October 23, 2017

Reader Reviews: Andrew Marin’s Love Is An Orientation

monkmarinA few weeks ago, IM reader Chris Giammona made it possible for 20 IM readers to receive a free copy of Andrew Marin’s significant and helpful book, Love Is An Orientation. As a condition for receiving the book, each reader agreed to write a brief response. Here are the first five of those responses. The name of each writer appears at the end of their review. One paragraph was moderated because of a formatting issue.

My three main responses:

Christians and non-Christian Gays:
God loves every human he has made. What he wants most is not for gays and lesbians to become heterosexual, but for them to choose a relationship with himself through Jesus.  For us as conservative Christians, this means acting in a way that encourages all people to pursue a relationship with God, rather than defending God’s moral law.  Frankly, it’s a lot easier and more comforting for me to defend moral laws.  I think this is because, deep down, I don’t think the Holy Spirit can do the defending.
 
Christians and Gay Christians:
A Christian’s spiritual journey towards a deeper relationship with God is a personal journey that requires a community to support and encourage it.  The path of that journey is different for everyone. Straight Christians tend to judge the gay Christian journey by how heterosexual the person is becoming.  But God may be more interested in another area of growth for many years.  Gays need room to attend church, be in Bible studies, and be loved and accepted while they are still gay.  They need room to be Christians while still gay. They need to have a community of fellow believers, straight and gay, that allows them to talk and think about what their same-sex attraction means in their spiritual journey.  This doesn’t mean “accepting” homosexuality.  It means accepting that we are all sinners seeking wholeness in whatever way the Holy Spirit works in us.  
 
Christians and Andrew Marin:
I am deeply touched by Andrew Marin’s love for the GLBT community.  He has made them human again in my eyes – people who want relationship with God and meaningful lives as much as I do. I am broken by the depth of pain that the gay community has felt, often in the frightened, rough hands of Christians who don’t know how to balance their desire to help with their disgust of the physical and cultural strangeness.  I am encouraged that God can redeem both the gay and the straight.  I believe this book will help with that redemption.

Adrienne Williams

The importance of this book cannot be overstated. The Christian community has done tremendous damage to their ability to effectively communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ to the gay and lesbian community and I am no exception to that broken relationship the church has with the GLBT community. This book humbled me, making me realize that even with the good intentions I might have had, I have hurt people because I approached situations without the proper care and humility I needed. It opened my eyes to the pain that the gay community feels in regards to their relationship with the Christian community, especially the one I belong to: evangelical Christianity. I was reminded of the times I was more concerned with being right than being loving. But I also know that I have not always acted carelessly. My friendships and acquaintances with those who would identify themselves as gay or bi-sexual have never been conditional (at least in regards to their sexuality or religious convictions), but Andrew Marin’s book still convicted me of my past mistakes.

Probably the most important thing Marin offers is his experience. His book is not an untested theory or how-to on engaging the GLBT community. He’s not offering some 12-step approach to fixing the broken relationship between gays and the church. Instead, Marin offers years of his experience and growing wisdom about mending relationships and building bridges. Marin has spent years living in a predominately gay community and has heard the stories of people who have been hurt and often abandoned by Christians in their past. It’s this personal touch – the human story of both his own journey and the journeys of those who he has come to love and call his friends that makes this book so special. I’ll admit that I teared up a few times when I read some of these stories of people feeling rejected and abandoned by the very people they thought they could trust to understand their struggles. Marin’s approach to building bridges is really quite simple: Our only job is to love. Leave the controversy off the table. Accept and love gays into our Christian community without reservation.

Some Christians may accuse Marin of offering a watered-down Gospel or even of “giving in.” I don’t believe so. Marin is not offering all the answers to the tough questions – especially on how we interpret and apply those passages of scripture that deal with homosexuality. What Marin offers is the most practical Christian advice there is: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The fact is, straight people do not know what it is like to be gay. We don’t know what it’s like to feel the pressure of two distinct communities telling us how we should live (embrace our sexuality or deny it). But many of us know what it’s like to be rejected, abandoned, and hurt. All of us know what it’s like to struggle with sin. I know what it’s like to struggle in my own relationship with God. So if I were to love others as I love myself, I have to love them unconditionally and with open arms. This is difficult to do with any relationship, but Jesus commanded it none-the-less. 

Kenny Johnson

From one of those who received this book from Chris Giammona:

When I received and began reading Marin’s book at the beginning of this month, I was in the midst of a situation in which I was and still continue to be criticized, excluded, misunderstood and vilified by, to use iMonk’s phrase, “a theological Barney Fife” because we don’t share identical theological perspectives. I completed reading the book a week ago in the course of two long flights traveling halfway around the globe to the part of the world in which we’ve been laboring for more than 15 years to make Jesus known so that those Muslims we know there may become His followers. So Brian McLaren’s foreword grabbed my attention, as I recognized the ravages and ridiculousness of “the judgmental lifestyle”, a lifestyle I had lived for far too many years of my life. And Marin’s approach to love as an orientation rang with truth– the same truth that has guided us in loving our Muslim friends and neighbors, and in finding ways of building bridges of trust and relationship with them strong enough to bear the truth we bring.

I could practically re-write this book, substituting “Muslim” for “GLBT”, “Islamic religion” for “homosexuality”, and other similar phrases, and it could become a challenge to elevate the conversation with the Muslim community in the same spirit as Marin offers regarding the gay community. Perhaps that is how this book found a path through the backdoor of my heart to resonate so deeply within me and to point out to me what a poor job we’ve done of living as Jesus’ disciples in relation to that gay community. I had to take another look at the conflict and controversy which dominates the discussion around homosexuality and the church, while letting go of the kneejerk reactions I’ve been steeped in through nearly 35 years of evangelical culture, before I could begin to see gay men and women as those created by God to be His beloved children first and foremost, and those whom He longs to draw into intimate fellowship for eternity with Himself through Jesus His Son.

[Edited for a format problem] 

In the same way, Marin challenges us in his conclusion: “So we’re called by Christ to be different by being loving– by choosing humility over hostility, by braving the unknown rather than huddling in safe enclaves, by daring to face people who we’ve offended and who have offended us, and inviting them into a reconciled relationship with God and one another.” Whether it is members of the gay community, members of the Muslim community, or my own Barney Fife, I’m called and committed to approach them with love, humility, grace, and a passion in order to be reconciled with them, and to see them reconciled to my loving Father through Jesus.

“Bones”

Hey guys. Sorry this took so long.  I’ve been busy moving.  Hope this isn’t too long and isn’t the last one in. Here’s the response:

Its not very hard these days to convince twenty-somethings like myself that homosexuality is not an unpardonable or even unique sin meriting condemnation or exclusion.  Having already reached the conclusion that the GLBT community is loved by God and thus should be loved by the church, Andrew Marin’s “Love Is An Orientation” didn’t shock my system as much as it would for some, I’m sure.  But Marin does more than convince his readers that the GLBT community is loved and worthy of love: he shows his readers how to love the GLBT community as Jesus would.  It is easy to find people who assert the former but fail to do the latter without sliding into some limp version of acceptance and an even weaker version of love.

But Marin is different.  The greatest strength of Marin’s book is, like Paul’s ministry, not in eloquent words but in power.  Marin actually lives out his message and does so in a way that can only described as contagious.  Similar to when I read Shane Claiborne’s “Irresistible Revolution,” many times throughout the book I wanted to put it down and just go do the same things he has done: immerse myself in the GLBT community, make genuine friendships, wait for an opportunity and introduce people to Jesus.  In reading his stories of joy and pain, breakthroughs and breakdowns, delights and disappointments, I couldn’t help but envy his life and want in.

Thankfully, he shows the way.  He first removes the 2×4 in the reader’s eye and then teaches the reader how to help others know Jesus through all kinds of extremely practical insight gleaned from real relationships with real people.  In the process, he answered every major question I had and alleviated most of my fears by pointing out common Christian faux-pas.  Most importantly, Marin continually reminds the reader that judging isn’t our job (much needed for me) and consistently points to what this is all about anyway: Jesus.

Of course, simply reading or praising Marin’s book isn’t worth much; it requires action.  Personally, I am committing to love the one gay friend I have but I also am planning on getting involved in the sizable gay community of the college town where I live.  In fact, because of this book, I hope to do these things the rest of my life. 

Marin’s book isn’t perfect (I can’t wait for a revised edition or the next installment ten years from now filled with more stories and insight from new experiences) but it is the clearest example I’ve seen of how to love the GLBT community. Or anyone, for that matter.  Thanks, Andrew.

James

Dear Michael,

Thanks again to you and to Chris for the opportunity to read Andrew Marin’s Love is an Orientation. Please feel free to edit my paragraphs to you for whatever content you feel is appropriate for your blog. I’m not sure exactly how much information you want or what sort of format you prefer.

I was educated in Madison, Wisconsin, which has a fairly sizable GLBT community. I never really thought much about it until I ended up at a Gay Pride parade and “outed” a family member. She was extremely embarrassed and essentially stopped talking to me for several years, fearing (I guess) that I would “out” her to the rest of our family. Flash forward a couple of years when I was attending a local evangelical free church where the pastor stressed “building bridges while keeping boundaries.” His point, though not nearly as fully and well articulated as Marin’s was essentially this: love your neighbor, but let them know you’re a Christian, too. For me, I was always left wondering what exactly that would “look like” in practice. I had several gay friends in law school, one of whom constantly asked me questions about God. I tried to explain God loves everyone and that I don’t have all of the answers, but I wish now that I had Mr. Marin’s book.

Mr. Marin’s approach to the gay community in Chicago, to me, shows the ability to be filled with Christ-like love while still holding true to Biblical truth. Instead of wielding a hammer and telling GLBT in Chicago they are wrong, sinners or whatever hateful “truth” seemingly justified by the Bible, Mr. Marin spends his time in relationships with members of the GLBT community. People know he is a Christian and seem to feel free to discuss what it means to be Christian with him on their own terms. His point, “…the bombardment of doctrine or the pressure of a decision is not what is needed to get the eternal point across. Presence is more than enough.” (p.160) is refreshing and provides a great framework for talking with anyone (gay or straight) who is a non-believer.

I could see people disregarding this book for Mr. Marin’s presentation of why GLBT pastors believe what they do. I could see more conservative Christians thinking this book too liberal in its approach (because Mr. Marin, apparently, does not tell members of the GLBT community they are going to hell or need to change their behavior). I, for one, am gladdened by his response to those two issues: ultimately, it just doesn’t matter. What matters is one’s personal relationship with Christ. God will do the rest. Marin tells us to not, “step in between the other person and God” when a new believer reveals he or she will continue in his or her homosexual lifestyle (p. 175). Marin urges us not to get into the theology of whether being gay is a sin, and instead encourages believers to switch the theological conversation like Jesus did (“…refusing to treat a complex question simplistically-which is the biblical basis for elevating the conversation in similar situations that Christians find themselves in today with the GLBT community.” p. 181). Instead, he encourages us to let God do the work (whether in convicting someone to change their lifestyle, to bring others to Christ, etc.), saying, “None of us will ever know what happens in the end until heaven answers it for us.” (p.158).

I was most impressed by Marin’s knowledge of which he speaks. He truly spent time getting to know members of the Boystown community and really has sought out relationships will all sorts of people there. His honesty about his reactions when his friends told him he was gay and when he thought he would finally reach someone for Christ, but didn’t, made this book seem much more “real” than others which would profess how to “deal with” the gay community. His passion for his work must only come from God, and Christians throughout the world who have a heart for GLBT people would gain a lot by reading Marin’s book.

Thanks again for the chance to read the book. I apologize for the delay in writing to you; I was on vacation with my two young sons, and they didn’t make it easy to read a book where I actually had to think. I look forward to sharing this book with my Christian friends and local pastors here in Utah.

Sara

Comments

  1. John Kaess says:

    My review is coming in a few days. The topic is challenging so I am reading at a more deliberate pace to give the material time to digest.

  2. I’m going to put up with exactly ZERO disrespect in this comment thread. One violation and you are banned.

    • Michael,

      You are doing yeoman’s work herding this discussion. This might be the best I’ve seen. Care to give any indication how many brush fires you’ve had to stamp out before they hit the wire?

  3. Jonathan Blake says:

    I’m looking forward to reading this book because I have sat through one too many disappointing small group discussions at an evangelical church about the subject. I had an aunt who was gay and before she died she came to Christ. Before she died, she was actually talking to a guy from work (she claimed that Jesus had changed her). Anyway to stay on track when I have mentioned that my aunt said that growing up she slowly realized that she was attracted to women, I was shut down because it was clearly her choice and not a result of a broken human nature that leans toward sin (in many different forms from selfishness, lying, disobedience to parents, jealousy, hate, etc. if I’m wrong please correct me). I tried to get that point across but it was brushed aside. On my college campus, I have met plenty of people in the LGBT community and I want to develop a relationship and love them and show them Christ but I’m not entirely sure how to do that. I’m beginning to think I need this book now more than ever.

  4. I haven’t read the book so I really should not comment until I do, but I really am struggling with some of these responses. Having counseled numerous teenagers in student ministry who have struggled with sexual/identity issues I don’t understand the whole “don’t respond to their sin or ask them to change their behavior.” I’m not trying to be a Bible wielding fundamentalist or condemn those who struggle with this but there has to come a point where as believers we speak the truth in love. Not in a prideful way but in a way that humbly communicates that the sin of homosexuality is not unlike any other that Christ has paid for on the cross.

    Building healthy relationships with people who are living a homosexual lifestyle needs to be encouraged and I agree with that but at some point the issue must be addressed humbly and Biblically. I’m wrestling with these issues like the majority of the evangelical world and I’m sure many will take issue with what I’ve said but I really do struggle with watching people I care about being given over to their dishonorable passions. Again, for those who read this don’t hear this as condemning. I hope that my words reveal that I care deeply for those who struggle with this and I want them to know and rejoice in the Gospel.

  5. Brian:

    This isn’t a book about counseling teens or strugglers. At the CStone panel discussion, Andrew was completely respectful of the Exodus ministry people who said they do NOT attempt to recruit people out but disciple those wanting to come out.

    It is a book about relating to the GLBT community. It is not a book that addresses the “problem” of homosexuality no matter who makes that call. It is a book about relating to those who are settled in their sexual identity.

    peace

    ms

    • your comment here is helpful to me, because I was stumbling over the “their behavior doesn’t matter ” thing as well. I look forward to reading the book as soon as my book budget catches up to me. On a related note, this discussion reminds me A LOT of the many discussions online I’ve had with LDS, and I finally stopped (for now at least) posting , largely because I was standing in a crowd of ev’s who, mostly, could not or would not treat the Mormons with respect. Somewhat of an overstatement, but there it is.

      More later, THANKS for the links to those who are changing the church, Mr Monk
      Greg R

  6. “Straight Christians tend to judge the gay Christian journey by how heterosexual the person is becoming. But God may be more interested in another area of growth for many years.”

    There are so many quotable lines here. It’s almost shocking to see anyone writing what many of us have been thinking privately for many years. What if God singled out one part of my life and expected me to perfect it before having anything to do with me? I recall a line from a recent IM post, that many Christians think God is saying, “I love you, but I don’t like you.” No one can live like that for long without either being crushed or cracking up.

    • See, the thing is, God expects every part of your life to be perfect and always has something to do with you.

      “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

      And this is why we need the Gospel. “Be perfect” is God’s law, and it condemns everybody. But God loved us all so much he sent Christ to die in our place.

      To dove-tail into another thread, only churches that preach that message every sunday can be called Gospel-centered.

  7. I’m curious – How were the twenty readers chosen? Are they all evangelicals? All conservative?

    Thank you for keeping this book in the spotlight. It is a great book and a must read for every Christian. Even if people don’t know it, they probably know at least one person who is gay. If they think they don’t, it is probably because the gay people they know think they would not love (& would condemn) them if they knew they are gay.

    “Love your neighbor as yourself” is not followed by “unless they are…(gay, Muslim or whatever). How could Jesus be more explicit?

  8. I’ve not read the book yet, but my question is somewhat similar to Brian’s. I’ll try not to sound disrespectful – – this is a very sincere question. Assume for the sake of this post that I believe the practice of homosexuality to be a sin.

    According to Paul, I can enjoy a relationship and friendship with a non-Christian who has embraced their sin as their identity (1 Corinthians 5:9-10).
    On the other hand, if a person:
    – calls him/her self a Christian and
    – also still chooses their practice of sin as a permanent part their identity, and
    – wants to be in a covenantal church membership/relationship with me, and I with him, then
    – we are compelled address those sin-identification issues head-on, not allowing sin to find a permanent home within the relationship (1 Corinthians 5:11, Hebrews 12:14-16).

    So, does Andrew’s book address this issue of identification with/ embracing of sin, vs. an ecclesiology that ultimately seeks to exclude that sin from the circle of fellowship? When does this tipping point occur in a covenantal church membership?

    • What happens if I substitute greed / a failure to help ‘the least of these’ as the sin, rather than homosexuality? Therein lies the answer to your question.

      • Yes, but I see Steve’s point. It’s one I struggle with as well, with family members inside the church who are actively living a gay and a lesbian lifestyle, and who are addicted to alcohol, but refuse to even acknowledge it.

        St. Paul expressly talks about those who practice sexual immorality, swindlers, drunkards, etc. INSIDE the church in I Cor. 5:11-13:

        But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

        So I ask honestly, where does bridge-building end and the real work of what Paul says begin? I am by no means rejecting the gays/lesbians/alcoholics in my life and in the church. To the contrary, I embrace them and love them. But in light of what St. Paul says, is there a point where I need to begin to deal with these behaviors within the body of Christ?

      • Jjoe – good question. I know of a church that recently, after a long and involved process, excommunicated someone for an ongoing, unrepentant practice of greed (including a variation on the Nigerian oil minister scam, and the victims were church widows). He had been a church member for years, and the church leadership carefully followed what they beleived to be a biblical model for loving confrontation, calls for repentance, offers to come alongside in a journey of restoration and healing, all of which were brushed aside as the person failed to acknowledge an ongoing pattern of wrongdoing.

        The examples in Corinthians and Hebrews were not issues of homosexuality. Perhaps they could even be considered a consentual sin, where no one feels like they are being victimized. Still, Paul seems concerned about allowing sin – any sin – to find a permanent home with the context of church.

        When we deal seriously with the sin, we hope that healing and restoration takes us to a place where we can find a healthy practice of what is good. For example, we hope that the gossiper’s repentance goes beyond just being silent for the rest of their lives, to becoming someone who can speak good. For the person who practices heterosexual sins, we call to celibacy, and there may be a future opportunity for the physical expression of sexuality in the context of marriage.

        However, for people who have permanently identified themselves as LGT, a conservative biblical understanding of sexuality and ecclesiology does not leave much opportunity for sexual expression with another person beyond celibacy or heterosexuality. They feel we have forced them to make a lifelong choice between the physical love of another person and the love of God expressed in Christian fellowship. This narrowing of options quickly takes them to the seriousness of Jesus’ command to “cut off” that which causes you to sin, a place of despair that we heterosexuals may not fully appreciate.

  9. Andrew’s book is not about ecclesiology or exclusion from churches. It is about bridge-building.

    • Christiane says:

      A person is more than ‘an orientation’.
      We are more than ‘judges’ of someone with an ‘orientation’.

    • I appreciate your point, Monk, but would the scriptures quoted by Steve come into play if the bridge building is with believers, or professed believers. How does someone’s profession of the faith influence what we’re talking about ? I ask this knowing that our history of ev’s is that our patience quotience is roughly that of a mongoose in heat, but I think Steve is still asking some very good questions.

      this is a “must have” conversation BTW
      Greg R

  10. I guess my question is what does is the role of the church when gay Christians enter the fellowship? What are the pastoral implications once a gay person accepts Christ and enters into community with the Church? If by gay we mean desires, then that’s one thing. If we mean unrepentant participation in a subculture, that seems like something else. Am I off the mark?

    Very much looking forward to reading this book.

    • Matt,

      Do you hold other people to the same standard? Do you expect every new Christian to be perfect?

      I’m too imperfect to want to make those kinds of decisions.

      • Anna: I tend to agree, but I do think there is a pastoral implication for persistent, blatant, unrepentant sin – if I’m a pastor and I know that there is a parishoner who is public in his infidelities towards his wife, then I need to lovingly confront that.

        Now there should be no condemnation, and only grace and love, for those who struggle with desires, be they gay, straight, whatever. But when there are wide-open actions, what then?

        And to turn the tables, what about a racist? Would we simply include an open, practicing Klansmen or neo-Nazi? Surely the church could lovingly, gracefully and with great care confront that behavior.

        • And I’m very anxious to read the book. It’s just that a conversation on bridge-building poses an automatic “and then what” sort of question.

          • I think Marin doesn’t answer this directly. And I think you can argue that he doesn’t answer because 1) it’s not the point of the book, 2) he’s not sure yet what the appropriate response is, 3) his answer may offend. Or maybe its all 3. 🙂

            I loaned this book to my pastor after I read it and he published his thoughts on Goodreads. As a pastor, I think he was naturally left with that question as well. He gave the book a really good review, but that was his only criticism, was that he felt Marin didn’t address the pastoral problem.

            My own feeling is that while it needs to be addressed, I think it might need to be done with some tremendous care — and it may have to come after we know the person has actually committed to Christ. Eg, it’s one thing to exclude someone from ministry for unrepentant sin, it’s another to deny them access to worship or fellowship because of it (and yes, I’m aware of what Paul says in 1 Cor).

          • I’m looking forward to reading the book. It sounds as though we’re at the point, with Marin’s book, of discussing missional theology—how do we live as neighbors, friends, and loving witnesses of Christ to the gay community. I don’t think we should let the “what then” question keep us from participating in that mission. Perhaps the next great book on the subject will help us with our ecclesiology. Not dissimilar to the Apostle Paul’s approach. He called people into the community of Christ—and then wrote the NT primarily to straighten out the messes that resulted!

  11. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    For us as conservative Christians, this means acting in a way that encourages all people to pursue a relationship with God, rather than defending God’s moral law.

    And if you REALLY want to Defend God’s Moral Law, what are you doing in a church instead of a mosque? Shari’a — especially as enforced by Wahabi or Talibani — is VERY effective at enforcing public morality.

    The thing is, IMonk, that these days homosexuality is one of those (in the words of Malcolm X) “automatic red murder flags” to Christians. Along with Evolution and Abortion, one of the three Pillars of The Culture War. Whether “God Hates Fags (TM)” or “Here, Queer, and In Your Face (TM)”, it’s become Us or Them, to the death. Just like a Middle Eastern blood feud, and there’s only one way those ever end.

    I could practically re-write this book, substituting “Muslim” for “GLBT”, “Islamic religion” for “homosexuality”, and other similar phrases, and it could become a challenge to elevate the conversation with the Muslim community in the same spirit as Marin offers regarding the gay community… — “Bones”

    I could make a similar rewrite, except with “Furry”, “Goth”, and “Gamer”.

    P.S. “GLBT” is still one of the clunkiest acronyms ever coined.

    • “GLBT” is still one of the clunkiest acronyms ever coined.

      Heh – I know, it makes me think of a deli sandwich. “Gimme a GLBT, light on the mayo.”

  12. I have read Andrew’s book and have also benefited from it greatly. I also have the highest regard for the imonk and intend to keep my comment respectful. Yet I have to say that if Andrew’s book is only about bridebuilding then it leaves me confused because I have built bridges into the lives of a few gay friends and then come to find out that they became very open in their confession of faith in Christ and wanted to talk about where one goes to church etc. I think that when we build a bridge, that it goes somewhere (I don’t mean that dissrespectfully either). But I believe that when we are lovingly helping our gay friends come to Christ, we are inviting them to Christ as the head and the body of what He is, that is, the church as well. So for me, in my experience with only a few gay friends, I get stuck in the kind of church/ecclesiastical quesions that Matt and Joe are asking. That is, my gay friends profess to be christians, they also have no intent on changing their active gay lifestyle and yet trust me enough to ask about attending the church I go to, whether and how they would be accepted etc.

    • But how is that any different from you meeting someone upper middle class and above who wants to continue his lifestyle of nice travel, nice cars, and nice gadgets without lifting a finger to help others? Just because we don’t call materialism a “lifestyle” or an “orientation” doesn’t mean that it isn’t.

      • And these behaviors are denounced very strongly by Jesus Himself, yet we ignore that beam in our American eye.

        In general, Christians don’t have any problems relating or being in fellowship with people who have a consumer / materialist lifestyle.

        However, it is becoming increasingly difficult for me personally to be in fellowship with Christians who only support profit-based structures to deliver such a fundamental human need as health care. It is hurting my relationship with some of my best friends.

        Ironically, it is becoming much easier to relate to my gay friends than my conservative friends.

        • So what’s your argument? Non-marital sex, wasteful spending, supporting private health care etc., it’s all sin, so it can’t be that bad, so the church should just ignore it?

          The church can’t ignore sin. Christians are full of sin and evil, but those who repent and rely on Christ receive forgiveness and salvation. That is why it is so important for the church to show the unrepentant their sin.

          The Christian loves God’s law, he is not set free to break it willy-nilly. Because he is still full of sin, the Christian life is one of constant repentance.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Just because we don’t call materialism a “lifestyle” or an “orientation” doesn’t mean that it isn’t. — Jesse

        Though these days, “lifestyle” implies something sexual. And usually kinky.

        At least, that’s how I’ve seen the word used.

    • I would say answer their questions, continue the relationship, and don’t get hung up on trying to fix people. Let the Holy Spirit do that. It may take time, as it does with many, many habitual sins. Greed, gluttony, pride, cruelty, arrogance, self-centeredness, and many, many more.

    • cermak_rd says:

      Why not simply be direct, that your church doesn’t accept actively gay Christians, but point them to another church such as the Metropolitan Christian Churches, the UCC or one of the other accepting churches? It seems that this also solves most of the ecclesiology problems.

      • It worked for me. MCC was a life saver for me when I needed it most.

      • That would be worse than nothing. If you care about a person’s soul, and if the unrepentant soul is damned, you can’t suggest a path that affirmatively acts against repentance!

        Encourage your friend to read the Bible, talk to your pastor, and come to your church. Be up-front: Scripture teaches non-marital sex is sinful, but God loved you so much he already took the punishment himself for that and every other sin. The Law cannot be ignored or softened as without it, we have no need of the Gospel. But these are almost always Gospel moments, where God’s love must be offered for comfort. Pounding on the Law here only widens the divide.

