So, About that Being Gay…

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Being gay. It’s the ultimate discussion of our time. Our churches are publishing statements, holding conferences, amending or reaffirming their creeds.

The truth is we have become pretty obsessed with the sexuality of our congregants.

This shouldn’t really come as a surprise. In a North American culture so dysfunctionally obsessed with and simultaneously repulsed by human sexuality, it makes sense that at some point our churches would need to figure out where they stand in the mess. And as our culture marches towards removing all labels and leveling the legal playing field, the church with all its sticky fingers in politics and law is forced to respond.

I’m not someone who thinks these discussions are a waste of time. I’ve heard people on both sides of the coin lamenting the ongoing focus on the “issue” of homosexual attraction, and declaring the seemingly endless discussions a waste of time. “Stand firm in your conviction!” they both  cry. “It’s betrayal to entertain the disgusting rhetoric of the other side” they proclaim.

Not to get off topic but this knee jerk unwillingness to hear things we find offensive may be the root of so many of the issues we see in our culture today. But moving on…

I’ve struggled a lot in the past with where I stand on this one. I think if you profess to be a Christian who believes the Bible is the word of God and that Jesus is the Son of God, you don’t have a choice but to struggle. What I mean is that there is no getting around the fact that the Bible does talk about homosexual activities and attractions, and that the things it does say (though not a ton is said) are not positive. Unless you’re willing to simply dismiss it outright no questions asked, you will inevitably find yourself needing to figure out what to do with both who God is and what his word says. And so I have.
In all my years of searching – which to be clear are ongoing and will be never ending – I’ve read so many different defenses on both sides. Some make more sense than others logically speaking. Some are more developed, others more emotional. But I’ve never really found one that quite encapsulated where I find myself. So, in an effort not to change anyone’s mind but more to add to a rich and difficult discussion, I’m going to attempt to lay out at least in part my thoughts.

I should note: my position is personal. It doesn’t align with my churches position, nor do I view myself as some infallible authority. But for reasons I will explain, it’s not certainty I’m looking for.
1. The Bible does talk about homosexuality and it’s not good.
I’ve seen a lot of arguments that do one of two things in trying to refute this point. First, they argue the Bible isn’t talking about homosexuality at all. This one falls apart pretty quickly if you do any sort of digging. It’s so easy to find interpretations to back up what we want to believe. It’s more difficult to recognize and admit when things are being manipulated beyond reason just to tell us what we want to hear. The Bible definitely refers to homosexual behaviour, and the discussion of it is definitely not good.

The more common and more compelling argument is that while the Bible does talks about homosexuality, it isn’t talking about the kind of consensual, loving, committed relationships we see today. There are many great discussions on this – both in books and online – so I won’t regurgitate them here. This argument doesn’t really hold up if the claim is that there were no committed, adult, homosexual relationships known to the Biblical authors during their lifetimes. Particularly Paul. There are examples of these kinds of relationships throughout history, even though it is true that many of the homosexual relationships during the writing of the Bible, both old and New Testament, were more predatory in nature. What does hold up: there were no examples of Christ centred, monogamous, committed homosexual relationships. And despite one argument I have read that if Paul wanted to single out specific types of homosexual relationships and not universally condemn them he would have, you can’t differentiate between things that did not exist.

 

2. The Bible barely talks about it so it’s not a real issue.

This argument is also pretty popular. The idea is that if God thought it was important he would have talked about it directly (Jesus doesn’t speak directly to homosexuality though he does speak more broadly on sexual immorality which throughout the Bible is treated as encompassing homosexual behaviour) and he would have talked about it more.

This doesn’t really hold up either, though. There are lots of things that aren’t talked about a lot (child rape, human trafficking, bestiality, racism, to name a few) but no one would claim they aren’t an issue or that they are just small things to be brushed aside. In Christ and through the Bible we get to see and know God – a God who infiltrates every aspect of our lives. The point of the Bible isn’t to lay out piece by piece every single answer to every single question. This would be impossible for us to comprehend anyway as God will always ultimately remain the greatest mystery beyond all human comprehension. Rather, the Bible and the man who was the word made flesh exist to reveal to us the true NATURE of God, and bring us into relationship within which we can come to know and live the will of a God we cannot fully comprehend. In other words, we need to shift our focus away from picking apart what was and was not mentioned, and focus on the nature of God that is being revealed, because only through communion with Him, and truly having our own nature replaced with His will we be able to see His plan for us and all creation.

 

3. Being gay is not a choice.

I think this part of the debate is what really separates for me a position which I think can logically be supported and one that cannot. Let me explain.

Whether or not being gay is a choice only really matters if you are arguing that BEING gay is a sin. And if someone is arguing that BEING gay is a sin, they have already revealed a fatal flaw in their understanding of God, of scripture and of human nature.

