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Befriending our Gay Neighbours – Synchroblog

god and homosexual labels
Photo by jk5854

Bridging the Gap invited me to do join their syncho-blog today as they’ve gathered over 60 Christ-followers, both gay and straight, to break open conversations on christianity and homosexuality.

Wendy of New Direction writes a great introduction

The culture wars surrounding the topic of homosexuality have sucked up tremendous resources, have left devastated casualties in their wake, and continue to perpetuate polarization and enmity – most clearly seen in the divide between the Christian community and the gay community. The diversity and divisiveness surrounding gay issues is staggering. Even the above statement needs to be unpacked. The sense of polarization is not simply between the Christian community and the gay community as if both of those communities were completely monolithic and mutually exclusive. Rather, we see fractures within the Christian community and disagreements within the gay community. In the midst of this wasteland are gay Christians – a diverse group of people too – who often find very little safe harbour on either side of the divide.

Several years back I had a series of conversations with a friend of mine who I consider a serious and honest follower of Jesus struggling with his faith and sexual orientation.  I’m pretty sure I responded with kindness and tolerance, but that’s just the problem.  Tolerance is too low of a bar.  I don’t think I had a clue of what conflicting emotions and hurt he was feeling.  He needed more than my acceptance and tolerance.  I often wish I could go back and offer him the love and embrace that I now know.

Even when we speak of tolerance, it seems like we’re reaching down, beneath us, to accommodate another person.  And there are times for that.  But I don’t think we in the church, realize just how far down we’ve already pushed the gay community. Christ calls the church to be a community known by our love.  We are so far from that today.

My views on homosexuality have continued to evolve over the years.  If anything my devotion to Christ has deepened, while my understanding of the human person has widened.

I limited myself to 10 thoughts for starters:

1.  I couldn’t care less if there is or isn’t a gay gene

2.  We are so much more than our sexual orientation.  Sexuality ought not be the primary divider when it comes to faith in Christ.

3.  Having said that, pushing homosexuality to the peripheries doesn’t seem to do it justice either.  If it is the cause of your oppression, it’ll likely be fairly central to you.

4.  I believe there are biblical default modes of life ie. a covenant relationship between a man and a woman, work, children, cultivating life, caring for creation, etc. But does veering off from any of this make you any less human?  or sinful?

5.  There are some very strong biblical passages warning against ‘unnatural’ behaviors that we need to honestly struggle with, along with the thousands of passages on caring for the poor.

6.  Sexuality is not clear cut.  For example how do you respond to individuals born intersexual (with both sexual organs)?  Could these conflicting physical expressions also be a ‘natural’ expression of something much deeper for them, and many others?

7.  Christians often feel righteous and reasonable when they say ‘hate the sin, not the sinner’.  But how do you do that when that ‘sin’ is so deeply a part of who that person is?

8.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with identification – I do however have a problem with over-identification – whether it’s about your sexuality or your christianity.  Identifying with certain labels ought to help us, not reduce our humanity.

9.  If we trust that God is sovereign, just, and loving – why does it seem like christians act like he’s not, when we interact with those who are gay?

10.  If there is a cultural war between the church and the gay community, we lost the battle ages ago when we abandoned the culture for our traditions.

You can order the Bridging the Gap DVD series here.
Check out a diverse array of thoughts from 60 other bloggers on the right column here
Follow the twitter hashtag #btgblog

What do you think?

{ 14 comments… add one }

  • Russell Sutherland June 24, 2009, 7:18 am

    The _main_ problem, as with all sexual problems, is calling a homosexual behaviour normal or healthy, when it is in fact otherwise. We all have sexual hang-ups and other issues. Let’s deal with them head on and move on with grace and compassion for one another.

    • Lon June 24, 2009, 10:33 am

      Hey Russ, thanks for popping in – I wonder if sexuality is something we can truly just ‘deal with’ and move on. For many people it’s more than simply a situation, but something that ties even deeper to who they are… grace and compassion on both ends i totally agree!

      • Russell June 24, 2009, 10:39 am

        Certainly “moving on” is a life time and Herculean effort. But the main point I was trying to make was: “this is a problem and something I need to fix/repair” as opposed to the other view point which is: “This is way God made me, and I need to rejoice in it and be affirmed”

  • Lillian Patterson June 24, 2009, 8:16 am

    I know that I’ve never liked th word “tolerance.” I tolerate corns on my feet and I tolerate the pain I have from my rheumatoid arthritis. I tolerate those things because I don’t have any other choice. But I don’t want to tolerate other people. I want to move beyond tolerance into love, and it’s hard to do that. Thanks for writing about this and sharing your thoughts.

