Still Gay…and No Longer Gay

At Fuller Seminary’s Burner Blog, there are a pair of posts up about how that school (with which I am affiliated as an adjunct professor) is dealing with the issue of homosexuality in the church. In the first post, the worst-kept-secret at Fuller is revealed: former provost and emeritus professor Sherwood Lingenfelter has a gay daughter. Lingenfelter writes,

The Lingenfelters

Initially, this was distressing and even disheartening news to me. This is not what I had imagined for my daughter, and yet it did not come as a complete surprise… How should we respond? Was it our fault? I could remember many times when I was clearly a failure as a father, and wondered how that might have contributed to this momentous decision by my daughter to become partner to another woman. [Read the rest]

That will strike some readers of this blog as a surprisingly self-centered reaction in this day and age. But Lingenfelter goes on to write about his growth in this area — and his ultimate acceptance of his daughter’s partner as a member of the family…and as a friend. He concludes that he continues to hold to a biblical interpretation that we’ve explored here a couple weeks ago — regarding Daniel Kirk’s book — that the Old Testament passages regarding homosexuality are not normative, but the New Testament passages are.

The second post is by a Fuller D.Min. student who writes that she was “born to be a lesbian.” But then she decided to stop being a lesbian:

After several years of being out of the closet and fully engaging in the gay community, I lost a close friend in an accident. Ray’s death was one of the most painful times in my life. Despondent, a friend asked me to go to a retreat in San Francisco to help me grieve and set aside time to deal with the pain I continued to feel. There, I began to examine my lifestyle and realized I didn’t want to be a lesbian anymore. During a quiet time of prayer, I realized I didn’t want to return home and go back into the lesbian lifestyle. I was strongly impressed by the emptiness of seeking fulfillment in another person rather than God and no longer wanted to desire sexual intimacy with a woman. I wanted to desire God to fill my life. It was at this point I made a deal with God. I asked Him either to end my life or change it. [Read the rest]

What’s interesting about this post is that Maria does not conclude by stating that her attraction has shifted from women to men. She seems only to imply that she no longer shares sexual intimacies with women. She concludes,

It has been a number of years now since this process began. Today I am secure in the love I have found in God and His people, people who have helped me take the extra step toward God through their tough love. Instead of condemning me or compromising God’s standards for me, they supported my journey of restoration and transformation set before me in Christ.

And that makes me wonder, is Maria really “No Longer Lesbian”? Or is she simply no longer having sex with women? It seems to me there’s a difference.

  • Scot Miller

    I think it’s fine that someone like Maria Cardenas Baez decides to become celibate for her own spiritual life. Some Catholics have been doing that for centuries, and celibacy apparently “works” for people like Richard Rohr. But I think it’s a mistake to think that someone ceases to be a heterosexual or a lesbian just because they stop having (or never had) sex. I’m not a heterosexual only when I’m having sex with my wife; my sexual orientation happens to be heterosexual, and occasionally I’m lucky enough to act on my orientation. Heterosexuality is just how I roll.

    It’s a shame that homosexuality is still an issue for some Christians in the 21st century, but I think it’s become the line drawn in the sand for Evangelicals: “If you want to be faithful to God, you have to stand with us on this issue; otherwise….” I’m afraid that with the growing social acceptance of homosexuality and other alternative lifestyles, unless Evangelicals reconsider their take on homosexuality, they will become even more irrelevant in a pluralistic society like ours. They either need to come up with some good secular reasons to justify their objection to homosexuality, or they need to back off their objection. (Isn’t it interesting that Lingenfelter takes a softer tone on the issue because he knows his daughter is a human being who is also a lesbian. It’s easy to condemn “homosexuality” in the abstract, but it’s more difficult when you recognize that homosexuals are real human beings.)

    • Evelyn

      If you are defined by your sexuality at all times, that sexuality needs to be manifesting in some way. If you consider yourself to be always heterosexual, it means that you are always thinking about having sex with a woman or are having sex with a woman and that you think about having sex with every woman you see. I hope this isn’t the case and that you actually have meaningful relationships with members of the opposite sex. I also hope that when you occasionally get “lucky” that it’s with your wife.

      I try to consider people to be asexual unless they are actually engaged in a sex act in which case I give myself license to think about their sexuality. I may also think about someone’s sexuality when someone is acting in a seemingly irrational way that suggests sexual attraction or sexual identity issues may be motivating factors. Otherwise people are just people to me.

