Tuesday, April 21, 2009

GLBT folks are going to hell and so are the heterosexual people shacking up with each other....???

"Peter turned around and noticed the disciple whom Jesus kept loving following them. He was the one who had put his head on Jesus' chest at the supper and had said, "Lord, who is the one who is going to betray you?" -John 21:20

We watched a film called 'Lord Save Us From Your Followers" and in the movie, Tony Compolo shared this story:
There was a boy in our high school named Roger. He was gay. We knew about it. We spread the word on him, and we made his life miserable. When we passed him in the hall, we would call out his name in an effeminate manner. We gestured with our hands and made him the brunt of a lot of cheap jokes. On Fridays after PE class, we would go into the showers, but Roger never went in with us. He was afraid to, and for good reason. When we came out of the showers we would take our wet towels and whip them at his little naked body. We thought that was a fun thing to do.

I wasn't there the day they took Roger, dragged him into the shower room, and shoved him into the corner. Folded up in a fetal position, in the corner of that tile room, he cried as five guys urinated all over him.

That night Roger went home and he went to bed sometime around ten o'clock. They said it was about two o'clock the next morning when he got up and went down to the basement of his house - and hung himself. When they told me, I realized I wasn't a Christian. Oh, I believed all the right stuff. I was as theologically sound as any evangelical could expect to be. I knew what I was supposed to believe and I believed it intensely, but I hadn't surrendered to the Holy Spirit. I had not yet yielded myself and allowed God's Spirit to invade me and transform me into the kind of person I ought to be. If the Holy Spirit had been in me, I would have stood up for Roger.

When the guys came to make fun of him, I would have put one arm around Roger's shoulders and waved the guys off with the other and said, "Leave him alone. He's my friend. Don't mess with him." But I was afraid to be his friend. I was afraid to stand up for Roger, because I knew that if you stand up for somebody like Roger, people will begin to say nasty things about you too. And so I kept my distance, and I failed to be the loving person that Christ wanted me to be. The work of the Holy Spirit was not evident in my life. If it had been, Roger might be alive today."

That story and the themes in the movie sparked a lot of discussion, primarily centered around how we as Christians and as a church community can show our GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual, Transgendered) neighbors that we love and care about them as people. How could we know them by their "Names" instead of their "Needs or their Deeds"? Those conversations have been diverse, there have been disagreements and judgments made. The film was called "Hitler propaganda" and the fact that we were having these conversations somehow indicted us in a slide of liberalism, homosexual agenda supporting and were on the edge of becoming a "gay loving church". Needless to say...the waters have been stirred a bit.

But I was still pierced to the heart over the above story.

We have a GLBT youth center in our neighborhood. I've been floating ideas on how to serve them, reach out to them in friendship and find ways to bless them. That conversation has been a loaded one. Endorsing agendas, lifestyles and supporting their evil deeds are all the end points of most of those conversations. In the end the safe phrase that practically means nothing is..."Love the sinner but hate their sin"...which in actual theory means....love in words but not in deeds.

Some in our group are working on a script for a film loosely based on the story Tony shared. That has been an interesting unfolding project...some people have just walked away...unwilling to even attempt to approach the subject from any other angle than...same sex=Hell and that means our role is to love them by telling them they are going to hell...because that is what the bible says. Any attempts to say that possibly the bible says some other things as well...is met with indifference of bibilical circular reasoning.

I think this video: shares my position the best:
and I think this short video explains the challenge of the issue from an angle most people do not see it from:

I too share the conservative position on the issues...but I do not share the missional position (no pun intended) on the subject. I do not think that Jesus was gay or that John was either...though if anyone came into my communion service and saw one of my elders laying his head on my chest...I would surely incite some rumors. I'm not sure I understand the level of love that took place between David and Jonathan...I'm sure it was non-homosexual...but the complexities of environment, genetics, upbringings, birth order, religious background, culture and other issues...demand a humble approach to the conversation.

I think if I allow process in the lives of my heterosexual seekers...why can't I extend the same grace to others? If we wink at the shacking up, the sex sin and the non committal marriages and the divorces in the church...why do we hammer these folks with such intensity and visceral emotions?

Is it wrong to be a "gay loving" pastor and church?

What's the alternative.....?


Wes said...

