[repost from 1-25-05]
I thought about titling this “Loving Homosexuals”, but this is more about the Church than about someone who identifies as ‘homosexual’ per se. I want to warn anyone who is going to proceed with reading this post that it will be based on Christian doctrine. If you are Bible-challenged proceed with caution. If you like easy answers you might forego my site altogether.
Whoever is still with me, let’s proceed.
I really hope Greg doesn’t mind me working off some of his comments, but I am taking the chance since it seems he might have the experience of being a lightning rod in this issue. I appreciate his bravery…. and am rooting for his winning all joy in the final outcome of his race. [edited to add: Greg writes a great blog @ What Attitude Problem? ]
Greg gave a comment, ” I don’t think anyone I know has ever confused tolerance for love, at least not in my little world.” and I think that is quite true from the receivers end. What I believe right now, is that it is not always true from the givers end.
In fact, I believe that is squarely ( forgive the punning reference) at the root of what causes “Christians were quite willing to “love” me provided I didn’t get too close to them…” ; a statement which contains a pathos that perhaps only a Christian who has experienced that condition can fully understand.
I believe the modern day Church in the West confuses tolerance for love. And they truly believe it will be enough.
I believe they are in for a rude awakening. Because the bait and switch technique arouses powerful feelings of betrayal… particularly in human relationships. The reason that people go to churches and expect to be loved is because that is what God promises. At least that is what is promised in His Kingdom. So it is the Church that abides by the rulership of Christ that will manifest (not always perfectly, but in direction and earnestness) that love.
Maybe the reason we have so much problem with that is due to the falsifying of the terms and the doctrine.
[Right here I want to state to you that I am weak. Really. No fake humility, just some honest confession before we dig in further. I don’t know if I can love the way God calls me to love. I especially am unsure about that if I have to stand alone without fellow Christians who are fully dedicated to that same path. But I will show you my vision into the situation. And maybe we can all pray for one another to tap into Christ, the Root of Jesse, for the life it takes to give real fruit in this endeavor.]
First, what can a sinner, any sinner, expect in the Church?
The most basic doctrine of Christianity is “Repent and Believe”. Repent from sins ( enumerated but not limited to the Law of Moses) that separate you from God. Turn to Him in faith. Believe what He says- about Himself. about you, about the world….. It is all contained in Christ Jesus and His gospel, so that makes the focus of belief easy: Believe on the Son whom He sent.
That is basic. So what gets tossed around is the definition of sin; if one may stretch and distort that, one might stand a chance to keep little footholds in what one has found pleasurable, but being in the Church might afford assuagement of guilt(?) That is a fool’s game if I ever saw one, but that is the game oftentimes.
If we are fair we will lay out the terms: God is not tolerant of our sins. God loves us and has paid a steep price to save us from the consequences of separation and to reinstate in the best terms and best possible condition: we are given Sonship, and all that entails, in His Son. The terms, for us, are that we are in covenant with Christ, and thus with all others in covenant with Him. Christ, beaten and hanging on a cross dying in the most humiliated and painful way, is testament to God’s intolerance of sin.
“Covenant” is an ancient and very powerful concept. The modern age has largely lost understanding of this, but that doesn’t negate its rights, priviledges and demands.
Every time a Church member takes communion, that person is recognizing that covenant with Christ. To fully define covenant is beyond the scope of this post. I will give you my own personal rendition: covenant demands that everything of mine is available, when needed, to the other, when they are in true need; and all of that other is mine, on demand, when I am in true need.
It is severe love, extreme love, the deepest contract you can make with another. The marriage contract is a picture of this God Covenant. This is what we are called to as Christians.
That, my friend, is what you enter into at the cross and what you seal with baptism, in case no one told you. An extreme love with God. It gives everything to you, but it reserves the right to also ask everything if that is deemed necessary. The promise is that you, in eternity, lose nothing, but in the meantime, risk all.
Extreme. Severe. Amazing.
But here is the hitch: we are human with frailties. God has to make up the difference with us quite alot. He accounted for that, sometimes we don’t.