There is nothing in the Bible that says being gay is a sin. As I mentioned above, there is absolutely and irrefutably condemnation of homosexual sex in the Bible in some places. But at no point anywhere does it say that being attracted to someone of the same sex is sinful.

If all it took was for us to be tempted to do something we shouldn’t to be condemned for it, we would all be screwed. It also makes no sense that the temptation itself is sinful: Jesus himself was tempted many times. His perfection wasn’t erased because He was tempted. He remained perfect because He didn’t give in to the temptation. So if you are going to argue that experiencing same sex attraction is in itself a sin, you’ve already lost the argument.

Another element of this part of the debate is whether being gay is a choice or not, or how much of it is nature and how much is nurture.

Contrary to popular opinion, there is no proof yet that sexual orientation is entirely genetically predetermined. I think the thing many people skip over is that even where something is genetically encoded, almost universally our environment still interacts with that in order to produce the final result. Spending a ton of time debating this point doesn’t really make sense either because if you believe being gay is sinful, your answer to biological predetermination will be “nature is inherently broken”. If you believe acting on homosexual feelings is sinful, how those feelings came to be is irrelevant (the argument in that case being that you can be born with an addictive personality and while not fair, we all have sinful urges we struggle with that we did not choose, but that we still have a choice in responding to).

 

4. Being gay is not God’s original design for nature, so we must reject it.

I believe that this belief underpins any position opposed to homosexual behaviour. A close examination of scripture, especially of the creation story, reveals a compelling narrative of a perfect creation that is gendered and complimentary. The recognition of God’s original plan for creation as being both monogamous and male and female is probably the most compelling in my opinion. I have a hard time buying the arguments that try to claim the gender of Adam and Eve are irrelevant, or that our notion of marriage doesn’t come from this understanding of creation. Whether or not you take the creation story literally, it’s a pretty universal Christian belief that God did, in fact, actively create “male and female” in some way and at some point in time. A universe that doesn’t account for God as creator is simply not a Christian one.

So if I find this so compelling, where do I stand?

 

This is going to ruffle some feathers on both sides, but I think it’s important to be clear for the sake of others who may struggle the same way I did.

 

I believe God made us male and female, as companions and help mates. I believe a perfectly balanced and complimentary pair of humans was his original creation, reflections of different parts of His whole, split into parts.

I believe gender is real (though I think the social constructs we have piled onto it are total BS).

I believe God is not male or female, but that both male and female genders are reflections of him.

I believe creation was broken. I believe creation is still broken. Sin pierced the garden of Eden and infiltrated every single part of our world. There is nothing in this world untouched by this brokenness.

I believe that homosexuality is a product of a broken world. I believe it is one product of the fracturing of all of creation. I believe with this fracturing came a fracturing of gender from biological sex, and the role of gender in creation became muddled.

I believe shame is in itself a product of brokenness, and is not something we are intended to feel simply for being part of a broken creation.

I believe that in Christ, all of creation was opened up to the possibility of redemption, and transformation.

I believe that being gay is not something that requires repentance. I believe that acting on your homosexual feelings is not something that requires repentance. I believe that as with all things, giving ourselves to Christ means allowing him to take what we are – in all our brokenness (and we are ALL broken – gay or not) – and to work in us and through us for our edification and sanctification. And to His glory.

I believe God can infuse Christ-centred gay relationships in the same way He can infuse Christ-centred straight relationships, and use those relationships to reveal Hinmself more fully to the people involved.

I believe most importantly that I AM NOT GOD, that the more I come to know Him and his nature, the more I am humbled in my lack of knowing.

I believe that the Bible speaks clearly on homosexual acts being wrong before Christ’s redemption entered the world, that Paul couldn’t speak to a Christ centred reality that did not exist, and that God didn’t stop revealing Himself and his plans for creation 2000 years ago.

I believe God‘s nature is unchanging but that His relationship with humanity is dynamic and as with any relationship, the dynamics of our relationship with Him change in conjunction with our own change and growth. Just like our relationships with our children look different when they are toddlers than they do when they are adults, so too our relationship with an unchanging God looks different based on where we are at in our own growth. Things that are not permissible in infancy become permissible in adulthood. An unchanging nature of God does not preclude a changing relationship WITH God.

 

I don’t know if I’m “right”. But I don’t need to be right. I don’t need to be certain. I need to be a reflection of Love, a messenger for grace, a conduit for mercy. I need to strive always to know God more. I don’t believe it’s ok to just say “do whatever, God will judge”. I do believe we need to struggle with what God has shown us in Christ and in scriptures, because those are two of the most profound ways God has revealed Himself. We don’t get to just dismiss it and say “whatever works for you”. But wrestling with these questions also should not distract us from living out the incomparable, unending, unconditional Love God has showered on us all and has called us to pour out onto one another. Without condition.

