Sunday, 27 April 2008

Outing myself as a straight gay sympathizer

OK. Having thought about it and wrestled with it for a long time, the time has come to make a stand. Guess it's pretty cowardly to put it on a blog that practically no people read, but one has to make a start somewhere.

Let's get "straight" to the point. I think it's time evangelical Christians took a long hard think about their attitude towards gays. There are a range of attitudes prevalent, and while I think there is some evidence of evangelicals acting in a compassionate manner, I think few people take it far enough.

There is the out-and-out homophobia element. The kind of person that says homosexuality is "disgusting". Yes, in some ways this is understandable - there is a natural revulsion that people feel for certain physical acts, sure. But people who think that way should really try to remember what they felt when they first found out about sex. When you're very young and you first find out about what your parents did to make you, your reaction is one of disgust (well, mine was, anyway, I mean at first it seems pretty gross, doesn't it?) Until you get the same feelings yourself, it is hard to imagine how such an act could be the beautiful thing that it is.

Then there's the element that says it's a sin but we must be compassionate towards homosexuals. Because it is believed by these people that homosexual acts are a sin, then gay couples are encouraged to split up, and are encouraged to seek spiritual help, support, guidance, prayer for "healing" and so forth. Much of this is well-meaning, of course, but flies in the face of evidence.

The plain evidence we have to face is that homosexuality isn't something people choose; it's a given. It is not hard to find on the web testimonies of gay Christians who desperately didn't want to be gay - who tried with the greatest earnestness to seek healing, to change their orientation. In the overwhelming majority of cases it doesn't work at all, however much they want it to.

So, as a Christian who believes in healing, one has to ask the question "So why doesn't God heal gays who earnestly seek healing?". The only logical answer I can come up with to this is simply that they don't need healing.

Well, in fact they do need healing, but not in the way you might think. To be gay and unable to accept that you are gay is to be at war with yourself - perhaps it even implies that you have an inbuilt homophobia that is preventing you from accepting yourself for the person you are. Such people often descend into self-loathing, depression, and suicide attempts. This is the seriousness of the situation we face. The attitude of well-meaning evangelical Christians is a direct cause of depression and suicide. Evangelicals have to ask themselves - are we really so sure we're right on this? What if loving gay relationships are in fact not sinful?

Ah, but wait a minute, you are bound to be saying; what about all those troubling passages in the Bible that condemn homosexuality? A notorious one is found in Leviticus, which says "A man shall not lie down with a man as with a woman - that is detestable". Surely you can't argue with that? Well .. not as it stands of course; but what about the context, the text, and the culture of the time? Again, it's not hard to find expositions of these on the web. It appears from these, that the Leviticus passage may well have been referring to cult temple worship, and in particular to the use of male prostitutes as a part of the worship of pagan Gods.

Another notorious passages is in Romans Ch 1. Again, Paul appears to be condemning homosexuality as "perversion". But how about reading it more carefully in context? What is being described is the general slide into debauched behaviour that results from idolatory (v25). It talks about exchanging natural relations for unnatural ones. It seems clear from this that the indecent acts described were being committed by people who were naturally heterosexual, but tried out homosexual acts for kicks. But gay people I've spoken to never had that natural feeling of attraction to the opposite sex. It always felt unnatural for them, and the natural attraction they had was for the same sex. The Romans passage doesn't seem to apply to them.

Now, of course you might say I got this from a gay commentator, and you might want to comment "Well, he would say that, wouldn't he?". In actual fact, I got it from a detailed and scholarly analysis from a "straight" evangelical. To read more see George Hooper's book "Reluctant Journey - a pligrimmage of faith from homophobia to Christian love" It's available in its entirety for free on the web, and should be required reading for evangelicals.



So that's it. I've "outed" myself. I don't think we should be trying to get homosexuals to change their orientation, but we should welcome them as part of the body of Christ, and affirm their sexuality. In a famous passage in 1 Corinthians 12 Paul shows how all parts of the body are important - the eye should not say to the hand "I don't need you!".

As I said at the start, this is a pretty timid beginning, writing all this on a blog that practically no-one reads; but just in case you are reading this, and you happen to be gay, I would say to you "We do need you - you are a part of the body of Christ, a part that is suffering, and because of that, we all suffer with you ( 1 Cor 12:26).

7 comments:

George said...

Iain, so good to see you have begun your journey, prompted by our Lord Jesus.
As an evangelical straight gay christian supporter myself, just keep going the way the Lord is leading. I found it a bit scary at first, but it became a great privilege when I found Christians of such great faith and love, that made me feel very humbled
God's richest blessings
Love in Christ
George

Mike said...

Iain,

I am a gay Christian and am very encouraged by your journey. It is very interesting that George Hopper's book was a help to you. It was once of the main books that helped me to realise that the Bible didn't say what many people (including myself) believed it did say.

I did not choose to be gay, but I did choose to accept myself and stop 'beating myself up' about being gay. I tried the ex-gay movement, but it could not answer my questions as to why I may be gay.

I became very concerned that the ex-gay theories where based much on Freud. As an evangelical, I was taught that Freudian philosophy was not to be trusted. But now, when it suited them that quoted and approved of Freud.

After struggling for some time I realised that faith was not based on some imagined 'healing' but on faith in Jesus Christ. I became honest with myself and my God about my sexuality and believed my faith strengthed as a result. I am glad that I do not have to tell lies anymore to God or to anyone else for that matter.

Curlz said...