Segue back to the Homosexual, since that is centered in lots of debate. There are two things going on in this comment: “Christians were quite willing to “love” me provided I didn’t get too close to them or their children. And I was “tolerated” so long as I looked and sounded and acted the way Christians thought I should look and sound and act if I was going to claim the name of Jesus. ” One is that Christians didn’t come through as advertised, and the other is that they are indeed human, not separating true need for cautions from false love’s self protection.
Sometimes we will be completely dependent upon Jesus coming through “as advertised”, which Greg put this way: “Jesus wanted the wounds in my heart that drove my homosexuality, that provided me with value and security and identity — the very things I had been seeking in other men that he wanted to fulfill in me all along.”
We are a lot of things when we come to Jesus, all under the category of “sinner”, but who labels people thus in the Church: Here comes the “Adulteress”, “The Thief”, “The Drug Addict”, etc? We were all something …even ‘goody two shoes’ was something, whether all covered up nicely or not. But when we come to Christ we must drop those identifications, we have history, yes, but that does not primarily define us. So there should not be designation of “homosexual” for Christians, any more than any of the others, but we do have our weaknesses and this brings me to the next part of what I would like to look at.
Christians are often lambasted when they operate with common sense. Like that was supposed to go away at conversion and we were supposed to morph into hyper-spiritual x-men. But we remain people and as people we don’t see the spiritual dimension all too clearly. Someone who had a sin problem, especially one that didn’t instantly disappear with conversion is going to have to understand carefulness of other people in some areas. This gets hard to navigate. Alcoholism? Should we ban all alcohol for the sake of keeping from being a temptation to fall for someone ? Maybe. Definitely if we know the person has a problem with that. Wherever one has had a problem, those who love that person helps protect them until they are strong- that means recognizing weaknesses. That means up close personal accountability. We all have to walk humbly.
Real honesty and transparency will help with that, And facing the actual realities of the problem. Back to homosexuality. In all fairness to Christians, the homosexual community does not have a clean record on their dealing with child molestation. There is a ‘tolerance’ for Manboy Love things and associations, I don’t know that is held by all homosexuals, but what is going to separate that distinction? Only by coming in close and getting to know that specific person.
“Tolerance”, as advocated by some church people, will stand in the way of that. The homosexual will always be that designation, rather than truly brother or sister, because in maintaining that “respect” for all, you include all under that “stench” designation. That should not be. We should recognize that God calls on us to fully embrace that new Christian as brother, as sister, in family. I think anyone who is loved and invited into real relationship can take discussions on why another has difficulty putting the preson in positions of trust until proven strong and faithful in that area. There should be mutual humility and openness in extreme love relationships, otherwise it all breaks down. It asks too much of us to maintain itself with disclosure from only one. You have had problems? then understand the others need to be sure you’re over the problem. This is a process. An everchanging process which isn’t ‘safe’ to our thinking.
That is why going into it we have to be committed to the terms.
We can be prepared to commit, but only if we are truthful. The church must come out of the closet of the world.
I hate to admit it, but I understand the need for some of the Church’s demands that we ” should look and sound and act if I was going to claim the name of Jesus.” Some of that is necessary. The problem is when the terms and demands are falsified. That is why discussion, like the Nicene convenings of old are useful. There needs to be clarifications and confrmations of just what we are to be, to do, and believe. It is not an evolutionary process, but a cleansing and purifying one.
The Word will stand front and center as the crucible. Jesus was the Friend of Sinners, because He offered them something better, something they were told to not even hope for in their world. They were more than glad to admit of their sins and respond in hope of deliverance…that is why they flocked to John’s baptism, they had hope for the something that was coming and then were glad to see His Day. The baptism meant they were willing to put off all those things of sin that held them. They were willing.
And we have to tell the sexually immoral that they must be willing. That God has a demand, an exchange. Your sin for New Life. Want it?
And all of us have to make that exchange…maybe Prideful Man and Self-Righteous Woman will have to lock arms with Adulterous Woman and Homosexual Man and go forward from now on as Christian People. Maybe we will all have to leave certain forms of identity behind. More than maybe, it is required, are you willing to give that? Are you willing to identify with Christ in all that means?
It is going to cost you something, most of all your lukewarm terms of “tolerance” that makes you so well-loved of the World. Take a moment and count the costs. but don’t think you can play your fools game and win this one.