The Question of Homosexuality Is the Wrong Question

Update: The exposure for this post has created quite a stir, both positive and negative, so I have written a bit more on the subject here to help clarify and explain some of this post and what was written in the comments.

My post today is part of a larger initiative of more than 60 bloggers all coming together to share their thoughts on how to bridge the gap between people of all sexual orientations and the church. You can check out the other blogs by clicking below. Blog List | Twitter Feed

I still remember one day during Grade 11 English class, when my teacher was at the back of the room wiping tears from her eyes. She wanted us to write a response to the situation when a Catholic high school student wanted to bring his same-gendered partner to prom. Instead of writing a response, I put up my hand and explained how crazy I thought she was that she would even make us respond to such a situation. I was convinced it was clearly wrong and I shouldn’t be subjected to her ideologies.

Then an argument broke out between us, right there in the middle of class. Most of the other students kept quiet. I don’t think homosexuality was on the forefront of any of their minds at the time so they didn’t say much. Perhaps many were apathetic and hadn’t allowed this controversial topic much personal thought. Or maybe they just decided to keep their views to themselves in spite of the present circumstances. However, as a result of my indoctrination by a charismatic church, I had already made up my mind on the subject. Like any good Christian, unashamed of his faith, I told her exactly how I felt: that it was sin. Within a few minutes, she was holding back the tears because of how insensitive I was.

Through tears, she told us that in university she took a class titled ‘Homosexuality in Shakespeare’ and that she was the only heterosexual student in the class. She went on to say that it was her favourite class not because of the subject matter, but because she was able to see beyond stereotypes and recognize a group of marginalized humans as people, no different than anyone else. Some of her best friends came from this class and she loved them dearly. I was indifferent. I was a sixteen year old, know-it-all who just had to make sure that she, and the entire class, knew what was right and what was wrong. It was a black and white issue for me.

That was seven years ago and I feel like I’ve come a long way since then. In fact, many friends think I’ve gone far too far in the opposite direction. I find myself way more empathetic with those who are gay and those pastors who would marry gay couples than I do with the majority of the church population that looks down upon it. Plenty of factors have gone into forming my new worldview.

For starters, the way I read the Scriptures now, and the way I understand the church and its role in the world has released me to not be so driven by what I think is right and wrong. When I stopped viewing the Bible as a moral code for my life and started seeing it as a story of a God who is passionately in love with his creation, everything looked different. Grace is becoming my language rather than rules, and this has changed the way I see sin and the spiritual condition of everyone around me. Humans are not a sum of their sins and the death and resurrection of Christ made sure of that. People are humans in need of grace and loved by God first. We can tack on whatever adjectives we want after but they don’t really help us define someone. My part in anyone’s journey is to love them and proclaim the Good News, not to explain to them where they fall out of line.

For me, sin is no longer reduced to individual acts of good or bad. We are all sinful beings. Furthermore, to reduce sin to a single personal action is to negate Christ’s death and focus on an individual pursuit of holiness by simply attempting to refrain from personal sinful acts. I think we do ourselves a disservice by identifying homosexuality as a specific sin. Personally, I’d rather just say we are all sinners, all of humanity, and leave it at that. Why do we insist on splitting up every individual action into categories and placing people into them?

As I begin to understand sex more, I have more grace for those who do not share the same sexual orientation of the majority. Most thoughts and actions in my own heterosexual relationships are full of selfishness, lust and improper desires. My wife and I have very different needs and desires that result in a daily struggle to understand each other’s point of view. When relationships disappoint, it is a natural reaction to look elsewhere, even outside societal norms, to fulfill these longings.

There is plenty of good in a relationship between two people of the same gender. No one would think twice if I had life-long committed relationships to the church or to another guy if we were strictly friends. But since there are reproductive parts involved we all of sudden deem this kind of commitment unthinkable. I fear that insecurity with our own sexuality has caused this uneasiness toward the homosexual lifestyle. Just because we hate the idea of homosexual sex, doesn’t mean we can toss out all the good parts of the relationship.

My relationship with my wife runs very deep and there are plenty of factors that play into it. If my relationship was all about sex, it would not be much of a relationship. We know though, that a part of marriage and relationships runs a lot deeper than just what happens with our bodies. One of the more beautiful parts of a marriage is the commitment and covenant to each other no matter what life brings. We should be affirming and blessing mutual covenants of love between any person and not denying them of a basic human need. We need to focus on what we affirm rather than what we want to get rid of. Why are we so bent on taking away all the good in a relationship? Is it just to prove our theology? Is it just to satisfy our own desires for holiness to be met around us?

What we really want to know is if God frowns upon homosexuality? Is it a sin? If you are coming from a Biblical perspective, it’s an easy response to point out that God intentionally created one man and one woman and the few verses here and there that reference it. May I offer a perspective that I think may be helpful?

Jesus reminds us over and over again that kingdom relationships look differently than the ones we have right now. If Jesus was serious in Matthew 22 that at the resurrection people won’t marry or be given in marriage, then this tells me that the future is a little out of the ordinary compared to where we are right now. The Sadducees tried to trap Jesus into questions about the rules and laws surrounding marriage. The Sadducees were using this woman as an example for their theological ideologies. Jesus threw out the entire question and told them that they were in error. How can you be in error by asking a question? Jesus seemed to have thought that the question was so flawed, that it wasn’t the question that was in error, but the actual people asking the question.

