This is the second post in a series. The preface is here.
I am attempting to be as systematic as possible about this discussion, and so I want to cover all bases I can. So after this post, I will get directly into the heart of the dissussion. First, I thought a few ground rules might be appropriate for myself. They are as follows:
1) With prayer: I have prayed about this. I am not entering into such a divisive discussion lightly, but with a desire for God to speak, and for us to be attentive, rather than dismissive.
2) It is tempting to frame this discussion in terms of “the homosexual issue.” However, I don’t feel comfortable with this framework, as it tends to see real, living, feeling people as an “issue” rather than as real, living, feeling people. As a result, I will make every attempt to not reduce the discussion to “the homosexual issue,” but to constantly keep in mind the myriad of folks for whom this is not an “issue” but a reality. Please be gracious if I fail in this.
3) Many people have an unconscious aversion to thinking and talking about homosexual acts. This, in many cases, is normal. However, I imagine the same holds true for those who aren’t simply “straight.” It is just as likely that heterosexuality can awaken an aversion in them. This so-called “ick factor” might be a reality and may not be something that can be so easily tossed aside. However, it does not, and should not, factor into a discussion about God, the scriptures, and our faith. How we personally feel or any revulsion we may have, is simply that: a personal feeling. Not God’s feeling. So lets leave them out of it.
4) I am trying to be faithful to how I understand our faith, and yet there are others who disagree and/or are gay who are trying to do the same. No matter where the discussion goes, I will not pretend that my answer is THE answer. I trust that even if the data or the Spirit pulls us in different ways, it is not because one of us is unfaithful, but that our journeys are at different places. We should endeavor to respect those who disagree, not dehumanize them.
5) The following are convenient labels, and I have borrowed them from other sources to categorize the various responses that Christians have come to. It is my hope that after the data is discussed, that I will feel comfortable choosing to dwell within one of them and then begin to concentrate on different things. The 4 categories of Christian thought are as follows:
A) Rejection of God’s design: Being gay simply goes against God’s design and should be rejected in all ways and circumstances. Homosexuals should not be members of church/can’t lead/aren’t Christians.
B) Welcoming but not Affirming: This is an affirmation of Christian love that requires openness, receptivity, and kindness to all human persons…regardless of any other factor, including the particularity of any kind of human sin. Homosexuality is considered sinful, but indeed, all those whom the Christian community welcomes into its worship and fellowship are sinners.
3) Welcoming and Accommodating: The Christian community should accept the integrity of homosexual Christians and same-sex unions, demonstrating hospitality and compassion to their brothers and sisters who are homosexual. While in many cases, the heterosexual relationship of marriage will remain normative, and though a homosexual union is not necessarily an intention of God, it is nonetheless understandable, and acceptable as an alternative to those who are alternatively attracted.
4) Welcoming & Celebrating: Like celibacy, homosexuality is a variation in creation that does not diminish the authenticity of a person’s humanness. Like the heterosexual orientation of life, the homosexual way of being human is the gift of God to be celebrated: It is not the disorder of human fallenness. Homosexuality…the homosexual orientation precisely in its variation…belongs to God’s declaration of the goodness of creation.
In the next post, I would like to deal with HOW we use the Bible in a discussion about sexuality.
Jump to part 3, A discussion of relevant Hebrew Bible texts, here.