      I think that identifying too closely with one’s sexuality tends to make a person view their interpersonal relationships as having a strong sexual component that overshadows the more valuable intellectual and emotional components so I try not to make sexual id a defining characteristic of myself or the people I meet. I think it’s unfortunate when people with alternative sexualities have to spend so much of their energy living the “lifestyle”.

      • http://www.kowkabchobel.com/ledgerlock Lock

        Well when I was at the orgy the other day, I was oriented right and left, gay and straight, and score after score….sorry, just kidding. You guys are getting a little graphic about sex here.

        Seriously, too much detail about your sex life there Scotty.

        I keep seeing two things: orientation and 21st Century. I saw this century thing in Tony’s 2009 book “New Christians”. It is as if “orientation”, whether environmentally determined or DNA determined, behavior generating out from it can not be sinful, or wrong. “I have an orientation and the doctor said to have more homo-sex.”

        Then this century thing. There is this divide being emphasized, and again the fundamentalist will take you to the “wrong turns” of the 20th century. “I therefore shed the fundamentalist label and turn to the thoughts and knowledge of the 21ST CENTURY. I am enlightened now, no longer 20th century and lesser thinking for me.”

        • Scot Miller

          Locke, of course my point is that homosexuality is gaining acceptance in our (Western) society in the 21st century. It’s just not a big issue for kids in high school and college today (and I would suggest you read chapter 5 of unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity… and Why It Matters by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons about the growing perception among younger unchurched folk that Christians show contempt for gays and lesbians rather than compassion and love to all people, regardless of their lifestyle.) That’s why I suggest Christians either come up with some public justification for condemning homosexuals or just back off the gay bashing. If you think homosexuality is a sin (and I don’t), it’s still not the greatest sin. Worshiping something other than God is a sin, as is jealousy, pride, lust, etc. Christians who think homosexuality is a sin should condemn sin as much as they want, but they should be careful not to harm people along the way.

          • http://www.kowkabchobel.com/ledgerlockblog Lock

            “Christians who think homosexuality is a sin should condemn sin as much as they want, but they should be careful not to harm people along the way.”
            I agree with this statement, Scot. Social culture and the church worship are two separate things. LGBT is going away in culture unless we are strongly dominated by Catholic hispanic and Muslim culture, which are on the move, the question is just how strong the movements will be.

            You keep hitting about culture (which I don’t dismiss), but if the culture moves up or down or sideways or whatever, I navigate with my sinful nature fully in tact, from the perspective of the Bible, not culture popularity trends.

            If I was moved by popularity trends, then I would be on the premise that bestiality is only wrong because of a consent issue. That should be a red flag.

          • http://www.kowkabchobel.com/ledgerlockblog Lock

            Sorry, correction. LGBT is NOT going away in our culture.

      • Scot Miller

        Evelyn, you may be right, but my hunch is that sexual orientation operates on both subconscious and conscious levels. I don’t have to be thinking about sex to have a sexual disposition. I don’t think sexual orientation is a conscious choice. But again, I may be wrong.

  • http://www.makeesha.com Makeesha

    It definitely seems that Maria has chosen a life of celibacy…which doesn’t speak to her sexual orientation at all…be it bi, gay, straight or anywhere along the spectrum. And as an aside, I continue to find it totally bizarre that who a consenting adult chooses to be intimate with (or not) is an “issue”.

  • Richard Jones

    Maybe I misunderstand your post, Tony. Maybe you are simply reporting what you have read. But (and correct me if I am wrong, please) the tone of your post seems to be that you are in agreement with Kirk’s position and with the young woman’s decision to quit her lesbian lifestyle. I formerly believed you to be accepting of homosexuality.

    • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

      Richard, I’m definitely not agreeing with Kirk.

  • Richard Jones

    Oops. Sorry. I went back and read your original post about Kirk’s book. I no longer have the questions in the post above. Forgive my rash post.

    • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

      :-)

  • bj woodworth

    Great stories of how different people are working out the complexity of their sexuality with one another, in relationships, in the church. I think we need to tell more stories of how God is leading different people, GLBTQ and heterosexuals into sexual faithfulness and holiness. Part of the problem in this conversation is we only offer limited options and those option are binary and not creative nor humble. We need to engage individual people with their individual stories with individual options. As Stanley Hauerwas suggests, we must continue together to examine concrete practices rather than arguing over abstract concepts of sexuality. This is what happened in both of these stories. Thanks for sharing them. May we have the maturity, grace and peacefulness to discern and follow what Richard Rohr calls the deeper voice of God.