  13. John Thomas Tugger says:

    Imagine if Christians applied the same standard to masturbation. Newcomers to church would be quizzed on their masturbatory habits, admonished to repent, counseled on how to quit (other than through switching to fornication), and judged according to how far along they were on this journey towards non self-abuse. Would-be pastors might be quizzed on where they stand on the issue, and whether they have done it themselves, as a kind of litmus test for getting the job.

    • Masturbation, whether gay or hetero motivated, is a private sin, where an open gay lifestyle is public. A better comparison is cohabiting hetero couples, adultery, or promiscuous unmarried individuals. I think it often happens in these situations that members are visited and admonished by pastors, asked not to commune, refused weddings, or excommunicated from the congregation.

  14. How timely it is that this is posted here today! I meet weekly at a friend’s home for our version of church….a meal together followed by spiritual discussions. Last night we talked about how we were all created in God’s image, and we are all connected. Michael (our Michael) had been convicted while reading Paul during the week about his feelings toward the church….i mean, “the church”…not our church. There are a few GLBT members in our group, me being one of the L members, and it has been our observation in our discussions that the “church”, particularly the Fundamentalists and Evangelicals could appear to be the antithesis of all that Jesus taught in it’s attempts to deal with this subject. The commandments of Love your neighbor as yourself seem to be more suggestions than commands to them. Love the sinner, hate the sin is not what Jesus had in mind when He said that. Judge not lest you be judged…that’s our struggle. It would be easy for “us” to carry around this grudge against those who would persecute or judge us, but that puts us in the seat of judgement ourselves, and that is no way to inherit the Kingdom of God. We are all called to love our neighbors as ourselves, even the GLBT community. I know many people like me who have a heart for Jesus and only want to draw closer to Him. It’s the removing the plank from my own eyes and dealing with my convictions from God that draws me closer to Him. I repented of the sin of judgement, and I thank God for the opportunity to love Him more. I didn’t think that was possible, but really, the love of God knows no boundaries. It is unconditional and without limits. I want to be just like Him, so that is my goal…to love more fully.
    IMonk…thank you so much for this site. It has blessed me immensely, and I love you for that, and for your heart.

  15. I’ve read Marin’s book and found it interesting, shaming and challenging.

    One of the things that I found interesting is about Gay Pride Parades, their history etc. But thinking about it, they now remind me of the Orange (Protestant) parades through Catholic territory in Ireland. But, I don’t know who is who.

    I also found it interesting that many people use sexuality as their first way of thinking of themselves. That’s one thing that has never really crossed my mind.

    How do we say, “Hello, let’s get to know each other’ without the stereotypes and the valid concerns on both sides getting in the way?

  16. Gary Foster says:

    I continue to be amazed and of course pleased with I Monks bravery and true love for people with his concern for gay people. I really appreciate the compassion and love. This is light years ahead of the rest of Evangelicalism. BUT. IMonk still thinks homosexuality is sin. I don’t know if IMonk thinks it is sinful to “be” gay? Or just gay acts are sinful?
    At the end of the day, the bottom line story is still, IMonk thinks(subject to clarification) being/doing gay is wrong/sinful. IMonk must realize, that this still burns to the touch on the part of gays and while it is light years ahead of others, still condemns (in the nicest way of course) a basic part of a gay person. So the question is, Michael. Is it a matter of style, in your approach to gay people?
    As a liberal, I firmly understand that people do not chose to “be” gay or bi. It just happens to be what they find themselves to “be”. (or have) Because Jesus talked about an adulterous heart as being as bad as actually doing it, it must be the orthodox view that being is as bad as doing. So I assume you agree with that?
    So this is where Orthodoxy falls flat for contemporary believers. Scientific evidence reveals a more informed understanding of sexuality than the ideas and values from two millenia ago. As I believe IMonk realizes, this issue will chew up the Evangelical movement as a challenge to the root of the idea of Evangelicalism. Just as Evolution/Creation became the friction point between culture and church in the 20th century, homosexuality is yet another leak in the dike that leads people to question traditional notions of authority and interpretation of Scripture. Eventually you run out of fingers to put in that dike. This is why your right about the coming collapse of Evangelicalism.

    • Its not like the Church has just recently encountered homosexuality. It is just that for all but the past 40 years it has expected people with a gay orientation to struggle tooth and nail against it to attain their salvation. I think what irks gays is that they see no corresponding struggle to the death against besetting sin as being obligitory for heterosexuals.

      Since the Reformation, the normalization of marriage and the recasting of ascetic struggle (AKA the human normalization process) as “works-righteousness” has given a pass card to normative heterosexuals to live pretty much as they please. With the advent of the divorce culture, against which Evangelicalism hasn’t even made a token opposition, this has become even more true. Needless to say, Evangelicals with a gay orientation don’t want to be told they need to live like an 11th century Russian monk. They want access to the same sexual cookie jar.

      Matt Tabbi of Rolling Stone describes the perfect Evangelical thusly:

      “In these Southern churches there are few wizened old sages such as one might find among Catholic bishops or Russian startsi. Here your church leader is an athlete, a business dynamo, a champion eater with a bull’s belly, outwardly a tireless heterosexual”

      No room for self-examination there.

    • Being is as bad as doing?

      If you make being the defining part of yourself; if you label yourself as being X Y or Z; if when it came down to it, you would choose being X Y or Z over being Christian, then yes.

      This applies to us all. Those of us who hug our sins to our heart and don’t want to let them go, because it is too much trouble to change or would make us uncomfortable.

      On the other hand, recognition that one is a sinner is the first step towards change. Being gay does not automatically make you more guilty or a bigger sinner or a worse person than being greedy, lazy, prideful, violent, malicious, lustful or self-righteous.

      Nailing your whole identity and concept of self on that hook is the hurtful thing. Getting drunk and spending all the money so that your family is in debt, being physically and emotionally abusive to your spouse and children – that’s wrong. Doing this because you’re an alcoholic is wrong. Being an alcoholic is not wrong. Saying “I can’t be blamed because I’m an alcoholic and so I have to drink, unlike Fred who chooses to get blasted every Saturday night and blow the rent money, and if I can’t drink then who am I? What am I supposed to be?”

      That’s when being is as wrong as doing.

      And I wish we could address straight people as well as gay when it comes to this. We’ve come to see chastity as a negative, not a positive. When St. Paul praises virginity over marriage, he’s seen as a misogynist, a self-loathing repressed homosexual, an uptight prude, semi- or even wholly Manichaean, part of the hatred and denial of the body and so on.

      How about seeing that there is something good there – marriage – and another, equally good thing – celibacy?

      I agree, we go very easy on the straights in the congregation who are sleeping together, or cohabiting, or on their second or third marriage. We need to teach that sexual morality is not the whole of the message and that it applies equally to everyone and that finally, we are all broken and in need of grace. Maybe we also need to look at the wider social pressure that puts romantic love as the ultimate attainment and fulfilment,; that sexual intimacy is a second-best if you can’t get romantic love; that everyone has to be in a relationship or else there’s something wrong with you if you can’t get a girlfriend/boyfriend; that if you don’t have free expression of sexual desire, you will be psychologically damaged; the pressure to pair off as early as possible.

      I’ve seen a defence of early marriage in America that boiled down to ‘if you don’t let them get married when they’re 18 or 19, how can you expect them to live chastely until they’re in their mid-twenties?’ My reaction to that was “Why not? Why do we think that this is a unique day and age, our conditions were never experienced before, and that if we don’t legitimise sex by marriage as soon as legally possible, the only alternative is living in sin? Because it’s impossible to deny these impulses?”

      If we can disentangle love and sex, and understand what we expect from love, and acknowledge that amor does notvincit omnia, we might be further along to a healthy understanding of the subject, not the emotional pressure-cooker we’re all inundated with (see the commercialistion of St. Valentine’s Day!) Let me finish up with a quote from the encyclical “Deus Caritas Est”:

      ““Eros” and “Agape” – difference and unity

      3. That love between man and woman which is neither planned nor willed, but somehow imposes itself upon human beings, was called eros by the ancient Greeks. Let us note straight away that the Greek Old Testament uses the word eros only twice, while the New Testament does not use it at all: of the three Greek words for love, eros, philia (the love of friendship) and agape, New Testament writers prefer the last, which occurs rather infrequently in Greek usage. As for the term philia, the love of friendship, it is used with added depth of meaning in Saint John’s Gospel in order to express the relationship between Jesus and his disciples. The tendency to avoid the word eros, together with the new vision of love expressed through the word agape, clearly point to something new and distinct about the Christian understanding of love. In the critique of Christianity which began with the Enlightenment and grew progressively more radical, this new element was seen as something thoroughly negative. According to Friedrich Nietzsche, Christianity had poisoned eros, which for its part, while not completely succumbing, gradually degenerated into vice. Here the German philosopher was expressing a widely-held perception: doesn’t the Church, with all her commandments and prohibitions, turn to bitterness the most precious thing in life? Doesn’t she blow the whistle just when the joy which is the Creator’s gift offers us a happiness which is itself a certain foretaste of the Divine?”

      I don’t think I’m spoiling the ending by saying the Pope answers that question “No” 😉

  17. Gary: We are both sexual sinners. That’s all there is to say about it.

    • Monk: I look forward to buying and reading the book; in the meantime what would I do if

      1) I am THOROUGHLY convinced that I am indeed sexually broken, and in the process of being redeemed myself

      2)I communicate this to my gay christian friend who

      3)is puzzled why I would include his/her homosexuality into this mix because “that’s just the way I am….the way GOD made me”

      Now what ??

      I am NOT against ‘bridge building” in this, or any other instance, but can you sense my dilemma here ??

      Greg R

      • I would respectfully disagree with my friend, but as Andrew models, I would try to keep the friendship on the basis of common humanity and common faith, not sexual differences.

        • thanks for the swift reply, and this is food for thot. The ‘rub’ , as I see it, is “common faith”, and I’m not categorically denying that’s the case, or not the case, but it gets back to some of the questions that Steve was asking. Ev’s, as a rule, do NOT put a high priority into bridge building, we’re more into evangelistic ‘shock and awe’ , and I welcome Marin’s efforts to reach out to a group that is routinely hated by my peeps.

          But….. will it be problematic to build a bridge to a group who says they’ve encounered the risen Lord, but will not accept what HE has to say about homosexuality ?? Maybe the ‘lost coin’ parable is at work here: maybe it’s worth the trouble of tearing the house up for the sake of those who are valuable in HIS sight.

          Response welcome.
          Greg R

          • What is it exactly that “He”, Jesus, said about homosexuality?

          • Debra: great question.

            My answer would depend on whether or not you accept Paul’s writings in the NT as words only from Paul, or if he spoke for the LORD when he wrote, or perhaps some of both; and then which of these descriptions you (or I) would apply to Paul’s very unambiguous(to me at least) admonitions against homosexuality.

            What did JESUS HIMSELF explicityly say ?? Zip, as far as I recall.

            Peace in HIM
            Greg R

          • “If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry.” But He said to them, “Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.”

            You now know as much as we do as far as the explicit intersection of Jesus and homosexuality.

    • Gary Foster says:

      I am not gay btw. Yes there is more to say. I understand what your saying but it’s not adequate.
      I do not accept your view of sin, especially in sexuality. I would guess your in the “I am so bad everything I do is sinful” camp?
      I see sexuality as a natural human phenomena to be enjoyed. Yes you can abuse anything. But it’s NOT sex per se that makes the wrong. It’s not wrong to be homosexual. It would be wrong to be hurtful or mean or exploitive of another person in whatever interaction you make with another, but homosexuality is not in itself wrong or evil.
      This is just another nail in the Evangelical coffin. The “I hate myself and everything I do because I am so sinful everything I do is tainted” concept is really destructive to people. This leads to dispair and ironically moral failure. Just saying “we are all bad” is at best evasive of the questions at hand.

      • More Pope stuff 😉

        “First, there is a certain relationship between love and the Divine: love promises infinity, eternity — a reality far greater and totally other than our everyday existence. Yet we have also seen that the way to attain this goal is not simply by submitting to instinct. Purification and growth in maturity are called for; and these also pass through the path of renunciation. Far from rejecting or “poisoning” eros, they heal it and restore its true grandeur.

        This is due first and foremost to the fact that man is a being made up of body and soul. Man is truly himself when his body and soul are intimately united; the challenge of eros can be said to be truly overcome when this unification is achieved. Should he aspire to be pure spirit and to reject the flesh as pertaining to his animal nature alone, then spirit and body would both lose their dignity. On the other hand, should he deny the spirit and consider matter, the body, as the only reality, he would likewise lose his greatness. The epicure Gassendi used to offer Descartes the humorous greeting: “O Soul!” And Descartes would reply: “O Flesh!”. Yet it is neither the spirit alone nor the body alone that loves: it is man, the person, a unified creature composed of body and soul, who loves. Only when both dimensions are truly united, does man attain his full stature. Only thus is love — eros — able to mature and attain its authentic grandeur.

