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« A Dancing Fool | Main | Re: Dancing Fool »

May 29, 2007

Re: Speaking the Truth on Same-Sex Attraction

Sorry, Brian (or anyone else), if you felt hurt by my post. But you know the nature of discussions on The Point and the convictions of the writers on this blog.

Anyone is free to choose the identity they want to adopt. The point of my message is that there are many gay people who are Christians who can find homosexuality fine with their faith, and there are also many who find homosexuality not compatible with their faith. These are men and women who wanted to live beyond their sexual feeling and choose not to act out homosexual behavior despite their same-sex attraction. I believe resources for change should be also made available for them, the same as resources are available to those who embrace homosexual behaviors. Someone who is seeking an alternative lifestyle other than homosexuality should know that change is possible and many have become successful in their pursuit whether in celibacy or heterosexual behaviors.

Both those who are pro- and those who are anti-homosexual behavior can present different research data to support their claim and any new scientific study will always be challenged by the other camp. This only shows that man’s knowledge on this issue is limited and any research data are only secondary to God’s word. All of us Christian should not depend our feelings on statistics and research but always go back to the main source and sole authority on this issue -- God’s Word, and base our lives and actions first on what the God the Father says about homosexual behaviors. What does He truly say about the behavior?

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Comments

Brian

Thank you Jason. This is the question I have been waiting to hear asked. I knew it would come eventually!

Statistics, causality... it's all secondary to the burning moral question: Is the exclusion of God's gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender children from full acceptance in the Christian faith morally acceptable?

I look forward to continuing this discussion.

Gina Dalfonzo

I think we've got two different questions going here, Brian. Jason was asking what God says about homosexual behavior. What He says about how we treat other people is also a valid question, and worth talking about, but it's not the question that he raised.

Brian

You're right, Gina, they are technically two separate questions. Though, I think they go hand-in-hand and I'd like to see how the discussion plays out if we consider them together.

I do not want to presume to define "homosexual behavior" for either you or Jason (I can elaborate more fully if you will clarify), so I will answer the spirit of your question as best I can.

When I look at the writings in the Bible, I do not see any condemnation of a homosexual orientation. As such, I look for guidance on how I should live out my relationships. I find that they should be Christ-centered, I see that they should be consensual, I see that they should bear good fruits, I see that they should be respectful, I see that they should be committed. And as Christ tells us that the Holy Spirit is sent to continuing instructing us, I find confirmation there as well.

That is what I see, what do you see?

Matt Guerino

Two questions considered together? Fair enough.

On the first, Brian, I see homosexual behavior (a term most folks don't seem to have much trouble defining, incidentally) consistently referred to in both Testaments as deviance from God's standard. You're right that homosexual "orientation," or disposition, is not wrong any more than my disposition to be attracted to my neighbbor's wife is wrong. But acting on that attraction is, as is acting on one's homosexual orientation. This is both moral and ontological - not only is it "wrong," it is also "unwise" because as it cuts against the grain he designed into us. So he gives us the standard not solely for condemnation when we fail to meet it, but for our good.

As far as the second question on how we treat people goes, I think the Scripture is pretty clear that we seek to embody both grace and truth to everyone. We seek to live the way Jesus lived, embracing people in love, yet loving them enough to speak the truth to them so they can find life to the full. God loves us enough to accept us where we are, but thank God he loves us too much to leave us that way!

You mention wanting to see "God's gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender children" fully accepted into the Christian community. I think we should also accept God's adulterous children, his polygamist children, and his philanderous children. Right now my church is ministering to one of his child-porn-addicted children. Once accpted, all of God's children should encounter the grace that will heal a hurting heart, as well as the truth that will re-direct that heart back to the true, the right, the good, and the healthy. For all of God's children I mentioned above, this includes doses of God's monogamous heterosexual standard administered within an environment of warm, grace-filled embrace.

To embrace someone relationally without seeking their change for their good is not love.

Gina Dalfonzo

That's pretty much what I was going to say, especially about the difference between orientation and action.

Brian

What exactly do you mean by "I see homosexual behavior (a term most folks don't seem to have much trouble defining, incidentally) consistently referred to in both Testaments as deviance from God's standard."

I could (accurately) say "I see heterosexual behavior consistently referred to in the both Testaments as deviance from God's standard."

I would cite for you Leviticus where laying with your menstruating wife is prohibited. I would point to proscriptions against sex with a married woman. I would bring up bans against sex with temple goddesses.

Would I then say that ALL "heterosexual behavior" is inconsistent with God's will? Of course I would not. Because sex can be misused or sex can be a fulfillment of a God-given love and affection for another individual.

