You Can Lead a Christian to Knowledge But You Can’t Make Him ThinkMarch 10, 2008
This week, I am having two separate discussions with individuals about the gay issue as it pertains to christians. I’m using much of the same information in both conversations, but the reactions have been very different from each of these people.
I mentioned in a previous post that some people from my church were struggling with seeing me and my partner attending worship services together. I decided that I would meet with those people individually, and so I am fresh from a meeting with one woman that I’ll simply call “C” as I don’t want to name her publicly.
What a wonderful time we had! We met at a new coffee house, exchanged some pleasantries, and then I asked “well, C, what happened?” C told me that at the end of an elder’s meeting she brought up a situation in which another member of the church asked her about the new choir member, my partner, and she wasn’t sure how to respond. Sure wasn’t quite sure how much information to give, and because of her beliefs about the gay issue, she wanted guidance from her fellow elders as to a proper response. For C, this was the extent of her struggle. From there, what appears to have been a small matter became larger, for both of us, creating discord in both of our houses, until it was necessary for us to talk this thing out with each other.
Our conversation lasted 90 minutes. We talked of our children, our dreams, our experiences in our relationships and marriages. We spoke of things we had in common, things that were so very different. When she talked about my lifestyle choices, I asked her to refrain from using those terms as they were offensive to me. I explained how they imply that lgbt people choose to be as they are, which is just not true. That lead us to a discussion of all the major medical and psychological organizations that have declared sexual orientation to be natural, unchangeable, and not a mental illness. Throughout the entire conversation we were able to laugh and honor each other. It was the best conversation I’d ever had with someone who holds an entirely different opinion than that of my own.
There were some tense moments. At one point, she brought out the slippery slope argument. She is afraid that if we “allow” homosexuals to say that they are “naturally” attracted to people of the same gender, that people would then claim that they are “naturally” attracted to children. I stopped her, and asked her if children could consent to that kind of activity. C’s response was telling to me: molesters could claim that! I agreed that they could, but, I pressed on, “can children consent to that kind of relationship?” to which she had to admit they could not. I asked her to stop comparing my relationship to that of a child molester. It could not be part of this conversation, as it was offensive to me.
We were both aware of the time and of the weather, which seemed only to get worse as we sat drinking our coffee and talking on about our beliefs. We countered each other’s statements with valid points, and requests for more examination, and eventually decided that we needed to move on to our respective plans for the evening. I asked C to continue studying the information I had given her. She promised she would. As we left the coffee house, I gave C a hug and responded to her “God Bless You” with the same reply. I decided in that moment to give her what we all wish to hear: “I love you”, and was pleased to receive that same blessing from C.
The second conversation takes place in the blogoshpere. Q is a guy who is a christian and is struggling with his orientation. I caught a post in the tag surfer and decided to comment. Q has a male friend who is gay, christian, and has come to accept his orientation. That friend has moved on and taken a boyfriend. Q was lamenting the fact that the boyfriend is a guy that Q would have loved to be in love with. Q seems to be spinning his wheels, waiting for God to send an angel with word from on high as to how he should live his life.
My comment included some of my own story of being gay and christian, a link to some good theological study, and an invitation to read more here at my blog. The response from Q was more internalized homophobia, and that while being gay is not a choice, Q thought it was the result of living in an imperfect, or fallen world. He dismissed my advice by stating “but for now I haven’t heard it from the Spirit, so I’m having to just say no to man dating.”
So I simplified it; I explained how the Bible has only 6 verses that can be interpreted to same-sex behavior, and that when studied in depth, those verses can not be applied to homosexual orientation as we understand it today. I asked if a loving God would create a class of people with an attraction for persons of the same sex, then not only forbid them from acting on that attraction, but hold them responsible for behaving according to the nature God placed within them.
Evidently Q’s answer is yes, God would do that. The evidence comes in his statement “sucks for me.” I brought this up in the soulforce forums, and some of my friends there went to Q’s blog and joined in the conversation. Q’s response to this was another blog entry in which he declares it’s useless for us to “puncture his beliefs” with our list of counterpoints. Q lives his life according to his relationship with Christ. He’s waiting for a word from the Spirit about the stuff he’s struggling with, and until then the best thing we can do for him is pray for him.
Q wants it to drop out of the sky without him ever investing time, study, thought, or even much of himself into the process. The words of those who have been there, and those who have experience in counselling mean nothing to Q. He doesn’t want to examine his own beliefs, he simply expects a miraculous bit of information to pop into his head.
Let’s go back to C for a moment. I emailed her to thank her for meeting me and having our conversation. She told me that she had spent a restless night, got up early and studied the scriptures. C said she was drawn to 1 Timothy and 1 Corinthians 6, two of the verses that appear to condemn homosexuals. Her conclusion was that God was telling her she shouldn’t change her beliefs. I mentioned that perhaps God was asking her to study those passages more deeply. I asked her to pay attention to the Greek words arsenokoitai and malakoi.
I am struck by something common my experiences with C and Q. It is the willingness of both of them to dismiss the power of our intellect to help us understand scripture and the world around us. Q even told me that her mind was telling her that everything I said in our conversation was right, but that because it was her “human nature” that controlled her thoughts, she could not make that leap to change her beliefs. Q is basically saying the same thing: don’t confuse me with scientific facts, and logical conclusions based on a sound interpretation of scripture; I need to hear from God.
I thought that humans are “fearfully and wonderfully made” and that we are made in God’s image. That seems to me, as humans, we have the potential to be high quality products, and as such, at least some of what we learn about the creation in which we find ourselves has got to be of some significant quality as well. You can bring people to the fountain of knowledge, you just can’t make them take a sip.