Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ask a queer heretic

This odd little question-and-answer exercise originated at a blog I read, one populated for the most part by younger folks I'd call recovering evangelicals --- plus the occasional old-line evangelical who runs around with a stick trying to chase them back into the fold.

One challenge these guys face results from the bunker mentality of some of the churches from which they came --- righteous us safe in here vs. the wicked other out there in a fallen world. They just don't know much about those who do not share the religious and social views they grew up with.

So a regular question-and-answer session is a popular blog feature ---- "Ask a Catholic," for example, or "Ask a Quaker." Last week it was "Ask a Gay Christian." The question-answerer was/is Justin Lee, who heads up an outfit called the Gay Christian Network.

When I was these guys' age, "Gay Christian" was an oxymoron --- you couldn't be both. Hell was absolutely fabulous because that's where all us homo-sex-uals went, but don't bother knocking on heaven's gate. I'm fine with that now --- it's liberating because you learn quickly to not take seriously what the institutional church has to say on many topics. And it's an aid to keeping your guard up when Christians turn toxic.

But this creates a really tough situation for kids who grow up in Christian bunkers, so the fact evangelicals are even willing to concede there might be something like a gay Christian is progress.

Justin Lee, who grew up in one of those bunkers, is a bridge-builder --- just what the doctor probably ordered for these circumstances. Waaaay nice. Willing to turn the other cheek. The original questions are here. And Justin's answers are here.

I'm not, and have no particular objection to burning bridges now and then --- it's healthy. So here are some questions I plucked (unaltered) from those submitted. And answers from a queer heretic.

Q, Is it possible in your view for someone to disagree with you --- to believe that the Bible consistently teaches sexual activity is intended for heterosexual marriage only --- and for that person to not be a bigot, homophobe, motivated by ignorance or fear?

A. Sure. My point would be, however, that the Bible is not the word of God, merely words about God. I don’t place any value on what some of those words may or may not say about homosexual acts. Feel free to argue about various interpretations of the “gotcha” passages, however, if it amuses you.

Q. Can a church that is not affirming still be welcoming to an LGBTQ Christian? What kinds of actions would make you feel more welcome, even if the church still believed/taught that gay relationships are sinful?

Personally, I would appreciate not being stoned. But why would a LGBTQ Christian want to have anything to do with a non-affirming church?

Q. So whats your view, as a Christian gay, of sexuality? Is sex just for "marriage" because you are a Christian? I've always been curious if Christian gays' views of marriage and family, commitment and sexuality are just like other Christians --- well, except for the obvious.

A. Legalize gay marriage, then ask again. Personally, I don’t view sex as recreational but as part of loving relationships even when marriage is not an option. But that’s not because I’m a “Christian.” It’s the way I was raised.

Q. Many seem to adhere to the idea David and Daniel were gay, citing their intimacy with other males as proof. Not only does this disregard historical context, but it insinuates all intimacy is sexual intimacy. We cannot look to a David and Jonathan as a model for loyal fellowship because their relationship was sexual. That is wrong.

A. I’ve never suggested David was gay and have no idea what the “Daniel” reference is all about. But if you’re having trouble with the relationship between David and Jonathan I’d say it’s a personal issue.

Q. What would you say to a person who is married to someone of the opposite sex, yet who has recently come to the conviction that they are gay?

A. Be frank, be kind, work creatively and lovingly with your spouse, live up to parental responsibilities if any, then go forth and live honestly.

Q. For me, one main question then, is despite everything we "feel" about being homosexual, our physical bodies are just not designed for it - the bits and pieces just don't fit together. That seems to be the crunch, we obviously aren't created to be this way, however you try to justify it. Your response?

A. LGBT people have no problem making the bits and pieces “fit” and many aspects of creation defy a logical explanation. If your line of thought is carried to a logical conclusion, for example, human females should breed annually from puberty to menopause.

 Q. Given all the nasty rhetoric that has been aimed at the LGBT community -- and in that sense, at you personally -- by Christian and Christian political leaders, what is it about Christianity itself that's so compelling that you haven't been turned off completely by so many of its messengers? 

A. Faith is not intellectual, it’s a leading and a gift. The sources of it cannot be proven. When you burn your Bible and walk away, then are led back --- that’s compelling.

Q. As the parent of gay son who has left the church, what advice can you offer me as to how I can  I encourage him to relook at his beliefs in Jesus and the church?

A. Pray, maybe. Lead by example and back off. You say you have faith; live like it.

Q. I would be interested to hear about what gay Christians believe that church discipline (primarily in the positive sense of 'discipling', but also in the sense of imposing sanctions upon sexual sin that is persisted in) in the area of sexual behaviour should be like in contexts where homosexual relationships are accepted and affirmed.

A. I’ve never thought of the church as a disciplinary agent. If I found myself among people who did, I’d go elsewhere --- can’t help on this one.

