New to your blog, referred by a friend for this article in particular…
I understand the desire to treat individuals who are homosexually (or otherwise) oriented as valued human beings. I applaud it! I pastor a very small, very young church in the center of a small city with a significantly vocal homosexual community right in the neighborhood where we live, play, work, and worship. Some of these wonderful people are joined to Christ and to us…
However, valuing people should lead us to encourage them to submit to God. If we are encouraging people to engage in whatever activities they happen to like, we may be making them temporarily happy, but we are not valuing them.
The real question is not, ‘Do some Christians really enjoy homosexual activity (or are they really oriented in such a way) while simultaneously maintaining faith in Christ?’ This is implied by the Siker quote. The reality is that I know of ‘real’ Christians who engage in all sorts of activity condemned by Scripture, many are convinced that they are not sinning in doing so! For example, how many American Christians live in conspicuous wealth and consumption, with little or no regard to the plight of others around the world? Pointing to Christians who do such things is not the same as a convincing argument that such things are consistent with the Christ to whom we are joined…
Which is, of course, the reason why we turn to the Scriptures-in-Community as a source of God’s definition of humanity. Your post, obviously, does this; attempting to understand what God has to say about the subject.
Which brings us to the main question, and the main contention I have with what was posted:
Your post typifies the conversations we Christians have on many topics, and typifies additionally our usual approach to Scripture. (I don’t mean to come across as pugilistic but if you’ve been blogging for five years you understand that this medium is given to misunderstanding on an emotional level, so understand that I say what I say in the hope of hearing your response, not simply to voice my own ’superior’ opinions.)
We approach Scripture as if it were a collection of timeless truths and lists of do’s and dont’s that somehow God accidentally gave us in the form of narratives, lyrical poetry, prophetic visions, ancient municipal codes, etc. and so we get about rearranging the Bible into the book God should have given us.
As an aside here is a great article on Scripture…
On this particular topic, this proves singularly problematic; the conversation on homosexuality is dominated by Scriptures that reference homosexuality directly. Rarely does the conversation ever engage the general arc of Scripture as a whole. If it were to do so, the dialogue would be taking place along a very different spectrum. For example, why are Genesis 1-2, Ephesians 5, and Matthew 19 excluded from the scriptures discussed? If we understand the story of God and Man, it becomes a very different discussion.
Shouldn’t our ethical questions be framed more in terms of ‘What is God up to, and how do we fit into it? Instead of, ‘What can we get away with and still call ourselves Christian?’ It is my contention that if we take the former approach we will have to admit that Scripture defines sexuality in extremely positive ways, and that our approach (looking for negative injunctions against certain actions) blinds us to the simple truth that God has defined human sexuality in terms of a deep abiding commitment, a co-mingling of spirit, mind, life, and body, between a man and a woman.
A final point of agreement, we must approach this from a pastoral perspective, recognizing the personal realities involved and the questions behind the question. It is for this reason that our community regularly encourages people to look to Jesus as the definition of their humanity, and allows ethical decisions to flow out of that reality. We do not shy away from talking about situational ethics, but that conversation is always superseded by discipleship unto Jesus. Ethics flowing out of identity, not the other way around.
There are so many other points to be made (the proportionality of Scriptural commentary on homosexuality in relationship to other issues, the need for repentance toward the homosexual community, the endorsement of healthy sexuality as opposed to the condemnation of unhealthy sexuality, outlining sexual sin in more holistic ways that evaluate the union of husband and wife, etc.), but I am sure I have already bored you!
Interested in your responses!
(And a quick plug, on the subject, for Rob Bell’s book ‘Sex God’)