        Nowadays Christianity of the past is often criticized as having been opposed to the body; and it is quite true that tendencies of this sort have always existed. Yet the contemporary way of exalting the body is deceptive. Eros, reduced to pure “sex”, has become a commodity, a mere “thing” to be bought and sold, or rather, man himself becomes a commodity. This is hardly man’s great “yes” to the body. On the contrary, he now considers his body and his sexuality as the purely material part of himself, to be used and exploited at will. Nor does he see it as an arena for the exercise of his freedom, but as a mere object that he attempts, as he pleases, to make both enjoyable and harmless. Here we are actually dealing with a debasement of the human body: no longer is it integrated into our overall existential freedom; no longer is it a vital expression of our whole being, but it is more or less relegated to the purely biological sphere. The apparent exaltation of the body can quickly turn into a hatred of bodiliness. Christian faith, on the other hand, has always considered man a unity in duality, a reality in which spirit and matter compenetrate, and in which each is brought to a new nobility. True, eros tends to rise “in ecstasy” towards the Divine, to lead us beyond ourselves; yet for this very reason it calls for a path of ascent, renunciation, purification and healing.”

      • It is not wrong to suffer from same-sex attraction. It is wrong to give into it and commit homosexual acts.
        It is not wrong to be attracted to your neighbor’s wife/neighbor’s husband. It is wrong to commit adultery.
        It is not wrong to be attracted to your boyfriend/girlfriend. It is wrong to commit fornication.

        Temptation comes to us all. It is no sin to be tempted. It is a sin to give in and sin.
        The challenge for every Christian is to submit their desires to God, to take up the cross, and follow.

        • “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” – Matthew 5:28

          Admittedly I’m an atheist, but this seems to intimate that being tempted is a sin.

  18. Jesse: If I was asked by a fellow church member or someone who wanted to be accepted at the church where I attend and was living the kind of life you describe, I wouldn’t call it a “lifestyle or orientaion” either. I’d call it “a sinful response to the Lordship of Christ as expressed in His Word”That’s what I call it in my own life when I see that very sort of idolatry operating so often. But I do not say to myself or other fellow christians, “I shall be as I am, accept me as I am and do not touch or speak about the mattters of my heart”.

  19. John: I’m not sure if you meant your question to me in regard to my comment. If so, could you expand on it a little so I understand what you are asking. I don’t use the issue of masturbation as a litmus test for my Pastor, me or other christian men in the church in regard to a clear standard of conduct defined in God’s Word, aside from its connection to fantasies, porn etc.

  20. Christiane says:

    Michael, I am troubled. The Christian take on all this is that sexual orientation is ‘a choice’.
    But, I did not choose my orientation, and I am a heterosexual.

    What troubles me is the knowledge of the increased suicide rates among GLBT teens and young people. And how they so often have said and written that they prayed to God, “Why have you done this to me?” Does this testify to ‘choice’?

    For me, it makes NO sense that a young person, with their life ahead of them, would ‘choose’ a sexual orientation that would cause them to commit suicide in despair.

    I think Christians need to think about this. I don’t think we have and people are suffering.

    • I don’t agree that THE Christian response is the sexual orientation is a choice. I don’t believe that — at least not as most define choice. I even accept that it could be genetic. I have no problem with that.

  21. Jonathan Hunnicutt says:

    We consumerist Americans are obsessed with “choice.”

    And our American theology has equated sin with “making bad choices.”

    Well, the Bible is pretty clear that homosexual behavior is a sin. However, the testimony of like 95% of homosexuals is clear that they did not choose to be homosexuals.

    So our American Theological Equation of sin=bad choices now has a problem.

    The Liberals, listening to the experience of the homosexual community that they had no choice, reason that since no choice was made, homosexuality must not be sin.

    The Conservatives take the exact opposite response, since homosexual behavior is a sin, then it must be a choice. Hence all the conservative nonsense about how homosexuals choose to be gay.

    Both are based on the assumption that sin is a choice.

    HAS ANYONE READ ROMANS 7??

    Seriously folks, we have to let go of this unbiblical idea that sin and bad choices are the exact same thing. I’m not saying there is no overlap. But we need to recover some concept of original sin, whereby we are sinners not by our choosing.

    I will admit, I think the Liberals here are the most logically consistent, having thrown out homosexual behavior as sinful, and the concept of original sin.

    Conservatives however seem to believe that we all contaminated with original sin, and yet this special class of sinners, the gay ones, they chose to become sinners that they are. Hunh?

  22. There are straight Christians who would like to be more welcoming of gays, but there is that ‘expel the immoral brother’ thing to deal with. To what extent are Christians to act as gatekeepers? There is no consistency. Some are allowed in whereas others are not. I think it is probably better to err on the side of being overly welcoming rather than not welcoming enough.

    • Christiane says:

      Strange, He went AFTER the lost sheep.
      And He said to us, ‘Come, follow me.’

      Good grief, maybe it is ones who do the ‘expelling’ who are ‘The Lost.’

      Did we, the sinners expelling sinners,’
      miss something of Him in the Gospels?

      Should we read them again, to search for more of Him there?

      • He also said, “Go and sin no more.”

        • He also said “he who is sinless can cast the first stone.”

          I don’t mean to be obnoxious , but it seems that this kind of Biblical one-liner could go on indefinitely from both ends, and avoids the really difficult conversations (which I am really happy to see going on here).

          • If a person says they are a Christian who is gay, who is anyone to judge that? I have read
            the same scripture and believe they are not talking about same sex relationships, but behaviors
            that were deemed sinful by Paul and the people of the times. There are books written about this subject, What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality is a really good one.
            The bottom line for me….Judge not lest you be judged applies to us all. I don’t say one side is right
            and the other wrong, just what is right for me. I have done the work, spent the time alone with God,
            and there is no mistaking the peace of God when it comes upon you. I know what I know with my
            knower. God honors my relationship with my beloved, and He blesses us continually as we seek
            Him with all of our hearts. It would be wonderful if we could all worship our God together without the
            attempts to convert and save the already saved. When the judgement stops, maybe then it will happen.

        • We all know Jesus was given to hyperbole. That was probably just his way of saying “Break a leg!”

    • When I think of being a gatekeeper, I think of someone standing at the door, worrying about who else gets in, while the party is going on inside the house.

      If I were all the way in the house, enjoying the party and talking with the guest of honor, I wouldn’t give a rip who was loitering around the front door — either just inside it or just outside it. Unless they were creating a nasty draft. But I am selfish that way.

  23. I am glad to see the level of discussion that is taking place around this issue and in particular Andrew’s book. This topic of discussion is not easy and at times and everyone usually has some opinion on the matter.

    I remember a couple of years ago when Brian McLaren wrote on this topic, Mark Driscoll responded, and the internet was ablaze with people taking one side or the other. In the midst of this, the real questions that people are asking get lost in the debris.

    Having served as a Ruling Elder at the Village Church (PCA) in the heart of Greenwich Village (New York City), you realize that these questions are multi-layered and require some pastoral skill in addressing them.

    For example, when someone would ask the leadership “is homosexuality a sin”, we would always look for the question beneath the question before responding. Many times what they were really asking is “asking is “if we believe that homosexuals are really bad or terrible people”.

    If we only answer the original question with “yes, homosexuality is a sin,” they will hear you saying that homosexuals are in fact really bad people. We do not believe that homosexuals are more sinful people because they are gay. We are all sinners and in need of God’s grace.

    We believe that we are saved by grace through faith and not because of conformity to any moral standard. We should condemn sin, and not any particular group of sinners, or we run the risk of acting on the false belief that we are saved by being a moral person.

    In addressing the questions around “can homosexuals change and what does that change look like?” We need to ask ourselves, “what does victory over sin look like for any Christian who struggles with sinful behavior or desires?”

    How would we address a person who struggles with anger. What would victory over anger look like? A person can confess their sin of anger, receive God’s forgiveness, and pray for the Holy Spirit’s work in their life conforming them to the image of Christ. And at the same time, the gospel does not guarantee that this person will never get angry again. Victory over sin in this persons life should show true signs that they area making progress through the Holy Spirit, but no technique or power exists that will free them from the struggle with their own self.

    So, how does this apply to the GLBT question?

    First, in discussing the question of “can homosexuals change”, we must be careful to avoid the premise that homosexuality is simply a choice that can be reversed by a person’s own will or strength. That response makes the assumption that they chose their orientation. Nor should we communicate that homosexuals are “stuck” living that way.

    Second, we have to provide a framework for what a Christian struggling with homosexuality should do. It would be appropriate to expect them not to participate in same-sex sexual intimacy (we would tell a heterosexual single Christian the same thing – not to practice heterosexual intimacy outside of marriage), they should not put themselves into a place where they can be tempted, and they should be discipled to grow in their Christian life like any other believer.

    Not easy questions and not always easy answers. I believe that Andrew’s book is necessary for the church to build better bridges to the GLBT community. As iMonk reference earlier, you can read my review at http://www.giammona.com/?p=1541

    • Cory Sampson says:

      “It would be appropriate to expect them not to participate in same-sex sexual intimacy (we would tell a heterosexual single Christian the same thing – not to practice heterosexual intimacy outside of marriage)”

      This doesn’t hold water, if only because the heterosexual Christian has been given a way out – marriage.

      To gay Christians, it’s like being invited to a feast where all the dishes served contain dairy products – parmesan cheese on the salad, cream sauce on the veal, cheesecake for dessert, and White Russians afterward. The masters of the feast are quick to remind everyone that they must wait for each course as it comes, that nobody is allowed to pig out before the appropriate time – but for that one person at the feast who is lactose intolerant, no amount of waiting will satisfy their hunger.

      It is cold comfort to the lactose intolerant guest to say that you’re in the same boat as them, since you too must wait for the next course; you have been enabled, by your nature, to enjoy that next course. All the chefs are not lactose intolerant, and they have designed the feast especially for you. Is your response to the guest at the feast to simply go hungry, and there’s nothing else they can do? And will you pretend that the fact that you are both hungry right now somehow makes it okay (even when you yourself know that you will be able to enjoy the feast with impunity)?

      Are you even going to expect them to go hungry when they can just pop on over to the restaurant across the street and get a dairy-free alternative? Or what happens if they just get completely fed up and open up a bag of potato chips to satisfy that hunger, despite how unhealthy it is?

      If you’re going to look at it from the perspective of someone who is gay and wants to live a Christian life, you’ve got to take this view into account. All the advice aimed at gays who want to be Christian is coming from heterosexuals who couldn’t be expected to take their own medicine, bitter as it is. If you started a church and told heterosexual Christians that the only way to avoid sexual sin was through unconditional chastity without the prospect of a covenanted sexual relationship before God, your church would gain precious few converts – even fewer if you had a special rule whereby you yourself got to marry for some undefined reason.

      • Yes, that’s the hard part. Saying to someone who wants to express genuine love and affection and intimacy that they cannot do this outside of heterosexual marriage.

        What do you say to someone who says “But I don’t want to have fifty different sexual partners, I only want to settle down with this one person and live normally like everyone else”?

        I don’t know. This is where genuine charity comes in. It’s easy to say ‘set your love higher’ but hard to do in practice. Certainly, saying “Just pray really hard and God will make you straight!” is not enough. How to say that yes, you are same-sex attracted and no, this is probably never going to change and no, you cannot form romantic attachments with the sex you are attracted to – I don’t know, I really don’t. I do think that a very important part of it is going to be accepting that yes, this person is gay and that’s a part of who he or she is and it’s not something to be changed by force or hidden away. If we can get over that whole hurdle of ‘is being gay a sin?’ then we can maybe get somewhere.

        Maybe. If anyone can supply a good answer, please do.

        • Martha,

          I’m glad that you brought up the idea of intimacy. I think that part of the problem is that our society, especially here in the U.S, is very sexualized. The thought that a person can be intimate without sex is almost foreign.

          As far as how we do it, I’m clueless.

          • I think Henri Nouwen’s life provides a great example of someone who struggled with this but found intimacy with other people without giving in to his homosexual desires, orientation, predisposition whatever you want to call it.

          • Brian: very good reply, and if I understand Mr. Nowen’s life correctly, he found the real feast (not that sexuality is unreal, but the fellowship and intimacy with his Savior, I’d posit, is a higher order of feast than what Cory was talking about). I know this is coming from the “privileged class”, but that’s what I understand the NT to be offering the gay community.

            Greg R

  24. Johnathon: I am one of those conservatives who believes in the doctrine of original sin and believes that homosexual activity is a choice and is sinful. I know of a person who is “gay” in terms of having same sex desires but “chooses” to not be involved in same sex activity because they believe it to be an act of sin. I do not believe that ” being gay ” in terms of inclination and desire toward the same sex, is a choice, nor does anyone who understands and believes the historic doctrine of original sin. Original sin refers to the sinful nature we have all inherited, we are all now “adamic”. That sinful nature will evidence itself in each of us by bending our heart’s desire towards things that are not righteous. I have many of those desires in my heart but do not have the inclination towards sexual involvement with a same sex person. Some of the desires in my heart are more dark and unrighteous. The doctrine of original sin does not accurately lead anyone towards classifying gays as a special category of sinners who “chose to become sinners”, nor do I.

    • Jonathan Hunnicutt says:

      I think we are in more agreement than it appears.

      First off, I’m not knocking the doctrine of original sin. I was trying to point out that it seems logically inconsistent to believe in original sin, and believe that sin of any kind is a complete choice of free will. So my knocking of conservatives was a broad brush stroke. I am aware that some conservatives have really thought it through (iMonk seems to be one of them, and so do you.) In other words, I completely agree with your last statement.

