Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Gay Brother's Grief

I found this article linked off of a long discussion related to a gay fellow participating in a worship team, over at Scot McKnight's blog. Wesley Hill's poignant piece is what I want to highlight here.

Hill gives a heartfelt description of the deep frustration and intense loneliness he has experienced because, well, I'll let him explain it himself (the "Auden" to whom he refers is another author):

I am drawn to these haunting confessions of Auden’s because I, too, am a homosexual Christian. Since puberty, I’ve been conscious of an exclusive attraction to persons of my own sex. Though I have never been in a gay relationship as Auden was, I have also never experienced the “healing” or transformation of my sexual orientation that some formerly gay Christians profess to have received. But I remain a Christian, a follower of Jesus. And, like Auden, I accept the Christian teaching that homosexuality is a tragic sign that things are “not the way they’re supposed to be.” Reading New Testament texts like Romans 1:26-27 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 through the lens of time-honored Christian reflection on the meaning and purpose of marriage between a man and a woman, I find myself—much as I might wish things to be otherwise—compelled to abstain from homosexual practice.

Hill makes a vital point in his article, which we straight Christians who still believe homosexuality is not God's standard, must take to heart. People need to feel love. They need community. This is true even for someone like me who's in a deeply satisfying heterosexual marriage--how much more for someone who does not have that privilege, whether through orientation, through a broken marriage, or through whatever combination of life's circumstances leaves them alone!

If we as believers do not provide a loving, sustaining community for those who are alone, how dare we blame them for seeking that love somewhere else? If we are (rightly) to teach that gay relationships, like other extramarital sexual relationships, are outside God's standard, then we have got to be the sort of "how few" Wesley Hill is seeking. As he himself concludes:

Will the Church shelter and nourish and humanize those who are deeply lonely and struggling desperately to remain faithful?


Jc_Freak: said...

Thank you so much for this post. This is exactly how I feel about the subject. If we are to take the Christian text seriously, then we need to stop focusing on Leviticus 18 (though it is true) and start focusing on I Corinthians 6:11. It is redeemable, and it is wrong to think that a person can only be redeemed once the temptation is gone.

As the church, we have a responsibility to bring redemption and love to these people who are oppressed by the their flesh far beyond what others of us endure. It is not our place to seek justice, for justice is Yahweh's. It is our place to seek redemption. Always, always redemption. That is the Christian life, that is the Christian heart.

Sorry if I let myself go a little, but this is something I care passionately about. Not just homosexuals, but all sinners, regardless of the sin. Redemption, redemption, redemption.

Rick Brentlinger said...

There is a scriptural, historically accurate case to be made that much of the modern church has it wrong on the issue of homosexuality.

The verses commonly alleged to prohibit homosexual partnerships, if read in context, actually prohibit shrine prostitution, not committed, faithful, non-cultic homosexual partnerships.

The particular passage mentioned in your post, 1 Corinthians 6:9 does not mention homosexuality in the Greek language. For almost two thousand years, the body of Christ did not understand 1 Cor 6:9 as describing homosexual partnerships. That interpretation is a relatively recent interpretation.

In fact, we have no evidence in history that the Greek words at issue in 1 Cor 6:9, malakoi and arsenokoitai, were ever used to describe committed, faithful, non-cultic homosexual partnerships.

1. Define Arsenokoites

2. The meaning of Arsenokoites

3. The meaning of Malakoi

4. Define Malakoi

Your brother in Christ,

Rick Brentlinger

Dan Martin said...

In fact, we have no evidence in history that the Greek words at issue in 1 Cor 6:9, malakoi and arsenokoitai, were ever used to describe committed, faithful, non-cultic homosexual partnerships.
Which is precisely why you'll notice in my earlier post, not on either Leviticus or Corinthians, but on marriage. Particularly the Leviticus passage, I agree, covers so many other prohibitions that we do not today worry about, that to single out only the "man lying with a man as with a woman" and leave the rest aside is bad hermaneutics at the very least.

But I do stand by my previous post on the Biblical perspective on marriage (one man & one woman united by God for life), and on the proscription of sexual activity--straight or gay--outside of it. This is not to say plenty of Biblical characters did not also stray from this model, particularly O.T. characters. But the standard is still there.

In this post, however, I wasn't making that argument. Wesley Hill made it better than I could, from his own perspective as a Christian believer struggling with an attraction which, he believes, he cannot fulfill while remaining true to his faith. My point was to lift him up, and to encourage other believers to lift up others in his situation, to give them the love and support they need to remain faithful to the light they have been given.

Jc_Freak: said...

I've looked into the Corinthian text, and I've seen little on the way of prostitution there, though it clearly isn't talking about homosexuality in the way that we are.

The Romans text though is rather interesting. It is dealing with a particular phenomenon in Greek culture at that time for males to seek physical companionship with other males. This was actually a sexist motivation, claiming that women were too inferior to provide real companionship, and thus were only good for procreation. This seems to be what the Romans text is talking about.

But the Corinthian text is really too vague to demand a context, so several may be created by seeing how the term was used in the culture around them. But I've seen too many such constructions to believe any of them.

Kurt Willems said...

Great post my friend! This is an area that is difficult for me. I am to the point of frustration that God says that homosexual relationships are not part of the new humanity. I almost wish that we could erase these passages from the text... but we cannot. What God has declared true, we must trust. With that said, I want to say that you are getting on something here that is truly important. If the church is going to hold people to this standard, then we ought to make sure we are doing our part to be the kind of community that offers the love that people need, especially those who have loneliness.

Have you been introduced to Andrew Marin's teachings on the subject? He is the best I have heard on building bridges to the homosexual community. He was a keynote speaker at this last year's Youth Specialties conference. His blog is: