Video Interview with Andrew Marin

Andrew Marin

I had a great time hanging out with Andrew Marin last summer at the Cornerstone Festival.  We immediately became friends, and I think you can see the affection in the video that he recently posted on his blog.  Therein, he asks me about my views on gay and lesbian persons in the Christian faith, among other things.  You can watch it below.

Andrew has become the leading spokesperson in the evangelical world for bridging evangelicals and gays, which is not an easy bridge to build.  One of the reasons that he’s found success at this is his endearing personality — plus, he’s a tireless traveler and speaker.  I recommend Andrew’s book, Love Is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community.

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  • http://www.MannsWord.blogspot.com Daniel Mann

    Tony,

    While we would both agree that we Christians have a responsibility to love all people – and this definitely includes those in the Gay lifestyle – how should we best love Gay people? What if the Gay lifestyle is inherently self-destructive? Would we be acting in a loving way by encouraging people with sex-same-attraction to pursue this lifestyle in light of the Biblical, historical and statistical evidence, which reveals that Gays die much sooner and have more emotional, physical, mental, and substance abuse problems than heterosexuals?

  • duhsciple

    I have heterosexual family members whose relationships flamed out, causing damage to the wider clan. And I have homosexual family members who have been faithful and loving and Christlike across decades. Those are my statistics.

  • Matthew

    Let’s see, what would cause a large group of people to have statistically more mental issues? Could it possibly be a lifetime of abuse at the hands of people confessing to “love” us and demonizing our very existence.

    Andrew’s work is helping to bring reconciliation to a wide swath of Christianity that refuse to admit the other exists.

  • duhsciple

    Yes, Matthew, with “love” like Christians (me included) have sometimes offered, who needs “hate”? May Christ’s love make all things and all relationship new (and healed) Amen.

  • Chuck

    “There are lies, damned lies, and statistics,” which has an unfortunate implication for anyone who tries to prove anything by them.

  • Todd

    What if the Gay lifestyle is inherently self-destructive?

    I keep wondering what this gay lifestyle is that I keep hearing Christians (and nobody else) speak of. It seems like there are as many gay styles of living as their are gay people. My gay lifestyle tonight was to have a beer and watch a basketball game, for what it’s worth…

    Regarding Marin, I think he is a bit of a shameless self-promoter, particularly in his choice to name his foundation after himself before he’d even entered his third decade of life. I also object to the way he portrays LGBT folks in his book. He systematically refuses to include any happy, well-adjusted LGBT people, falling back on the tired trope of sad, unhappy gays, who really long to be just like him: Christian. Perhaps this is the picture of gay folks he needs to paint to gain credibility with his evangelical audience, but I saw none of myself and the many LGBT people I know and love among the gay folks he profiled.

    He also oversells the extent to which he’s built a strong relationship with the LGBT community. The Chicago Reader had an article a while back chronicling the tumultuous relationship he’s had with LGBT organizations. He seems like a nice guy, and I appreciate his efforts to combat the noxious and rampant homophobia among evangelicals, but given that he still views homosexuality as inherently sinful, he’s always going to be a rather tepid ally to us gays. Unlike Tony, Marin tends to speak out of both sides of his mouth, telling both evangelical and gay audiences what they want to hear, even when the messages contradict each other.

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  • ariel

    I was happy to see the clip of you with Andrew from C-stone. I was there but unfortunately missed the panel discussion. The response to Daniel’s question above gives me some anxiety about asking this, but here goes: how did you (or anyone else who wants to comment) come to reconcile respect for scripture with a support for monogamous same-sex relationships? I’m not asking this to be a critic or a wise ass. I’m seeking and struggling to make sense of this. I have both friends and family members who are gay, and honestly, on an emotional level I don’t care who they love as long as they’re happy. But bringing that in line with my theology? I don’t know how to do it. And when I voice this to those who are more “accepting” than I am, the response is often hostile – like, “If you REALLY cared about your gay friends and family you wouldn’t be asking these questions anymore. You’d be over it.” Not helpful, and I often feel that I’m just being shamed.