That’s what I am more inclined to do when it comes to the question of whether or not homosexuality is wrong and especially the question of how we are supposed to treat those who are homosexual. Throw out the questions entirely. It doesn’t really get us anywhere and only hurts the people we are talking about. We end up using homosexuality as a pedestal to spout off our ideas about the ways we think the world should be. In the meantime, we’ve hurt the people we are supposed to love in the pursuit of trying to force righteousness, something we know we can’t do anyway.

Instead, we could jump into the next few verses after this section when the Pharisees jumped in and asked Jesus what the greatest law was. The answer is obvious; blatantly obvious: Love God and love others. Our mandate as Christians is to bring God’s love, justice and mercy to the world; not the majority of the world, or one country of the world, or one race of the world. We are called to love our neighbour; all of humanity, regardless of sexual orientation.

Update: Since this post I’ve stumbled across some great reads like David Fitch’s post here, and Walter Wink’s article here. I also posted some more great posts from the Syncroblog here.

65 Comments

  • Thanks Nathan for engaging in this larger conversation.

    For regular readers here ….. please do check out the other links …. some very thoughtful, gracious and hope-filled posts are emerging in this collection of conversations.

  • I agree with the context in which you speak about homosexuality but as much as Jesus spoke on loving others I think it is very important that maybe we don’t just put sexuality into its own basket.

    We need people to notice that God is also a God of Justice, I agree; who are we to judge others? Only God can, for we are all sinners who fall short, but I think it is still very important for the us as Christians to stand against the forces of sin in our culture no matter what it looks like, sex, drugs, or false religion.

    These strong holds the devil is trying to build into our culture and into our children’s minds needs to be stopped. Teaching kids about sexuality, & homosexuality as being perfecting normal acts in our culture is disturbing to say the least, we as Christian need to act in love, but also never wavier to the side of saying sin is okay, or sin is how would we say it, not so bad.

    To wrap up I believe that fighting for our personally beliefs is okay when done correctly but allowing the devil to grow this kingdom, well we are silent is why we have such a problem today. So I will protest all things in which our laws or freedoms and or morals are compromised by others who think their sin should be legal or justified.

  • A lot of GLBTACQIO (Alphabet Soup) people question why I go to church and why I’m even seeking a community with other Christians when there are so many within the church who seek to condemn me. The answer is complicated, of course, but honestly, I’m seeking something bigger than myself, a community, and I want to learn to be the kind of person that I expect others to be, and the only way to do that is within a community of other people. Someone once told me that for Christians, the church is the only boat afloat, and you can’t fix a floating boat from the outside because you might not be able to tread water long enough to point out everyone else’s mistakes, so what we need to do is all pile into the boat together and bail water like crazy, and then when we get to the holes, plug them up together.

    Thanks for being willing to do that.

  • This is a fantastic post. Thank you for writing it and sharing it with us.

    I particularly want to thank you for being willing to look at same-sex romantic relationships as something that involves more than sex. It seems to me that too often, our relationships are reduced to nothing more than a string of sexual escapades. I appreciate your willingness to see through this falsehood and look at my relationships as more complex and holistic than that.

  • So what’s the bottom line, in your view, when it comes to the blessing of same-sex marriages by the church?

  • Hi Nathan,
    Some good thoughts. Check out “A True Brother” on the web, you will find it at CBC or BBC radio.

  • Hey Nathan! Good to hear from you again. This was wonderfully written and the story really captures the difference between arguing a point and speaking truth to real people.

    Brian

  • So Rob missed the point of the letter when he asked

    “So what’s the bottom line, in your view, when it comes to the blessing of same-sex marriages by the church?”

    If the church went ahead and made up there little rules for them to live in where no gays can marry then who cares. If the church wants to alienate themselves from everyone, I mean only the sinners then let them do so.

    If two people who are of the same sex want to marry, who am I – an un-honest sinful heterosexual – to tell a homosexual couple they cant love one another and share common unions of a heterosexual.

    If your church is stuck in a rut and doesn’t recognize, don’t look to steer their ship to understand; steer your own.

  • To Ron Smith,

    I don’t believe that when speaking of a homosexual marriage we are speaking from our own authority. A union where two people agree to be faithful to one another is completely different from a marriage recognized by the church. You don’t delude a standard because we’re falling short of it. If you are a high-jumper the only way to grow, and get better is to keep pushing the bar out of reach to encourage better performance, not bringing it down so we all can achieve it.

    The sound of being told a church is in a rut scares me, it’s a line of thought held by the same people that say that the church should change with the times, or “evolve”.

  • Rob, in answer to your question.

    “So what’s the bottom line, in your view, when it comes to the blessing of same-sex marriages by the church? “

    The point of this post for me was to point out how useless a question like “is homosexuality wrong?” For me it’s a non issue and for me to not bless a lifelong commitment of two people would make me feel like I’m judging them, that I’m in somehow a place in my life where I can withhold blessings from someone else and is to not appreciate the good that is in their relationship and focus only on the bad. So in answer to your question. I think the church should be blessing any union people, homosexual or heterosexual.

