Thursday, June 14, 2012

Gay Christians

This could be a long one.

I was inspired this week by a more than intriguing article from a gay Mormon, who also happens to be happily married to a woman, has three kids, and just celebrated his tenth anniversary.

So often it seems like homosexuality and Christianity converge in one of two ways: either homosexuality is condemned and the one with same-sex attraction must either be healed or be celibate, or homosexuality is embraced as part of the human condition with gay and lesbian brothers and sisters incorporated into the life of the Church.

Most often the black and white morality of the first choice is panned as unloving, old-fashioned, and insensitive. It usually is. Less often do we say the same about the black and white morality of the second. The article above brings light to many people who embrace same-sex relationships as the natural expression of one's homosexuality and condemn all other life patterns as denial or substandard.

It has never struck me before how similar these reactions are in nature. Same sex relationships must either be universally right or universally wrong; there's no in between, at least in the public rhetoric.

I thought people were people. I thought we were unique individuals with subtle, but important differences from one another. How did we get to a place where everyone has to fit into tiny little boxes?

I wonder if it doesn't have something to do with relationship. We want people to be enough like us that we don't really have to get to know them, we can just relate to them. We want to define each other: black, white, hispanic, gay, straight, intellectual, blue-collar, christian, muslim, atheist, hipster, fan boy, guido - whatever.

Because if we put each other into these boxes, then we can skip some difficult, awkward, uncomfortable steps in the relationship. We can avoid really getting to know each other. We simply relate based on shared interests or stereotypes and never have to dig deep, get vulnerable, or make mistakes.

When people have the same background, history, upbringing as me, but make different choices in life... well, it can make me think about my own choices. Why am I where I am? Where am I headed? Who am I? What defines me? It can be uncomfortable, especially if we just haven't considered a certain position or we haven't had to.

There are strong, committed Christians who claim real "healing" from homosexuality. Others, like the guy in the article above, decided to choose faith over attraction. Still others have decided celibacy is the best way to live out their faith given their orientation. Still other, strong, committed Christians have chosen to enter lifelong, committed, monogamous relationships with people of the same sex.

We like to call BS.

Some of us want to say there's no possible way a gay person can be "healed" of something so intrinsic to their identity. It's a ruse, a sham, a lie. Others of us want to say that practicing gay Christians are just lying to themselves. They've compromised their logic, faith and reason as a way to assuage their guilt. We treat those options "in the middle" of the spectrum with some level of derision and grudging acceptance given our particular point of view.

For me (I won't pretend to include the rest of you) I find it easier to judge people I don't know. Why? Because people I don't know fit much better into boxes than people I know. Because people I don't know can't be hurt my words or my actions; they're nameless and faceless to me.

I wanted to say earlier than I know gay Christians who have chosen each of the paths I outlined above, but quite honestly, almost every gay person I know has pretty much rejected the Church because the Church can't seem to get past the need to find a proper box for them. I grieve that most of my gay friends and relatives don't even get a chance to wrestle with scripture, reason, tradition, and experience when it concerns the convergence of their faith and orientation - they don't get a chance because they're robbed of the faith community, the relationships that are so important to making any decision about life and identity.

What does it mean that there is no slave nor free, Jew nor Greek, male nor female (and with credit to Peter Rollins) no democrat nor republican, american nor iraqi, gay nor straight, christian nor atheist...

Do we call people to Christ or do we call them to the box we name Christianity that is really just our own comfortable decisions projected as the norm?

This isn't about gay or straight - that's just currently the hardest box to break.


jean said...

Well said, I been asking that question 4 years, God loves everyone.

Odist_Abettor said...

These are exactly some of the thoughts I had after reading that article...except put in way better, more thoughtful terms. Thank you.

Alison said...

I'm a little late to the party (I was on vacation), but I just finished reading the blog you referenced and your post(s) on the subject. I'm still sifting through and processing my thoughts, so no real comment just yet, only a question... how did you come upon that blog in the first place? I'm taking home our "pastoral perspectives" to read and digest too. This is a pretty frequent topic in our household, one we struggle with a lot.