    • http://tonyj.net tony

      Ariel, I blogged about this a lot late last year at Beliefnet. That’s where people have read my stuff. But my views continue to change and mature, so I’ll start writing about it again. Please stay tuned.

  • Matthew

    In my own life, it’s been an issue of looking with a critical eye at the scriptures in question and putting them in context. I fully respect the scriptures but, I think the particular passages in Romans have to be considered in the context of a shamelessly promiscuous sexual society and how that conflicted with the Christian movement. I do not believe that Paul’s condemnation would have necessarily included monogamous same-sex relationships, but, in all honesty, I don’t see him endorsing them AT ALL. He was in fact against marriage for anyone, suggesting that it was for people that couldn’t resist lust.
    With that in mind, I also look at the over arching theme of inclusiveness of the new testament church. The issues of Jewish holy law being applied to gentiles was a big debate in early Christian communities. Ultimately it was decided to just let everybody in and tell them they need to be careful about food offered to idols and to avoid sexual immorality. When I get down to the nitty gritty of it all, I throw myself into the blanket of pork products coming down out of heaven! I consider homosexuality something outside of the norms of Jewish morality and I have found grace in the acceptance of non-Jewish persons into Christianity and I think that is where my comfort lies.
    While we may argue on the definition of sexual immorality and whether monogamous same-sex relations are included in this, I propose that the political nature of this debate needs to be toned down. Hopefully, we are past the point of arguing whether gay people can be Christians or not. I welcome an engaging debate on scripture and it’s application to our current situation.

  • ariel

    Thanks for the considerate replies, Matthew and Tony. I went to Beliefnet and started reading the blogologue. I’ll keep reading there and watching here. I appreciate the help.

  • http://www.MannsWord.blogspot.com Daniel Mann

    Ariel,

    Although I don’t want to marginalize anyone, I share your bewilderment about construing Paul to justify same-sex monogamous relationships. While I have read people who interpret Paul’s diatribe against homosexuality as against the only homosexuality with which he was familiar – uncommitted unions – it seems far more likely that Paul, following the OT model, was against ALL same sex unions. He associates these unions with what is “unnatural” (not according to God’s design and therefore improper in any form):

    “Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised. Amen.
    Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.” (Romans 1:24-27)

    Matthew,

    I agree with you about, “over arching theme of inclusiveness of the new testament church.” All who come to Jesus, He receives. (Paul even talks about himself as the worst of sinners, but he found mercy nevertheless — 1 Tim. 1:15.) However, it seems like this inclusiveness and mercy is always predicated upon a willingness to try to abandon one’s former misdeeds.

  • Joe

    I am just wondering how the B in GLBT fits with this conversation. Since a lot of research notes that sexual identities are fluid and emerge at different points, and since at least some bisexuals self describe as nonmonosexual, how does this fit with the monogamous relationship bit? I assume that you will ask bisexuals to do what most Evangelicals ask gays and lesbians to do, make a choice. The difference is that bisexuals will have to choose one sexual preference to enter into a monogamous relationship, but then does not this deny an “essential” component of their own sexual identity as a nonmonosexual?

    To my mind this is problematic to those like Andrew Sullivan who attempt to argue against natural law or who claim that Paul categorized moral behaviors and the modern definition of GBLT does not fit his categories. Sullivan wants a more fluid understanding of what counts as natural, but the real question is how fluid can you get before you have to redefine virtue and vice for all sorts of behaviors. If bisexuality is a “natural” orientation, then polyamorous relationships seem OK.

    Should the church seek to ordain its first practicing bisexual? What will that do to the Christian definition of marriage?

  • http://www.MannsWord.blogspot.com Daniel Mann

    Joe,

    I think that your question gets to the heart of a fundamental question about our essential identities and what defines us as humans – “Am I synonymous with my desires, orientations, resentments and jealousies or is there something higher that defines me and my life-script?”

    I recall Gov. James McGready who, as he was stepping down as governor of the State of NJ and a married father, confessed, “I am a Gay American!”

