Welcome to today’s installment of Reverent Sundays, where I write about an aspect of my faith. This can deal with recent books I have read on Christianity, my thoughts on religion and current issues, as well as particular messages I find touching and/or powerful. I am aware that most of my readers are not religious, and that is fine — you are more than welcome to not read these posts if they make you uncomfortable, enrage you, or bore you to tears. I am open to debates and discussions in the comments section as long as everyone remains respectful. Enjoy!
Earlier this week, Jenna of That Wife fame wrote a very moving and eloquent piece on her changed views on homosexuality.
I am extremely happy for Jenna — I think that she is making some very brave and intelligent steps in improving herself and her life by challenging and questioning her belief systems.
Reading what she has written, in addition to the numerous comments the post received, I realized that I have never thoroughly talked about my views on homosexuality on this blog. Yes, visitors have brought it up various times on my past posts on Christianity, and I have tried my best to answer those questions. But I have never outright stated, in a post, what my position on homosexuality is as a Protestant Christian who believes the Bible is true and complete.
And I feel the need to say this because it is a view I have not seen openly shared by many people, at least in my (mostly very liberal) social circle or among my internet friends…even within the Christian blogs I read and study!
So here it goes.
Let’s start with a bit about my background. I was raised in a Christian home and attended church since I was born. However, there was a period in my life — a few years in my early twenties — when I would be best described as an agnostic and distanced myself from the church.
What made me return to the church was my studying and challenging various belief systems. I took religious courses, read numerous books, and spoke to those with different beliefs and walks of life. I even researched famous atheists like Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens. But after gathering all this knowledge, what eventually happened was that I not only returned, but also began to embrace the Christian faith even more than I ever had before.
Do I believe that homosexuality is a sin? Yes. There are both Old and New Testament accounts for this belief, and you can read “What the Bible says and means about same-sex behavior” (from ReligiousTolerance.org, a site that aims to remain unbiased by providing different perspectives) if you would like to see where and why.*
HOWEVER, I do not believe that homosexuality should be as big of a deal as the American Christian church makes it out to be. I do not believe that it is a “bigger” sin than others — in the sense that sin is sin and all sin can be forgiven through the grace of God except for the unpardonable sin — and I know that I have committed much graver sins in my lifetime than homosexuality. (And this is coming from a person who has never been arrested, whose biggest illegal offense probably was trying pot a few times in college.)
For example, I believe that pride, as the very first sin ever committed, is a much more dangerous sin than homosexuality will ever be, especially because it affects practically everyone who has ever walked this earth, and it is one that I too struggle with on a daily basis.
I believe that genetics can affect a person’s sexual orientation. I believe that some people are “born this way.” And I believe that these are all results of original sin. (The ramifications of original sin are manifested spiritually and physically.)
What I do NOT believe is condemning others for their sins when it is only God who has the right to do so.** What I do NOT believe is withholding rights from the LGBTQ population.
So when it comes down for it, I am not against gay marriage.
I personally believe that in this day and age, the high rates of divorce are a much bigger
threat to the traditional Christian marriage than gay marriage. (image source)
At the same time, to me, as a Christian, the sacrament of marriage is one that can only be shared between one man and one woman. I believe that it is a promise to God that should strive to reflect the relationship between Christ and the Church. (I will be writing more about it in a future Reverent Sundays in a book review for Tim Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage.)
The sad thing is, though, that Christians are not the only people in existence. And while the very first marriage between Adam and Eve was indeed a religious one, their fall to sin initiated a chain of events that affected the rest of human history. So the fact of the matter is, marriage is no longer seen as a religious institution by a large portion of the population. That is to say, a Christian meaning of marriage is different from that of a non-religious person.
Should there exist different words for a religious marriage and a secular marriage (i.e., civil unions)? I’m not sure. But this is where we start to tread on the “separate but equal” territory, which I know has its limitations.
The only possible compromise I can think of is to make civil unions the officially recognized form of a lifelong commitment to a partner under the law. (Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe some countries already do this.) And those who see marriage — or another applicable word — as being a religious institution can go ahead and have a religious ceremony in addition to a civil union, so that we could be married in the eyes of God in addition to being legally married.
I guess what I am saying is that yes, I am fully willing to go an extra step to be “married” in the Christian sense of the word.
Now don’t get me wrong. I am a firm believer in evangelizing and spreading God’s word. (Not only because it was commanded, but because I see it as such a great message that I truly want to share it with others.) However, I do not believe that forcing your beliefs down others’ throats is the best way to go about doing this. And spreading God’s Word through hate and violence? Definitely not the right way.
While I would love to see the entire world be true lovers and followers of Christ, I know that this is just not possible in this world.
Do I believe that a Christian can be gay? Yes, just as there are Christian adulterers, liars, and thieves. Do I condone their sins? No, but I do not actively condemn them either, unless that sin is harming others or the sinner continually places that sin ahead of God. Should gays be welcomed, loved, and embraced by the church? Abso-freakin-lutely!
I know that there exist so many gray areas within this debate. For example, many people state that what two consenting adults choose to do with their love lives should be of no one else’s concern. But how about in the cases of incest and polygamy, or even when people start marrying objects (e.g., the case of a man marrying a virtual person in Japan, or a woman marrying a building here in the U.S.)? And what about the argument that even as Jesus loved sinners, He also told them to “sin no more”?
The fact of the matter is, I know that my opinion is just one of many surrounding this topic. I also know that I could be very wrong, and that even if I had the best teachers and information available on hand, I could never fully comprehend God’s intentions and plans.
Additionally, I do not believe that the concept of gay marriage is one that is so devastating or threatening to the Christian faith. It is not a major doctrine or tenet of our belief. And whether or not a gay couple can get married does not negate the fact that an one and all-powerful God sent His only Son to die for us on the cross, and by this grace we are saved.
Besides, Jesus states that the two greatest commandments are to love God, and to love your neighbor as yourself. I think that whenever we, as Christians, are faced with situations in which we are not entirely sure how to act, we should always remember these.
* Recently there have been groups such as Soulforce that are challenging the traditional Christian view that homosexuality is a sin. I encourage you to read their article “What the Bible Says — And Doesn’t Say — About Homosexuality” in addition to the “What the Bible says and means about same-sex behavior” article I referenced above. After reading both articles (and others if needed) and praying about the topic, I encourage you to make your own decision regarding whether or not homosexuality is Biblically a sin.
What I will say is that Soulforce fails to mention God’s covenant design for marriage. Additionally, their assertion that “Only six or seven of the Bible’s one million verses refer to same-sex behavior in any way” is a bit disturbing when you consider that this is coming from someone who claims to have 50+ years of studying the Bible. The truth is that the Bible doesn’t even come close to having a million verses; it doesn’t even have a million words and the number of verses is closer to 31,000. I know that this is just one minor part of their argument, but one can’t help but question the scriptural authority of someone who has made such a mistake.
** The obvious exceptions to this statement are sins that impede on others’ rights to life, liberty, and happiness. And in most of these cases, our governments have constructed, and continue to enforce, laws so that there is no need for ordinary citizens to judge and convict.
ETA, 9:36am: I just realized that I have forgotten the usual header for Reverent Sundays, so I have gone ahead and added that. I will actually be out most of the day, so I will not be able to respond to any more comments until this evening or even tomorrow. Thank you for those who have commented so far!