I admire your guts, Eric. Always have, always will.
Homosexuality is the one prejudice I have yet to tackle in my life. I grew up being taught to hate Mexicans. Then I learned that the color of ones skin doesn't matter. I grew up fearing & hating Russians. Then I learned that borders were just lines on a map. I grew up mistrusting wealthy people. Then I learned that the size of someones bank account doesn't always equate to how big a jerk they may or may not be.

I grew up hating homosexuality of all forms. Then I learned that there were passages in the Bible that supported my belief. Yeehaw! Home free. The Bible backed me up so I was golden on that issue. That was one thing I didn't think I would have work on.
Wrong. Oh well. My Dad always said "When you stop learning you start dying."

Mel said...

I love that story of Tony's. He shared it in the book "Adventures in Missing the Point" and I, too, was affected deeply by it. So much so that I made my entire family sit and listen to me read it out loud. This is a topic that needs to be dealt with honestly and humbly by the followers of Christ. Thank you for being brave enough to tackle it. I second Wes's sentiments.

Wes said...

After giving this subject further thought, I guess it boils down to this....
Is homosexuality a choice or is one created "this way"?

A person is born with a certain skin color, born within a certain country.

Is a person born gay? If I can get the answer to that, and believe it, the task at hand for me would be considerably easier.

But even then, let's say it is a choice, what then? When it comes to how we view & interact with people as Christians, would it be different if their sexual preference was a choice rather than how they were born? Should it be? And if it is a choice, why would I view them different than, to use your example Eric, 2 people living together who aren't married? Both would be choices.
The dislike of homosexuality is something that seems so ingrained in our minds from an early age, it becomes one of the biggest hurdles in our Christian belief system. All this from a guy who is unapologetically "old school" when it comes to most of my beliefs.

Unknown said...

I think if we reduce our involvement with people both relationaly and missionaly based on their choices; that will end a lot of ministry.

Almost all mercy ministry be it in hospitals, poor countries, jails, work with homeless, ministry to addicts or aids patients is based on an act of grace not worthiness.

To me, "choice" begins to sound very "law" based not "gospel" based.

Jesus showed mercy, love, grace and healing to all. Both to people who got themselves into their situations and to those who were put there by cicumstances beyond their control.

Wes said...

I'm not talking about reducing my involvment based upon whether something is a choice or not. I'm talking about coming to grips with my feelings on the matter. Yes, in a utopian world it wouldn't matter but that's not the one I live in. If the question of choice could just be answered definativly one way or another, I truly believe it would be considerably easier for me. Easier REGARDLESS of what the answer may be. I know it shouldn't matter.... but it does. And with that I struggle.

Unknown said...

I hear ya, that's an honest position.

I think we all have been stuck there in one way or the other with this issue. I'm finding that "people" are getting lost in the quicksand of the " issue"

I see the Jesus path, as one that seemed to flip that reality...I want to explore that path more and more.

Wes, I know you do too...

Mel said...

You know, in "Adventures in Missing the Point," in the chapter about homosexuality, Tony Campolo asserts that he believes that homosexual people are actually physically born that way. He further asserts that many Christian homosexuals live a lonely and celibate life because they believe that sexual relations between people of the same sex is sin. But choosing to live a celibate life doesn't change their orientation, any more than dieting changes a person like me, who is a glutton at heart, into someone who no longer loves food. Science has shown strong evidence to support the idea that a homosexual oreintation is hardwired in to a person's brain. But that, from my perspective at least, raises a whole world of other questions. Too many questions, too little time...

Wes said...

If the evidence that science shows is true, that homosexuals are hardwired that way, where does that leave the passages in the Bible that contradict that?
That's one of the areas where my very limited abilities of comprehension go on autopilot.

Unknown said...

If gluttony is a sin...is someone who is genetically predisposed to overindulgence, culpable for indulging?

If someone has a thyroid problem are they free to give into any and every impulse for food?

I think we wouldn't say that...but at the same time how severe of a judgment would we dole out...knowing the genetic predisposition?

If we make room for the fall and its affects on creation, doesn't that make a difference in how we relate to certain situations?

Now by implying that certain sexuallly oriented people are the affects of the fall, are broken or damaged is not a position that I am taking...I am just saying that if "traditional points of view" can make room for such anomalies...is that really too far off of a stretch to accept the other?

If one determines that most birth defects, genetic mutations, diseases, disorders are a gift from God; than maybe that position isn't going to be accepted. But I doubt many people honestly hold that position. I imagine they would avail themselves of any science or medical means to improve health or prevent birth defects.

