Homosexuality Class – Weeks 4 & 5: Jesus & Homosexuality

Preston Sprinkle —  March 6, 2014 — 20 Comments
This entry is part 4 of 8 in the seriesHomosexuality, the Bible, and the Church

Since I didn’t have time to blog about our 4th class, I’ll sum it up here along with our 5th class.

Two weeks ago, we were blessed to have my friend Lesli Skype in and share her testimony with our class. Lesli has a powerful story, which left some of my students in tears. She identified as transgendered growing up (physically a girl, mentally and emotionally a boy) and also accepted the Lord at an early age. Her church experience, however, was incredibly painful and dehumanizing. She knew Jesus loved her; His followers, however, didn’t. So, after graduating high school she fully identified with the LGBT community. Long story short, Lesli now has a great love for the Lord and for people who struggle with their sexual identity.

It was so encouraging and challenging to hear Lesli navigate truth and love in her approach to homosexuality. One of the things that she said that had a huge impact on

Peter Howson's "Last Supper"

Peter Howson’s “Last Supper”

our class was when one of our students ask her the question: “What do you say when someone from the LGBT community asks you if you think homosexuality is a sin?” Lesli’s answer (borrowed from her good friend Bill Henson) was brilliant. “I tell them: Let’s hang out for 4 weeks, I’ll even buy the coffee. And then, after we’ve established a relationship, we can talk through that question.”

Truth in the context of relationship. Brilliant!

Lesli’s response unintentionally influenced our discussion last Tuesday, when we talked about Jesus and homosexuality. Jesus, as you may know, said that homosexuality is “                                     ” (                 ; cf. the parallel in               ). That’s right, Jesus never mentioned homosexuality, which makes it difficult to enlist Him to support your view—whichever view you hold.

Or does it?

Although Jesus never mentioned homosexuality, this does not mean that He had no opinion on it. He never mentioned bestiality, incest, or rape, but this doesn’t mean that Jesus was indifferent on these questions either (I’m not equating these, by the way). If we say that Jesus would have affirmed consensual, monogamous, same-sex relationships, we’d have to create a very unJewish Jesus. Jesus’s Jewish upbringing unanimously viewed same sex sexual relations as a sin. So while Jesus discussed Jewish questions that were debated within Judaism—the resurrection, divorce, the Sabbath, for example—He doesn’t seem to preach to the choir about issues where there was no debate. But I’ve already blogged about Jesus and homosexuality here, here, and here.

Going back to Lesli’s “4 week request,” her advice correlates with Jesus in His approach to many people He encountered, especially the marginalized. Have you noticed that Jesus rarely fronts people’s sin when He meets them?

  • When Jesus met the Roman Centurion (Matt 8:5-13), who lived a life of idolatry, oppression, and violence, He didn’t talk about idolatry, oppression, or violence.
  • When Jesus met Matthew the tax collector (Matt 9:9-13), He didn’t talk about extortion but invited Him into a relationship.
  • When Jesus saw another extortionist named Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10), He desired to have a meal with him. Jesus never mentioned his sin; it was Zacchaeus who after encountering Jesus repented from his extortion.

Now, this does not mean that Jesus was totally fine with idolatry, oppression, violence, and extortion. It just means that Jesus didn’t always feel the need to front such sins in His initial encounter with people. Some sins are best dealt with in the context of a relationship—“come follow me!”

So, on the one hand, Jesus didn’t say: “Hey Matthew, we can be friends and all, but I have to first let you know where I stand on the issue of extortion…”

Jesus and outcastOn the other hand, Jesus’s relationship with sinners doesn’t mean that He was indifferent to sin. Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7) is one of the most stringent ethical demands in religious history. But Jesus offsets such strict morality with radical grace to those who fall short.

Therefore, we—who believe that homosexual practice is a sin—should model Jesus’s approach. He unconditionally loved people whom He believed were sinners (which is everyone) and didn’t always bring up their sin as a pre-requisite to relationship.

When He does, when Jesus does lay into someone for their sin and demands quick and drastic repentance, it’s usually toward religious, judgmental hypocrites, who looked down their noses at all “those other sinners out there.”