  • Hey David B, could not you use the same analogy in that at one time it may have been law that black people sit at the back of the bus may have been law or the accepted thing, but unless we “lowered” the bar and were challenged and pushed out of our comfort zone then we would still be racist. I don’t think sexual orientation is a “standard” at all, that seems demeaning in that my marriage is closer to the standard than a homosexual one.

  • fantastic discussion – tricky isn’t it. I was so embroiled in this when i was at st.g for a decade! man – one of the reasons i left.
    Couple thoughts – i do think there must be some ‘standard’ not in the sense that some things are used..but i do think you have some marriages that are closer to a standard. We wouldn’t say that an abusive marriage is an acceptable one, we might even say it was further away from some standard of a good marriage. Then we might go on to say that abuse is not acceptable because our standard is love, and to love we must accept people as they are, not as they ought to be. But there still is an ‘ought.’

    I was quite interested in where Mclaren was going to take his interpretation of several of the more specific passages dealing with sexuality.
    At present I like a little gray in my position!

    Not too sure where i stand…or even if I need to take a stand at present!

    Great thoughts mate.
    Chris

  • Hey Chris thanks for the comment.
    Agreed, a standard is important, I’m not arguing for relativism here, I do think there is such thing and good.
    I guess I’m just not seeing how a homosexual marriage is bad (or a worse standard)
    If we are going to set a standard for marriage, I don’t know is the gender should matter.
    Love, commitment and mutual submission has got to be the aim.
    It’s hard to take a “stand”, you are right….
    All I’ve been talking about today though, so the day has been healthy

  • Thanks so much for this. It is an honest and thought provoking look at a tough issue. I like what you have said and will certainly be thinking about it.

  • TOTALLY agree you won’t get anywhere by showing homosexuals a list of rules and telling them they need to abide by them. As a sinner, they are absolutely no different than me. but what about repentance of the actual sin? that is a big part of our relationship with Christ. we sin because we are simply sinners, yes. but we do commit actual sins that need to be forgiven and atoned for.

  • Without denying that committed, even covenantal relationships between members of the same sex can be a good thing, I think you would be hard pressed to demonstrate that Scripture isn’t clear about what the “ideal” is (cf. Mark 10:5 It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law, Jesus replied. But at the beginning of creation God made them male and female'” etc.). Yes, our sexuality is fallen and the church should not be judgmental and always welcoming. However, in blessing (i.e., affirming) same-sex relationships (or in any way equating them on the same level as marriage), I think you would be (as a pastor) pushing people out to sea in a boat that doesn’t float. Marriage is ultimately a social covenant and is designed for, among other things, the protection and rearing of children. It is notcontrary to our particular cultureprimarily about romantic love.

  • Hey Rob, thanks for chatting about this with me, I respect you a lot and its good to hear your voice on the matter.

    Agreed, if we look at Genesis 1 and 2, it’s easy to pull out the idea that God created man and women for each other. But if we were to take this logic further, wouldn’t it also follow that we should all be naked gardeners also? I have a hard time building my theology around these verses for this matter when we have obviously evolved in many ways (good and bad) from genesis 1 and 2.

    Agreed, marriage is designed, among other things, to raise a family. As Christians though, we also believe that a marriage parallels the churches relationship with Christ. This imagery (from my understanding) is restricted to the two parties involved in the marriage and not the kids they are raising. The analogy also probably doesn’t involve sexual intercourse. So what are we left with? Covenant, submission, love etc. All things that could still exist within a homosexual relationship. So while I don’t think it is strictly about romantic love, I do this agape has a large part in the definition.

  • “grace is becoming my language rather than rules..”.Definitely something we should all live by…Well written Nate.

  • “Very thoughtful discussion Nathan. I hope lots of people read it and think about it. Cheers Phil”

  • I enjoyed Mclaren’s post http://tinyurl.com/nlhep2, never even thought of that story in regards to this conversation at all.

  • hey nate, read that, but didn’t understand the logic in the comparison… just because philip baptized a eunuch, is thin grounds for saying he would have accepted a homosexual believer… i’m not sure how how these bridging the gap blogs are that positive… message me, cause i don’t think i get it

  • I don’t think McLaren is saying that Eunuchs and Homosexuals are the same, but what I think he is saying (or at least what I would say) is that in the same way that this Eunuch would have had a difficult time being part of a community of people following God because of his sexual identity, is the same way that homosexuals are finding it hard now.

    … Read MoreIf Christ’s death truely made us all one on Christ Jesus, no male or female, jew nor greek, dare I say homosexual or heterosexual? I just think he is trying to say, that someone’s sexual orientation should never become an issue that decides whether or not we welcome somebody into a community of people following God. It’s just not an issue that deserves to ostracize people.

  • By using that comparison, It sounds like you are saying that either being jew or greek is a sin, or that homosexuality isn’t.

  • exactly :)
    sort of like how Paul would have used it to talk about the Gentiles to the Jews….

  • I’m didn’t read the article yet, but trying to figure it out…
    You believe that it is ok to be a homosexual because it is similar to being greek? Do you differentiate between active homosexuals who plan on continuing in that behaviour, and those who have same sex desires that don’t act out on it?

  • I don’t think homosexuality is just a behavior, I think it’s an orientation, which is the same as being Jew or Greek….or male or female….you don’t decide.