I see the same wrestle going on in the addiction community. Many Christians can't accept addiction as a disease, because its connected with consumption or actions we determine to participate in. The debate rages in many recovery circles still.

It's interesting that many Christians will point to a child's history as a means for explaining current behavior. They will point to abuse, poverty, rape, or being raised by a single mom, or lack of a strong father role in ones home; as being source material for the development of certain behaviors.

But why is genetics off limits?

Can ones family predispose someone to dysfunctional behavior?

Can domestic violence be transferable through modeled formational learning?

Do drug addicts bear addicts...do they produce or form children predisposed to sinful choices?

Are they under-equipped with moral teaching or value empowered wills to make the right choices?

Our justice system makes room for all such inquiries?

Wont the Lord?

Maybe not...maybe Mercy will triumph over judgment...? Possibly? I know I hope it will. Why wouldn't we hope it would? What measure of judgment are you hoping for when it comes to oneself? Im banking on "Deep and Wide"!!!

If one learns to steal on the streets of some slum street in Brazil because your drug addict mom, is strung out on heroin and there is no food in the fridge...is that act judged the same as another act of theft in downtown Bellevue?

If we all are sinners and righteouness demands perfection...and God's holiness demands that we all be holy...how much are we going to hope in grace and blood?

isn't the point of Romans 1-2 written to show that all of mankind is corrupt, broken and under the sentence of God's judgment and that even the good old boys who think they are righteous and actually aren't.

"They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too...Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. -Romans 1:32-2:1

If I have to learn to live out of the Spirit's power to exercise self-control, maintain fidelity, or purity and I rely on the shed blood of Christ to cover my inner life and outer life...I would imagine that is true for anyone sexual leanings.

I know that Henri Nowen led a celibate life and a fruitful life while drawing on God's Spirit and grace for the issues of his won homosexual desires. As far as we know he chose celibacy as a response of devotion and obedience to the Lord.

I know many addicts that do the same...and many people who seek to wrestle a certain predisposition to various fleshly leanings or temptations or desires.

Many people choose to lay down sexual fulfillment in this life in service to or in response to the call of God. I know the very idea is nearly impossible for our nymphomaniacal culture to even conceptualize...but it is a beautiful choice for some.

Granted its a choice...for some that issue appears to be a very difficult line to divide.

Wes said...

O.K. bro.... I'm taking the rest of the day to absorb your post.
Good stuff.

"Deep & Wide" is my hope as well. If it ain't, well, I'm out-a-luck!

Unknown said...

lol ;)

Anonymous said...

Born gay? I would label it rather: "Damaged by enviornment". We know that abuse and exposure to unholy things can happend very, very young, so I could see how one would believe they were "born" gay. Physical and sexual abuse is so common in this people group. I don't think that is a coincidence, but rather the painful shaping tool that bends their tendencies. I have pity for anyone who has lived through the horror of abuse - gay or straight. It is from the pit of HELL, and there's no evil quite like it. It CHANGES who you are. But how they "got gay" is not even the point for me. I suppose for some it would be easier to deal with homosexuality if it could be labeled as a handicap, rather than a choice.
The bottom line is, Christ in us has compassion for all people, from all walks of life, from all demographics. This group has been ignored by the church to a large degree, and it's time we start addressing...US! Our actions are the actions in question, not theirs. Sinners sin - we should not be surprised by this, but rather be challenged to take inventory of our OWN reactions and actions/non-actions in relationship to this people group.
God help us, as we walk this journey together.
- LeeElla

Michael McMullen said...

Has anyone noticed that when the topic of artistic merit in Christian films gets mentioned on this blog, people were ready to demand heads on silver platters........but the issue of being okay with gay people has just lead into a very civilized discussion?

Because I totally noticed that.

Wes said...

Fear is the driving force, Mike.

If you vehemently disagree with someone regarding their views on sexuality you run the risk of being labeled a bigot. Not a risk a lot people are willing to take.

If you vehemently disagree with someone regarding their views on what content should or shouldn't be in a "Christian" film you run the risk of being labeled ignorant or just having bad taste. A label most of us don't find to be that big a deal.

Michael McMullen said...

Good point Wes.

And good discussion so far. I hope it's one that will be opened up in more venues.

Anonymous said...