 

We don’t need to condone something to love someone. They are not mutually exclusive. And we don’t need to find certainty on a subject to know that grace and compassion are indisputable.

 

If you don’t agree that acting on homosexual feelings is not a sin, then focus on showing love to the people you disagree with, because you believe that God will reveal Himself and his plans to them if they know Him. If you’re so certain you are right, then your number one desire should be to facilitate in any way you can their getting to know the God who is driving that certainty, so that they can come to understand too.

 

And they can’t very well come to know a God whose house they’ve been locked out of, now can they?

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Him

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If you are looking for a light hearted, witty post, you will want to stop reading. This post will not make you laugh. It won’t be sarcastic or funny. This post deals with something very real and very difficult, because sometimes life is very real, and very difficult. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

 

I met my husband at the end of 2011. We were both broken people, trying to figure out how to Love and be Loved. We made many mistakes in our lives before each other, and we each carried with us a lot of history. But we also carried something more. You see, my husband and I are not alone in our marriage. We are joined in our union by a companion of sorts, a third party. A terrible creature raised in the confines of our histories.

His name is Addiction.

For those of you who are familiar with him, you know that Addiction is a force to be reckoned with. Seemingly quiet and unobtrusive, he creeps in so often without us even knowing. He lives in the shadows, lurking behind every unspoken word, every white lie or untold truth, clinging to the darkness brought on by fear. Fear is his greatest weapon. He feasts on it, and feeds it to us in turn. Tells us we are unlovable. Tells us we cannot trust. Tells us we cannot go on without him, and in so doing we are consumed by a fear so great we lose sight of all that is real. And so we devolve into hopelessness and despair.

He is not a welcome companion. Our only advantage is that we knew of his presence when our relationship began. And so we sought to contain him, to pour all the light we could procure into our marriage, eradicating the shadows in which he flourishes. We pushed him out as best we could, naming our fears day by day, unraveling our secrets, chipping away slowly at the darkness. We worked so hard, and we made great progress.

But Addiction is much smarter than people give him credit for. As hard as we were working to limit him, he was working just as hard to limit us. Addiction delights in inching us apart. He pries us from one another, reveling in each step we take in opposite directions. His only goal is to have us each alone, because in our solitude he becomes our only companion. He is a jealous being. He does not want to share.

He does his work well.

He starts small, with whispers that it’s not really a secret. He tells us that the not telling is an act of Love. He makes the omissions seem like acts of mercy – not lies, just a means of protecting the other from unnecessary pain. Then one day we find ourselves standing beneath a mountain of lies, pebbles piled one on top of the other, so high now that he assures us should we attempt to move even one stone the whole mountain will crumble and we will surely be crushed beneath it. And so we cower behind our mountains, anchored there by our shame.

He cajoles us into believing that if we know more, we will trust more, that the constant searching and questioning of the other is the path to healing. He offers a sense of control, all the while stoking the fires of distrust within us. He tells us that if we know, we cannot be hurt. The embers start so small that we do not even notice them; sparks in the night. But his whispers turn embers to flames, fanning the fires with our fear that not knowing will destroy us, until suddenly we are being consumed by a fire so hot we cannot breathe. We have no idea how we came to be in the middle of it, or that we are accomplices in our own destruction.

We would be utterly destroyed, trapped forever, burned alive at the hands of Addiction, were it not for the one thing we possess that is more powerful than Addiction: Love. Love is stronger than fear. Love is greater than shame. Love is a fortress that no mountain can crush and no fire can consume.

When we find ourselves cowering behind our mountains, and burning in our fires, we reach out for the other. We cry in the dark “Please Love me! I’ve forgotten how to Love myself…” We cover each other in Love, wrap each other up in it. We hold tightly onto the other and as the mountains crumble around us and the flames slowly die, we look up to find ourselves still whole, even amidst the shambles of the life Addiction tried so hard to have us build for him. Our Love is a light, permeating every corner, and Addiction has no choice but to cower in the shadows of the rubble and ashes his lies have left behind.

And so we begin, as before but stronger. Addiction will never leave us completely, but we have hope that our Love will keep him at bay and illuminate his whispers for the lies they are. Love is not control. Knowing is not trusting.

To be Loved allows us to trust that we do not need control to be safe.

We rest within the safety of our fortress. For today, at least, Addiction cannot get in.

Don’t open the door.

 

 

I’m not in Love, and so can you.

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I recently had a conversation with a close friend about the nature of relationships. They were struggling with the thought of ending a long term relationship, one of the reasons given being that they didn’t feel the same way about their partner anymore. They worried that the relationship had simply run its course, and figured it must be time to move on given the lack of romantic passion that once was present. In its place was deep Love and friendship, but they just weren’t “in Love” anymore.