Wow Iain, I have been checking out your blog periodically and wanted to reply to this post in particular, but put it off because there is so much in here to tackle. So here goes:

First, I appreciate your open heart to being a loving, reflective Christian individual, and yes there is a most definate prevalent stigma attached to this particular sin. What the heck with that? Why aren't people on the gluttony band wagon, the gossips forum or the let's burn the greedy bastards at the stake crusade? The Bible speaks of all these as sinful, so you definately have a point.

With regard to why God does not 'heal' the homosexual ~ the same could be asked of physical ailments, so the answer, "...they don't need healing" really doesn't seem to fit. There are plenty of people who earnestly seek healing of all sorts who are never healed here on earth and end up dying. Perhaps we should look to heaven as the relief or healing we are looking for to this regard, but to say that God isn't healing because we don't need healing seems very off base to me(blast this wretched form of communication in print that can come across as harsh without facial expressions or a gentle hand on the shoulder - please know, I do not intend it that way).

As an individual who is in a same-sex relationship there is nothing I would love more than to believe that Biblically speaking all is right with God, but every study I have done with the same view you are taking I come to the same conclusion, "much is being read into the scriptures". The only thing I can be sure of is God's love for me, that He see's my heart and that the relationship I am currently in is incredibly loving, gentle and gratifying.

Jesus tells us the two greatest commandments are to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength AND to love your neighbor as yourself. I am working to that end. That is the best I can do and I know that He see's my heart. I just can't get behind the idea that homosexuality is God's design. Let's face it, the puzzle pieces just don't fit(anyway you look at it - physically or metaphorically).

Iain said...

Hi, Curlz,

I'm feeling major embarrassment here, because I only just noticed today that you'd made this detailed and thoughtful response nearly two weeks ago!!

And I'm a computer science professional, so you'd have thought I'd have figured out how to get the blog to notify me automatically when someone made a comment! Well, that's rectified now - I should get an email when someone makes a comment to one of my posts & so I won't appear to have ignored anyone's post.

My apologies!

There is a lot to tackle in what you wrote & it's late in the evening at the moment, so I'll just put this in as a placeholder to let you know I've not forgotten. Hope you are subscribed to follow up comments and get this.

I'll just say at this point that both of us are on a journey; trying to make sense of the conflicted and fallen world in which we live.

I'd love to be able to say to you "stop beating yourself up" (as Mike said in an earlier post), but of course - the working out of what is right for you, and what you should do has to be your own journey. May it be one that leads to peace, and a fully restored relationship with God.

Am I pushing things too far by suggesting that the relationship you are now in is one that has been healing for you, and that it is a gift from God?

Yes, I appreciate you have difficulty with the concept because homosexuality wasn't the original design. Maybe so, but there are many things that God calls us to do that aren't part of the original design, because we are in a fallen, conflicted world.

Hope that doesn't come across as too much strong debating. As you say, the clinical text on the page doesn't convey tone of voice, facial expression, the hand on the shoulder etc.

Iain said...

Dear Curlz,

Perhaps I might respond also to a couple of your comments and in particular about whether homosexuals "need healing", as you thought what I said was "off base".

First, let me say that I totally respect your honesty and desire to uphold the integrity of scripture as you wrestle with this. You feel that any study that comes to the same conclusion as I have is "reading much into scripture". I agree that we mustn't read into scripture what isn't there, but I also have come to the conclusion that to take the verses in scripture that refer to homosexual acts and to deduce from them that ALL homosexual relationships are sinful, is also reading into scripture what isn't there.

Another straight evangelical Christian who has come to the same conclusion is Benny Hazlehurst, a Church of England vicar. You can read his moving testimony at:

http://www.acceptingevangelicals.org/stories.htm

Follow the links to "Benny's Tale" which is in five parts (sixth still to be published). Benny started out life with much the same view as you are taking. In 2003, Benny's wife had a near fatal accident when she was knocked of her bicycle by an 18 ton truck and spent the next nine months in and out of hospital. Benny's faith was completely shattered, and the man who held him together, prayed with him, held on to God for him, supported him etc was a gay priest called Jeffrey John, who became notorious as the first gay man to be appointed as a bishop (of Reading). Jeffrey supported Benny and helped him through this terrible time at the same time as his own life was falling apart. The Church protested vehemently against the appointment, (including my own church that falls under the diocese of Reading), and Jeffrey John was forced to stand down. This was happening just as he was helping Benny Hazlehurst to hold on to his faith, and things got so bad for Jeffrey John that he couldn't go home without facing a pack of the press camped out on his doorstep.

My point about healing relates of course to whether I think homosexuality (in the context of a loving and faithful relationship) is a sin or not. I have come to the conclusion that it's not a sin (though promiscuous gay sexual activity is clearly a sin), and hence I don't think it's something that needs "healing".

I don't know why God sometimes heals or doesn't heal. About 20 years ago, as part of the prayer ministry in my church, I was asked to pray for a woman with chronic arthritis - her hands were immobile and displaying the characteristic "ulnar displacement". My heart sank at the thought of being expected to pray for a miracle, but I went through with it; laid my hands on hers and prayed for a healing. And a (much needed) healing did occur instantly - her hands relaxed and she could move them. To this day, I've not seen a similar thing happen, and I certainly don't claim to have any special powers - it was God who healed, not me. But of course many don't get the much-needed relief for pain despite fervent prayer.

In the general case, of course, we are all broken and sinful in many different ways, and our ultimate healing, as you say will be in heaven.

Iain said...

Oh I forgot to mention,

In case you don't want to dredge through all five parts of Benny's tale, it is in part five that he deals with the biblical interpretation of the verses concerning homosexuality.


However, it's best to have read the first four parts, especially the devastatingly moving part 4 before going onto the fifth part.

Curlz said...

Taking it all in, pondering, reflecting, seeking Him,...thanks Iain.

~ Curlz