      Another confusion is that the Bible discusses this issue in terms of behavior, but our culture discusses this issue in terms of identity. Careful conservatives have notice this. You seem to be one of those, too.

      I hope we can both agree that the run-of-the-mill conservative Christian mashes this all together and says something like “Homosexuality is sinful, and they chose to be gay.” That was my point.

      However, to me you still sound captive to the American idea that sinning = making bad choices. I could be wrong.

      Obviously, there is a sense in scripture that sinful behavior is chosen. But there is also a sense that it is not. This is the plain meaning of Ro 7:17 “In fact, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.” Paul also uses metaphors like being a slave to sin. Sometimes we actively sell ourselves into slavery to sin, and sometimes we simply find ourselves there.

      The good news, of course, is that Jesus has come to set us all free.

  25. I gots to agree with the upshot of what Gary is saying. To say, “Homosexuality is a sin,” and to say, “Homosexual acts are sinful,” is to say one of two significantly different things. There is a distinct aura of Calvinism here and– full disclosure– I’m Catholic. I’m not interested in comparing theologies and in as much as we’re talking about homosexuals within the evangelical community, I’m not interested in suggesting how you folks might run things. But look… understanding “sin” as “free and knowing act of the will” is how the secular world understands the word, and so by default, how even many earnest and impassioned Christians who lack articulate theologies are going to understand it. It’s important to understand how the word may register even if you don’t agree with its populist definition. And we all know that a person’s sexuality is an enormously private matter (not subjective or relativistic, just private) and always associated with feelings of deep and tremendous guilt and shame. Now iMonk has shown every evidence, in my mind, of having a nearly pitch-perfect way of dealing with these matters, here and elsewhere. And the commentators seem rooted in real charity. If you believe that homosexuality is in itself sin, fine, cool, whatevs. I’m not contradicting anyone here, I just have something to throw into the mix. All I’m saying is that, from a pastoral point of view, it might be as good a situation as any to meditate on the words of the Master: “I have much more to teach you, but you cannot bear it now.”

    • “And we all know that a person’s sexuality is an enormously private matter (not subjective or relativistic, just private) and always associated with feelings of deep and tremendous guilt and shame.” (emphasis mine)

      Just curious– is this your personal belief, or does it have a basis in scripture?

      • Personal belief. Scripture doesn’t tell us it’s wrong to punch the first person we see walking down the street, it’s kind of ingrained into how we are and only hit tangentially through scripture. BTW, “always” may have been too strong and I’m not saying it doesn’t come from our wounded nature rather than how God originally intended us. Still, if you’re contradicting me, you’re kidding yourself.

        • I’m sorry that you feel this way. I consider sexuality one of the many gifts God has given us, and I find great joy in the sexual intimacy I have with my husband. It’s one of the things I thank God for!

          • K. When I say “sexuality” I mean “sexuality,” not sexual acts.

            I can think of virtually no sexual acts that I’ve associated with “deep guilt and shame” or whatever I said, at least at the time. Stop the knee-jerk New-Ageism for a second and let me explain what I mean.

            So I have this cousin-through-marriage and she’s breastfeeding and her baby won’t take the bottle when it’s necessary. She says something to this effect on her Facebook status. I don’t want this to turn into an “STFU, Parents” nightmare so I bring in some levity. I say, “Dust the nipple with cocaine.”

            WELL, Bethany, a couple of her friends couldn’t put two and two together and figure out that I was referring to the nipple of the bottle. The comment was, “highly inappropriate.” And had I understood things the way they did I’d say the same thing.

            I felt ashamed. I felt extremely embarrassed. Deleted the comment, apologized in the comments, e-mailed my beloved cousin-through-marriage and explained myself.

            This had nothing to with sexual acts and had everything to do with sexuality.

            I can sense your prejudice so let me say that this is all coming from a Freudian rather than a Catholic.

          • What prejudice are you sensing, here?

            I really don’t see what “sexuality” has to do with your anecdote, unless you’re saying that you’re not comfortable referring to female nipples publicly on Facebook. Which, yeah, that would be inappropriate. But that’s anatomy, not sexuality. If you’re going for the idea that parts of the body are sacred or special or private and so shouldn’t be referred to in certain ways or in certain venues, that’s a different issue. That could be construed as part of some peoples’ sexuality, BUT I still don’t see that it implies shame and guilt. If I want to keep something private and intimate, and I do that, there’s no shame and guilt. Keeping something private doesn’t imply that I’m ashamed of it. If I violate somebody else’s standards of intimacy and privacy, then I would feel badly, but such feelings aren’t an inevitable part of that element of sexuality.

            Frankly, I’m a bit confused as to how you can so sharply separate “sexuality” from “sexual acts.” If one associates deep guilt and shame with one’s sexuality, one’s existence as a sexual being and interacting with others who are sexual beings (at least that’s how I define sexuality– if you do so differently, please let me know- I don’t want this to be us talking past one another due to different definitions!), I can’t see how one could derive real, genuine, heartfelt pleasure from sexual acts.

          • You don’t see what sexuality has to do with anything because you refuse to draw a distinction between “sexuality” and “sex acts” or “sex.” Also, a woman’s nipple is a concept associated with “anatomy.” The subjective experience of embarrassment at the alleged mention of a nipple is not a concept best umbrella-ed with “anatomy.”

            But whatever. You say tomayto, I say tomahto. Peace in Christ. Jesus loves you.

          • Sorry, sorry, sorry! You had asked me a perfectly relevant question and it didn’t quite register because my brain was in annoyed mode. For the record… I’d define sexuality as the nature of how we are constituted as sexual beings, including all the cultural and sociological associations. Horrible definition, but my understanding of sexuality is that it’s a horribly nebulous phenomenon, and a huge part of what integrates our personhood.

            But again, tomayto / tomahto. I’ve got a feeling we’re at the point we could have an fascinating discussion if only it weren’t so wildly off-topic.

          • Agreed on both counts! This is funny, because I completely agree with your definition (much more well-put than mine), yet still can’t see the connection to the emotions you mention….

            I’d love to keep talking without burdening iMonk- if you’d like to continue the conversation, you can reach me at bethany.e.k AT gmail

          • Will do!

            First I owe you an apology for a lot of the edge in my comments and the whole “defensive Catholic” thing. When I feel I’m getting talked past I immediately assume some hang up on the other party’s part, whether or not there’s a whole lot of evidence. It’s a stupid and childish defense strategy.

            To put it all in context, I had just come back from another old thread about authentic/inauthentic Marian devotion. I had put up what I hope is some good apologetics there, a couple Protestants were making sharp points and asking tough and fair questions, it was rad. In the mean time a totally asinine evangelical guy had shown up to comment at least once on each of my posts, give me the Party Line, and fail at argument. An equally asinine Catholic woman had shown up to helpfully berate a young person I was in discussion with. Commentary over there has been disabled, no doubt because of Fred and Ethel and their 100% likelihood of engaging in a million useless side arguments. *sigh* I was ticked. It was like coming home from vacation and discovering that your house has been overrun by wild raccoons.

  26. Recognizing that a simple post or comment does not and cannot fully represent any one person’s complete thought process on such a complicated issue, here is my attempt.

    I have not read the book but, as many others out here, have given much thought to issues such as how the church relates to and, more importantly, reaches those who find themselves caught up in the mire of deviant sexual behavior, whether it be homosexuality or something else. To be clear, any intimate relationship outside of the God’s well-defined one male/one female marriage covenant is a sin. Furthermore, at all times, the participation in any sinful behavior has negative consequences on many levels and is not beneficial to anyone, the individual or society as a whole. Some people would suggest that we ignore the person’s sins and love the person. But, I suggest to you that this is not possible because love always seeks the best outcome for the one’s we choose to love and choosing to ignore a person’s openly-lived sin only falls into the category of apathy and apathy is not a part of love. On the contrary, discipline is a foundational element of love and delivered appropriately, brings about positive change, often times not initially recognized as such by the disciplined during the process of being disciplined. For example, my children have never immediately thanked me for caring enough to discipline them for their sinful behavior or disobedience. This never affects my decision and duty as a parent to carry out the discipline. In so much as this principle fact of discipline rings true in all situations of discipline, whether it be me as a parent or the church as the disciplinarian, the disciplined, in this case being those that choose to engage in homosexual behavior, will always be at odds with the church’s position regarding their lifestyle. To complicate the matter even more, people that struggle with issues such as this all too often define who they are by their sin. This leads to another problem, which is, if being homosexual (a sinner) is what a person believes is at the core of everything they are, they will always be offended by the church who, rightly so but not always in the proper way or posture, stands adamantly against their lifestyle choice. Not because we as Christians hate homosexuals, but rather because we love them so much.

    So, in other words, at the foundation of the discord between the church and the homosexual community is the problem that we face with all sinners, which is, lost people often define who they are by their sin. A concept that, as a Christian, I must wholly reject as being false. For contrary to a popular statement we’ve all heard, God did not make us special just the way we are, for we are all sinners, and that was not His original design. And, in all honesty, this brings us to the main point. Whether it be a person that chooses to live a homosexual relationship or some other sinful lifestyle, to be saved they must first come to the realization that they are a sinner in need of a savior. To suggest that a person that openly lives a homosexual lifestyle can come to Christ without this realization would not only be false but unbiblical. Furthermore, this kind of disassociated thought process will only serve to lull a sinner into a false sense of security of their salvation. Though this inoculated sense of Christianity may serve to make nice with all the sinful factions of our world, it will never serve the purpose for which we are called. For what good does it do and what love does it really represent when we, as Christians, choose worldly diplomacy and tolerance over truth? The truth is we cannot afford to, for a person’s eternity is at stake.

    I do not want anyone to misunderstand what my position is regarding this issue. Loving a person to Christ is always more effective than trying to scare them to Jesus. But, if we are going to so simplistically say just “love one another”, we are going to need to realize the effectiveness of all the facets of love, not just the one’s where you care for a sick person by bringing them food etc. I call that the nice, nice church and it is a real problem in America these days. You know the one that the world wants us to be by never rocking the boat or just going with the flow. I’m sure that I and all Christians can do a better job reaching the lost but we will never be very effective until we realize that the most important thing is the development of our love relationship and intimacy with our Savior. For that is how we take on the characteristics of Christ. Until then, it won’t matter how many books some person writes or how many comments are posted or how great new programs we can come up with or who defines themselves as an evangelical or reformed or whatever kind of yahoo junk labels people come up with to define the divisions of Christianity, we will never be effective until we give up all of our so-called great ideas and replace them with just being a part of God’s continuous activity of seeking to save those which are lost. For as the scripture says, the harvest is plenty but the workers are few. Still, there is hope, hope through Christ.

    • Troy,

      I appreciate your thoughts here and I think they make a lot of sense, but I also I think I disagree in part. Let me try to address some specific points, and respond.

      “Some people would suggest that we ignore the person’s sins and love the person. But, I suggest to you that this is not possible because love always seeks the best outcome for the one’s we choose to love and choosing to ignore a person’s openly-lived sin only falls into the category of apathy and apathy is not a part of love. ”

      I largely agree with you here. But, again you have to understand that Marin isn’t really giving methods or how-tos on addressing this particular sin. Instead he’s saying that, mostly due to the ‘politics’ of this issue, we need to first and foremost build bridges with the GLBT community and we do that first with love. Do you try to get your non-believing straight friends to come to know God by pointing out all their sins? I doubt it.

      “Whether it be a person that chooses to live a homosexual relationship or some other sinful lifestyle, to be saved they must first come to the realization that they are a sinner in need of a savior. To suggest that a person that openly lives a homosexual lifestyle can come to Christ without this realization would not only be false but unbiblical.”

      Again, I agree in principal, that the major step in needing a savior is knowing that you need a savior, but does that mean that a practicing homosexual cannot understand they are a sinner in need of a savior? I don’t think so. Does it mean we have to understand all those things that separate us from God before we can ask for His grace? I hope not!

      So, can a person really not come to know and love God until they acknowledge all their specific sins and repent? Or is there a process? I tend toward the idea of process.

      Now again, Marin doesn’t go into detail about the pastoral issues here, but from the book, I see that he openly invited anyone who wanted to come to Bible studies. There was no prerequisite for this person to agree to anything before coming or any requirement for them to change to continue to come. I’d imagine that the Gospel was preached. That the ideas of sin and redemption were there in those studies….

      So then what do we do as a Christian community? Do we demand abstinence or change before people can become part of our community? Before we will worship and fellowship with them? I do think there is a time where this needs a point where apparent unrepentant sin needs to be addressed. But what do you do if the person says that they think your interpretation is wrong? That it really was speaking of male prostitution? Do you kick them out of the community?

      I just think this issue is far more complex than many want to admit.

      • Kenny,

        I know it has been a few days since you response to my email but this is the earliest I could get back to you. While I understand what you are trying to say to me, I’d like to interject one thing.