    • Lon June 24, 2009, 10:40 am

      Thanks for hearing me out Lillian! You’re right on, tolerance falls short from God’s intentions. In many ways we can so easily excuse ourselves from love, by claiming tolerance. We’re in such a sad state… but conversations like this remind me that there’s plenty of hope!

  • wendy June 24, 2009, 10:28 am

    Thanks for joining us.

    For regular readers here, I’d encourage you to check out the other posts – some very thoughtful and gracious posts are emerging in this diverse collection of conversations.

  • Melanie June 24, 2009, 3:06 pm

    Loved your comment abour “over-identification”. I’ve often said the same thing… Being “in your face” and shoving it down people’s throat that you’re a Christian (Bible thumpers they say) has the same effect as being “in your face” to get a reaction gay… it plainly does the opposite of what the person is trying to achieve… it turns people OFF. Doesn’t help anyone’s cause!!

    Love your mention about God being Sovereign… isn’t it easier for us to feel like it’s our job to take care of business ourselves instead of trusting an almighty God to be at work??

    • Lon June 25, 2009, 12:44 am

      Hey Melanie -totally… sometimes I think the whole loud-and-proud, I’m-not-ashamed attitude, whether christian or queer, comes from exactly that, some sense of shame deep below. We can think it’s our unyielding convictions turning people off, but sometimes it’s just our own obnoxiousness rooted in our own insecurities.

  • Al June 25, 2009, 7:47 pm

    Thanks for putting me on to the synchroblog. I have spent a fair amount of time today reading several of the posts.
    All in all, very encouraging as I see people being generous with each other (for the most part) and wanting to dialogue and grow. And that’s a good thing.

    • Lon June 26, 2009, 2:55 pm

      Hey Al, glad you managed to follow along! why not add some of your own thoughts on it all here, or on your own site! would love to read’em

      • Al June 26, 2009, 3:29 pm

        I think one of the challenges in ‘bridging the gap’ is the ‘us’ and ‘them’ points of view that are assumed. Instead of seeing the people around us as fellow humans on the journey of life, we tend to pigeon hole people into groups like ‘white or First Nations, or black’, or ‘male or female’ or ‘rich or poor’ or ‘straight or gay’ or whatever. That tends to start the whole process of relating to each other from opposing camps. I admit, it isn’t easy looking beyond these categories, but we need to see things like several bloggers and commenters referred to: Gal 3:28 “In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal.” If we are to truly love people as God does (and we must not forget that He does!), we must treat them as equal recipients of His grace.
        I also think we need to recognize that interpreting scripture isn’t as cut and dried as we might have been led to believe. Those ‘truths’ that we may have been taught may not be as biblically sound as we thought. Especially if they run counter to the character of God as we understand it from the breadth of scripture.

  • LnddMiles July 23, 2009, 4:15 am

    Great post! I’ll subscribe right now wth my feedreader software!

  • Ian July 23, 2009, 12:18 pm

    Really interesting post. I think the GLBT community, to a certain extent, demonstrates the changes in the way community forms, now it forms around a shared activity or cause. I'd suggest that the gay community shows us that something intrinsic to humans is the desire to live for a cause greater than themsevles.

    I don't know why we treat GLBT individuals any differently to the homeless, young professionals, families or retired persons. Whether God 'likes' it or not, this community now exists. Whilst it would be wrong to assimilate this community into 'the church', just as it is wrong to assimilate the young professional community or others*, this has become a group of people with a shared identity who can be transformed by Christ just as much as any other.

    *by this I mean it is unwise to assume a particular community to be 'christian', for example the family is not 'christian' but one sees Christian families, I hope that makes sense? Perhaps one fault we need to address is that people assume the more established institutions and communities (Such as the family) to be 'christian' when this is not a scriptural idea.

  • lon July 23, 2009, 5:13 pm

    Great thoughts Ian! I think many in the church just aren't willing to accept what already 'is'… and not that they are a community of themselves, but a part of the current human story and the greater global community… we're often too busy trying be our own little idyllic community separate from all others…

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