A Gay Hypothetical

My mother and I had an interesting conversation over the past weekend.  It started with talking about my blogging and, of course, eventually narrowed down to one topic that seems to recurr on this blog: Homosexuality.  One must first understand that my parents are staunch conservatives, and my father used to be an associate pastor at a church that left the Mennonite brotherhood because they (that church) couldn’t support the Mennonite association’s gay activism.

My mother kept arguing that we have to be careful about making it sound like sin is “okay”.  I, of course, responded that simply having a homosexual orientation can’t possibly be seen as sinful, as having a heterosexual orientation isn’t inherently sinful.  My mom reiterated that regardless of one’s orientation one makes a choice on how to behave.  And I said, “of course, but think about it from the point of view of the homosexuals.  What are their real choices?”

The discussion progressed.  We talked about sinfulness in general and how people hear stories about gay men being kicked out of churches but you rarely hear stories about people being booted for being gossips, lazy, or selfish.  My mom conceded that point, but also told a story about a woman who she knew of being asked to leave a particular body for being disruptive.

That’s when things started to get really interesting- because I have been around at the inception of people’s questioning their sexuality, and almost ALL of mom’s experiences with homosexuality has been on the other side- homosexuals who have happily chosen to swallow their sexuality and live a straight lifestyle, right down to getting vocal coaching so they don’t “sound” gay.

I explained to Mom the damage done by treating a sexual orientation as if it’s sinful, by being so dreadfully black and white, by making people feel as if they will be judged simply by having questions.  Mom conceded my point but asked at what point do we push the issue, do we force the question of holiness?

This is where the title of my post comes into play.  I asked:

Consider that a gay man comes to your church because he’s curious about God.  And you welcome him, and start him on his journey.  Consider that you do not force conviction but instead seek to show him love and soften his heart, and God starts convicting him.  He changes his attitude towards money, starts spending less and donating to Charities.  He starts volunteering his time.  He starts to be more loving.  He starts to treat his partner better.  He starts to be less angry, less aggressive, more gentle.  He shares Jesus with his friends and some of them start attending, and they form a small group which does a lot of good in the community.  And his friends, their lives start changing.

In all of this time, in all of the good that is done and all of the evidence of God speaking to this man’s heart, in all of his seeking God, he is never convicted of his homosexuality or his choice to be in a gay partnership being wrong.

At what point do you reject him?  At what point do you say, “be straight or get out?”

Or do you trust in his love for God, and let it lay?

Mom never answered the question, and she left the conversation feeling like I’m dangerously liberal- but we both agreed on one thing.  The Church has blood on it’s hands- and the way it approaches the issue of sinfulness needs to change.

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10 thoughts on “A Gay Hypothetical

  1. @ Hayden: It’s pretty intense. One of the stories my mom will tell is about a fairly prominent Christian man who took acting lessons to learn how to “talk Straight”, so that people wouldn’t suspect he might be gay and thus discredit his ministry.

    If he’s doing it because he believes it honors God, that’s one thing.

    But people think this is what they have to do just to be accepted. *sigh*

  2. I still feel like I have to BE a certain way to be accepted in Church. If I was really to just be “me”… well who knows. Excellent points in your post here! It is amazing how much it can hurt to be rejected for “not being good enough” or for “sin”… meaning that some people believe my orientation is a sin. I know that there are hearts that I cannot change, but I wish that a few folks in my life could read this post.

  3. Another great post Lindsey and I liked this question. “Or do you trust in his love for God, and let it lay?”

    Another question would be, “Do Christians trust their God enough to allow him to work in his way and his time”? It seems to me that you are trusting God to do his work. And I must say you are doing a wonderful job of doing your work, showing God’s love to ALL of his children.

  4. Wow. Great arguements in your post. You have some courage to talk to your mom about things like that. When I argue with my mom about things she doesn’t agree with, she rolls her eyes and tells me I’ll understand when I’m a little older. It still hasn’t happened.

  5. bridgeout, I honestly have to say that that feeling of “belonging” (or not) happens to straight people, too – for all kinds of reasons that aren’t about sexual orientation at all.

    Having been the route of “not good enough,” I can sympathize with how you feel, though for very different reasons!

  6. Whether you “let it lay” depends on two critical questions:

    1. Is sodomy sinful?
    2. Is this individual actively engaging in sodomy?

    Bear with me here.

    If the answer to either question is “no”, then there is nothing to condone nor correct. His lifestyle choices would be no more morally relevant than the way he brushes his teeth.

    However, if the answer to both questions is “yes”, then I would treat him the same as a heterosexual friend who is actively engaging in premarital or extramarital sex – with love, kindness and the utmost respect, while never actively condoning his activity. In fact, if he were seriously sinning I would be obligated to speak up. First, true love for an individual requires being actively concerned not just for his temporal comfort but his ultimate happiness and salvation. Mere tolerance is easy by comparison because it requires no real action and makes nobody uncomfortable. Second, condoning a serious sin would itself be a sin of scandal. Essentially I would be complicit in the sin’s normalization and wider acceptance. Third, every sin ultimately offends God. Knowing this and encouraging its continuance or increase would be morally reprehensible on my part. Would I recommend he be kicked out of the church? Of course not. It’s a cliche but it’s true: the church is not a museum for saints but a hospital for sinners. In the church is exactly where we belong.

    Remember, this all depends on “yes” being the answer for questions 1 and 2 above. This is why they are so critical to the topic here. They are completely missing from your hypothetical scenario (one might say intentionally avoided) and I feel this unfortunately robs your argument of its potency.

  7. bridgeout: that is really just a shame.
    Stephanie and wvhillcountry: Thank you both so much.
    Faemom: My parents always encouraged us to enter into debate and make our own decisions about our beliefs. *lol* They may be regretting it now that their daughter is a liberal Independent, though!
    e2tc: I know the information you just shared is nothing “new”, but it makes me so angry every time I hear it.

    Jennifer: Again, I never state on this blog my personal opinion on the matter, because it’s simply not salient to the discussion. I find it interesting that everyone assumes that I DON’T believe it to be sinful, though- is it REALLY that hard to believe that someone might condone gentleness and acceptance even conceding that it is sin? We accept people in sinful states all the time, and normally ignore those sinful states so long as they aren’t blatant or obstructive.

    Let’s assume that homosexual acts are sinful, and this person is in an actively gay relationship. What then should our response be? To say “be straight or get out”, or “I’m concerned for the affect this may have on your relationship with God, and because I love you I feel I must tell you how deeply concerned I am”, and then to let God do the rest in his own time, allowing the man to suffer the inevitable spiritual consequences of ignoring God, but still staying with him and loving him should he grow to come to repentance?

    The problem is that the way this is normally handled excommunicates gay people from the flock and leaves them nowhere to turn should their days grow darker. It’s wrong, period. We’ve stopped trusting God and trusting in other people’s love for God. We’ve stopped believing that God can do his job and started believing it’s our duty to eradicate sin.

    It’s not.

  8. It took me a couple of days of thinking to respond to this post. I have had similar conversations with my own mother about the slippery slope and where to draw the line. I love your saying, love the sinner, not the sin. Although I personally don’t believe homosexuality to be a sin as science has proved that it is hardwired into a person’s biology therefore created by god and not man’s depravity, I just shrug and sigh.

    I think we all need to focus more on our own sins, and less on the sins of others.

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