Heterosexual Christians need to remember that we are plugged into God’s life support of grace. It would be ironic—indeed, dangerous—to magnify the sin of others while sanitizing our own slander and greed (1 Cor 6:9).

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Preston Sprinkle

Preston Sprinkle

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I'm married to a beautiful wife and we have four kids (3 girls and a boy). I've been teaching college level Bible and Theology classes for a few years now (since 2007), and enjoy hanging out with my family, running, surfing, and life in SoCal. Before I became a teacher, I was in school. Lots and lots of school. I did a B.A. and M.Div here in SoCal, and then did a Ph.D. in Scotland in NT studies. Before coming to EBC, I taught at Nottingham University for a semester, and Cedarville University for a couple of years. Along with surfing, I also love to research and write, and I've written a few things on Paul, Early Judaism, and Hell.
  • Phyte_On

    Preston, this is fantastic stuff. I wonder if you will sometime have a testimony of a conservative Christian parent and what it is like to have a gay son or daughter?

    It’s one thing for us to think about loving (in grace & truth) those ‘neighbors’ with same-sex attraction, it’s another thing entirely if that gay person is closely related to you (brother, sister, son, daughter, husband, wife).

    These folks are truly the forgotten ones in this conversation – left on their own to deal with the pain and loss and overwhelming complexity and challenge. I’m not sure anybody understands what a conservative Christian mom and dad go through with a son or daughter who enters into a licensed gay marriage.

    Jesus came for the brokenhearted. And these folks are truly the brokenhearted among us.

    Again, your contribution is just magnificent. Please keep up the good fight. God Bless.

  • Julie

    You mention that Jesus doesn’t preach about issues where there was no debate. In Jesus’ day, was it a given that gay marriage was not okay? Or was it a given that gay sex was not okay? Wasn’t gay sex considered something anyone was prone to if they didn’t harness their lust? Of course, /that/ wouldn’t be debated.

    • Preston

      Hey Julie,

      Yes, it was a given, within Judaism, that both gay sex and gay marriage was not okay. Of course, gay marriage was rare (though still in existence) in Jesus’s world, but we do have a few statements in Jewish and Christian literature prohibited same-sex marriage.

      Now, the Greco-Roman view of gay sex/marriage is more diverse.

      • Julie

        Forgive my persistence. How do we know that it was a given that gay marriage in Jesus’ day was not okay? From the “few statements” in
        literature or something else? I would be very interested in knowing the sources that condemn gay marriage in Jesus’ day. For example, are there rabbinic texts that specifically prohibit gay marriage? If it can confidently be concluded “it was a given” among Judaism to which Jesus adhered, I need to rethink some things.

  • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

    Hi Preston,

    I’d respectfully question the wisdom of Lesli Skype’s advice (i.e. delay divulging your belief that homosexuality is sinful until you’ve established a relationship).

    I agree that disagreement is only productive in the context of agreement, and relationship is required to really understand one another.

    Perhaps with her history and deep understanding of the lives of gay people, this strategy might work for Lesli. But generally, intentional evasion doesn’t build relationship, it engenders distrust. [Hence the intense distrust of the Marin Foundation in the LGBT community].

    Further, this non-answer is actually an answer. Affirming Christians would have no reason to evade. They would eagerly affirm the humanity of the gay person they’re talking to. Conversely, non-affirming beliefs cause pain because of the attendant judgement, which is why one might avoid answering that question.

    So, with this strategy, you’ve answered the question without doing any damage control and impugned your credibility at the same time.

    I wonder if the better response would be honesty and transparency. If you hold non-affirming beliefs, acknowledge that you understand the hurtfulness of those beliefs. Explain how you believe you can love unconditionally despite the moral judgement inherent in your belief.

    When a gay person asks “do you believe homosexuality is sinful?”, what we’re really asking is “will you accept and love me without judgement?” It takes soul searching and vulnerability to answer that question without resorting to cheap platitudes. And the truth is that your moral judgement will be a barrier to relationship (and the onus is actually on the gay person to love you despite your diminished view of their personhood).