  • Perhaps I should wait to ask questions until after I read, but one last one. Do you believe that Bible has wrongly called it a sin and put it with adultery, etc.?

  • i don’t believe the bible calls it a sin. i don’t believe that the bible calls homosexuality as we know it today anything at all.

  • It’s sad that there are so few who hold the same feelings… But thank you for this post..

  • Nathan, you write that “i don’t believe the bible calls it a sin. i don’t believe that the bible calls homosexuality as we know it today anything at all.” Do you mean committed life-long monogamous relationships? In my experience those are fairly rare (not that this invalidates your argument, but I think it is worth noting that this is not the majority of homosexual relationships). What is far more common is the case of a man married to a woman (with children) who experiences attraction to the same sex, acts upon it, and then somehow feels that this invalidates his marriage and family commitments. How would your view of “covenant, submission, love etc.” resolve this dilemma?

  • Rob C.
    I think its very rare for gays to be in a committed, married relationship because …… its illegal to be married. So how can you see it?
    The reason its “common” to see a man and a woman is because its socially accepted (and legal). Being in a gay relationship isn’t so common because their outcasts. The chances of seeing gays walking hand in hand to the store to get milk will be very rare.

  • Nathan – awesome blog post. I know there are a lot of skeptics to this mentality in the church. It’s brutal how so many church-attenders hang on to the “gay = sin” ideology with a death grip, claiming that those who speak out against it are allowing the devil to get a foot-hold.
    As far as I’m concerned, accepting people, regardless of orientation, isn’t watering-down the gospel or giving the devil a foot-hold. If anything, its scraping away the bullshit to reveal the love and unconditional grace that God has for us.

  • Ron,

    Not sure where you are, but here in Canada it is not illegal, nor is it socially unacceptable which has actually introduced a rather paradoxical problem in that a number of gay couples who were recently married are now not able to get divorced: http://atheism.about.com/b/2004/07/22/canada-first-same-sex-divorce-occurring.htm

    My only point is that the idea of the life-long monogamous homosexual relationship doesn’t often correlate to the actual situations the church is being asked to affirm.

    Nathan,
    I am also puzzled by Brian McLaren’s blog referencing Acts 8 and using the Ethiopian Eunuch as an example for affirming such relationships. Clearly the NT Church understood themselves as the prophetic fulfillment of passages such as Joel 2:28 And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.” There are dozens of passages of in the Hebrew Bible which point in this direction of the blessing of Israel being extended across both sexes, generations, economic status and geographical location and yet none even hint at gender redefinition. Nor is this picked up in the NT. What the NT does say about homosexuality is that it is ultimately a denial of created order. I think the linguistic argument that the homosexuals Paul had in mind were “sexual offenders” is pretty weak, though perhaps you have come across something more persuasive?

  • To Rob Clements’ comment:

    Although I am unable to disagree with your perception that “committed life-long monogamous relationships…are fairly rare”, I would attempt to argue more objectively by mentioning the fact that we hear more about “a man married to a woman (with children) who experiences attraction to the same sex, acts upon it, and then somehow feels that this invalidates his marriage and family commitments” or about multiple sexual partners within a gay relationship than we hear about an actual committed relationship between any LGBTQ couple. I would presume that one of the main reasons is because the stereotypes surrounding this community sell more books and reality TV shows than a scenario of a private couple in love for a lifetime (think of how few functional heterosexual couples are in the media spotlight). I doubt that they feel they need to prove anything to anyone because their love for one another is not based on how many children they have, what benefits they are allowed under law, or being any straight person’s token gay friend (that is to say, they are not insecure and grasping for an identity for their relationship by reaching for the nearest stereotype). Any relationship put under a spotlight (by media or status quo) is going to appear disfunctional. For those who are more intent on entering into a relationship for the benefit and service of each other, perhaps making a public statement touting their marriage as being an example for other GBLTQ couples to follow would instead be a detriment to their union by pushing both of them into an unwanted spotlight. (We’ve all seen examples in pop culture of what this has done to relationships of many orientations)

    In regards to the “dilemma” that you propose, this indeed does happen a lot. I wish there was a black and white answer to it but the sad fact is is that so many of us are pushed into fitting into certain camps as children and forbidden to question many different status quotients. This is fortunately slowly changing however, so often many adults (of any orientation) happen to wake up after they have had children and realize that they are two completely different people 10 or 15 years after they have been existing in a marriage. Although you may not see it this way, most often the only two choices seem to be to continue in misery fantasizing about the life that they could have had (and in many cases carrying it out in secret) or pursuing and venturing out for the only goal of becoming more self aware before continuing with their life. I empathize with the children however in some cases, the gay dad in a straight relationship hiding his true feelings can manifest itself in somewhat destructive ways (not all the time mind you).

    Dave

  • John,
    Good questions. I think for me, I’m moving homosexual relationships out of the proscribed set and into the accepted set. I’m ok with people who can’t make that leap, as long as at least the leap to accept them into their communities with open arms is made.

    What I find will end up happening is churches don’t know what to do with homosexuals so they end up leaving them on the outskirts saying they can worship with us, but as soon as they want to truely get involved then there is no room for them becauase obviously they arne’t following Jesus. This bothers me, because well even if you do view it as a sin, I sin daily, intentionally even, all the time and how come I can be involved and in places of leadership?