  • http://bobhyatt.me Bob Hyatt

    Of course it’s an “issue.” The idea of sexual ethics and sexual immorality is all through the Scriptures. Why in the world would we assume that God wants us to honor Him in how we treat the poor, in how we live in regards to the Earth, but not in how we live out our sexuality? Yeah- we can disagree about what the particulars are, but the idea that it’s not “an issue” only makes sense if we’re talking about people who aren’t trying to follow Jesus. But for those who are, EVERYTHING is an issue. How we live out all areas of our lives now needs kingdom remaking and redemption.

    In terms of Tony’s last statement (“And that makes me wonder, is Maria really “No Longer Lesbian”? Or is she simply no longer having sex with women? It seems to me there’s a difference.”) I agree- there’s a difference. But Maybe that’s just a title/semantics thing. I think she’s distinguishing between an unchosen orientation towards same sex attraction and an identification with a lifestyle (“lesbian”). And to that distinction: it’s an important one. Those of us who believe that 1.homosexual orientation is neither a choice nor a pre-determined morally neutral destiny and 2. that for a Christ follower, same sex sexual activity is out-of-bounds don’t necessarily buy that you can “pray the gay away,” but neither do we think it’s impossible to live out a Christ-honoring life in the way this woman has chosen. I applaud her.
    I also highly recommend my friend Tim Timmerman’s book A Bigger World Yet: Faith, Brotherhood and Same-Sex Needs (https://www.amazon.com/dp/0578072173/ref=as_li_ss_til?tag=organicchur0e-20&camp=0&creative=0&linkCode=as4&creativeASIN=0578072173&adid=19WVDDPSTB3JN796WGYT&amp ;) He writes from the same place as this woman- someone who believes that an orientation is not destiny, that though events in his life helped shape him towards same-sex attraction, Jesus calls him to live in a different direction.

    • Curtis

      “Why in the world would we assume that God wants us to honor Him in how we treat the poor, in how we live in regards to the Earth, but not in how we live out our sexuality?”

      Sure, sexuality is an “issue” between oneself and God. But how is what Maria discovers about how she honors God an issue that has anything to do with you or me?

      • Frank

        Actually what Maria does is between her and God and is none of our business however Sherwood Lingenfelter chose to publicly write about so it’s out there and its perfectly valid to investigate and respond.

        Maria is a great example of using her sexuality to honor God!

      • Richard

        “Sure, sexuality is an “issue” between oneself and God”

        I don’t buy that. My faith may be personal but it is not private and the decisions I and others make, in all areas of lifestyle and practice, impact the community around us. The notion of “me and Jesus and none of your business” is individualism on steroids.

        • Curtis

          Since we all know where this line of reasoning is heading, I’ll go ahead and pose the question. What is the impact of committed gay couples on you or the community?

          • Richard

            The impact on me is challenging me to love people right where they’re at and helping them follow Christ (I don’t know that changes just because someone is gay or straight). The impact on the community can vary greatly community to community. I’m not able to give you universal principles on this, I just know that all of these personal things find their way to the surface in relationships and communities. And that, in sum, is why I don’t buy ‘this is private and doesn’t affect anyone.’ Impact can be positive or negative but it is real.

  • http://Taddelay.com Tad delay

    I had that exact same thought about the latter article. My impression when i read that in the SEMI this week was that it was  that it was added to give that “balance” that seems to be required on anything fuller publishes that leans toward the affirming position

  • Tony Myles

    Unfortunately, neither position reflects the “normal” of Genesis 1-2 or the “restored normal” Revelation 21-22. We don’t fully live in either “normal” yet, so all sexuality reflects our brokenness on some level. I’m thankful for what God affirms and has made clear of the marriage union between a man and a woman… and remain broken for how quickly we turn to lesser versions of that – divorce, lust, infidelity, attempts to redefine marriage in our image, homosexual relationships, and more.

    • Curtis

      I admit my brokenness to God daily. But I don’t think my sexuality is broken. (maybe my wife has a different opinion!) I don’t see how it could be healthy to go through life thinking one’s sexuality is broken.

      • Frank

        Marriage is a three way covenant: God, man and woman. God is what makes sex pure in that context. That does not mean that a husband and wife cannot take God out of the picture regarding their sexual activity. So yes all sexuality is broken.

        It’s a healthy position because if someone takes that seriously they will approach their sex life with the question: Is what we are about to do honoring God? That’s a healthy question in all areas of our lives.