    I think one of the things traditionalists have not done well in this conversation is expressing a holistic view of gay people. Just like you have not really moved beyond the clobber passages in your public exploration of the sinfulness of homosexuality, traditionalists mostly never move beyond the morality of the sex act. My question to the conservative Christian church is this:

    When you look at gay couples, can you see something other than immoral and inferior relationships? Can you look into the lives of gay families and see virtue?

    In that question lies the seed of reconciliation.

    All my best to you.
    David.

    • Preston

      David,

      Sorry for getting back to you so late! I’ve had a lot of stuff going on. Anyway, here are some thoughts.

      Re: Lesli’s “4 week” approach. As one who lived most of her life in the LGBT community, I think her approach is shaped by one who’s been on the “other side,” for lack of better terms (as you recognize). That is, she’s putting herself in the shoes of the one asking the questions, because…well…she’s actually been in those shoes.

      I would agree with you that some people may not appreciate that sort of approach. But I would disagree that some people (perhaps most) wouldn’t. I would say that each human is unique and our approach should fit the person and their story.

      So, even if you personally wouldn’t appreciate Lesli’s approach, this doesn’t mean that others wouldn’t. Especially since many have.

      Also, her motivation is not to be sneaky or untruthful. Her motivation is that this issue is much better discussed in the context of relationship and it’s much better understood when we cut through the quick answers.

      I think her approach works well with many hot button issues. I actually take the same approach (in some instances) with the question of violence. If people ask me “are you a pacifist?” I actually don’t like to answer that question straight up. It’s too loaded. Too undefined. Too misunderstood. And just as “pacifist” is so loaded with presuppositions and cultural baggage, so also being a traditionalists with LGBT questions is so loaded with baggage.

      And saying that there’s an intense distrust of the Marin foundation in the LGBT community is a gross overstatement. Many in the LGBT community love them and appreciate their approach. Just because some don’t like their approach doesn’t mean that every LGBT person doesn’t like their approach.

      You said: “I think one of the things traditionalists have not done well in this
      conversation is expressing a holistic view of gay people. Just like you
      have not really moved beyond the clobber passages in your public
      exploration of the sinfulness of homosexuality, traditionalists mostly
      never move beyond the morality of the sex act.”

      David, do you really believe that I have not moved beyond the “clobber passages?” Honestly, if you believe that, it’s really disheartening. I’ve tried to go out of my way to humanize gay people, challenge conservatives to think much more holistically about this issue (amid much criticism from conservatives…just read my Facebook discussions), and listen to and learn from real stories from real people. I have 3 posts on Jesus and homosexuality, 3 on the Greco-Roman background, and several that are personal or pastoral in nature that don’t deal with the “clobber passages.” I’ve also, in several posts and again amid much criticism, corrected the conservative view of at least one “clobber passage”–Gen 19. And in my post re: Phil Robertson, one of my main critiques was that he reduced homosexuality to the sex act.

      I’m honestly having a hard time with your claim.

      But, yes, I do deal with Lev 18/20, Rom 1, and others; these have been used to clobber gay people. But a verse’s misuse does not render the verse invalid. (I even prefaced my Lev 18 discussion addressing the fact that it’s been used to clobber and that we should not do so.)

      In any case, here’s my motivation for dealing with these passages: in them, our Creator has spoken most directly to the issue at hand. Likewise, John 1:1 has been used to clobber Mormon’s and JW’s, but this does not mean that we should no longer use it when we’re discussing the divinity of Christ, right? We just need to use it in a manner that does not clobber; but use it nonetheless. In fact, I think using the “clobber passages” in a non-clobbery sort of way could further the discussion much better than not using them at all.

      You said: “I wonder if the better response would be honesty and transparency. If
      you hold non-affirming beliefs, acknowledge that you understand the
      hurtfulness of those beliefs. Explain how you believe you can love
      unconditionally despite the moral judgement inherent in your belief. ”

      This is super helpful, and I agree! Good words.

      Also, you said: “When you look at gay couples, can you see something other than immoral
      and inferior relationships? Can you look into the lives of gay families
      and see virtue?”

      It depends on the couple, of course. As my non-Christian gay friend (who’s marriage to another man) says, “I abhor and am disgusted by the immorality and promiscuity in the LGBT community.” Some gay unions lack virtue and are horrifically immoral; as are some heterosexual unions.

