Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Danger of Easy Answers

I have had the same conversation with three different people. The conversations were at different times and the people were not acquainted with one another. All three were gay.

Two were women and they told me the same story. They had been in traditional, evangelical churches for years and had struggled with their sexuality since they were children. After a while, overcome by the stress and anxiety of resisting what they had come to believe was an unavoidable reality in their lives, they accepted their gay identity. They also asked God to continue to love them, and believed that he had.

They left their traditional churches and went looking for new faith communities. They both told me that they had tried several gay-friendly and gay-specific churches, but had come away disappointed. Yes, they had been accepted there. But the churches, they claimed, were all about being gay. They said they wanted to be in places that were all about Jesus.

The third person was a young man. He was Catholic and had traveled 50 or 60 miles to visit a church were I happened to be speaking that morning. We talked between the services and he told me a similar story about being disappointed with the gay-friendly churches he had visited. He said to me, “I need to be in a place were I can be helped to know how to live.”

I wonder if we can do that? I don’t have any quick and easy answers regarding gay ordination or how churches will minister to gay couples and their children. But I wonder if our churches will be able to open their doors wider than before, recognizing that people like my three friends may come in. Can we accept them in order to help them orient their lives toward Jesus and to be encountered by the Holy Spirit? Can we trust God’s love and presence to bring transformation like we hope for everyone? Can we help them to know how to live?

The easy answers say that homosexuality is simply a choice to have sex with a person of the same gender. It’s a sin and it must be stopped in order for God to be accepting toward that person, or so the argument goes. If you read Mark Yarhouse’s very helpful book, Homosexuality and the Christian, you’ll find a greater complexity than you might have expected.

The easy answers also claim that everyone needs to be afforded the same rights, everyone’s equal, and everything’s okay. This way of flattening out human diversity and brokenness risks committing spiritual malpractice (as I posted yesterday). If we claim that everyone’s just fine as they are, then we’d better be right or we leave people to the ravages of their sin. And that means all of us.

There are no easy answers here. There really never were. If we look at what is happening around us and start asking God if he is present and doing something in the midst of significant social and religious disruption, we might find some surprises ahead of us.


Dave Jacobs said...

You have a unique audience and a unique voice. I hope you continue to take advantage of both. Well done.

Carrie said...

I totally agree with Dave. Somewhere in the midst of the evangelical Christian position on this - and many other more "social" issues - the whole love of Jesus part seems to continue to get lost. As you've so elegantly stated, there are no easy answers to any of this. We need to continue to focus on Jesus and do our best to walk in his footsteps.

Anonymous said...

great perspective, my friend. Keep asking GREAT questions!