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.