      In any case, I would generally answer “Yes” to your question. Absolutely! Even if I disagree with the morality of the marriage itself, I can easily affirm a whole host of virtues within the person and the relationship. Beauty, goodness, creativity, love, affection, etc. And I would definitely agree that conservatives can generally do a much better job at this.

      I would say that making us say “yes” or “no” right up front to the question you asked above would actually prevent this sort of dialogue from happening, however. You can’t say: “Do you think gay relations are sinful or not?” and then also criticize conservatives for focusing on the morality of gay relations.

      All the best to you, David

      Preston

      • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

        Hi Preston –

        Thanks so much for taking the time to respond so thoughtfully. This particular conversation is very much in my wheelhouse which is why I feel pretty passionately about it.

        I never suggested that Lesli’s motivation or The Marin Foundation’s motivations are dishonorable. I’m just pointing out that intentional opacity builds distrust and is a barrier to relationship whereas transparency engenders trust and facilitates relationship.

        You’re absolutely right that The Marin Foundation has fans in gay Christian circles. I personally have serious qualms with their approach; but I also have a friend on their team who I respect and trust a great deal. Even so, the fact remains that their unwillingness to divulge their personal beliefs has engendered a great deal of distrust in the gay community (and the conservative Christian community for that matter). Read Dan Savage’s NY Times review of Jeff Chu’s book if you don’t believe me. [Not for nothing, TMF seems to be backing off that particular tactic. Jason Bilbrey, for example, has written extensively on their blog about how & why he has become an ally.]

        I agree whole-heartedly that a closed-ended response to the “is gay sin?” question (i.e., a straight up “yes” or “no”) doesn’t tell the whole story and can shut down the conversation. I wouldn’t recommend that any more than I would recommend evasion.

        I believe the best response to that question – especially to families with gay members – is to communicate unconditional love and a willingness to reserve judgment, acknowledge the pain caused by your non-affirming beliefs, and express a desire to stay in dialog and relationship.

        Preston, I meant no disrespect in my comment about not moving beyond the clobber passages. And, yes, I truly and sincerely appreciate your efforts to reveal the flesh-and-blood people like me that constitute the “issue” of homosexuality. You have moved the conversation beyond theological concerns and started to explore the pastoral implications of your beliefs.

        My point is that, in your theological exploration of the sinfulness of homoerotic acts, you have only considered the sex act. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but you have not asked or answered the questions about what it means to be created as relational beings and how sexuality and the sex act fits into God’s creative intention. Until you answer those questions, I believe it’s impossible to assess whether or not those six verses render covenant relationships immoral.

        Case and point, your recent exploration of David and Jonathan focused solely on whether or not they were physically intimate. You neglected to point out that this story shows us the goodness of enduring, profound, same-sex intimacy. This is a virtue that is at the very core of modern, healthy covenant same-sex relationships. But that fact was lost in the conversation. [You graciously engaged with me offline about this omission, and I sincerely appreciate that].

        And so it goes with conservative Christians and the “issue” of homosexuality. Because gay sex is such a sticking point, traditionalists often fail to recognize or disregard completely the goodness that resides within covenant gay relationships.

        If those who subscribe to the traditional sexual ethic don’t want to alienate people who are gay, they’re going to have to recognize that which is virtuous and not just focus on that which they consider immoral.

        I still have those beers waiting for you when you visit the big apple. I have a feeling we’d have much to talk about.

        I wish you peace,
        David

        • Preston

          David,

          So many good things here that I find it hard to identify them all!

          Let me first affirm that you raise, and raised, many good points about David and Jonathan and I’m still thinking through the implications of all of that. In many ways, my singular focus on the narrow question about whether or not D and J were having sex only exposes the narrowness of my approach. So I thank you for encouraging me to explore more holistic questions!

          Now, I have focused on the sex act (in the places that I blog about this) probably because the main (clobber?) passages do the same. Why do they focus on the sex act? I wonder if it’s because the sex act is what separates friendship or kinship from a marriage partner. This is not to say that sex is the ONLY thing special about a marriage partner; but it’s the one thing that separates that relationship from all others. (I’m thinking out loud here…) I can be affectionate with my friends and family, I can laugh, play, stay up all night and talk with many other humans in my life. I can buy them gifts, stay all night at the hospital with them when they’re sick, etc. etc. but the sex act is the one thing that’s reserved for my marriage partner.