    So this is why I think the question first needs to be how do love homosexuals and how can we accept them into our communities with open arms, like we do with everyone that sins, and then worry about whether or not homosexuality is a sin or not.

  • That was a well written blog.

    I’m left wondering though, what is the right question?

    Is the right question simply how do we treat others, gays included?
    I can see that, regardless of any other portion of this issue, how the Church has generally treated gays has certainly not been with love.
    What about after we have that answer?

    I can’t help wondering, are we saying that God does NOT care about our behaviour? Are we saying we accept and affirm and bless all behaviour? Or are we simply moving homosexuality out from the proscribed set into the accepted set? Do we have a scriptural basis for placing it in one set or the other, or are we simply reacting to the people we know and whether we like their behaviour or not?

  • I find that when Christian’s get together to talk about something such as this, there’s a tendency to draw a line. It seems as if this conversation is taking place from the outside (not necessarily bad). It’s one thing to sit around and talk about how to ‘engage the homosexual community’ or whatever, but it’s a whole other thing to do just that. I realize the benefit in discussion, however, I’m curious how a homosexual that isn’t trying to follow Christ would respond when reading discussions like these? My guess is that there may be a sense of alienation. Here ‘we’ are, talking about ‘them’ and how to handle them. I realize there are differences between people, but there are also similarities. We are fellow humans, all here for the same reason but how often do we view homosexuals as an entirely different people group?

    By the way, I *do* think these sorts of discussions are beneficial, these are just some added thoughts.

    What if we start with a question like, “how are we alike?”

    JT

  • In my studying on these issues i have found that the concept of homosexuality as we know it today does not seem to exist in scriptures. what is referred to is not the same reality at all, or at least the scripture writers do not manifest the same understanding of the reality we have today. this is too short a forum to really get into it but two … Read Moreexamples give you an idea how dangerous it is to use scripture to subjugate a class of people. The two words used by Paul, “malakos” and “arsenokoitai” have been taken at least since the early twentieth century to indicate that ‘homosexuals’ will be excluded from the kingdom of heaven. The word malakos is extremely ambiguous. Some scholars agree that the word means “sick”, “soft” or “effeminate”. They say that this is by no means a technical term for homosexual. In a moral context, it can be used to imply loose, morally weak, or lacking in self control. the second word, “arsenokoitai” meant male prostitute until well into the fourth century.

    Both John Mcneill and Robin Scroggs have gone further into reasearch to see it as meaning ” an obsessive corruptor of boys”. Scroggs especially has done extensive research into the pederasty that was apparent in Greek and roman times . Of course Christians would have been opposed to this type of sexual encounter.neither of these words can be said … Read Moreto point to the contemporary model of adult/adult mutuality in same sex relationships today.homosexuals too deserve happiness and fulfillment in the framework of interpersonal relationships and using the Bible to say that they are not going to be part of the kingdom of God is , to me, an outrage.

  • What word is used for homosexual in 1 Cor 6:9?

  • Again, you have to remember that some translations of Greek words leave a lot to be desired. Corinthians 1 is one of the ones scholars are talking about in above comment. My whole point is one has to be careful just pulling out words from the bible to use against people when there may be a lack of contextual knowledge as well as translation problems.

  • JT, my brother, who is gay, said to me that 95% of the time we are the same.

    Nathan and others,
    I think we do gymnastics to try and say that the Bible doesn’t say that homosexuality is a sin. The pendulum in the evangelical church was extreme – homophobia, fearmongering, finger pointing,… The way to deal with that is not to swing the pendulum completely to the other side and say that homosexuality is not a sin.

  • right, but I am wondering if it is “malakos”, or, “arsenokoitai” used in that particular verse?

  • By the way, nathan, i meant to tell you have wonderful your blog was and how much gratitude i have for people who are honest like you.

    Oh sorry, warren, i’m pretty sure it’s arsenokoitai but i’ll have to go down to my baement and dig out my greek Bibl…arrg my Koine greek is rough now a days…haven’t taken new testament greek since 1997!

  • Rob,
    I could not and would not affirm relationships of oppression or selfishness in any case, homosexual or heterosexual.

    I think McLaren’s only point was the Eunuch was confused with his sexual identtiy and the church made room for him where normally there was no room for someone like him. Eunuchs in many ways (especially in that culture) were looked at as having their gender redefined did they not? At least that was my understanding. Homosexuals are very much in the same boat, right now the church doesn’t know what to do with homosexuals, they have been pushed to the side because of their sexual identity for a long time. But like Philip, maybe we need to look past that?

    Henri’s comments about the greek words above are basically the same things I have discovered. I do not think these words used by Paul are referring to committed relationships at all. So If I don’t think the Bible is directly speaking to us about two same gendered people being in a committed relationship together, and if we can hold them accountable to that relationship then I think as the church we could probably learn to bless these relationships as well.