  • Curtis

    Some people are bisexual, and will practice serial monogomy, moving from a gay partner to a straight partner at different times in their life. Some people are celibate, and choose not to practice any sexual behavior regardless of their orientation. Maria could be either one of these. Or she could be something else. In the end, it is up to her to deal with her own sexuality. I don’t really see how it is anyone else’s business.

    None of this is at all surprising or shocking; human sexuality is varied. What is important is that she respects herself and others, and that we do the same.

    • Frank

      No what’s important is to love God and love one another. To love God is to obey God and therefore to love one another is to encourage one another to obey God even if its uncomfortable, beyond our understanding, does not fit into our own personal worldview or is difficult.

      • Curtis

        1) That is what I said 2) Matthew 7:1

  • Frank

    Oh I guess I just misunderstood you. I trust you will encourage others to live within Gods plan for sexuality and tell them homosexual practice is outside of Gods plan just as Maria understood and is doing.

    The accusation of “judging” is thrown out there a lot with no real understanding about what it means. Jesus goes on to clarify in the following verses that we are not to judge hypocritically. So if we do not admit our own sins we have no right to judge others sins. That does not mean we do not speak out against sin. John 7:24, 2 Timothy 4:2,
    James 5:20

    • Curtis

      And where should Sherwood or Maria turn to discern what is God’s plan? I certainly don’t expect them to listen to either you or me.

      • Frank

        Simple: The Bible. It’s clear as day!

        • Scot Miller

          Right again, Frank. In addition to heterosexual monogamy, the Bible clearly favors:

          1) Polygamy (Exodus and Deuteronomy assume polygamy is the norm and men will have multiple sexual partners, e.g., Ex. 21:10; see also Abraham, David, Solomon, etc. Even the polygamist Gideon [Judges 8:30] is hailed as a hero of faith in Heb. 11:32)

          2) Voluntary castration (In Matt. 19:11-12, Jesus said, “Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”)

          3) Celibacy (1 Cor. 7:7-11: I wish that all were as I myself am [i.e, unmarried]. But each has a particular gift from God, one having one kind and another a different kind. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain unmarried as I am. But if they are not practicing self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.”) Marriage is clearly an inferior arrangement necessary for people who can’t control themselves.

          4) Sleeping with someone in order to get that person to marry you (see Ruth and Boaz).

          5) And don’t forget that two men can love each other with a love “passing the love of women” (2 Sam 1:23-26: “Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely! In life and in death they were not divided; they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions…. I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; greatly beloved were you to me; your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.”)

          It’s clear as day!

          • Frank

            Scot you are smarter than that and you know it! You are being simplistic not simple.

            1. While nowhere does God condemn polygamy he does have some things to say about marriage : Deuteronomy 16:17-16, Genesis 2:24. Just because the Bible mentions a trait or act of an individual, even a godly person, does not necessarily mean that the Bible endorsed such. The mentioning of Noah becoming drunk and disgracing himself is mentioned, but certainly not condoned (Gen. 9: 20).

            2. Eunuchs – whats your point? Some people were born incapable of sex, some were literally castrated by themselves or others, while some just choose to remain celibate. So Jesus says it’s better to remain celibate.

            3. Yes being celibate and unmarried is the best way to serve God fully but if you burn with lust its better to marry, Whats your point?

            4. Naomi instructed Ruth to do that yes but it went against the Torah because the Torah demands that marriage precedes the yibbum (physical intimacy), whereas Naomi intended for the act of yibbum to lead to marriage. So Naomi gave some bad advice, not God

            5. Sigh not this David/Jonathan thing again! You know better than that! In case you do not: http://www.yaiy.org/literature/Homosexuality.html

            So yes clear as day!

          • Scot Miller

            It’s certainly clear as day that you don’t treat all parts of the the Bible as being equally important. I guess if you had to admit that you’re really being selective and inconsistent in your interpretation (“Scriptures against homosexuality mean exactly what they say, but scriptures about becoming a eunuch or the kingdom really mean being celibate, and scriptures about slavery really aren’t talking about slavery, etc.”), then you couldn’t be as dogmatic and unreflective and uninformed as you are now.

            Yes, clear as day!

          • Frank

            Scot I’ll say it again you are smarter than that and you know it. You are only weakenening your credibility.

  • http://www.djfree.blogspot.com/ DJ

    The new movement of gay, Christian celibacy is tantamount to the “social experimentation” that started in the late 70′s resulting in so-called “ex-gay” Christians.