          Anyway, I’ve got to go, but I wonder if the Bible itself isn’t trying to reduce marriage or same-sex relationships to the sex act, but is trying to distinguish a healthy same-sex relationship (D and J) from a sexual encounter.

          (sorry for the typos…no time to proof-read)

          • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

            Hi Preston –

            Obviously tomes have been written on the subject of sex and sexuality…so com boxes are obviously insufficient. But I promise this’ll be my last comment on this thread ;)

            The experience in my marriage, and I believe this is backed up by scripture, is that the emotional intimacy with my husband is uniquely deepened through physical intimacy. Sex within marriage creates an emotional relationship that is different than any other important relationship in my life. We are so much more than “friends with benefits”.

            This is why, I believe, sexual promiscuity is sinful. Not only does it present the possibility of unwanted pregnancy, it also creates the possibility of emotional distress for one or both partners. This distress is caused by the unitive property of sex experienced outside of a committed relationship.

            So I don’t believe that physical intimacy between two men in a covenant relationship reduces that bond to a “sexual encounter” as you suggest. To say so would require us to say the same about opposite sex marriages. I certainly don’t experience my marriage as a “sexual encounter”, and my relationship with my husband has been deepened, not harmed, by sex. I would imagine you would say the same things about your marriage to your wife.

            I wish you peace –
            David

          • Phyte_On

            Ford1968,

            Again, by way of reminder, I am a conservative Christian and a traditionalist. Full disclosure. Once again, you brilliantly boil the discussion down to the crux of the matter. Your challenge is thoughtful and logical. I sincerely appreciate that. This is where traditionalists must face the truth as to why must a marriage be defined as the union of husband & wife and not the “union” of same genders? Why not same gender marriage?

            Why should traditionalist Pastors discriminate in their churches against recognizing monogamous covenant sacred same sex unions?

            Ford1968, I think you are saying there is Biblical support for this. If so, then Pastors who do not recognize these unions are violating the conscience of Biblical teaching on love, marriage, and sexuality.

    • David Antonini

      I think there’s an assumption (albeit probably historically and experientially justified) that disapproval of homosexuality inherently means a disafffiirmation of the person humanity or hatred of that person. In that context waiting until that disapproval can be understood in the context of genuine appreciation of the person through relationship seems potentially preferential to outright rejection or hostility that is then a barrier to relationship and dialogue, at least as much as the initiall ‘admission’ of disapproval can be.
      I guess I’d relate that to a man going on a date and being asked “do you like my breasts and would you like to have sex with me” – obviously the answer is a yes, because a no denies interest, but a yes without clarification offends equally. And would generally not allow further relationship. I think similarly premature openness/judgement is required when asking to make a judgement about another person’s lifestyle/sexuality/identity upon an initial encounter.

      • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

        Hi David –

        I would just point out that the “non-answer” is, in fact, tacit disapproval. It’s a mistake to believe you are actually delaying your expression of disapproval.

        I would also argue that moral disapproval of homosexuality is a diminishing of the humanity of people who are gay. Through your disapproval, you are saying that you believe the gay person is profoundly flawed and therefore unintended (indeed forbidden) to live a fully human life as the relational being they were created to be.

        I think it’s important to understand that the traditional belief is hurtful and offensive to the person who is gay. I also think it’s wise to humbly communicate a willingness to withhold judgement and to express unconditional love.

