Wednesday, August 01, 2012

A Better Conversation

I have debated for at least 20 minutes about whether to post this article on Facebook, and my concession is to blog about it. I needed a bit more space to qualify my intentions than Facebook would allow.

Because I am trying, for my part, to stay in the basement. Because on this day of supporting or not supporting Chick-fil-A, I am not trying to make a statement. I am not seeking approval or judgment for what I do or don't believe. I am not standing up for one camp or another. I am not opening up a debate. I am simply sharing an article that I found interesting and thought-provoking. And it is increasingly difficult to share thoughts that people disagree with and not instigate a shouting match.

Please, no shouting matches.

So, disclaimers having been made, I found this article from Christianity Today to be worth a read:

A Better Conversation About Homosexuality: Three recent books expose the cultural captivity of the Church to Western ideas about sexuality.

It's long, but don't let that deter you. Highlights include:

"Keeping with the church’s traditional consensus on the sin of homosexuality, Paris, O’Donovan, and Hill view the moral status of homosexuality as important but not all-important."

"Wedge politics infects American public life—the church is no exception. Every issue becomes polarized, eliciting support or opposition. But when it comes to something as complex and mysterious as the sexual lives of human beings, is it even “sensible, humanizing, and holy” to say we are for or against homosexuality?"

"What we desire or do sexually is not who we are."

“When it comes to sex,” Paris claims, “there is no privileged, holy ‘we’ and no sinful, troubled ‘them’; there’s only us, each of whom finds both virtue and vice in sexuality.”

"Hers is a prophetic call for the church to get over its heterosexist moral superiority and get on with its business of shepherding all persons toward sexual holiness."


andreajennine said...

Thanks for pointing to both of those articles. I appreciated each of them. (Random note: Mr. Hill is a fellow Wheaton alum; we were there at the same time, though I didn't know him.)

I agree that we've gotten too caught up in making sexuality into THE defining trait of identity. But the CT review made me wonder: it's all well and good for the church to stop classifying people by their sexuality (and I do mean that), but then what happens when we encounter a person who very much bases his/her identity on sexuality? I mean, it seems just as offensive to tell someone, "Hey, I know you identify yourself as GLBT, but I think sexual identity is just a modern construct, so I refuse to identify you that way." (And I say this as someone who has gay friends and relatives.) I guess what I'm saying is that I want the church to stop acting like homosexuality is a worse sin than any other (like pride, anger, etc.) and to stop defining people by that one temptation, but I also wonder how well that would really be received. Does that make sense? I'm having a hard time wording my thoughts without making it sound like an "us/them" issue.

It all makes me think of a recent question Aaron (mine, not yours!) asked in regard to my mom, who has a number of addictions: "What would it look like for her to be saved?" Namely, would trusting in Jesus automatically free her from all of her addictions? Possibly, but I think it might also just look like her saying, "I do what I don't want to do (a la Romans 7). I don't want to sin anymore, but I still do." It would look like resisting temptation, instead of passively giving in, but also not being condemned when the presence of sin remains in her life. And as someone who loves her, I would (do!) want her to be free of her addictions, but I'd also just want to keep pointing her to Jesus, who offers more grace to his sheep who stray.

And now this comment is far too long, so I'll end where I began. Thanks for sharing and for encouraging me and others to think.

Amy said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Andrea!

While I love the shifts in perspective that this article proposes, and I agree completely with you about not elevating (or negating) any sin over another, I also agree that the article (I don’t know about the books) doesn’t address how to move this conversation out of the church into the world at large. Of course, I guess the first hurdle is actually having these conversations within the church.

I think a shift in perspective can help the church in moving forward, speaking the truth *in love* (I think the love part has often gone by the wayside). That’s a delicate balance, and I think it’s one that’s best done on a personal level, not on a cultural or political level—not en masse. I think that’s where the church has gone awry. We’ve become embroiled in the culture wars, speaking in generalities to hypothetical groups of people, and that has contributed to the us/them mentality. We’ve also, on the whole, become very defensive about “our rights,” and I’m not sure that is biblical. To my mind, it’s a very Americanized way of thinking about Christianity.

There will always be the sticking point of “the church’s traditional consensus on the sin of homosexuality.” And while the LGBT community as a whole is not receptive to that, and often views that statement as hateful, I tend to think that there could be actual conversation on this matter if there were personal relationships to back it up. There’s a lot more to say on this, and these are incomplete thoughts on a very complex topic. I just think the church can do a much, much better job than we have done in this area.

All that to say, I like the example of your mom. You are in a place to speak to your mom (as the Lord leads) about all of these things—redemption, salvation, addiction—because you know her and are in her life. You love her. What you say about these things will carry far more weight with her because she can see how your life backs up your faith. If I were to attack these issues with her, it would be just that—more of an attack.

I don’t know how all of this happens, though. I don’t know how to move into conversation about these things in the current climate. And I don’t know how to move beyond conversation to action. This blog is just an attempt to begin to move in that direction.