        While it is true that we do not set a litmus test to anyone’s feet as they come to Christ, whether it be about homosexuality or whatever sin that is in one’s life, we also must be honest and not misleading to a person that is truly looking at what salvation means. I don’t want to apply this principle to every person that struggles with issues of homosexuality but for many, like Cory being a good example, the mere fact that those that have actively chosen to live a homosexual lifestyle and do so unrepentantly, as if it is okay and under the delusion that God actually approves of that and even more so says that it is okay because God actually made them that way, there is no way that a person in this frame of mind can authentically be saved. Again, you could replace this sin with any other an it would be the same principle.

        In fact, Jesus himself gave us a solid example of this when the rich young ruler came to Him and asked “what must I do to be saved” and Jesus started with the things like the laws and then got down to the nitty gritty of the man’s heart and told him that he must give up all of his riches and follow him and the man went away sad. You see, Jesus did not just say, hey , follow me, and everything will be okay. Rather, He identified the one thing in his life that meant more to him than anything else.

        While not in all cases, most of the time if you are dealing with people openly living gay lifestyle they have come to the conclusion that what they do is not a sin. Thus, if we are to ever expect an authentic salvation experience with such an individual, we must be willing to say to them that any prominent key issue such as this is not accepted by God and they will need to turn from it.

        As any Christian knows, salvation does not stop us from struggling with sin, in fact, as Paul point out in Romans 7:15, we actually have a greater struggle because we have our perfected Spirit nature dwelling in us and still our flesh-based sinful nature to contend with. In truth, the only way to come to Christ is through great humility and for one to assert that they can come to Christ and continue on with their old sinful lifestyle, saying that they are doing nothing wrong, only speaks to the true heart of this individual. To say that we should not say to a person as they are interested in coming to Christ that they must rid their life of such sins, would be foolish and misleading and likely void the authenticity of any profession of faith a person might make by their words. Homosexuals that authentically come to Christ will recognize via the conviction of the Holy Spirit that draws them to Christ that their lifestyle is not acceptable in God’s eyes and must change.

        Unfortunately, Cory is a textbook example of a person who does not know Christ and will not come to know Christ as their Savior until this realization is made just like the rich young ruler. Jesus did not mislead the rich young ruler when the opportunity for salvation presented itself and we should not mislead people either. This is not the only example where Jesus was specific. Honestly, it is foolish to say to a lost person that they can come to salvation and not have a fully repentant heart. Maybe one day Cory will come to know Jesus. Honestly, I hope so but, if not, it will be for the most apparent reason of all, homosexuality was more important to Cory than God. We should all pray for Cory.

        Lastly, I’d like to respond directly to Cory. It is obvious that you do not know scripture nor Christ for that matter. First of all, contrary to your ignorance, God Himself established marriage when He joined Adam and Eve together as husband and wife and stated that this was God’s intended design. Long before any government started making people sign some document or charged them some fee, marriage existed and without the needed approval of the state, so to speak. I suggest you read Genesis, the first 3 chapters and get a clue about the history of marriage, as well as many other scriptures and, yes, contrary to foolish statements by the gay community on a regular basis, even Jesus affirmed marriage to be only between one man and one woman. Let me be blunt for just a moment so that you have no way of misunderstanding what I am saying. God does NOT recognize just any relationship sanctioned by the state. He only authenticates those that fall within the boundary of His design. No matter what some government says on a worthless piece of paper, homosexuals cannot and will never experience an authentic marriage. For all the messed up factions of certain religions that tell you they can give you a God ordained and recognized marriage, they are as much a fool as you are.

        • Cory Sampson says:

          “Honestly, I hope so but, if not, it will be for the most apparent reason of all, homosexuality was more important to Cory than God. We should all pray for Cory.”

          Meanwhile, I will pray that God becomes more important to you than your heterosexuality and heteronormative worldview.

        • Troy,

          I can’t believe what you said! Since you seem to be into a very literal interpretation of Scripture, are you not seriously worried about what Jesus said about people who call others fools? It can be found in Mt. 5:22. Is this the way a follower of Jesus would treat anyone???

        • Cory is not gay, Troy. Would you like to know how I know that? I’m a girl. And he is my boyfriend.

          I find it interesting that because he attempted to help people on this thread to see this issue from the perspective of a gay Christian you automatically assumed he is gay himself. There are straight Christians who want to understand what the gay Christians are going through, and we don’t have to be gay to sympathize with them.

          • Troy

            Your post makes me curious- did you come to God with a clean slate, a clean heart? Did you know all of the things inside of you that needed to change? Is it now simply a matter of enacting those changes? Is there room in your life for there to be *more* that God wants you to change or let go of, that you might not even be aware of?

            I like to believe that God will keep working on me, eternally, and that I will continue to discover the broken places inside of me that need to be healed, and the joy that comes from being healed in them. I would hate it if I felt that I needed to come to God with a full knowledge and accounting of my complete brokenness in all areas, before God would offer his mercy or love to me. In fact, I feel in my life quite the opposite- that I’m utterly blind to how great my need for God is, and he loves me and is merciful and gentle and compassionate towards me anyway- and even loves me a lot, and likes me a lot.

            Cory- I really really appreciate the work you have done to understand heteronormative culture and the place of privelege that straight Christians occupy in it. This is coming from a non-straight non-Christian.

          • Cory Sampson says:

            Aw, dearest, you outed me!

            In-ed me?

            Sarah, I’m currently working on a straight Christian privilege checklist. Even though the idea of the privilege checklist is done to death, I haven’t been able to find a single one that looked uniquely at what it means to be straight in a Christian world. Maybe I’m subconsciously not looking hard enough, because I want to be the first…

    • Cory Sampson says:

      “To be clear, any intimate relationship outside of the God’s well-defined one male/one female marriage covenant is a sin.”

      And if someone were to remove the “escape clause” of marriage from that statement, every heterosexual Christian who is in a committed, loving relationship where both partners serve and love God would fight tooth and nail to preserve that escape clause.

      Looking at it from the viewpoint of privilege (and let us pretend that we are all literary deconstructionists/ new historicists rather than theologians, just for the moment) what the discourse of evangelical Christianity is saying to the gay community boils down to “we acknowledge that sex is a great, wonderful thing, and we are going to keep it for ourselves, on our own terms, using our own privileged standpoint to define those terms, and we expect you not to make too much noise when we suggest that you are not allowed equal access to it.” From the gay community’s standpoint, what is happening has nothing to do with doctrine or scripture or a genuine desire to do what’s right, and everything to do with a privileged class that is able to retain the benefits of its privilege (sex), by authoring and enforcing regulations (covenental marriage) to the exclusion of others (gays) who have comparatively little say in the authorship of said discourse because of a relative lack of privilege or access to the discourse.

      The gay Christian community is calling a spade a spade here; what can you possibly say when someone inevitably asks the question, “why is it fair for you to expect us to remain celibate to avoid sin when you yourselves are not willing to do the same? And isn’t it just a bit too convenient that the agreed upon interpretation of scripture just happens to support the privileged class, time and time again?”

      For gay Christians, the response “because I/ God/ the Bible says so” does not cut it anymore. The message has always been “it’s fair because we’re all abiding by the same rules; don’t cry because we happen to be the ones writing, editing and selling copies of the rulebook, and all those rules just happen to coincide perfectly with exactly what we want to do with our lives.” It’s never spoken out loud by anyone, and I don’t even believe for a second that that is the intent of those sending the message – but that is how it is being read, and will continue to be read as long as straight Christians keep hogging marriage for themselves.

      • But Cory, then are straight, evangelical Christians not supposed to believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God and that it condemns certain practices?

        I understand why people would find this unfair, but at the same time, I don’t want to just throw out my theology because it’s unsavory. And I think i’m one of the last people with some axe to grind. I didn’t grow in the church. I never thought homosexuality was a sin until I was in my mid 20s and became a Christian and accepted the Bible as God’s inspired word.

        • Cory Sampson says:

          Indeed, it brings us to an impasse; because either way, it still means that straight Christians will get to marry while gay Christians will have to cool their jets, and the straight Christians in the privileged position will always be telling the gay Christians in the unprivileged position that they are wrong and sinful and broken, ad infinitum.

          What I’m proposing is a thought experiment: if you were born into some sci-fi future or parallel universe where all reproduction is done in vitro, and the norm and standard is homosexual intimate relationships, and any opposite sexual attraction was deemed sinful and broken in a way that entirely conveniences everyone else but you and a small minority, would you be as equally content to just lie down and accept it without a tinge of cynicism at how the inspired word of God conspires so perfectly against your idea of perfect romantic love, while privileging the dominant class?

          • Interesting notion there, Cory. I did read, many years ago, a SF short story in which society had broadly developed along those lines – same-sex relationships were the norm, opposite-sex ones were considered deviant (for example, Shakespeare had been re-written so that there were two versions of “Romeo and Juliet”: “Julia and Juliet” for the women, and “Romeo and Jules” for the men, to fit with the new social roles).

            However, if we’ve got a society that reproduces in vitro, I’m assuming that there are (at least) two sexes? And that they reproduced the old-fashioned way until technology made artificial conception and pregnancy possible? Even if socially (as in some Earth cultures) men and women lived separately, only coming together for child-bearing?

            Then the Catholic view, I think (and I’m speaking as un-theologically trained bog-standard laywoman) would be that this still models the complementarity of the sexes as opposites made for unity, nevermind what the technological achievements permit, and that the original (unfallen) state is union of the male and female, not otherwise.

            Of course, the interesting point then becomes if it is just a future society, or if it is a completely different universe: what is the state of revelation in that universe? A future society in this universe can be a fallen one, especially if it is an offshoot of our world. A completely different universe – that’s a bigger question.

            The Catholic bishops of New Jersey have issued a statement: here’s a link if it’s of any interest. Disagreement is perfectly fine, because I’m certainly not expecting non-Catholics to feel bound by any doctrine or teaching of the Church, but it’s fairly concisely stating the RC position:

            http://www.dioceseoftrenton.org/church/oneman-onewoman_statement.asp

          • There is no class of gays and straights, or privileged and unprivileged, in the church. There are only sinners in need of forgiveness.

            Your argument is basically that the Law demands too much of you, and it’s not fair, and you can’t be expected to be perfect. That is the argument of every sinner. We can either pretend the Law doesn’t demand perfection and lessen its demands (which is what the pharisees did), or repent of our failures and seek forgiveness and faith in God’s Word and Sacrament.

            God does not promise anybody a happy love life. Many straight Christians are celibate due to the lack of a spouse, and feel as much resentment as gay celibate Christians do to their situation. There are many married Christians who feel the same resentment at their marriage, due to a disabled spouse, to lust for outside relationships, or whatever. There are many widowed Christians who feel the same resentment at God for taking their spouse.

            Everybody has their own burdens, and when we want to complain that nobody else has to bear a burden as heavy as our own, we already have an example in Paul:

            To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

  27. Kenny,

    I don’t really disagree with your comments that expounded in areas I did not. I have far more thoughts on this issue that I can write here and many more nuances that could be said as I am sure everyone else has because there is so much to say and so little time to say it..

    Thanks for your thoughts and wisdom.

  28. Kenny,

    My suggestion would be not to engage Cory at all in this discussion.

    • Cory Sampson says:

      I’m sorry if I sound so pessimistic, but I don’t think that we can ignore the notion of privilege in any discussion on homosexuality; and it is an unavoidable truth, whether God considers homosexuality a sin or whether it’s a human invention, that straight Christians are the ones holding the cards, and telling gays that they can’t have something that they themselves are not willing to give up, and part of the reason they are able to do so is that being straight gives you a great deal of privilege in the Christian community. Part of bridge-building should be experimenting in ways to look at things from another person’s perspective – and from a gay Christian’s perspective, things look grim indeed.

    • Cory for the win! I learned in my attempts to reconcile my radical feminism with my absolute stance against abortion that it’s not so much what you’re saying so much as how you say it. I.e., that if you look at things, most Christians talk as though they’re more interested in controlling women than they are respecting the souls of freshly-conceived children. Maybe there’s enough evidence in the Bible to recognize that homosexual actions are sinful (I believe so), but maybe Cory has had his neck slit and his throat pooped down upon enough to not want to take it from thoughtless, careless heterosexual Christians? Hey, this is how ecumenism works: you talk things over with the other side so you can learn what YOU’VE been doing wrong, the things you’ve been putting unfairly or hurtfully. “Don’t engage Cory in the discussion at all.” Who the hell do you think you are?

    • Why? His responses are thoughtful, respectful and interesting. I hardly think that requesting that straight Christians feel empathy for their LGBT brothers and sisters is cause for excluding someone from discussion.

  29. I have heard gay friends ask each other this sexual-identification hypothetical question:
    “If there was a magic pill that when you swallowed it, it would make you straight, would you take the pill?… or would you refuse it and stay gay?”
    Many that I know would say, in a candid moment anyway, that would take the pill in a heartbeat – – if only just to make other practical aspects of life (family relations, adolescence, etc.) easier in general.
    However, within the gay pride movement, there is definitely a sense that you have achieved maturity and self-acceptance if you would refuse the pill. It is a declaration that I would not change my sexuality, even if it were easy to do so. I think that is the person that Michael refers to as being “settled in their lifestyle”.

  30. Why is it that it’s always issues of sexuality that are so contentious within Christianity? Those of greed, gluttony, being rude, etc. are generally brushed aside or explained away.