  • Nathan, I could not agree more with your post here. The Church is called to accept everyone, regardless of the sin in their lives. I mean, if you accept someone who gets drunk, some one who gambles, someone who lies, or someone who lusts (i would go as far as to say that most of us fall into one or more of these occasionally), then why not accept someone who is homosexual? This, in response to Christians who refuse to question homosexuality’s nature as a sin. Personally, I do not know if it is a sin necessarily, but I don’t know whether I’d call it ‘right’ either. It’s hard to even discuss the issue of this as a sin, i feel, because the Bible never speaks clearly on it. Obviously, the nature of sex between a man and a woman is a much deeper act than a purely mechanical one. Rather, it is a deeply emotional, and dare I say, spiritual act. This act is clearly only meant to be shared within the covenant of marriage. If homosexuals cannot experience this, than should they be allowed to be married in a church-sanctioned covenant? Is homosexuality a right practice then? That’s the steps my mind takes, anyways, and I’m sure someone who knows much more than I on the subject will be here to shortly to chastise me for my lack of knowledge. Perhaps, as Nathan has said, the question of homosexuality as a sin, is simply the wrong question. Bottom line: the Church is called to accept everyone regardless of what sin (or what one may personally perceive as a sin) is in their lives. That’s more what I’m leaning towards anyways.

  • Nathan, I could not agree more with your post here. The Church is called to accept everyone, regardless of the sin in their lives. I mean, if you accept someone who gets drunk, some one who gambles, someone who lies, or someone who lusts (i would go as far as to say that most of us fall into one or more of these occasionally), then why not accept someone who is homosexual? This, in response to Christians who refuse to question homosexuality’s nature as a sin. Personally, I do not know if it is a sin necessarily, but I don’t know whether I’d call it ‘right’ either. It’s hard to even discuss the issue of this as a sin, i feel, because the Bible never speaks clearly on it. Obviously, the nature of sex between a man and a woman is a much deeper act than a purely mechanical one. Rather, it is a deeply emotional, and dare I say, spiritual act. This act is clearly only meant to be shared within the covenant of marriage. If homosexuals cannot experience this, than should they be allowed to be married in a church-sanctioned covenant? Is homosexuality a right practice then? That’s the steps my mind takes, anyways, and I’m sure someone who knows much more than I on the subject will be here to shortly to chastise me for my lack of knowledge. Perhaps, as Nathan has said, the question of homosexuality as a sin, is simply the wrong question. Bottom line: the Church is called to accept everyone regardless of what sin (or what one may personally perceive as a sin) is in their lives. That’s more what I’m leaning towards anyways.

  • Troy, I couldn’t have said it better!
    John, if the right question is “How do we treat others?” (and I think that is the right question.), and the answer is “With love.”, then that is what we need to do. It may only take a moment to figure out the answer, but it will truly take a lifetime to live it. So there will probably never be an ‘after’.
    JT, I think the ‘us’ and ‘them’ points of view are a big part of the problem. As long as we put people into boxes (by color, culture, gender, economic status etc.), we are continuing to give our prejudices a place to thrive.
    Nathan, awesome post, and wonderful, reasoned discussion. I found your story moving, and your background very similar to mine. I tend to think like you that understanding God’s character of grace needs to be the foundation for our theology. We need to interpret the Bible in the light of who its author is.
    I look forward to checking out the rest of your blog.

  • Hey Nathan,

    I am Jon Eastman’s sister (incase you were wondering). The last time Jon was visiting he used my computer to go on to this website. Since then I have taken a few minutes and read some of your blogs.

    This one really hit home to me. I am a self-professed judger…NOT by any means am I proud of that. But I, with Gods grace, am working on changing that. I was always very homophobic in the past, but in recent years with maturity I have started to become more excepting. Not of the ‘act’ but of the people themselves. As you said they are all Gods children and he loves them too! In this blog though you have further opened my mind to the fact that we are all sinner, and we ALL fall short of the glory of God. So we need to just LOVE and EXCEPT and invite ALL people into our lives no matter what. Putting all judgment behind us. Who are we to judge?

    Anyways, thank you for your insight. I just wanted to let you now that this has helped me today and for the future.

  • Hi Nathan. Good to read your post (and the ensuing commentary…wow you have a lot of traffic!)

    For those who are interested, Henri mentioned John J. McNeill a few comments ago. He is a Roman Catholic priest and scholar who has been writing on this issue for many years…as far as I know, he is still alive. He has several titles. The one I have in my library is entitled “The Church and the Homosexual”.

    He takes the issue of Biblical scholarship very seriously and presents several good arguments which would be in support of same-gender relationships in the church. For those interested in an academic read, I would recommend rummaging through it, even if it is a little dated! It makes some very strong points.

    Paul: In terms of the gymnastics comment, I think that it is our responsibility to reconsider age-old positions when we discover that translations and traditional renderings are not as conclusive as we once thought. For the sake of discovering the truth, a little stretching for the church is not too much to ask.

    Grace and Peace,
    Jay

  • Just curious – how does your position line up with the Free Methodist Church of Canada?

    I just read a PDF called a 60 second guide to the Free Methodist Church in Canada and they were explicitly conservative on this issue. They even called homosexuality ‘sexual deviance.’

    So has the Free Methodist Church in Canada changed? Do you still have a relationship with them?

