The Story of With 1

The Story of With 1 May 1, 2009

Marin.jpgAndrew Marin has earned the right to be heard about gays and the Church. Why? His book, Love Is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation With the Gay Community
, tells the story. That subtitle is what is needed next, and I think it’s the Third Way.

Some are wearied by this discussion.
Some are worked into passionate pronouncements.
Few are willing to sort out the issues, both biblical and relational, and then move into genuine Christian engagement. Andrew Marin does the latter.

Relationships can be life-altering in this discussion: What have relationships with those who “come out” done to your perception of the issues?

There are three views: Some are for, some are against, and some are with. That is, some think once they have said “Homosexual sexual relations are acceptable for those committed to the Christian faith” or “Homosexual sexual relations are unacceptable for those committed to the Christian faith” they are done. They’ve rendered judgment. Very few in the latter camp carry on to be pastorally with those with whom they disagree. Andrew does the latter.

As I said above, relationships often shift this conversation to the next level. Unfortunately, many who are against (and done) do not know any gays or lesbians.

Andrew’s story begins with relationships and his desire to sort out the issues by being faithful to his evangelical Christian faith. “Sitting across from me,” he writes on p. 15, “is a forty-six-year-old Orthodox Jewish man with AIDS on a unique life-ending quest: to figure out who Yeshua is and discover what God’s original plan was for his life before it got derailed with this horrible disease.” Andrew meets with this man every Tuesday night to “seek our Father’s face as we journey to discover why this man’s fate is life and not an early death.”

Andrew’s story is typical: he’s evangelical, white, heterosexual (married), Bible-believing and he wanted “absolutely nothing to do with the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender  (GLBT) community” (16). And he puts it typically: “Homosexuality just grossed me out.” And for his first 19 years he was “the biggest Bible-banging homophobic person” he knew.

Then he had some friends come out to him. Three best friends, three consecutive months. His response was to tell them it was sin. They told him their stories.

Andrew’s response, and it is one I am grateful for, was to immerse himself in the GLBT community  and his goal was to become the “most involved, gayest straight dude on the face of the earth” (19). Then it happened for him: he realized, as a result of listening constantly that there was something going on the GLBT community about God, faith and religion.

He started with Bible studies. With gays and lesbians and bi-sexuals and transgenders. It started with six straight baseball players and became over 100 GLBT folks. The straight people left. Except Andrew.

Andrew tells the story of with.

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  • thalia

    Thanks, Scot and Andrew, for starting this series. I’m really looking forward to reading more.

  • Peter

    I look forward to following this discussion closely as I start to realize that I might not “finally get it settled” in my mind, but will wrestle with what it means to be Christ to the GLBT community. Thank you for this effort.

  • So good to see this “third way.” And quite evident that God set Andrew on it. I am interested to learn from him.

  • Jim Rolf

    I’m very much interested in hearing more about this third way….

  • Joseph

    I attend church with a number of very devout gay people, some of whom are married and/or have children. I have co-taught Sunday School with a lesbian.
    The only difference in their faith that jumps to my mind is that they are persecuted much more by society for being gay, and by their peers for being Christians, than most any of us. It adds an extra layer of reality to their journey.

  • Scot,
    As you know Julie and I have some homosexual Christian friends (gay and lesbian). Along with the quest to be biblically and theologically accurate, it seems so many straight evangelicals blatantly ignore the pastoral dimensions of this controversial issue. Some treat gay Christians as frauds (“You can’t be gay and Christians”) or as *enemies* of the USAmerican construct of the nuclear family (forgetting that Jesus taught “Love your enemies, don’t prance around with signs reading “GOD HATES FAGS”). I am looking forward to these posts as well (and the ones about Wright’s response to Piper et al).

  • Morton

    A prominent male individual in our community was just arrested for solicitation by undercover (male) policeman. I saw his name and face on the 6 0’clock news. He lives right next door to us with his wife and children. My wife and I determined right at that very moment that we would have nothing to do with spreading the story- little help that will do. And then we prayed for him and his family. I want to be helpful but we have never been more than very loosly associated. The only thing we have in common is that we share a property line.
    The thing is I find myself very surprised- even now after years- to have a very close relationship with gay friends. I wasn’t looking for such friendship. It was thrust upon me and I have to admit I had to get over a sense of revulsion, which says something about me and not my gay friends. Anyway, now I am thinking, God keeps putting me where people are stuggling with these issues. Why me? I am like the guy who ran off naked when soldiers came to arrest Jesus.
    Now I find myself thinking I will look for an opportunity, for some kind of conversation that doesn’t seem merely voyeristic and exploitive on my part. Although I have never particularly liked or diliked my neighbors I find myself really caring about what happens to them.

  • My wife just got this book, and I myself have only (so far!) gotten as far as the introduction and first few pages thereafter. I’m looking forward to reading the rest.

  • Kenton

    Thanks for this series, Scot. I’m looking forward to hearing more about this book.

  • Joseph

    What a tragedy, Morton. It’s difficult for me to see any good at all in that situation. Everyone loses. The man is crushed, his family is crushed, his career may be crushed and at the end of the day there are just as many gay people as there were before this happened.
    You may be one of the few people seeking to bring light into the darkness. Bless you. It is easy to love people who act and look like ourselves; it is much harder to love the outcasts and the hopeless.