        Shalom,
        David

        • David Antonini

          Forgive my bluntness, but how are they not profoundly flawed? I am, you are, we all are. It’s called sin. In my sinful state I am unable “to live a fully human life as the relational being they were created to be.”
          So I have to push back on your saying that a disapproval is dehumanising – it may feel that way, I’ll go with that and be compassionate, but it no more says I am unintended or forbidden to live a fully human life as it does to say a paedophile, sex addict or prostitute can’t have a healthy marriage and wonderful sexual relationship therein. I had/have a stack of things in my psych/past that hinder my having healthful relationships (just ask my spouse). Years ago I might have found it highly hurtful and offensive for someone I’d just met (or had known for years) to single them out and disapprove of them. God has profoundly changed me and molded me more into His likeness than I imagined possible.
          But doesnt have to be hurtful and offensive. I speak personally and on behalf of many friends who understand my beliefs and my affection towards them which isn’t tainted, but is in fact fuelled, by my beliefs.
          I disapprove of many people’s sinful lifestyles, preferences etc, but, and this is my point, we don’t pronounce judgement on them outright at an initial encounter, either judging them righteous or unrighteous. That’s considered impolite. I can disapprove of my brother getting engaged to a particular woman, with good reason, but I don’t greet him for the first time saying “you shouldn’t marry that girl because it’s sin” when he introduces or asks me if I like her – yet that’s what it seems you’re saying.
          I wholeheartedly agree with your advice to affirm love and care for a person whose lifestyle you disagree with. I do think it could be deceitful or misconstrued when asked directly to affirm or disaffirm it. I’m iust saying it’s an equally unfair expectation to make that demand in the first place. It’s been my experience that in spite of that affirmation of love, a confession of disapproval tends to meet with a hostile reaction and expectation of hate/condemnation etc, unless it has been proceeded by evidence/experience of being loved amd treated like everyone else.
          This isn’t just a Christian-LGBT issue – although it seems that it is more pronounced there. Witchcraft, sexually immoral lifestyles (“you’re gonna have to move out and stop sleeping with your boyfriend if you want to be a Christian), drug use, theivery/dishonest business practices, blasphemous language, slave trading – think of as many as you want, Islam is another touchy one – we don’t meet a believer in Allah/Muhammad and start out with “I believe you are worshipping a false prophet and satan” – why? Because that’s alienating right off the bat.

          If pressed, however I love a person, it would be a deception or lie to tell them I withhold judgement on whether their lifestyle is sinful – I cannot tell a prostitute I’m going to withhold judgement on whether her lifestyle is sinful, or the witch hers, the thief, Muslim, drug addict/dealer theirs.

          • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

            Hi David –

            Do you really consider covenant relationships between people of the same sex (such as my marriage) to be the moral equivalent of a prostitute and her John, a pedophile and his child victim, or a sex addict in his multiple uncommitted partners?

            I hope you can understand just how offensive that comparison is.

            And more, are you saying that people who are gay are fully capable of getting into mixed-orientation marriages – living without integrity and inflicting emotional harm on their spouse for whom they have no sexual desire?

            That notion betrays a serious misunderstanding of human sexuality in general and sexual orientation in particular. Not even Mark Yarhouse endorses that approach.

            The question at hand is “how do you respond when someone asks you if being gay is a sin”. So while I agree that it is unwise (and just plain weird or cruel) to volunteer your convictions without prompting, that’s not really what we’re talking about.

            I wonder, when asked about the sinfulness of homosexuality, do you have the capacity to say “I have a traditional understanding, but it’s possible I’m wrong”? Can you love people who are gay just as they are, or do feel the need to try to change your gay friends (or Muslim friends, or wiccan friends, or co-habitating friends)?

          • Phyte_On

            Ford1968,

            I am a conservative Christian and traditionalist. But I think you bring up some outstanding points. Your challenges are thoughtful and reasonable. In fact, I can see how a non-answer can be construed as some kind of delay tactic. I can see that from your point of view.

            But we are missing so much context when we set up these hypothetical situations. Each situation is different. What is the tone of the question? Is the tone of the question sincere or a sort of pinning somebody (a conservative Christian) into a corner to validate and affirm that this Christian is an unloving person.

            I like the phrase, ‘holistic view’. This hypothetical question ignores context and ignores a holistic view of people, faith, Jesus, Bible, etc. The question is so adversarial and sets up conflict not peace and reconciliation. The question appears to put folks on the defensive. Us vs. Them. Drawing a line in the sand. Black & White. Putting people into corners to duke it out so to speak.

            It just depends on motives behind the question. Is the question meant to manipulate or seek truth and reconciliation? Is it meant to start a debate or a relationship or dialogue?