  • Wow. Can I just say how awesome it is that you’ve managed to have a descent conversation about this without a ton of hate from “christians.” I stopped searching on any blogs because of all the hate that I encountered. I’m sure that I can’t find the answers in hate since God is love. I’m going through the Greek and Hebrew of the “clobber verses” and I’m finding that once again people have taken the focus off of God and tried to change the original texts to support their personal beliefs. Side Note: I did a lot of research on Eunuchs and it seems throughout history around the world they are seen as those not fit for the traditional heterosexual marriage. I call them/us the sexually challenged. So it was very interesting to read Matthew 19, where Jesus Himself tells us, some of us are born as eunuchs! Where has this verse been in all of these discussions? Also to see in Isaiah(56) Jesus pours out a huge blessing on Eunuchs that love the Lord, that we will be given a everlasting name! Crazy thing you will find once you actually open your eyes huh? Keep it going!

  • I find it humorous that a 60 second guide about a church group would spend so many precious seconds talking about homosexuals.

  • Hey Brooks.

    Technically I didn’t give much of a position in my actual post (though much of it came out in the comments). If I was to stand by anything, it would be that homosexuality should not be a deciding factor of what deters us from accepting people into the church. Just as any other sin or non-sinful activity out there shouldn’t be. If we are to truely be a community of people that embody forgiveness and acceptance, then we should learn to forgive people as a whole, not just pick and choose individual acts. My post had nothing to do with whether or not I think homosexuality is wrong or not, but it did argue that even asking that question may be missing the point all together.

    Here are a few lines from the website, lines that I affirm.

    “Since how we label or identify people often defines them, Christians should beware of reducing people to some aspect of their identity, which can be dehumanizing. The church ought to enfold homosexual people with the hope of empowering them to live beyond their sexual identity.”

    and

    “Christians should use language that describes the church community as the family of God. Because the church is a new community full of people from a variety of backgrounds, it needs to provide a haven for all members.”

    and

    “The Christian community should insist on the political, civil, and social rights of all people, including homosexual people, in the larger context of doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God (Micah 6:8).”

    As for my relationship with them, I think it’s great. I have great friends and mentors within the denomination that I’m sure will continue to allow me to wrestle with issues like this publicly.

  • Well I guess this just shows that age doesn’t bring wisdom. The grade 11 you was more in touch with a biblical truth, on an issue that is God very clear. The message of repentance is offensive to those who don’t to give up their sin.

  • Nate,

    Your church body has stated that homosexuality is ‘sexual deviance.’ By extention it would hold that homosexuals are sexual deviants and as such are living in sin. Sounds like a fairly clear, unambiguous label to me.

    This leaves you in a bind. The FMCiC has failed to ‘enfold’ homosexuals and has “reduced them to a label.” You on the other hand seek to ‘provide a haven’ for them thereby allowing them to ‘live beyond their sexuality (whatever that means).” It’s also interesting that your denomination says clearly that it’s a sin whereas you put it in the “sin or non-sinful activity” catagory.

    The question you ought to answer is “Am I at odds with my church?”

    Cheers,

    Tom

  • Hey Tom, those lines I quoted were also from the Free Methodist Church of Canada website. I would choose to uphold and really hold onto these lines, before I would the lines on judging the actual action of the homosexual. That is what this post was trying to do. Say the question is irrelevant when it comes to who we accept, how we love and how we include people.

    Actually the Free Methodists posted this post with permission from the Christian Reformed Church, which you would probably have a better understanding then what those lines that didn’t make sense to you actually mean.

    http://fmc-canada.org/index.php/en/Position-Papers/providing-pastoral-care-for-same-gender-attracted-individuals.html

    Which I think is a beautiful statement.

  • Nate,

    The Free Methodists have stated that it is the duty of the church to enfold homosexuals. I can agree with this to a certain extent because they’ve also said that homosexuality is sinful and have pronounced that those who engage in these acts are sinners by extension. You, however, have a different approach. You seek to enfold homosexuals but are unwilling to discuss weather homosexuality is wrong. You want to throw out any such discussion and claim that Jesus did the same.

    But why stop there? Questions about sexuality are irrelevant for the church. Jesus never said anything about homosexuality and when He was asked about marriage He dismissed the question (at least that’s what you say about the passage) insisting that because marriage is not eternal, homosexuality isn’t something for the church to think about (at least not too much). If it really is irrelevant then you should be consistent and throw open the doors, not only enfolding them but also their sexuality. After all, who a person chooses to have sex with is irrelevant and any discussions about it should be thrown out.

    Cheers,

    Tom

  • Hey Tom,

    I think you are taking my arguments a little further than I am taking them, but I get what you are saying.

    I think whether or not homosexuality is wrong is an irrelevant question in regards to whether or not we “enfold” homosexuals or how we love them or embrace them into our community. This question needs to be dealt with first. I used the example of Jesus and marriage because the Saduccess were trying to trap Jesus on his views of marriage rather than focus on what Jesus deemed more important than their question. So if you take my example to far, it is ridiculous, agreed. But I still think that the church needs to focus on what to do with sinners (humanity), before they get all tangled up in knots about what is sin or not.

    I do not think sexuality is an irrelevant question. Let’s discuss it, let’s converse about it. As soon as its used to push people out of community though, count me out. People have actually used my view of homosexuality as grounds for dismissal from the church. This is a serious problem. It is no longer a question about sexuality but a question about if I agree with you or not, and then if I don’t, they want to cast the person out. This happens on both sides. Pastors leave entire denominations because they have chosen to marry and ordain homosexuals, and people have left churches because the church won’t affirm gay marriages. Both sides are wrong and this is not an issue that deserves that kind of consequence.