    The ex-gay lifestyle has been a complete bust. Even Exodus is starting to finally admit this. But given the popular Christian sentiment that if homosexuality = sin, and God is in the business of changing our sin nature, then believing that God would change homosexuality into heterosexuality isn’t much of a stretch. It’s just that after 30 years of this experimenting, we’re starting to recognize that it simply doesn’t happen. So now we Christians have to re-think things.

    The newest social experiments are gay, committed relationships and celibacy. The more sexually squeamish among us are opting for celibacy, as it’s the next best concept based on a traditional hermeneutic. I happen to be of the opinion that in about 30 years, we’ll find the gay celibacy lifestyle is equally a bust (though probably a bit less traumatic than defunct “reparative therapy” strategies). I think the Christian community will re-discover that little part in Genesis where God says “it’s not good for man to be alone.” The experiment that will most likely win the day (but will require a shift in the Christian imagination and interpretation of Scripture – much like we’ve done with the “issue” of divorce) will be monogamous, committed, intimacy for gay people.

    • Frank

      Actually what will be “bust” is those Christians who somehow believe, with no scriptural support, that active homosexual behavior is something that God will condone or bless. Unless you change scripture your opinion will never be the Christian norm.

      • http://www.djfree.blogspot.com/ DJ

        Just as you believe (with no Scriptural support) that slavery is wrong??

        • Frank

          Sigh! I mean is that really a serious question? Because that argument is a failed talking point!

          Slavery in the bible is not the same way our modern world would define slavery first of all. Second of all God says a lot about how “slaves” should be treated (Deuteronomy 15:12-15; Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 4:1)and does indeed condemn slavery in the way we think about slavery. (Exodus 21:16, 1 Timothy 1:8–10)

          • http://www.djfree.blogspot.com/ DJ

            I think would truly saddens me is that you buy that. There’s clearly no way I’ll change your mind, so we’ll have to agree to disagree.

          • http://www.djfree.blogspot.com/ DJ

            P.S. Homosexuality in the Bible is not the same way our modern world would define being gay. Learn this first, grasshopper, and the Kingdom is yours ;)

          • Frank

            Oh DJ that’s just not true. Homosexual couples existed in biblical times and its an insult to Paul to suggest that he did not know that. Plus he would have said something like :However if you are committed, its ok” if indeed it was ok.

            Here is something that will help expand your knowledge: http://www.galaxie.com/article/11293

            You are right that unless you can scripturally show that God condones and blesses homosexual behavior you will not change my mind or the majority of the billions of Christians mind.

          • http://www.djfree.blogspot.com/ DJ

            *Yawn* Yeah, I’ve read that article, and several others like it. The scholarship on the issue not news to me…though you clearly think this is groundbreaking work. You’re mistaken. Actually, Rob Gagnon writes 10 times better on the issue, so next time you try to offer a trump card, make sure it’s worth it. Yet even he misses the point entirely…as do you…

          • Frank

            I don’t need a trump card I have the bible. What do you have?

          • http://www.djfree.blogspot.com/ DJ

            A brain to rightly divide the Bible…and one day, you too may get your brain, Scarecrow :)

          • Frank

            And there we have it… “I know better, my interpretation, though not able to be scripturally supported is right because this is the god I want.”

            Good luck with that!

  • Marshall

    It seems to me that the real story here is how she moved from a community that wasn’t supporting her spiritually to one that did. “I wanted to desire God to fill my life.” The fact that her previous community identified with a certain kind of worldliness is not particularly relevant.

    In answer to Tony’s question, certainly there is a difference between orientation and practice; which is implied by “lesbian” is a matter of usage, which I think varies. There’s no reason to suppose that Maria’s orientation changed. Whatever the general rule, her testimony is that her orientation became for her an occasion for sin, and all we sinners can understand the difference between temptation and practice. Pray us all to do as well as she.

  • jpd7906

    Ok Frank. We’ll see. Scripture was the justification for several “christian norms” that no longer exist in the christian mainstream. Slavery, divorce and re-marriage, women in ministry…

    Does it turn anyone elses stomach that the “christian norm” once upheld the institution of slavery in this country because “scripture clealry taught” that african americans were cursed by God and therefore under His judgement in slavery!?

    I also

    • Frank

      jpd see my answer above on slavery. You are mistaken that the Christian norm upheld slavery. It was a small faction of Christians that did that and they are guilty of distorting God s word. To claim it was the Christian norm in not factual.

      As for divorce I don’t know of any Christian that says its ok, unless it occurs because of certain conditions that are scripturally laid out. Now many Christians can be rightly accused of not standing against divorce but quietly accepting it but I do not see how that furthers your argument. Most divorces and all homosexual behavior are both sins whether we acknowledge them or not.

