They say, I say.

Everyone knows what Christianity, taken as a whole, has to say about homosexuality:

  1. It’s condemned by the Bible
  2. It goes against the natural order
  3. It’s harmful to decent society
  4. It’s just… yuck.

Not everyone knows all of the subtext to that argument, but the overall thrust is clear:  gay people are bad/gross and we don’t want them around.  Sometimes I’m asked why I speak in such a guarded tone, allowing gay people to think that I believe being gay is “okay” and never pushing the issue of holiness.

The people who ask that question seem to be missing a very important fact:  I do require holiness.  I require the holiness of my fellow believers.  And I am mystified by the belief that it is holy to behave in a way that condemns an entire subset of the population without giving them a chance to get close enough to God to hear his voice.

The only time a gay person would attend a church, knowing the above four beliefs that most Christians have about most homosexuals, is if said gay person was already of the opinion that they wanted to leave their lifestyle.  Almost all ministry geared towards homosexuals is centered around the fact that it is a given that they SHOULD leave their lifestyle.  In fact, with meager few exceptions the only time I have ever witnessed a ministry to gay people that was centered around God’s love and desire to know them and NOT their need to change was when it was done by other gays.

There HAS to be another way.  There has to be a way that does not sound like condemnation, fear, and disgust.  There has to be a way that focuses on the immense love their creator has for them, and it has to be possible to get that message coming out of a not-gay mouth.  That is why I’m here.  It’s not about sin.  It’s not about who does and who doesn’t sin.  We all sin, and we all fall short.  We all have our own slippery slopes to debauchery and we all play with sticking our toes over the edges.  The point of discipleship is not to come up with a reproduceable model and to stuff everyone into it’s mold- it is to evaluate each person as they come and wish to become and to help them on their way.

If we start out with a list of sins we simply cannot tolerate existing, we condemn some people to never hear our voice or experience our ministry or feel God’s love through us.  I don’t care if the sin is homosexuality, heterosexual promiscuity, or drinking to excess:  Our goal HAS to be allowing people their own revelations of their sinfulness and coming to an INDEPENDENT will to change, through God’s grace.

Basically what I am saying here is that if God doesn’t want someone to be gay, and that person learns how to listen to God, they will hear it for themselves.  My job, as a Christian and a Christian teacher, isn’t to tell other people what God is saying to them- it is to teach them how to hear God for themselves.

But more than that- it’s my job to love them.  And love doesn’t sound like saying:  “you’re a sinner, you’re an abomination, the Bible condemns you, you’re hurting society, and besides which you’re just plain gross.”

If I ever gave a speech like that, how on Earth could I expect anyone to stick around to hear the good parts?

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16 thoughts on “They say, I say.

  1. “Basically what I am saying here is that if God doesn’t want someone to be gay, and that person learns how to listen to God, they will hear it for themselves.”

    What if that person learns to listen to God, and God tells them that he/she doesn’t care if they’re gay or not.

  2. Clint: Then other Christians should respect that person’s relationship with God, and let go of the need to pass Judgment. There are worse things in the world then two men caring about each other.

  3. Thank you Lindsey. I appreciate what you’re writing about. I started reading with this post and then started working backwards so I wasn’t quite sure what side of the fence you were on in regards to this issue.

  4. Great post! You are always so articulate and intelligent. I have always found that when you criticize people, you back them up against a wall and they dig in. I have always believed that God talks to individuals, not people, and that He will help you find your path, no one else’s.

  5. Lindsey,

    The only problem I see with your response to Clint is that you have made the definition of any sin a completely subjective experience. The whole point of God giving us a Bible is so that we have a very OBjective definition of what sin is so that there is no confusion, and so that no one is deceived.

    Granted, there are cases where Paul says some actions are sin for some people whereas they are not for others, but I in no way interpret that passage to mean that ALL sin is judged in this subjective manner.

    I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you mean homosexuals who are outside of a body of believers should not be judged in the condemning matter that you speak of. I agree. However, if they ARE a part of a body of believers, we are mandated to keep each other in line.

    As an example: If a male member of my church leaves their wife for another woman, we’re right there to call out their sin; you can call it judging if you want. If he then claims that God said it’s ok and has no interest in repenting, they’re shown the door. Maybe people think that’s harsh, but it’s completely scriptual (1 Cor 5).

    Can you imagine if we (a body of believers) didn’t judge each other like the Bible calls us to do? The chaos of people interpreting every sin in a subjective way wearing a “Don’t judge me, God said it’s ok” lapel pin? It’d look a lot like the non-Christian world.

  6. I object to the idea that God gave us a bible. Speaking as an agnostic, not a non-believer, but as someone who is secure in the fact that he knows he does not know, the Bible can at best be described as a history book. And what is history, but the recounting of man and man is fallible. So your notions of objectivity regarding sin are misguided. These sins are what men centuries ago decided upon.

    As an agnostic who enjoys reading about spirituality, I’m continually lead back to the same adage that recurs throughout all major religions and that is to do unto others…I think you know the rest.

  7. Faemom and Ceara: Thanks!

    Rob V.: Well, I do believe the Bible is God-breathed, but I also acknowledge that our human fallibility sometimes gets in the way. I would never say that ALL sin is subjective. There is plenty of objectivity to be had. Lying, for instance, clearly hurts people. Including the liar. There’s never an excuse for that. Rage is clearly harmful. Plenty of sins are condemned all over the Bible, and the reasons for that condemnation are clear and easily explainable, even to someone who is agnostic or just plain doesn’t believe.