I tried to nod and be supportive – I really did – but if you know anything about me, you know that withholding something from someone I care about is just not something I do, no matter how hard hearing it might be. And so, I spoke. And this is essentially what I had to say.

 

I want to start by saying that you may or may not have very valid reasons for ending your relationship. I don’t know what happens inside of it, so I cannot make any judgment on that. You may be right that you will be happier apart. You may be right that this is the right thing to do. You may have a million very good reasons for why you need to be single right now, or why your partner isn’t the right person for you, or why a break up is inevitable.

But not being in Love is not one of them.

It’s not your fault that you believe it is. Not really. Our culture has been telling us for years that the key to happiness is finding our soul mate and living happily ever after. We are supposed to have 50-60 years of wedded bliss, mind blowing sex, total romantic connection. Sure, we are allowed to have our disagreements – after all, that’s a sign of passion. But we are never ever ever supposed to feel bored, or question our choice of partner, or be attracted to anyone else, or feel totally and completed disconnected from our soul mate. Because those are all signs that either the relationship has hit its expiry date or it was never really meant to be in the first place.

I have news for you: IT’S A BIG FAT LIE. And at the root of this lie is the idea that we are supposed to base our relationships on falling in Love in the first place.

I fell in Love with my husband. Boy, did I ever. Hit me like a truck and dragged me down the highway at top speed, leaving me with a major case of road rash. He was charming and charismatic and from literally the first moment I saw him I knew I had found something amazing.

That lasted for about 3 months.

After 3 months, our lives started to get very real very quickly. I won’t go into specifics because this is not the time or place, but needless to say, things got HARD. I don’t mean we had our first fight and I gained 5 pounds. I mean shit hit the fan in pretty much every major aspect of life. And pretty quickly, I fell out of Love.

Let me stop you here. I know, you think this sounds horrible. I mean, I just admitted I FELL OUT OF LOVE WITH MY HUSBAND. But it’s the truth. The shiny happy feelings of the early days were replaced with a lot of stress and worry and fighting to stay afloat in the midst of the storm around us. Our lives were anything but romantic. I didn’t have the naive, head in the clouds, we will always be happy feelings of the days of yore. I had a very real and very difficult decision to make: do I really want to fight for this relationship? Is it really worth it?

Clearly, you know the answer to this question. Let me tell you how I got here.

Once I fell out of Love, I decided to start living IN Love. In order to do that, I needed to figure out what Love really and truly looked like. So, I looked at my husband and I asked myself:

Does he respect you?

Does he make you a better version of yourself?

Does he make you laugh?

Does he support you even when you aren’t very likeable?

Does he challenge you and force you to grow?

Does he tell you the truth?

Do you feel safe to be your true self with him?

Does he choose you first?

I asked myself these questions, and I found that the answer to each and every question was a resounding “YES”. (*Disclaimer – we are human, and not every single situation we ever find ourselves in will result in a “Yes” to these questions. Answer in regards to the overarching themes). I may not have felt “in Love” with him the way I once had, but I was very much living in his Love. It was surrounding me and lifting me up. I just needed to know where to look.

And so, I asked myself a second set of questions.

 

Do you respect him?

Do you bring out his best qualities?

Do you laugh with him?

Do you still see the man he is, even when he makes the choice not to live up to that?

Do you push him to keep growing?

Are you honest with him?

Do you make him feel safe to be himself?

Do you choose him first?

I wish I could say that my answers to these questions were all “Yeses” too, but they weren’t. I had been relying on him to Love me, and I had been relying on my being “in Love” so much, that I had forgotten to BE Love. I had forgotten that I too needed to consciously and actively Love my husband. And so I made a choice. I made a choice to live in Love with my husband, to surround him with Love in the same way I wanted to be surrounded. I made a choice that every day I would Love him. In big ways and small ways, I would Love him. I would Love him when I was in Love with him, and when I fell back out, I would Love him even more. Because being in a committed partnership is not and should not be about being “in Love”. It is about being IN Love, by choice, through it all.

You may be right – this might not be the relationship for you or for him. But if that’s the case, it’s because your answers are more nos than yeses. It’s because you aren’t ready to be in a place of choosing a life in Love, or he isn’t someone who makes you feel safe, or you don’t even know who you are yet so how can you know if he helps you be the best version of that unknown self. But no longer being “in Love” is not a valid reason, because no matter who you choose in the end, sometimes you will not feel in Love. It’s just the nature of our fickle emotions. And yet, in those moments where you aren’t uber connected and having great sex and feeling warm fuzzies, you will find you are experiencing a Love far more profound, both being given and being received.

One last thing: he won’t always be “in Love” with you either. If he’s living in Love with you through that, then you know he’s a keeper.