  • jpd7906

    Frank, that is your perspective now. Had you been among the majority of Chritians when slavery was an institution in this country, your view of scripture would likely have been different. Also, look at the logic you use with scripture to argue against slavery. Its the same logic used by many folks today who are arguing in favor of modern day committed same-sex relationships. It could very well be said that homosexuality in the bible is not the same way our modern world would define homosexuality. I don’t know of one LGBT person, certainly not any Christian ones, who define their attractions and committed relationships as temple prostitution or pedastry.

  • jpd7906

    Frank please notice I didn’t say “divorce” I said “divorce and re-marriage”. I have often been confused by the evangelical mainstream because they do indeed often talk about the “sin” of divorce but hardly ever mention what Jesus had to say about re-marriage. I’ve heard leaders explain that divorce is sin but God is forgiving and divorce isn’t something someone continues to live in. However, Jesus says marriage to someone else is adultery. How many faithful evangelical followers of Christ do you know who have been divorced and are re-married (and apparently continuing to live in adultery)? I know lots and lots in all kinds of roles in the christian community.

    • Frank

      Yes and that points to the hypocrisy of some Christians however that still does not make homosexual behavior something God condones and blesses.

      Hypocrisy of Christians is a very weak argument for homosexual behavior.

    • Marshall

      It particularly bothers me that the solemnization of remarriage generally includes something like “forsaking all others …. until parted by death.” I think it reasonable and gracious that God is willing to let us off the hook on this, but how one stands up and says those words two or three times (as I have seen ordained people do) with a straight face I don’t quite comprehend. Not at all that it’s the worst thing that people ever do, but still: Ps 50:14-15, etc.

      So it goes with sin, one thing leads to another. If Frank or anybody can show me how a committed, life-long same-sex relationship implies oath-breaking, I will have to rethink the question.

      • Marshall

        Full disclosure, speaking as a divorced person. I confess my failure, and I hope for forgiveness.

      • Frank

        Marshall not sure what you are asking. This is not about commitment this is about God’s design for sexuality and marriage. It’s not possible for gay people to have a committed marriage as marriage is one man and one woman. They can have a committed relationship but it’s not a marriage scripturally.

  • toddh

    I just finished reading this book: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003Z0CMNK which is an excellent book written by a gay Christian man who has also chosen celibacy. I think one way or another, wherever we end up on the issue, we have to find room to affirm many different options for gay Christians, especially if we cannot fully empathize with their struggles.

    • Curtis

      There are many straight Christians who wrestle with finding a healthy sexuality and conclude that celibacy is their best option. In fact, that is the option that Paul recommended for all Christians, and many churches still encourage. But it is nice to have the option to marry the love of your life as well.

  • Charles

    It’s no wonder that the conservative Christian view of our Creator is falling out of favor. Who wants to live in that box? Their dim view of homosexuality is appalling. The God I am intimate with, the Creator of All Life, is so much bigger than this narrow (and narrow minded) creation I hardly recognize their language in describing their god’s expectations of them.

    The Closed Canon is only a dim glimpse of God. Human expression cannot possibly describe the wholeness of the Creator. I believe God is disappointed at our comprehension and definition of what it means to be made in her/his image. It saddens me.

    • ME

      We only have a dim glimpse, we don’t know with much certainty what Jesus wants for people who are homosexual. I worry that when we talk about how much we don’t know God, which is true, about how large and vague God is we lose sight of what we do know. We have Jesus, who walked on the earth, and we have some accounts of what he did and said. Jesus was pretty tough on some things. He made some boxes that a lot of people don’t want to live in.

      It’s a kind of paradox (or false paradox) I struggle with. We have this conception of the vague, unknown God, the God of the cloud of the transfiguration, who’s so nebulous that we can’t put any limits on him without being narrow minded. But at the same time he was also an itinerant Jew who said very specific things. Things like how the wedding guest who wore the wrong clothes to the wedding party got beat up for it. Just speaking honestly here, I sometimes wonder if a lot of Christians would really like the God who spoke that parable.

    • Frank

      The small god is one that cannot transform someone. What a small god you worship and what a small box you have created.

  • ME

    A little bit different take on the original post…

    Ideally, our lives are built on the “rock.” The very core of our being is aimed toward God, He is our purpose, our desire, our root. When we label ourselves we are making an identity for ourselves. Several labels could be identify me- American, Male, White, Democrat or Republican, athlete, etc. To an extent, I get a choice what label goes on me. My heart’s desire, and I’m sure it’s the same for many of you, is that I could live my life so that the first thing someone else would label me is a Christian. One thing I choose to do is to never label myself as any of those other labels I mentioned because I don’t care about those things. I want only to be a Christian.