I don't think people are born gay. I think the Bible supports this, both old testament and new. certain people may struggle more on certain issues, like an alcoholic might be struggling more with resisting alcohol than another person might. But Paul flat out said homosexuals, along with drunkards, thieves, etc. wont be entering the kingdom of God, so it must be a choice. God doesn't damn you for being born a certain way. it's not like race, it is a choice.

its a tough balance, Jesus was compassionate, and yet he required people turned from their sin and try to keep form it as best they can. We must love them, but we can't deny the fact that they are sinning. That being said, we also shouldn't tolerate the straight-shacking, thats just as forbidden in the eyes of the lord.

Its not a sin to be tempted only to give in to the temptation. So being a celibate Christian gay makes no sense. Because God said homosexuality is an act. Is a temptation, not an orientation.

Me, living in a society more acceptant of homosexuals, the younger generation, I hear a lot of talk even among gay people about "turning people gay", even as a joke. "can you turn that guy gay for me." I know of once straight people who have suddenly changed course and started having relations with the same sex. Its in the brain, in the mindset. And if youre so called born gay, how come there are so many bisexuals, thats much more common than gay. are they only like half-gay, or have a half-gay gene?

Its a choice.


Anonymous said...

Oh, and by the way that whole, gay people arent destroying the american family, heterosexuals are, were the ones getting divorces; they want to get married!

im laughing out loud.
its sad, but true.


Unknown said...

My point in this post and our discussion about the GLBT community; is about "choice" but it's about us not them.

Do we "choose" to reach out, befriend, be with, eat dinners and hang out with "sinners"? Are we known as "friends of sinners"? It was the charge against Jesus and I think the Church and Christians are not very Christlike today.

Choosing to engage some people only if we can prove they got there or that way by choice isn't the motivation of love.

If that was the case...Jesus wouldn't have come to earth.

Wes said...

Abolutely agree Eric. The hypocrisy of the American church is, in my opinion at least, one of the main reasons more people don't attend. BUT, if we are to begin to change that tendancy, we must begin to change our way of "accepting" people. We must somehow know that whether it's a choice or a genetic predisposition, we need to nuture, reach out to and associate with homosexuals, etc.
THAT seems to be a roadblock?? We're so busy trying to figure out why the sin happens we neglect the sinner.
As I said in an earlier post, if I could just learn the "why", the "acceptance" would be so much easier. I, personally, need to stop letting the "why" be a roadblock.

Isaac Horwedel said...

There is some pretty hard biological and sociological evidence that human sexuality is much more complex than just "Gay/Lesbian", "Straight", and "Bisexual." If homosexual and heterosexual represent two opposite ends of the continuum, then it seems most of us are born somewhere in between. I think it's something like 2% or either completely heterosexual or homosexual.

My point is, there really doesn't seem to be a "norm" in terms of sexuality, i.e. it is "normal" to be straight and "abnormal" to be gay.

Also, anonymous, I do not think it wise to use the Bible as support for scientific claims. All of the books of the Bible were written by individuals with a completely different concept of reality than we hold.

In my opinion it is extremely difficult to make a case for homosexuality being a sin once on factors in the various cultural aspects. Also, there are some translation issues with Paul's letter to the Romans.

Anyway, just my $.02


Heather said...

Eric, I SO appreciate your heart for addressing contentious issues. Why has this topic become so taboo in the Christian community? I'm afraid I'm going to play the role of the quintessential Seattle Liberal here and shake up the conversation, but I feel compelled to participate in this discussion.

In an attempt at what I would describe as the Christian attempt to "wage war on sin" we have essentially begun to elevate ourselves morally above non-Christians and carry our moral convictions into the political arena in very powerful ways. I fear that our message has become one of condemnation and self-righteousness as opposed to love and good news. I feel as though the political engine of the church is too often appearing to be an enemy of civil rights instead of a loving body of believers seeking to share God's love, grace, and mercy with others. Isn't it by seeking relationship with Christ that we all are able to discover and unleash the best of ourselves? So I feel like our responsibility as Christians is to implore and encourage and love ALL our neighbors as they encounter Him. We are His body, and wouldn't he call us to bring his love to others so that HE can address their thoughts and actions, just as he does ours?

Unknown said...

Great thoughts Heather, thanks for speaking up and sharing. I'm honored that you posted and read something here. ;)

Don't worry we won't label you WA westsiders...sterotypes are lame, not all us WA eastsiders are hyper-conservative, religious rightwingers either.