    • Love and sex feel very good. The feeling can rival or even eclipse religious ecstasy. I was taught that anything that you like more than God is idolatry, so then love and sex feel ‘wrong,’ which is clearly unhealthy

  31. It isn’t just gays who feel that marriage is denied them. What about people with really bad social anxiety? MArriage seems just as much of an impossibility to them. I went to church the other sunday and the sermon was on marriage and divorce. It irritated me because I feel like the possibility of my overcoming my social anxiety to where I could possibly be in a position to marry someone is very very small; and then I feel mad because the sermon is like rubbing it in my face.

    • I kinda know how you feel. I made the cruel and sardonic joke to a friend a few weeks ago that I would only marry a woman if I absolutely hated her, and hated her enough to know that I’d hate her offspring. I would make an abysmal husband and father. I lack the patience and the commitment and maybe the charity to devote myself entirely to another person in that wonderful union. As it stands, it looks like its either celibacy or significant personal growth through grace for me!

      Homosexuals generally feel themselves to be part of an oppressed class of people, though. Marked as filthy in a particular kind of way and separated from the rest of us. Not to get all political, but there’s more at play here than the goodies that they (and you and I) can’t have in the Christian scheme of things. I totally understand and even sympathize with the rebellion. It’s tragic that the righteous rebellion against society is at the same time a rebellion against God. Who’s the most to blame? “Cursed be the one through whom my name is blasphemed.”

      Good luck with the social anxiety. It’s awful, I know.

      • Well put!

        I’m single because I have never wanted to make a committment to another person. I would never consider doing the kind of work, and enduring the emotional involvement, associated with having children. I want my time to myself.

        In most churches, I would be seen as living a life of spotless chastity.

        My gay friends, OTOH, are all in long-term committed relationships. Which of us is using our sexuality more as god intended?

        • Not really, actually, Pat. It’s weird, but in my mind a lot of Evangelical culture, while they view romantic relationships outside of marriage askance, there is also strong pressure for everyone to be married. Spotless chastity is not really a common notion anymore, not in the culture I grew up in, anyway. But the stages preceding marriage are awkward… you are suspect until you reach the altar, pretty much.

    • Cory Sampson says:

      I would be remiss not to point out that marriage is not universally denied gays, however; here in Canada, marriage, with all the rights and privileges associated with it, is open to any two persons, regardless of gender. And even in countries where the law does not support gay marriage, there are still churches which will bless and solemnize gay unions in commitment ceremonies.

      I’m very sorry for your social anxiety. I went through a period where I felt I had no hope of a relationship with anyone. I was chronically single, and then, for a period, bounced between short-term partners with whom I didn’t really have anything we could build on. It’s frustrating as hell, believe me, I know, when you see a room full of happy, loving couples and you know that you are excluded from that happiness.

      The analogy breaks down, however, because gays have a way of experiencing intimate relationships. If you were to meet a partner who immediately put you at ease, despite your social anxiety, and you knew that they wanted to be with you forever, would you not jump at the chance? It’s asking a lot to tell the gay community not to jump at the chance to be with the person they love and cherish, especially when the straight Christians telling them to do so would never have the fortitude to do the same.

      I will pray for you, though. Have you been formally diagnosed with social anxiety disorder? Overcoming the actual disorder might involve a lot of counselling, and possibly medication. If it’s the same social anxiety that all people tend to feel when they’re at a low point (the kind I certainly identify with), then your greatest ally is time – time to climb out of the rut and look at things with a fresh viewpoint.

  32. How we, both individually and corporately, treat “the least of these” (those we perceive to be lesser than us in some measure) is one of the truest mirrors in which the world sees the reflections of who we really are. When we treat certain favored classes well, in spite of their sin(s) and treat other classes badly, presumably because of their sin(s), we show the world who we really are – and it doesn’t look at all like Jesus.

    A recent story we saw first-hand: The pastor confronted a couple, neither of whom were Christians, and both of whom had been attending the church a short time, and told them they should not be living together without the benefit of marriage if they were going to attend the church. Other people in the church in similar situations (although they were less open about their situations) were not approached by the pastor. An aside – this young woman’s sister, who also attended the church, had recently had a major disagreement with the assistant pastor over an unrelated matter. Of course the young couple and all their relatives left the church.

    Churches frequently do not treat people even-handedly. You would have to live in a deep, dark cave with no communication with the outside world not to know that. Everyone knows, especially gays.

    Somehow when the topic turns to LGBT people, very strict interpretations of Scripture suddenly appear. People who have no qualms about their college sons and daughters, who they know live with their boyfriends and girlfriends, attending the church are horrified that a gay person might consider attending their church. Trot out the Scriptures and show them their sin (the gays, not their sons and daughters).

    Surprise – They don’t want to attend that church. Nor do their families and friends. Unless these people go to church to make connections to help them make real estate sales, they don’t go, because they don’t find Jesus there. Jesus does not treat people that way. Period. If you treat people that way, who are you following?

    Those churches who insist that modern English translations of Romans 1 should be applied quite literally might also look at Romans 13:8 (“Owe no man anything”) and see if they as individuals and corporately are following that word of Paul to the letter – no mortgages, including for church property. Of course, Paul probably didn’t really mean what that says, right? But he surely really meant what you think Romans 1 says, right?

    • cermak_rd says:

      I think you make an important point here, that it is not just gays who are turned off by a Christianity that rejects gay people. It also turns off people who have gay family or gay friends or simply feel an affinity towards a people they see as oppressed.

      It’s a small factor, but it’s one reason why I am no longer a Christian. Probably a far larger one is politics, but that’s a whole ‘nother topic of discussion.

      • Toss religion on the garbage pile, and the “culture war” and politics stuff with it. Be gone with this garbage.

        But – discover who the real Jesus is. He loves all of us sinners, including me, you and gays. It will be truly worth your while, as the old saying goes, even better than finding a chest full of pirate’s treasure buried in your back yard.

        • cermak_rd says:

          Naah, I think that ship has sailed. I find in Judaism, a more ancient tradition and a more stable community and heritage to hang my hat on. It just fits a whole lot better.

          • I’m sorry you didn’t meet Christ before you met the Christians. It is so often that we misrepresent the one we are supposed to serve. We are supposed to show Christ’s love to the world, but I think we frighten people away from him more often than not.

  33. Jesus does not treat people that way. Period. If you treat people that way, who are you following?

    OK, Sam: and this is not a “throw down the gauntlet” kind of thing….but…..how DOES Jesus treat those from the GLBT community ? Would HIS approach be roughly the same as , or in some way fundamentally different from the approach used toward two hetero’s living together ? Is this just building a bridge to a ‘different community’, or is there a sin issue to be dealt with ?

    hope this doesn’t make me the fundy of the hour, but many are asking the same questions

    the joy of the LORD be our strength
    Greg R

    • I can answer that….I’m from the GLBT community.
      Each night as I put my head on my pillow, and my beloved rests her head on my shoulder, I have sweet, peaceful sleep.
      I ask you….if a person is truly seeking the Lord God with all of their heart, mind and soul, would you not expect that person to be convicted of sin? I’m not convicted about this. I am at peace. He tells me He loves me over and over again. I praise His Holy name, and He blesses me.
      I recall a scene where a woman was caught in bed with a man she was not married to. Jesus told the group of hypocites, whoever is without sin cast the first stone, and then knelt to doodle in the sand. I have always wondered what He wrote then, but whatever it was, He got his point across.
      I would love it if the “church” would get the point in my lifetime. This has become a really old and tired argument/discussion.
      There is no human on this planet who can judge the heart of another. I ask God to search my heart and show me where I am wrong. He shows me my judgement of others, my quickness to anger, when I am being selfish with my time. I have never heard Him say I should leave my beloved because we share the same gender.

      • I’m not trying to play the lawyer here, tho it might appear so , but is the point that the church doesn’t yet get: “Look, I’m not in sin, or sinning, because if I were, I wouldn’t be at peace with this , because the Holy Spirit would have convicted me by now…” Is that roughly it ?

        Greg R

        • I’m not sure about your tone, so I will not answer you any more directly than I said above. It is what it is. If you are at peace with your approach and opinions toward the GLBT community, who am I to judge that?

          • Debra: thanks for posting back. Other than being careful not to judge others in ways that only GOD should, I’m still a little sketchy on what “the point that the church does not get” is, but if you don’t want to explain it more than you have, I’ll leave it at that.

            I’ve asked you and Sam a couple of questions primarily because there are, IMO, at least SEVERAL different “conversation” happening simultaneously. Some explicitly, some implicitly. You (understandably) are tired of some of this discussion. I think I can get that.

            I tend to be restless and hard to please,especially when it comes to my attitudes. Am I at peace with my approach and attitudes towards the GLBT community ?? Well, sort of: I hold no animosity or fear THAT IM AWARE OF, but you know how that goes, there is always more to learn and grow from. My conscience is hardly infallible, so I appreciate the ‘heart check’.

            I think we can both agree that GOD’s love is amazing, and that you and I offer proof that GOD’s love reaches to the most broken of all ‘clay pots’.

            Greg R

    • Greg,

      I accept that you are truly thinking about this. Although some try to make this a single-issue discussion, how we react to the LGBT community has much wider implications. It is a window into our soul through which the world and our Lord see our true beings. Are we really trying to follow Jesus and live as He did? Do we really love our neighbor as ourself?

      This is not a matter of getting this into our heads. It is a matter of getting it into our hearts. Do we really love _____________? You fill in the blank. It might be blacks, Asians, Muslims, gay, homeless, the poor, rapists, child molesters, women who have had abortions, our ex-wife who ran off with another man, the neighbor woman who seduced our husband, the sham financier who stole our life’s savings or whoever it is we have trouble liking. Some of these people we dislike for what they did. Some for what they do. Some for who they are.

      What does Jesus tell us to do? – Love them. Is there a sin issue to be dealt with? – Sometimes, but who must deal with it? – They and Jesus. When they have come to know that we really love and care about them, perhaps a time will come when we can tell them that we believe God has a better plan for their life. We can ask them if they will pursue this with God. We really know that in spite of our best efforts, we do not convict anyone of sin. The Spirit does. We do not forgive sin. God does.

      No, we’re not ignoring or encouraging their sin. We’re doing what Jesus taught us to do – loving them. Jesus treats us all as sinners, as we are. If He is especially harsh on anyone, it is those who claim to be His followers, but don’t act accordingly. If He disciplines anyone it is His followers, because He loves them and wants them to grow in Him.

      Jesus never ignored anyone’s sin. But He did eat and drink with sinners. He truly liked them and still does. He likes sinners. Can you imagine? He likes sinners. He even loves them. And so should we if we follow Him.

      If you’re a pastor you almost certainly have people in your congregation who have special problems with the LGBT community. You’re in a tough spot. Who do you please – The people who give you a paycheck or the Lord?

      I grew up post WWII. Then certain church folk had major problems with Japanese people, blacks and Democrats (they said JFK was the anti-Christ.). I suppose those folks who are still alive think the culture has forgotten what they said and did (including using the Bible to support their teachings and actions). Some of us remember. I find the current rhetoric regarding LGBTs has many similarities.

      The church has lost much of the younger generations. As the days pass, the demographics are quickly changing. The group that opposes full equality for LGBTs in all areas, including the church, is dying. Every day young people are taking their place – on the voter rolls, in the community, and to a lesser degree in the churches. It is only a matter of time until it will be a done deal. Of course some of the old prejudices will be slow to die, as they have for Japanese and blacks. But die they will. And we – the followers of Jesus – if we haven’t already done so, need to figure out a whole new way of relating to that community. That is what Andrew Marin has done and is doing.

      Is there sin in a person’s life that needs to be dealt with? If we think there is should we ignore it? – If it is our sin, that is our first order of business. If it another’s sin, we must learn to love them first. Otherwise, they will never really hear us. Once we have gotten close enough to really be heard, perhaps the Spirit will lead us to talk to them about what we might perceive as sin in their life. Whether we think they are a sinner because they eat sugar, drink beer, wear short skirts, are gay or whatever we perceive their sin to be, we must trust the Spirit to successfully deal with them. We have a nasty habit of driving people further from God, rather than drawing them to Him.

      • A very thoughtful post. And most of it I would shout “Amen” to: especially the sentiment of actually living with people and listening, building friendships and credibility instead of shouting slogans and sermons. I’m all for that. And I’m the first to admit that our (ev’s) cruel behavior has poisoned the well with many in the GLBT community, so our trek is decidedly uphill. Earning a right to be heard is very hard work, esp. with a group that has fallen into an adversarial posture.

        Not so keen on throwing serious sexual sin into the midst of eating sugar, and wearing short skirts. I’ve had too many gay friends and even house mates (some now dead from HIV/Aids) to make those kinds of comparisons.

        Yes we DO have a way of driving those that GOD bled and died for farther away, and that’s a serious matter. That’s why this is such a big deal and why we should be talking, encouraging, praying, probably fasting our way to a better approach. We need something better than what’s been our default setting for the last 50 yrs. I’m 100% down with that.

        Whatever path I pursue, it’s not likely that “maybe this isn’t really sin” will play a part. I AM open to the thought that maybe this isn’t item #1 or even #17 with the particular gays I work or hang out with. I understand that, at least dimly.

        here’s hoping that HIS Kingdom, and HIS Kingdom healing find all of us, in all our broken and shadowy places

        Greg R

        • “Whatever path I pursue, it’s not likely that “maybe this isn’t really sin” will play a part.”