    The issue of homosexuality is simply not so clear cut. And the consequences of being condemnatory are really, really dire. Take, for instance, a common interpretation of Romans 1, in which many Christians will quote the Bible as saying that homosexuality is God’s judgment against the unfaithful. While one could construe the Bible as saying that, the truth is a little more gray. What applied to the gnostics of Rome doesn’t so clearly apply to a twelve year old boy who has grown up in the church and always tried to serve God as best he can.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that the Bible’s condemnation of homosexual acts can’t be used to condemn someone for their sexuality.

    Consider the amount of trust and love for God required to set aside something as integral to your being as sexuality. It’s not going to happen overnight, not in the first week, maybe not the first year. Or the first ten. Does God sometimes call people to a different path? Yes. But that is GOD, and when you listen to the testimonies of ex-gays without exception they will talk about God’s call, not that of other human beings.

    Anyway, I’m starting to ramble, so I’ll stop.

    Clint: Not to mention the New Testament’s talk of “freedom from under the law.” Jesus didn’t die so that we’d still be judged by old Testament standards.

  8. Lindsey: If God loves me and made me in his image, why would he require me to “set aside something as integral to [my] being as sexuality?”

    Also, If Jesus didn’t die so that we’d still be judged by old Testament standards, who needs to give their life to ensure that I’m not judged by the 2000 years old standards of the New Testament?

    Please know that it’s not my intention to offend anyone with the questions I’m posing. I’m finding the dialogue incredibly interesting.

  9. Clint: No offense whatsoever. Those are interesting and necessary questions. As for the question of sexuality, there are any number of reasons God may require one of his servants to set aside their sexuality. In the case of someone sexually abused, by cutting off that portion of their being they may find themselves able to heal. Or someone whose desire for sex becomes a stumbling block to their devotion to God may find God asking them to forsake sex in order to learn obedience. Or, in the case of one gay man I know, they may find that their life with another man is so full of pain and heartbreak that the only way they can accept themselves is if they deny their sexuality. I don’t believe that a single answer is ever right for every person. Not every Christian will be fulfilled by a heterosexual union, and not every Gay Christian will be fulfilled by a homosexual one. It is up for each person to determine their own path. There’s no denying that for whatever reason, some gay Christians choose to live a heterosexual lifestyle- likewise some Christians who have been living a heterosexual life feel that in order to fully embrace the person they were created to be they must leave their hetero life for a gay one. I can’t explain why this is in either case, all I know is that I can’t pass judgment either way. I must trust in people’s love for God, and God’s love for people.

    And as for your other question, I feel it’s a little like asking someone who really likes grapefruit to explain it’s appeal when you already know you don’t like it. I can try to explain, but I’m not sure how much it will really mean to you. Why would someone choose to hold themselves to an ancient standard? Well, first off, I believe that some truths are universal, not depending on time or circumstance. Christ’s call for us to love each other as we love ourselves hasn’t lost it’s value. While Old Testament law is no longer fully useful, the story that said law belongs to is. The Bible isn’t a rule book, it’s a story of the Creator trying to woo his creation. Between the laws of the judges, the prophets, and ultimately Jesus we see the story of a God who is faithful to a people who repeatedly denied, disobeyed, and disrespected him. And there are lessons that can be learned from that, lessons that are universal, lessons that live outside any law. Ultimately what the Bible says is that God loves us- even when we do nothing to earn that love, even when we spit in his face, even when we deny him. That story is fulfilled in the New Testament, and personally I don’t think it’s lost any value. The Bible isn’t about the rules, it’s about the narrative. If you read it looking for rules you’ll find emptiness and frustration. If you read it looking for love, well, you’ll find it endlessly.

    Which, I suppose, brings us back to the question of why would a God that loves us ask us to deny ourselves. I can’t speak for every Christian’s experience, but as for my own I can say that everything God has done in my life, even the times I’ve felt he was tormenting me, ultimately turned out to be for my own benefit. But these things are the mysteries of God and I can promise you that no matter how much I explained, if your predilection is to doubt I’ll only sound insane.

    Hope that helps some. Or at least raises more interesting questions.

  10. Wow. Thank you for the thoughtful and eloquent responses to my questions. Simply knowing that there are Christians out there like you gives me hope that we, as a nation, can truly accept each others differences and still come together to create a better union.

  11. Quite a thought-provoking post that really seeks to change the dominant dialogue. Christ invited all men to come and drink. His water still heals and refreshes even if the hands with which we drink are dirty. And who are we to determine when someone else’s hands are clean enough for God?
    Though I’ve never commented before, I’ve read your blog for a relatively short time and I truly appreciate the gracious manner in which you’ve handled this topic.

  12. Clint: You’re very welcome. And please not that I never take offense to being questioned- I understand how confusing my faith can be, and I want people to understand the value I find in it. That can’t happen if I’m unwilling to honestly evaluate the questions asked.

    Nicole, Carmen, and Stephanie: Thank you so much ladies! I’m honored to be able to share with you all.

    Danielle: Welcome to my blog! Changing the dominant dialog is certainly what I’m here for. I don’t think our role is to judge the cleanliness of people’s hands, but instead to offer them space at our well, the tools through which to get the water, and aid if they are too weak to serve themselves.

    I hope you stay around and keep commenting. I’m not writing this blog just to give myself voice, but also to give people a safe place to talk about their own experience.

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