    My recollection from the Bible is that sex isn’t very important in the big scheme of things. Maybe one thing Maria is doing is to withdraw herself from the identity of being a “Lesbian.” I would bet she still has homosexual desires, but maybe she’s decided that she doesn’t want her identity to be wrapped up in her sexuality. Even if she still intended to have same sex (which isn’t the case) maybe she doesn’t want to be a “Lesbian” anymore than I want to be a “Hetero.” It’s just not that big a deal.

    • Frank

      Actually ME sex is a huge deal in the bible.

      1Corinthians 6:12-20
      Romans 1:24-32
      Romans 1:27
      Ephesians 4:19

      • ME

        Allow me to rephrase. Humans satisfying their sexual desires is not that important in the big scheme of things. I’m not trying to downplay the effects of sin (or whatever behaviors we believe are sinful) but to downplay the importance of sex within our lives. In our culture sex is a huge deal. Bigger than it should be.

        • Frank

          So true! Thanks for the clarification.

  • jay

    In the end the people who will find themselves in the wrong corner are those who strictly defend sexual orientation along terms of homo or hetero. Up to this day there has yet to be any conclusive evidence that ones sexual orientation is that static.

    • Scot Miller

      jay, you may be right. My earlier comments here may make this mistake (of reducing the options to two fixed orientations). Perhaps sexual orientation better understood as being on a continuum of some sort, and that we are not fixed on that continuum.

      • http://www.djfree.blogspot.com/ DJ

        Well the research on the issue seems pretty clear that sexuality does have a bit of dynamism, particularly for women, and super-particularly for bisexual women. Men tend to be significantly less likely (or able?) to move along the continuum though.

    • Frank

      Very true so there goes the ” born that way” argument.

  • Larry Barber

    Frank, the problem with your ideas is that they have consequences, consequences like this. People are dying because people like you provide others with religious and theological cover for their actions. If you know something by its fruit, well the fruit of this theological tree is poisonous. Even you don’t personally approve of the bullying and dehumanizing of “the other”, people use your beliefs for justifying their brutalizing behavior. The message of the Gospel is to love your neighbor, even (especially) if your neighbor isn’t like you. Love the Samaritan (homosexual), do not ostracize, do not brutalize, do not bully, do not dehumanize. What you are (constantly) professing on this blog leads to all of these behaviors, how can you justify promulgating it as being Christian?

    • ME

      What Frank professes is not the root cause of the bad behaviors you list. Surely it’s an enabler, and surely Frank’s attitude is a turn-off to many. Lets look at it another way, though. Say that homosexual sex truly is a sin. Even if you don’t believe that, you can’t deny it’s possible that is the case. If it really is contrary to what God wants, can you blame all the nastiness you cite on what God wants? No, the blame goes to the people who ignore or distort what God wants in order to put down others.

    • Frank

      Larry I hear you and it’s true people will use anything to justify their bad behavior including the bible. People also use the bible to deceive others. However the responsibility lies on those who act not on those who beleive. The only person respossible for a bully is the bully and their parents and maybe the school.

      The blame game can make someone feel better but it solves nothing. The bible is clear on sin and while bullying in the name of God is sinful so is lying to people by telling them that gay is ok. It’s not. Not biblically, not psychologically, not sociologically and not biologically.

      • ME

        Frank I think your arguments about gay being psychologically, sociologically and biologically bad are far and away your weakest and least convincing. I think everyone knows what the Bible says on the issue and we all have our different interpretations. But the biological stuff seems like a heck of a stretch. I think of myself as having some understanding of science and if I think your scientific views are way out of whack it makes it harder to give credibility to your theological views.

        • Frank

          Even though the pro-gay side tries to disparage this site there is solid evidence there that cannot be ignored: http://narth.com/

          Search around about how the APA made the decision to remove homosexuality as a disorder despite a plethora of evidence.

          As far as my credibility goes this is not about me. I encourage everyone to do their own honest and unbiased research both biblically and otherwise. No matter how you slice it homosexuality is not good for anyone.

          • Basil

            NARTH is completely discredited. The research done by NARTH’s founder, George Rekers, is false — the child (Kirk Andrew Murphy) who was the subject of his research was tortured daily (beatings, electric shocks, refusal of his parents to speak to him), for years until he was no longer a “sissy boy”. He grew up, eventually came out, but continued to suffer from depression and trauma and ultimately committed suicide. CNN did a multi-part expose on the whole scandal, with extensive interviews with his family.