    I was left with the question, “Why did he define himself as a ‘Gay Amercan’ and not as a father, husband, and governor?” Why did he define himself in terms of his inclinations rather than his commitments?

    How would God want us to define ourselves? I must admit that I have been significantly edified by re-defining myself as a ‘child of God’ or a ‘servant of the Most High.’ It has so dignified me to recognize this most foundational identity and then to allow this identity to define everything else about me.

  • Joe

    Daniel,

    I agree with the need to re-define oneself as a child of God, but there are all kinds of complications when one asks more specific questions. I would want to maintain that there is a both continuity and discontinuity between one’s “nature” and the new “nature” one should be receiving as God’s child. And this is precisely the rub. One of the most foundational aspects of the Christian message is that salvation is fulfilling of the most basic human emotions and desires–it makes us more human not less. And this happens through something called being a new creation (Paul) or regeneration/sanctification. This has been the basis for much of Christian humanism through the early and medieval church. As Augustine opened his Confessions, “Oh Lord, you have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.” The new identity of the child of God is the transformation of human desire and emotion away from its self-destructive aspects and toward its fulfillment in renewed relationship with the Triune God.

    Tony argues for continuity between the sexual orientation of gay men and lesbian women and their new Christian identity. So that the new Christian identity does not require a leaving behind the desires and emotions that form the basis for same-sex attraction. I was just wondering if he would seek to apply the same sort of argument for a bisexual orientation. That is, the desires and emotions giving rise to simultaneous attraction to males and females are not inherently disordered, but God-given and therefore must be sanctioned in some form of social practice like marriage. If he makes that move, then he must redefine marriage away from monogamy it seems to me. Maybe I’m wrong.

    And all of this is extremely important because, as the Emergent folk like to say, community is critical in the whole process of forming a new identity. God transforms individuals in God’s new community, which means that transformation and discipleship are social processes as well. So, what advice will Tony give to those bisexuals who claim that their sexual orientations are in continuity with their new Christian orientation? Will he say that they must choose against their sexual orientation to choose Christianity and thus have a monogamous relationship with either a male or a female? Is this the kind of discipleship that he wishes to engage in? And such theological advice must then give rise to a redefinition of Christian practices like marriage, must it not?

  • http://www.MannsWord.blogspot.com Daniel Mann

    Joe,

    I was saved out of a radical background. When I heard a teaching on Romans 13 – God’s ordination of the civil authorities – I was deeply troubled and tried to construe this teaching in less personally offensive ways. Fortunately, I didn’t succeed, not for long, at least.

    I have been following Christ for 33 years now and have slowly and painfully come to the conclusion that when I approach Scripture, I must ask God to give me His interpretation and to not insist on my own myopic ones.

    Based on my painful experiences, I feel it necessary to ask you a pointed question: On the basis of what evidence do you say that “the desires and emotions giving rise to simultaneous attraction to males and females are not inherently disordered, but God-given and therefore must be sanctioned in some form of social practice like marriage?”

    If we say that these orientations are “God-given,” shouldn’t we also say that adultery and open-marriage are God-given? Is pedophilia or sado-masochism also God-given?

    I’m sorry because I know that this type of questioning must sting, but this is the same medicine that I must unflinchingly administer to myself.

  • Matthew

    Daniel,
    I don’t think the pedophilia or sadomasochist questions are relavent to our discussion. I am only a proponent of inclusion for monogamous same sex couples. There is a degree of question for the new testament specifically condemning monogamous same sex couples, but the explicitly condemns pedophilia as does the Didache. (thanks Tony.)

    I see no incongruity with the gospels and loving, committed same sex couples. I don’t consider pedophilia or sadomasochism healthy relationships and that there is no biblical support for the acceptance of those.

  • Joe

    I think you missed my point Daniel. I am not claiming that any orientation is God-given or not God-given. Rather, I am wondering about how Tony would respond to bisexual orientation because it does not seem to fit monogamous relationships either of a heterosexual or a homosexual nature.