  • Sorry I came late to this discussion.
    I noticed in your original post you say: “In the meantime, weve hurt the people we are supposed to love in the pursuit of trying to force righteousness, something we know we cant do anyway.” and ” Our mandate as Christians is to bring Gods love, justice and mercy to the world”
    I am wondering what you mean by righteousness and God’s justice? And mainly how and what difference do you see between these terms?

    In Christ,
    Mat

  • Mat, It’s been a long time. Good to hear from you.

    First off, awesome question. Before I even answer it I’ll admit I was using those terms loosely and if I get to what you are point at I probably contradicted myself in those sentences. So with that out there. I probably would define in justice and righteousness to be very similar terms. Maybe justice is the act of making things righteous? Something like that.

    So I’ll reword what I intended and we can go from there, realizing I probably should have thought out my use of those words the first time.

    We hurt people trying to force righteousness on them as if it is something that they can accomplish by trying really hard and doing good things. It becomes even more difficult when not everyone agrees on what is actually “right.” Whatever we decide our versions of righteousness are will not determine salvation nor do I think that we should be cutting off entire sections of the church because these opinions differ (especially in regards to homosexuality). Our mandate should be to make disciples, that is people who desire to learn from and be like Christ. If someone’s honest pursuit of being like Christ lands them in a camp that is different than yours in regards to homosexuality, well we should be able to look past that and see their heart.

  • Nathan,
    Thanks for the response. You did anticipate my point and I agree that they are tough words to define. I think you are right that forcing righteousness as if it is something that they can accomplish by…doing good things is futile and not Christian. I am also heartbroken by some of the hurt churches have caused to various people groups and individuals. I, however, think that making disciples requires us to discipline both ourselves and others; this I think requires sin to be identified (regardless of what sin it is) and thus we do need to know if things are sinful or not. We all are sinful and we all need grace. Praise God for the cross!
    Again thanks for the response and God bless.
    Mat

  • Mat,
    Nice questions

    nathan:
    it’s always nice to know that their are brothers out there, that don’t pretend to have all the answers, that are willing to accept when something wasn’t completely thought out; rethink it, then rewrite it (I love it)
    I am also amazed that everyone has been respectful on this blog… GO GOD!!

    Basically life is very complex, I don’t believe that answers are simple to come by and that the answer itself is what is important however rather the process one goes through when finding an answer ( like one mountain bikes or kayaks- it’s not getting there that is important rather the process of getting there that is soo dang fun) What I love about Jesus is that he rarely did things the same way twice. For example, his miracles of heeling the bliind was done with spitting in people’s eyes, or telling them to bathe 7 times or whatever: so that we couldn’t put things into a cookie cutter response. It also appears that God would truly love on the person, and that love would transform that person. Plus EVERY time the ” christians of the day” (Pharisees) would bring up a rule Jesus would say WRONG QUESTION!! My opinion is that the ONLY absolute truths are: God is Lord and Father of my life and
    LOVE GOD LOVE OTHERS
    EVERYTHING else falls more in the gray area for me

    LASTLY MAT
    I wonder if we focused more on loving others and also praying that the Holy Spirit would do its job of convict the sinner, then I wonder where we would be as a body of Christ.
    Darkness can not hide from the light. But you have to chose to search for the light, but if I shine the false light on you before you are ready, than it makes you squint and back up rather than go forward into its beauty.
    Love for my wife isn’t measured by the things that I do for her, rather I do things for my wife because I love her.
    LOVE FIRST, ACTION SECOND, but we always say action first love second… well then it’s being “done” for the wrong reasons and will not cannot last. Anything not planted in God will not last. ANY SIN, homosexual? adultry, white lies, speeding, will not permenently fall away if the person’s hasn’t felt God’s calling for it to fall away and even then its a process!

  • EDIT POINT:

    ” The answer itself is NOT what is important”

  • Hey Nathan. It was so nice to run into you and Rachel at that film screening downtown with Shane Claiborne, way back when. I hope you are both well.

    Reading this post made me think of my own experience…

    I too was enthralled in a strict charismatic church when that high school prom “scandal” erupted. I overheard church leaders, parents, street youth leaders all comment that it was an outrageous abomination.

    Right about in the middle of the media debate around the issue, I was at the Oshawa public library. I was researching for a history paper on Martin Luther and the Reformation (no joke) when I spotted Marc Hall from across the room, the young man who wanted to take his boyfriend to prom. He was at the photocopier with a number of friends.

    I noticed his signature blue hair. I felt this overwhelming sense of grief for him. He was being made into a real media spectacle. I went up to him and said, “I hope it all works out for you.” And gave him a giant hug. He blushed, said thanks, that he appreciated the support.

    It might sound stupid, but it was actually a turning point for me. I didn’t know any gay people personally at that time, but as I read about Marc’s story in the news I felt a deep sympathy and compassion for him. That moment in the library was the first time I knowingly embraced a homosexual and offered solidarity. Afterwards I had a deep spiritual peace. It’s liberating to rid yourself of fear and hate.

    I’m not very good at theological arguments – I just know that publicly embracing Marc was one of the best things I have ever done to rid myself of the confusion and disdain for homosexuals that I inherited from a faith gone wrong.

    Keep up this conversation – it matters. It really matters.

    WIth great love, Angela

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