My question then becomes, what EXACTLY is being condemned, where, and why? (And a definition of "homosexual behavior" would be nice so we're on the same page)

Matt Guerino

OK. As to your last question, let's keep it simple by focusing on the obvious: homosexual behavior = sexual relations between two people of the same gender. Hopefully that's a clear enough definition since I'm not sure I can clarify it any further without going beyond a PG rating! :)

As to your first question, I suppose I could post a lengthy list of Scripture citations that outrule sexual relations between people of the same gender. But I suspect you've seen most (if not all) of the passages that I'd list, and you likely interpret them through a different grid than I do. SO... rather than nit-pick individual Scripture passages (which would get very cumbersome in this format), let me focus on our respective interpretive grids as best I understand them.

You're right that a LOT of heterosexual behavior (including adultery, fornication... basically sleeping with any woman who's not my wife) is also deviance from God's standard, just as homosexual behavior is. The real question at hand, I believe, is: WHAT IS GOD'S STANDARD? And equally important, HOW DO WE ASCERTAIN IT?

I believe God's standard for human sexuality comes from Genesis 1-2 where he gives us a window into how we were designed before sin corrupted our existence. There we see one man and one woman created in every way to fit together with one another: physically, sexually, emotionally, socially, etc. There is good Scriptural reason to use this as the standard as well, since Moses makes it the basis for human marriage in Genesis 2:24, and Jesus too uses it as the standard from which judge individual behavior in Matthew 19:4-6.

Your standard for human sexuality, it appears to me, is stated toward the end of your last post when you wrote, "sex can be a fulfillment of a God-given love and affection for another individual." Presumably that's another individual regardless of gender.

Please understand that I'm not intending to attack or demean you, but since you asked me to clarify my position I must say that I can't think of any scripture (either individual passage or the whole force of the Bible's teaching) that would lead me to your standard. I see the entire flow of the Bible's teaching, as well as many individual passages, leading me to the standard I explained above. I may fall in love with my secretary and she may love me too, but that still doesn't OK sexual relations between us Biblically speaking. I may also fall in love with my neighbor's 12-year-old daughter, but hopefully it goes without saying that sexual relations in such a case is strictly off limits. So I don't think we can blanket-approve sex between any two people who are in love with one another. Clearly, limitations exist.

Again, let me emphasize that I think we're all sinners and G/L/B/T folks aren't "extra bad," nor should we treat them as such. A man having sex with his neighbor's wife is no less guilty of violatig God's standard than a man having sex with another man.

But the question is, is homosexual behavior part of the standard of human sexuality according to the Bible? Or is it one of many ways we have defaced and fallen short of God's standard in the Bible?

I believe Scripture teaches the latter, and that makes me hurt for any GLBT man or woman I come across, and makes me want to know their story, their life, and to see if God would draw them closer to the truth of his standards which, again, are not for condemnation as much as for LIFE!

Brian

I agree that nitpicking over verses isn't the best approach (especially in this format), however I would encourage you to look into some scholarly and theological discourse on "those verses." I believe that reevaluating old positions, revisiting original languages, and understanding cultures is not a modern way of "explaining away sin," which I once thought it was, but rather it is taking God's holy word extremely seriously. 1 Thessalonian 5:21 tells us to "Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good."

When I do, I find that Leviticus is about ritual purity, Romans 1 is about pagan worship, and 1 Corinthians 9 is about callboy sex-slave trade. Seems odd to condemn an entire group of gay Christians on just that.

But I digress...

I like you, find much to be learned from Genesis. When I read Genesis (or any portion of Scripture for that matter), I pause to consider, "Why was this written?"

The Genesis creation account seems to explain:
* Where we came from
* Why we are social creatures and
* The source of our suffering

In Genesis 1, I see that the LORD created man and woman, and it was good.

In Genesis 2, I see that the LORD saw that it was not good for the man to be alone, and so he set about to make a "helper suitable for him." After being presented with all the animals, Adam was not satisfied. But when he looked upon Eve he exclaimed "Flesh of my flesh and bone of my bones," this is the one for me!

In Genesis 3, I see that though what God created is good, humans through conscious choice can turn away from God.

It is often said "God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve" and I couldn't agree more. We wouldn't have gotten very far if that were the case! However, Genesis does not seek to provide rule for every relationship ... it seeks to answer those three questions.

There are many situations not discussed in Genesis. Some never marry, some are sterile, some choose not to have children, some are widowed and remarried. And some are gay.

The writers of Scripture had no concept of sexual orientation as we do today. The most visible instances of same-gender sexual contact were things such as rape for domination, temple worship, godless pagan rituals, and callboys. Those things are (rightly) proscribed.

When I look at Scripture, I do not see any condemnation for consensual intimacy in the confines of a committed relationship.

I also read in Matthew that Jesus says we will know a tree by its fruit. I look at many such relationships and see many good fruits. "A bad tree cannot bear good fruit."

I also read that the Holy Spirit will be sent to instruct us and to teach us. I have my convicted of many sins (as we all should be). My sexual orientation is not one of them.

So how do I arrive at such a standard, you ask?

With the knowledge that I am gay (which, not everyone is, nor should they be). With the understanding that Scripture nowhere condemns a gay orientation or a healthy expression of that. With Genesis as my guide. With Paul's assertion that we should not call any man "impure or unclean." With Christ's instruction to judge a tree by its fruits. With the Holy Spirit as my guide.

