Sexuality (and in particular homosexuality, LGBTQI, and same sex marriage (and the Church’s stance(s) on it)) is something I’ve been asked a fair bit about over the years in ministry, and it’s something I’ve given considerable thought and theological reflection to. So, in what will be my final blog series for the Living Room, and my last chance to really engage this topic with you all, I thought I’d speak to it. (and then promptly leave without any consequence, lol – kidding/not kidding but no, it’s not really like that.)
In this blog (series) I will share some of the conclusions I have come to and where I currently sit, but more than that, I want to offer an array of perspectives and arguments within the debate so you can read, share and reflect for yourself, or within a home group, or with other friends, family, etc.
Let’s begin with a question: “Why does it matter if someone is gay?”
[disclaimer – for the most part I’ll probably use the term “gay” to refer to all people with same sex orientation, particularly around the marriage debate, instead of saying gay, or lesbian, or homosexual. I think everyone reading this can appreciate there’s a difference, or at least each label is slightly different, but also that “gay” kinda covers the board. I will also reference the LGBTQI community (which isn’t always a community) and people, which stands for Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer Intersex.]
Traditionally speaking, from a Christian perspective, it would matter that someone was gay because being gay is a sin and sin sends you to hell if you’re not repentant, which would mean to stop being gay.
This particular view started catching flack in the 90s and has gained scrutiny ever since due to the dominant understanding that people are often born gay – that’s the way God made them – and not being gay in defiance of God or as in an act of pagan ritual or idolatry as it is in the Bible. On top of that, the credibility of Christians and doctors who claim to be able to “pray the gay away” or “cure homosexuality” is greatly diminished, if not completely dissipated.
The Church, then, has had to do some considerable thinking, praying, and acting in response to this. Does God make people gay? Does God make people intentionally just to send them to Hell? And if people are born Gay, does that mean that God loves them? Is it okay to be gay if God made you that way? All these types of questions began flooding the Church everywhere, especially in the Western Christian tradition.
I’ll say this much to open:
There are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to human sexuality, and there is no single reason that people are gay. There’s also no conclusive evidence of a “gay gene,” though things get complicated in the womb and again through puberty.
For me, I think there are 3 categories (and some sub categories within each, to be sure) or factors that determine what kind of LGBTQI person one is.
- Born gay: Whether this will ever be scientifically proven in the finding of a gene or something, I don’t know, but I do believe that same sex orientation can form naturally and often totally against the will or desire of the individual. The awareness of ones sexual orientation usually develops during puberty, though it’s not uncommon to feel “different” from a really young age. Two people close to me, I would say that I knew they were gay when we were children.
2. Abuse: Physical and mental abuse can contribute to one’s sexual orientation too. Often, but certainly not always, young men who are sexually molested and abused, for lack of a better phrase, turn gay. Their psychology can be messed with and altered, as can their sexual identity as well. Also, research suggests that straight men who were sexually abused as children by other men may seek gay sexual encounters unconsciously to resolve guilt or shame. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are gay or bi-sexual though. What is does, is thoroughly complicate things more.
A similar thing can be said of lesbian women too, though female-female molestation isn’t nearly as common as male-male. For some lesbian women, their orientation can be linked to rape or sexual abuse from men, thus their trust of men (especially with their bodies) can be hard to have. It’s can be determined that because of instances like these some women can only find peace, love, and comfort in the arms of another woman instead of a man. This is the exact case of a woman I’m very close to.
3. Choice: the third thing is that yes, some people crave the attention that comes with being gay. Some people, especially those without religious conviction that teaches otherwise, may choose to “explore” their sexuality, meaning be open to sexual partners of both sexes (bi-sexual). And sometimes totally straight people may choose to engage in some sort of sexual activity (whether it just be a kiss or something more) with someone of the same sex simply for the attention it gives them.
Of the three, I’d certainly say #3 aligns with the description of homosexual activity in the Bible. I’d say that it’s completely self-seeking and denies the sacred nature of human sexuality. I’d say those who fall into camp 3 are falling into sin.
The other two I think are not as black and white. I am one who finds it hard to justify saying that those who are born or forced into same-sex orientation are intentionally, selfishly, and maliciously defiling the image of God we were made in.
But what do you think?
Does it matter if someone is gay?
Maybe if you’re in a group (or on your own) go back and answer some of those initial questions I raised that the Church had to start wrestling with in the 80s/90s through still to today.