            As for George Rekers, he was caught in the airport in Miami with a gay prostitute who’s services he had procured Rentboy.com. The most rabid hateful homophobes are always closet queens. That probably holds true for a lot of the commenters here as well.

            As for Maria, it sounds to me like she just wants to be celibate. I think it’s great, it that makes her happy. Whatever happens, we wish her love

          • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

            Frank,

            I’m getting complaints that you are hijacking every thread on my blog. You need to start self-limiting, or I will do it for you. One or two comments per thread is plenty.

            This is your only warning.

            Also, start putting in your actual email address, or I’ll mark you as a spammer.

            Tony

          • Frank

            Tony I only respond to those that post something that requires a response from me. Are you asking me to let challenges go unresponded to?

            Will you be requiring everyone to limit their posts to two posts a day?

            Also that is my email address. I hope you are not thinking of censoring your blog.

            • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

              This is an example, Frank. You’ve posted over 300 comments in the last couple months. It’s too much, and it’s chilling out conversation. This is an example — you’ve posted three comments in a matter of seconds.

              I do censor comments, especially when I feel it’s necessary to maintain a safe environment for conversation.

              I sent an email to your address, and it said there was no such address. Email me at tj [at] tonyj.net.

          • Frank

            Basil narth is only “discredited” by those that do not like what their evidence presents.

      • Larry Barber

        Sorry Frank, you don’t get to sit over there and piously declare “I’m just speaking God’s truth”, this is akin to the anarchist with a bullhorn saying “I didn’t tell those people to smash the windows and loot the stores, I was just speaking the truth about economics and sociology in a passionate way”. You know people will use beliefs and statements like yours as an excuse and a cover for harming other people, how can it be considered an example of Christian love to keep on stating them? Worse, you inhibit those who might otherwise be able to follow their better instincts and help those being brutalized. After all, wouldn’t want anybody thinking I’m “pro-gay”, what would my church think?

        • Frank

          Larry throughout history there are people who use their beliefs to do wrong. The beliefs, nor the people who believe them are responsible for the people who do that. The people who do wrong are responsible for their own actions or inaction for that matter.

          • Larry Barber

            I suppose you could maintain your right to speak your beliefs trumps the wrong that could result from them. Maybe your right to speak your mind supersedes the right of gay men and women to be treated as full-fledged human beings. What I don’t understand is how you can maintain that it is Christian to speak “truths” that you know will be used to devastate others.

      • Sarah

        You said that it is the responsibility of those who act and not on believers. I think we have an even higher responsibility to speak out against those actions and for the people who are the oppressed in this case. You do not have to agree with same sex relations to speak out against sinful, destructive behaviours that hide behind scripture.

  • Chris

    Maria does not simply appear to be claiming celibacy as an alternative to her former lesbian status but rather a *tranformation*! I think that’s an important distinction. Suggesting that she is still lesbian is a simple out for Tony. In a sense she can’t win. I think a person’s story like Maria’s is entirely too problematic for the paradigm that some people hold and are invested in. Maria’s story demonstrates that if even just one truly gay person could, in the fullest sense, be transformed by God’s grace and have a different orientation, then the door is in fact open and change and transformation is possible. As unpopular of an idea as that is.

  • Frank

    Tony if people engage me or say something that is false are you asking me not to respond? If people are being lied to should I keep quiet? I responded back today to posts that were directed at me. What do you suggest I do? Just let it alone?

    Not sure what you are asking me here and you are singling me out simply because people do not like what I have to say even though its supported and factual.

    You have an open blog if you choose to change that so people must be registered to comment that’s fine but singling me out starts to feel like censorship (which btw you have a right to on your own blog but be upfront about it.)

    I am happy to follow the rules of this blog as long as its the same rules that everyone else follows.

    • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

      What I’m asking is very simple: for every 10 times you feel like commenting, only comment once.

      • Frank

        Ok I will do my best! :) Thank you!

  • Carlos

    As a gay guy this conversation is exhausting.

    As to Tony’s question, well most people I know have very fixed sexualities but, some have periods in life when sexuality seems to shift and some people have a very fluid sexuality. If this women has had a sudden shift in her sexuality, or if it was more intrinsically fluid (maybe an unacknowledged bi-sexuality) or if she has simply chosen to be celibate I would have know idea. I just hope in her journey she encounters an on going flourishing, socially-interpersonally-spiritually.


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