And always with the words of John and Peter in mind: "Judge for yourself whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard."

Chris Clukey

I'd just like to note that Matt has met the standards of love and of the letter of the law in this discussion. A tough subject handled with care and fortitude--well done, Matt.

And Gina's no slouch, either.

Brian, what you seem to be missing about what the Bbile has to say about relationships is that it portrays dozens of heterosexual relationships that are what God wants our relationships to be, and yet there's never an example of a homosexual relationship that is not condemned. As Matt says, homosexuality is not extra-bad, but if the Bible portrays an action as sinful every single time it mentions it, it's hardly something to make a major part of your life.

Matt Guerino

Brian,

I'm not sure we're going to get much further than this via this forum, so I'll leave a final thought or two. I'm happy to grant you the final word in this discussion, and should you choose to post again I will read it.

I am very grateful that the discussion has become a hermeneutical one, because I think that's really what this is all about; even more so than sexuality. Thank you for providing a window into how you interpret Scripture. Looking through that window, I am deeply concerned for you. I fear you may be seeing too little in Genesis and some of the other passages you referred to.

I concur with your comments on Genesis 1-3. It's not what I see there that concerns me, it's what I think is missing.

Genesis 1-2 tells us much more than where we came from: it tells us the way we were designed to function; how God "engineered" us, so to speak. Of course you're partly right in notng that these 2 chapters alone certainly do not attempt to predict every detail of human behavior subsequent to the Curse and then comment on each. Nevertheless, these chapters do give us a picture of the way God meant it to be before our fallenness introduced so many varied marrings of that picture. And the way it was meant to be (as both Moses and Jesus urge us to understand, even post-Curse) is a male and a female made for a lifetime commitment to one another. Furthermore, the remainder of the Pentateuch (and the whole OT for that matter) offer many examples of how the relationship between genders came to be broken, including adultery, incest, rape, harems, religiously mixed marriages, and homosexuality.

Brian, the point I guess I'm trying to make is that this issue of design is absolutely critical. Because if your interpretation is correct, then I am stuck in old ways, I'm not listening to God, and my views are holding you and other GLBT people back from finding fulfillment by being what God made them to be.

But if my interpretation is correct and God designed us all for heterosexual monogamous lives, then your homosexual feelings are one of the signs of brokenness that we all carry around within us. In that case, giving full expression to those feelings will never lead you to fulfillment, but only to hurt. And you urging other GLBT men & women to do the same will be dooming them too.

I believe we are both sincere, but we cannot both be right. And either way, people's lives hang in the balance. I realize you may not be persuaded by my limited discussion here to change your views. But out of concern for you I can only urge you to reconsider your conclusion that homosexuality is part of God's design. I want you to know I've prayed for you as I'm writing this, and I sincerely hope for your best.

Chris: thank you for taking the time to affirm my approach. Your comments are a big boost to me since balancing grace AND truth together like Jesus did is something God is teaching me to do better. I live in NW Oregon which has a relatively large GLBT community, and grace & truth on the topic of homosexuality is something churches up here need to embody.

Chris Clukey

Glad to do it, Matt. I know from personal experience how hard it can be to walk the right line on these issues.

Brian

Mat, thanks for offering me the last word of sorts. I don't really need it, but since you put it out there, I don't want to seem as if I'm ignoring you. I appreciate the level-headed dialogue we've all been able to have.

I think you are absolutely right in concluding that it is all about design. And I am here to say that for me (and other GLBT people like me), a heterosexual relationship would not be true to my design. And requiring such is in fact holding others like me back from God.

I'm surprised at your instance that our design is "a male and a female made for a lifetime commitment to one another."

Paul urges believers to remain single and suggests marriage only as a last resort.

Jesus himself says "some were born eunuchs, some were made eunuchs by men, and some renounce marriage because of the kingdom of heaven."

Genesis is one model of a relationship that answers many basic questions and from which many can learn, but it is not a mandate to which all humans must conform. It is not that by design, nor is such a view of it supported by Jesus Christ himself.

I appreciate that you want me to find fulfillment and avoid hurt. This is where I am asking you as a fellow Christian to trust me when I tell you that to deny my God-given identity would cause me hurt. To continue to suffer in attempts to "change" myself would cause me hurt. However, by learning to love myself as Christ loves me. By calling myself to live with integrity. By maintaining a relationship centered in Christ and founded on honesty. By having the support of my friends, family, and church.

This leads to fulfillment in the Lord.

I am so thankful to have moved away from hurt that positions such as the ones you espouse cause and towards fulfillment in the Lord. And I eagerly await the helper for suitable for me if that is what God has in store.

It pains me that too often GLBT people do not feel Christ's love coming from churches and Christians. I hope they see that in me.

As to wrapping up this conversation. As long as 4 GLBT youth are killing themselves each day, I hope we never stop talking about how we can make this society better.

I will continue to pray for you.

Blessings in Christ.

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