  • Pat

    While I think some Christians views can change towards homosexuality based on relationships with those who are gay, I think more importantly it has to do with a work that God does in one’s heart and the willingness to be humble before Him. That means sometimes having to reevaluate long-held beliefs, many of which, dare I say, we love more than Whom the beliefs are about. It also requires a humility to admit that we may not have all the answers and that there are some things in this universe that we cannot explain.

  • Your Name

    At first, my judgments on gays had more to do with anger I was carrying around. We cleared up the anger issue with a therapist that was gay, my first time to know someone who had a gay lifestyle. A lot of ideas about gays had to be challenged. What I kept hearing from God was to love them. Oh, then I had a best friend who was lesbian. She was a temptation to be a lover but I am married and wouldn’t do that to my husband and kid. Then God took her away to Guam kinda cleared up that temptation. I finally found someone who’d struggled with their own same sex attractions and come through to the other side, that is, to be hetero, and they helped me understand what was under my same sex attraction and at the same time I was going over the same thing in therapy and was able to lay aside the attraction. I think living a homosexual lifestyle is not God’s will. But there’s many ways to go when friends with someone in a gay lifestyle and for me it was just to enjoy the relationship and love them which I genuinely did. I didn’t love them so to bring them to Christ, I loved them because I loved them. I still sin now and then with the attraction but it’s a lot less than it used to be.

  • BEckyR

    Your name is me, BeckyR. That trips me up a lot.

  • I haven’t read Andrew’s book yet, but I certainly plan to. Based on what I know about his exemplary foundation, it will be a thoughtful and worthwhile read.
    In many ways, my evangelical upbringing has trained me to zero in on the “Is it sin?” question, a question that garners most of the attention in what has become an ugly and spiritually toxic debate.
    The evangelical community’s myopic focus on and shallow treatment of this question has built so many walls and fueled so much nastiness that I’m beginning to doubt whether it’s even a useful question as currently framed.
    For the sake of Christ’s Kingdom, we desperately need to to “elevate” this conversation. There’s too much at stake for us to keep the status quo.

  • Immediately after reading Marin’s book, I went to facilitate my weekly women’s same-sex-attraction recovery group at church. I took the spirit of “the third way” with me into the group and also shared some snippets from the book with them. It was as if we had all exhaled. It was freeing.
    The previous week, I had been compelled to lovingly (I thought) confront one woman for continuing in a relationship she had admitted was sinful because I knew others in the group were making sacrifices and working at coming to know Christ’s will for their lives. She was the most grateful of all for the change in spirit.
    We shared the common frustration and pain of having sought out a fellow Christian in the past to share our burden with. While giving us lip service, these friends never really saw us the same again and drifted away.
    Christians need to learn how to just be present nonjudgmentally in the life of a struggler, whether it is a gay person or someone in bondage to any other sin. We are all prodigals, loved by a patient God who gives us the freedom to run away before realizing we are not so free doing it our way.
    Marin gets it. I hope many more in the Church will get it, too.

  • John M.

    “Christians need to learn how to just be present nonjudgmentally in the life of a struggler, whether it is a gay person or someone in bondage to any other sin. We are all prodigals, loved by a patient God who gives us the freedom to run away before realizing we are not so free doing it our way.”
    Thanks Debbie. I pray that this will happen in me and so many others. All (or at least most of us) have besetting sins. Why do we have to paint as so horrible those who struggle with same sex attraction? It has become the leporsy of our current evangelical culture. Jesus touched lepers. He had compassion on them and loved them.
    Has any one else struggled with temptation to engage in sinful
    heterosexual behavior. I certainly have/am. Why is that different than same sex attraction? I know, I know, what will be said, That’s “natural” the other is “un-natural”? But it is sexual sin. Does God differentiate degrees of sexual sin and temptation? They are human problems and tendencies. He who is without sexual sin cast the first stone.
    Another quick thought. I wonder how many who are so vehemently opposed and vocal abut their hatred of homosexuals, view heterosexual prnography regularly? I guess that’s another topic, but I do know that it is a huge issue in the church, and creates a massive double standard and many double lives for both sexual orientations.

  • John M.

    Oops, should have checked my spelling in the last paragraph before posting. My apologies to all you proof readers and English teachers!

  • John, add to that list of hypocrisies Christians bellyaching over gay marriage when we have made a shambles of marriage even within the church. We let no-fault divorce come on in and make itself at home. That’s not only a broken covenant; it also fails to meet the standard of a simple contract. So marriage becomes meaningless. Until we clean our own house, we have no business trying to clean others’.

  • Deb Hirsch

    I would also like to commend Andrew for all he is doing, however (and no offense intended to what has been said in both the post and in the comments) to proclaim this as a “Third Way” like it’s some new way of responding to the GLBT community is to ignore many people who have already paved a “third way” and have been doing so for many years. These people will probably remain anonymous and unknown and will never have a chance to share their story in the pages of a book. While I do applaud Andrew and all he is doing I also applaud the many other men & women who have been in dialogue & relationship with members of the GLBT community for many years, doing the stuff of the Kingdom without any recognition.

  • Jay

    What Christians need to do is realize that homosexuality is not a sin. It is a sexual orientation. It is no more sinful per se than heterosexuality. Both homosexuals and hetersexuals commit sexual sins, neither one more heinous than the other. You people so eager to condemn others as sinners need to grow up.