Q. When you first realized you were gay, what verses in the Bible did you struggle with the most? And how did you reconcile them in order to find peace?

A. I realized I was gay when I was about 4 --- too young to struggle with Bible verses. By the time I was old enough to struggle, I wasn’t interested in Bible verses. And no one was trying to shove Bible verses down my throat. I can recite John 3:16 at the drop of a hat, and it's not a bad verse, but that’s as far as it goes.

Q. Do you know any homosexual Christians that have chosen to remain single and celibate? How well do they seem to cope with that? What would you advise a person who is gay but believes that homosexual relationships and activity would be wrong?

A. Sure, any number of committed Roman Catholic priests. Most do fine, some don’t. My advice? Get over it --- unless you want to join the Catholic clergy roster.

Q. Do you make a distinction between being gay, and living a gay lifestyle? (Would you argue that it's not a sin to be gay, but it is to be in a homosexual relationship?)

A. What, pray tell, is gay lifestyle? I just finished mowing the lawn in a vaguely circular pattern. That’s as gay as lifestyle gets around here. What could possibly be sinful about a loving committed relationship, gay or straight?

Q. How do you react/respond to people who say "I love you and see beauty in your relationships with other men, but intellectual honesty won't allow me to explain away these verses in the Bible, so if you ask my opinion about gay sex, I must say I believe it to be a sin. But I still want to be your friend and follow Jesus at your side." Do you feel it's okay for people to feel that way, or is it akin to "The Bible affirms slavery, and so do I"?

A. This must be very confusing for you and I’m sorry, but you probably really don’t want to be my friend. Friendly acquaintance, perhaps, and that’s fine.

Q. Can you present (or link to) an apologetic (as in explanitory, not that you're sorry), summary of the justification of the removal of homosexual acts from our "sin" category?

 A. It’s your “sin” category, not mine, so I really can’t help. 

Q, I think my main questions is why doesn't homosexuality fall into the same category as other sins?

A. There you go again. It’s your sin, not mine.

Q. We don't use "I'm just born that way" as an excuse for something like anger, so why is it so commonly used to condone sexuality?

A. So far as I know, we’re not born angry. We are, however, born gay or straight, occasionally in between.

Q. My question is: why do homosexuals feel they have the license to embrace whatever sexual behavior they feel is natural while other people try to have self-control? If what most gays have told me about their natural feelings, they feel like they are more special than other people.

A. Hmmm. Have heterosexuals really cornered the market on self-control? And quite frankly I’ve never maintained that I was especially special.  

Q. My question is, can you reflect on how "love the sinner, hate the sin" is used in the church today? In your experience, how is it perceived by the gay community in general and gay Christians in particular?

A. Sexual orientation is an integral part of who we are. If you truly hate who we are, then you truly hate us. I’d bet you neither really love me nor really hate the fact I’m gay. Perhaps a new cliché is in order.

Q. From the perspective of the Christian LBGT community, should persons who are in churches which are not gay affirming leave them and join churches which are, or should they stay and try to change them? 

A. It all depends on how strong a stomach you have and how much punishment you're prepared to take. I’m glad some stay and fight, God bless ‘em, but saving the church from itself is not a major concern of mine. 

Q. Help me understand how you can choose to live this way as a Christian without choosing celibacy. In other words, how can we be disobedient to God's Word and expect to have unhindered fellowship with Him?

 A. I am a Trinitarian, not a Quaditarian (God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Bible and God the Holy Ghost). Jesus is God’s Word and he didn’t have anything to say about homosexuality. The Bible is, well, just words.

Q. And if you support same-sex marriage, how do understand that in light of Paul's teaching about marriage being a symbol of Christ's relationship with the church?

A. This bride of Christ thing is a silly and vaguely troubling metaphor that makes me giggle every time I read it (does Jesus wear a condom?). Jesus was a single guy involved primarily in same-sex relationships --- and no I’m not suggesting he was gay.

Q. Do you believe that it is possible for others to truly love you while also believing that homosexual behavior is a sin? What about God?

A. Others? No. God? Not a problem.

Q, How as Christians should we react to homosexual adoption? Do you think Christian or Catholic nonprofits who assist in adoptions should have the right to deny services to homosexuals?

A. Catholics are Christians, too --- just saying. If nonprofits accept public money, their right to discriminate is modified by public law.

Q. I haven't made up my mind about whether or not I can affirm even long-term committed gay sex, not only because of some passages of Scripture, but because homosexual behavior is against nature and just doesn't make sense. I don't mean this statement to be offensive, I'm just telling ya'll where I'm at.

A. I feel your pain, you silly narcissistic cow.

Q. Can you ever forgive us?

A. Sure. That’s what Christianity is about. And ma’m, I’m sorry I called ya’ll a cow.


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