his desires as a homosexual man, but i know he struggles with the tension, he cannot help but feel this struggle because he is not ignoring the truth for the flesh. I cannot imagine how hard it must be and I am glad to see a venue, such as this one, where a very frank discussion between religion and sexuality can begin. I hope your endeavors will allow more honest discussions between the LGBT and the Christian communities. But let us not become the watered-down generation. We must love together but at times, we are called to struggle TOGETHER.

  • Ilan

    Well said. I agree.


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