    For the bisexual to have a monogamous relationship with a lifelong commitment (presumably Tony would agree with this as a generic definition of marriage) as opposed to a short term one, s/he would have to deny the desires and emotions that make him/her attracted to one gender or the other.

    Christianity calls on all individuals to change in fundamental ways, but we now debate precisely what change is required. Normally, it seems to me that the NT talks about change in terms of reorientation of desires and emotions. I take Paul’s use of the term “flesh” as shorthand for desires and emotions that are disordered. The debate over homosexuality concerns whether the desires and emotions that comprise this particular orientation are disordered or natural. Tony is claiming that gay and lesbian desires for same-sex partners are natural and can be rightly ordered in a marriage union. So, I am asking whether he thinks the same of the desires and emotions that make up bisexual orientation. Are these “natural” since the bisexual claims that they are in the same way that the gay and lesbian claim that theirs are?

    And, if they are natural for Tony, then I think he may be forced to redefine marriage yet again. This time it is not simply monogamous life-long partnerships, whether hetero or homosexual, but marriage would also include polyamorous partnerships or short-term partnerships for the bisexual to fulfill his/her attraction for both genders.

    Most of the discussion centers and the gay and lesbian side of the GLBT community, but I think looking at the bisexual and transgendered dimensions will illuminate implications that we don’t necessarily see.

    So, I could ask Matthew whether he sees an incongruity between the gospels and loving, committed bisexual polyamorous relationships or loving, committed bisexual monogamous relationships of a limited duration. How far are we going to push the boundaries here? And I don’t want to hear that there is no biblical support for the kinds of bisexual relations I am describing because it seems to me that the argument in favor of same-sex monogamous relations works for bisexual ones. I could just as easily say that Paul did not envision what we today mean by bisexual orientation and therefore his admonitions against promiscuity do not apply. I could say that what Paul is against is sex outside the confines of a covenantal arrangement such as marriage. But a bisexual could enter into a polyamorous convenantal arrangment in which three persons agree to a life-long partnership that included sexual activity among all of them.

  • http://www.MannsWord.blogspot.com Daniel Mann

    Matthew,

    While you say that “I don’t consider pedophilia or sadomasochism healthy relationships and that there is no biblical support for the acceptance of those,” many do. What kind of empirical or Biblical evidence can you put together to defend your position, while dismissing pedophilia and sadomasochism?

    Joe,

    Sorry if I misunderstood you.

  • Todd

    I’m a bit confused why folks seem to think that being bisexual means that monogamy is impossible for bi folks. If a man is attracted to both brunettes and blonds but happens to be in a monogamous relationship with a brunette woman, we generally don’t question his capacity for monogamy merely based on his attraction to both blond and brunette women in general. Monogamy is about having sex with and being committed to only one person, not only ever being attracted to one person.

    • http://tonyj.net tony

      Agreed, Todd. That’s exactly what I would say to those who ask how bisexuals can be Christian. The fact is, none of us is biologically monogamous — that’s a choice, albeit one that is reinforced by our culture.

  • Joe

    OK. I don’t think I’m making myself clear enough, and part of the problem is this medium of communication does not lend itself to dialogue really. Also, I think the issues are too complicated to air out in this medium, which is why I will stop. It’s like trying to do theology by bumper sticker–all one liners with little opportunity for depth.

    So I will simply through out my one liners: 1) I never said bisexuals can’t be Christians because I think they can; 2) I don’t see salvation as a ticket to heaven but a transformational process that humanizes us (I thought I said that, but I guess Tony missed it); 3) I did not say anything was impossible for bisexuals; there are lots of “possibilities”; 4) the question is about a fully realized human identity because that is what the Christian message ultimately proclaims it seems to me; 5) Is a bisexual not going against his/her design, or, if you will, the basic identity of who s/he is by denying an attraction to an entire gender (not a person among a range within one gender like homosexuals or heterosexuals)? This is how I read at least some bisexual literature (see for example the LBGT Resource Center at Michigan State’s “Ways to Be an Ally to Nonmonosexual People”).

    Don’t worry about responding to me unless it is for the benefit of others who read the blog.

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