          Greg R…that is precisely why our conversation ended abruptly. It’s the militant stance of the “ev’s” that have us at this stalemate. I would challenge you to read a book on the subject, or go to Soulforce.org and have a read. The fact that the word “homosexual” wasn’t even used until the 19th century or so gives no one pause to see EXACTLY what those scriptures were talking about? The militant ignorance by the masses on this subject continues to boggle my mind!
          No one is going to seek God’s truth with more dogged determination than those who were born this way and have been told all their lives to TURN OR BURN!! It’s the literal translating of the Bible when it comes to those passages that condemn us that is so frustrating. In Leviticus (sp?) it also says shellfish, footballs and having sex during menstruation are abominations. You should also stone to death rebellious children. All of that is done away with, but damn it, a man should not lie with another man or you will burn in hell! Frustrating beyond words!!
          I will say it again, I have been before my Savior with this dilemma, and I am at peace. I wish the same for you now and always Greg R. May God richly bless you and yours.

          • Debra: thanks for another reply. It’s always a good idea to be challenged in what is true , or what we think is true. I’ve currently got a very good book going (Harold Fickett’s “Conversations With Jesus”, which I think I-Monk recommended), but I’m glad to do more homework on what the bible REALLY says about sexual sin in general and homosexuality in particular.

            My position, presently, is very much driven by what I believe the NT to be saying; we can both agree that the stance on several other issues was different in the OT.

            I’m in need of prayers as much as anyone I know, so thanks for the prayer support.

            Greg R

  34. Readers of Love is an Orientation may also enjoy another volume, one that deals with the real-world ramifications of bigotry: my biographical novel, Broken Saint. A large segment of society, largely fueled by the religious right, still regards gay men and women as second-class citizens – or worse. While it apperas that, ever so gradually, various faiths are becoming more tolerant of variant lifestyles, at this juncture we have a very long way to go. That is the salient point of Broken Saint. It is based on my forty-year friendship with a gay Mormon man, and chronicles his internal and external struggles as he battles for acceptance (of himself and by others, including co-religionists). More information on the book is available at http://www.eloqurntbooks.com/BrokenSaint.html.

    Mark Zamen, author

  35. I have been reading many of these comments with interest. Also with some skepticism. You see I’m one of those “gay christians”. One who went through 30 years of therapy to be the man God wanted me to be. Or so I believed and of course everyone in the Christian circles in which I moved kept telling me. Now, by ‘therapy’ read…prayer ministry, deliverance, one on one counseling, studying the word, attending various length ex-gay programs, opening myself up to all sorts of ministry and counsel from Christian pastors, counselors, lay people, those with prophetic giftings, and many other sundry giftings (some of it harmful…much of it human based though with good intentions and a sincere desire to do God’s good work). The result was that one day I couldn’t keep doing it. I was burnout. And do you know what God said to me at that point? He said “It’s OK. You don’t have to do it anymore. Relax. Accept yourself as you are.” Also, nothing had changed as far as my sexual orientation went. Oh I matured in all kinds of ways in other areas. Boy did I change. A lot of repentance of course. But my sexual attraction did not change. In the midst of it all I tried to commit suicide twice. I endured the “abomination” teachings. I let my self-esteem be walked all over so that I effectively hated myself as much as those “disgusted Christians” around did. So…a book like this is looked at by one such as me with caution but also some relief.

    Some of the reviews and comments here sadly still do not go far enough because the roots and beliefs that many of you come from are incorrectly founded. But you are changing…bit by bit. And that’s good. If you’re open to understand as God does, then you will come to his understanding. But why do I think the basis from which you work is wrong? Because there are still the assumptions (as Brian says: August 26, 2009 at 10:52 pm) that having a homosexual orientation is a “lifestyle”. That somehow being gay makes us live a “lifestyle”. And of course we choose this. We make a conscious decision at a certain point in time. Now what lifestyle might that be that we live? This is my lifestyle: I get up, go to the bathroom, shave and shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, let my dogs out, and make lunch (not always in that order…and I only make the lunch if I have time!). Then I walk to work, spend the day at my job, talk to colleagues, look at facebook (come on…we all do it!), eat my lunch, walk home, let my dogs out of their cage, take a nap (I have a fatigue problem), greet my ‘male’ partner when he comes home, make supper, watch TV, read, tidy the house, water plants, change my clothes, maybe buy groceries, and go to bed. Only to get up the next day and do it all again. Tuesday night is cheap night at the movies, so we normally go…if there’s a film we want to see. Weekends are spent doing any number of things from gardening to visiting friends, to movies and then very occasionally we like to go dancing at the one gay nightclub 30 minutes from where we live. We go there about 3 times a year. So there you have it…that is a basic rundown of my homosexual lifestyle. Now…can you please tell me your heterosexual lifestyle?

    I know what Brian is thinking when he uses this tired phrase. Something along the lines of the stereotypical Christian thinking when it comes to “gays”…we spend our lives lusting after guys 24/7, we have mutiple sexual partners, we party hard, get drunk and sniff cocaine or take ecstacy … and so on. Well…I’m really sorry to disappoint you but that’s quite untrue. At weak moments I have wished my life was that exciting! Funny though how I realise I’ve just described the way some…many(?) heterosexuals live. I think.

    So, here is what I think the heterosexual lifestyle is…you guys talk about laying girls (and maybe think about laying guys), you gather with your mates for drinks after work where you brag and boast about your exploits and how well you’re doing at work, etc; you party long and hard on the weekends and sleep with whomever you fancy that you picked up at the nightclub or bar (if you’re good looking that is…those who aren’t go home and …. well, you know what self pleasure is), you play sports and play hard & rough, you stand around a lot with folded arms, making sure you appear as masculine as possible (especially if the word ‘gay’ is ever mentioned) and you’re always thinking about girls and their bodies. Oh, and you talk a lot about cars and motorbikes and computer games. Am I right? Maybe I am. Maybe I’m not. But to be honest, that’s not what I think because I NEVER use the term ‘heterosexual lifestyle’. There are as many lifestyles lived by heterosexuals as there are people who live them. And it’s the same with those who identify as homosexual.

    Please don’t box us in. Define us by the fact we are attracted to our own sex, as if that has some automatic set of life rules and lifestyles attached to it.

    This book sounds good. But let me also add…don’t call the fact that I am attracted to men ‘sin’ especially if I have done nothing about it. That’s what so many teenagers have heard. They’re sinful and they haven’t even done anything. What a travesty. And you wonder why they commit suicide or why they rebel. Sin requires action. Being attracted to men just ‘is’. It’s a fact. Like someone finding they like the colour yellow. Did you choose to love the colour yellow? Did you decide one day “I think I’m going to love the colour yellow”? I doubt it. Neither did I sit down one day and decide “I think I’ll love men instead of women”. Yes…I think I’ll do that just so I can be shouted at, ridiculed, lied about, teased, have hateful emails sent to me, lose friends, have my pastors tell me what an abomination I am (or at minimum what an abomination my “being attracted” is) …and so on.

    Oh my….so much more I could say. I don’t mean to be harsh in what I’ve said or how I’ve said it, and if I’ve come across like that please forgive me. Ignore what I’ve said. Obviously I am still hurting from my years of being in the church. I don’t go to church now by the way, but I still love God and Jesus is really where life is at. I pray…quite a lot actually. I read the Word. I encourage others to good works and try to bless them and uplift them. I am a witness at my work. Just like those of you who are straight say that you want to be a witness to gays, but that you must let them know you are Christian. I do the same. Except of course I’m gay. Funny how we both think and try to do the same thing!

    Peace. And growth.

    Stephen.

    • I think a lot of these programs and ministries are based on a misconception of God’s law, in that they water it down. They believe sin can be overcome if only we would try hard enough.

      They don’t take Christ seriously when he says we must be perfect, and even a lustful thought is adultery. Of course, that means all those hetero guys are sinning every time their eyes hover an extra second on the cosmo at the checkout stand. Yet there are few programs to deal with the cosmo-eyes-hovering sin. The fact is, no matter how hard we try, sin is with us until the second coming.

      I don’t see anything wrong with teaching kids that their lustful thoughts are sin, because it is. I do have a problem when homosexual desires are treated as special or worse than hetero lust. It is all damning. The response shouldn’t be programs or training, it is in repentance and dwelling in the Word and Sacrament. A congregation should be taught to assume that everybody there is repentant and forgiven. The unrepentant eventually reveal themselves by defending their sin and minimizing it’s evil.

      In the same vein, it is horrible when pastors dwell on repentance and probe to see whether it is sufficiently authentic. Where there is repentance, the pastor’s reaction must be joyful and abundant absolution.

      Despair is inevitable when a church makes the burden of removing a sin the sinner’s personal responsibility, and even more so when a person is singled out for a special sin. It is almost worse than when a church approves of the sin.

    • This! from another gay Christian.

  36. Please don’t box us in. Define us by the fact we are attracted to our own sex, as if that has some automatic set of life rules and lifestyles attached to it.

    well said, and after working the last 3 and 1/2 yrs with a few gays, I’ve seen the same thing: gays are individuals and in many ways VERY different from one another. The phrase “gay lifestyle” probably has to go.

    Greg R

  37. Nobody can speak for all gay men but…

    I lived the “gay lifestyle” as it is commonly understood – a urban culture centered on the “gay scene” – for more than 20 years. By the time I became a Christian (aged 39) I had slept with 300-400 guys and never once thought of myself as promiscuous by gay standards. Some of my friends were “promiscuous” but only because they could get through more than 10 hook-ups a month.

    Let’s not pretend that there isn’t something out there that the term “gay lifestyle” refers to. The “gay lifestyle” subculture, which a large proportion of gay men do drift in and out of at some point in their life, is a very shallow, pro-sex culture that does absolutely nothing to promote monogamy – even though all gay men can recognize the (emotional?) advantages of a monogamous relationship and fall madly in love with someone. And does anyone on the “gay scene” disapprove of any kind of porn – except child porn?

    I’ve met a lot of “affirming” gay Christians in the last few years (I was an atheist for most of my adult life and I didn’t really talk to gay Christians before I became a Christian myself) and I can’t say I’ve noticed that their sexual “values” and behaviors are significantly different from gay men in general. They certainly talk the monogamous talk but their actual relationships seem to be as wide open as any found in the secular gay world. In many ways, the monogamous “pretentiousness” of gay Christians is extremely irritating compared with the pro-sex honesty of secular gay men.

    Straight Christians are often more than willing to demonize gay people (which is the product of genuine homophobia) but it’s absurd to claim that the majority of gay men (lesbians are different) do not live a “lifestyle” (or endorse the underlying values of a lifestyle) that is very different from the majority of straight men and women.

  38. Jon Trouten says:

    Here is another gay Christian perspective (from a 37-year-old gay man). I haven’t been with 300-400 different men and who has been married (at least spiritually) to my husband since the mid-90s. We have kids, we attend our church, and we spend most of our time working or attending to our familal needs. Here are my thoughts on the whole bridge-building thing:

    1. Most people in the gay community wouldn’t give a toss about the actions or opinions of the conservative Christian world if the conservative Christian world didn’t make such a big deal about being a thorn in the secular reality of our day-to-day lives. Case in point: gay couples can legally marry in Iowa. We have conservative Christian leaders and members all over who are spending thousands upon thousands of dollars to negatively negate families like mine in the name of protecting the family. It has nothing to do with church policy or doctrine. But the legal rights & responsibilities of our families apparently negatively affect all of your families.

    The same goes for any potential gay-affirming piece of legislation or policy (be they domestic partnership benefits, or GSAs, or employment non-discrimination law, or adoption law, or whatever. How do people like Marion or IMonk hope to build bridges with the GLBT community when the Christian community is ever intent on legislatively speaking against us?

    2. I still don’t understand your end game. You want to build bridges with us, but to what end? I have a husband and two boys. Were we to invited to worship with you, what would you have of us? To break up our household and disrupt our kids’ lives?

    People have written above about sexual vs. intimate, non-sexual relationships. Honestly, if we joined your church and decided to live together as a household, but decided to assume a non-sexual initimate relationship, how many would trust that we’re really living that way? How could we prove that enough to satisfy our Christian brethren?

    3. As long as the options for gay Christians is undesired celibacy or heterosexual marriage, you’re never going to build bridges with the majority of the GLBT community. Paul wrote that not everyone is suited for celibacy and that we have marriage as an alternative for those folks. But we’ve also heard of the folly of incompatibly yoked marital partners. How many of you would honestly support your child if s/he decided to marry a gay spouse of the opposite sex? Why or why not? How realistically would it be that most of those marriage would be successful? I’m not suggesting that gay people can’t maintain a successful marriage with someone of the opposite sex, but none of those marriages that I’ve personally encoutered in my life have lasted more than a few years. Now, they’re dealing with bitter spouses with tattered faith and in a couple situations children with disrupted homelives.

    It’s true that the GLBT community isn’t known for its monogamous practices, but casting out gay people who’ve actually committed to marriage and who’ve created families won’t address the problems of promiscuity or drug use or alcohol abuse or any other sinful behavior practices by gay people.

    Going back to my first point, the Christian community has been actively fighting efforts by gay people to form families for at least 30 years. Imagine how different the larger gay community might be now if we’d been encouraged to form stable families instead, if not in church then in the secular world?