            It just depends on the situation. Sin is not the issue. It is a red herring. Relationship is the issue. Do we strive for se

          • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

            Hi Phyte_On,

            I LOVE that screen name. Please call me David.

            I think you bring up a really important point. I can understand why people who are gay create a litmus test for relationship. We have been, for most of our lives, subject to the moral disapproval of the majority. That disapproval may or may not have been expressed appropriately; regardless, it is a rejection of an essential piece of our humanity. It makes sense that we are defensive and are quick to disassociate with people who are perceived as likely to cause us more pain.

            I know that, because of this defensiveness, the “is gay sin?” question can sometimes be presented as a challenge or even antagonistically.

            I empathize with those who lash out. It’s a temptation to make unfavorable assumptions about individuals who are part of an institution that has caused us so much hurt and harm. Our Christian witness is beyond tarnished; we have pushed so many people away from the cross and driven far too many people to despair. As a Christian who is gay, I understand both perspectives, and I also get lambasted from all sides (by evangelical Christians who are infuriated that I claim both my faith and sexuality, and people who are gay who get infuriated for the same reason).

            It is equally incumbent on both “sides” to want to be in relationship.

            So, even though I understand the reasons why, I’m saddened when people who are gay push traditionalist Christians away. By doing so, I think we miss the opportunity to be mutually transformed by one another.

            Sorry if that was a bit of a ramble. I wish you peace.

            David

          • Julie

            We /should/ be capable of saying, “I have a traditional understanding, but it’s possible I’m wrong.” I think that’s good advice. That’s the least we should be doing.

          • David Antonini

            My only critera for comparison was a sinful lifestyle. IF (and a lot hinges on that if) God did traditional view homosexuality is sin, then yes, I believe, with God, it is possible for someone who currently identifies as gay to experience the fullnes of marriage and it’s desires. Or have an equally full celibate life. IF God’s intention was for heterosexual relationships only, I have to believe that, and that Jesus came to free us from homosexual thoughts, desires etc, the same as any other sin.

            I don’t want to touch the phrase “moral equivalent” because I don’t feel qualified to deal with all it connotes. But, as I understand how God sees sin, if homosexuality is sinful, then He is equally able to redeem and free from it as with any other sin, sexual, part of our ‘identity’ or self etc or otherwise. That’s why I included theivery etc as well (I had 1 Cor 5 in mind). I understand that some do not see it as something to be redeemed from – and that I see as the crux of any offense. But I see a potential for that in most sin, as I am frequently offended in my flesh when it is presented to me that I am selfish and should not put myself first.

            In that context, I’d rather see someone feel loved rather than condemned, and communucate that through relationship, because an initial and outright condemnation of their sin (note – sin, not ‘them’) is immediately offensive. We often cobfuse our sinfulness as part of us rather than separate – I do.

            I don’t seek to change anyone – that’s God’s role. However, as I am convicted that something is sin (and I am in this case, in my own life as well as that of others), no I can’t honestly tell someone I’m open to seeing differently, not completely, in the same way I couldn’t say that for a thief. I am open to seeing differently, hut not where that means seeing things differently than in scripture. I am open to being shown differently, but in this case that’s something I’ve come to through years of prayer and self reflection. That is, rather than a rote subscription to a traditional view, which for me Includes ideas of irredeemably debased mind, self forced change rather than Holy Spirit changing, or even forced emasculation, subhumanity or execution – rather than those traditional views I believe that the gospel applies the same as to any other sin, IF homosexuality is a sin.
            I can love them the way they are. If they profess Christ, then my love for them as brothers or sisters in Him demands that I encourage them to seek forgiveness and change as with all sin, especially pervasive lifestyles of sin which are incompatible with a profession of Christ.
            Again, there’s that big IF again, but my answer has been reached through years of reading and prayer and selfexamination of my own experience of ssa, so if you want to suggest that I be open to changing that I would say I am, but probably only to the extent that you are willing to change you and your husband’s views.

  • Lovelyn Palm

    My friend is taking your class and shared your blog with me knowing that I would be interested. I’m really grateful for the time you’ve taken to share bits of the class and theology here. Thank you!

  • David Antonini

    I think I might have to borrow the “hang out with me awhile first” approach to that question!