Learning my lines . . .
. . . discovering what it means to follow Jesus, seeing my story swept up into his . . .

Wrestling With Homosexuality. . . .

Several years ago I had a conversation with a close Christian friend who said he had something to tell me. It was a different time – a markedly different time – when he opened and poured out his heart with these words: “I want you to know that I wrestle with homosexuality.” His intent was to confess something extremely personal to a close brother. I was one of many friends with whom he had this same conversation.

That conversation – and some others much like it – started me on a journey of wrestling with homosexuality. I confess that the journey has continued on for me for just about thirty years. I don’t want my wrestling match to end. It’s not time for it to end. I have not yet gotten to the point where I can with confidence say that I have fully reconciled how to respond to homosexuals and emerging cultural attitudes in ways that reflect a deep commitment to God’s will and way (as revealed in the Scriptures) in regards to a theology of homosexuality, coupled with a God-glorifying response to the homosexual. In other words, how can I be true to the Scriptures and remain faithful to God in my understanding of and attitudes about homosexual behavior, and how can I be true to the Scripture and remain faithful to God in my attitudes toward, behavior toward, and interactions with those who identify themselves as homosexuals?


It was this ongoing wrestling match that caused my eyes to stop when they spotted a recent edition of “Christian Research Journal” on the shelves at Barnes & Noble. The cover photo and article caught my attention: “GAY TEENS – BULLYING – SUICIDE – Are Preachers to Blame?” Joe Dallas begins his piece with a rundown of high profile suicides that took place over the course of three months about a year ago. In each case, bullying was cited as a precursor to the self-inflicted death of the homosexual victim. Dallas says that “the outpouring of national grief that followed was predictable and right. . . outrage was called for, and disgust over bullying was expressed far and wide.”

Dallas goes on to say that Christians and non-Christians alike seek answers to a host of questions, most important of which is “how do we prevent more of the same?” I agree. These stories should break our hearts. Sadly, there are many in our culture – some who call themselves “Christians” – who take a “He-she deserved it” and “let them die!” approach. Equally sad is that people who take this reprehensible and anti-Christian approach usually get the most press, leaving those of us who struggle to form a Christ-honoring response largely unnoticed. Maybe that’s why Kathy Griffin and others cited by Joe Dallas speak out to say that anybody who says that homosexuality is wrong or immoral have the blood of these suicide victims on their hands.

I would in no way argue that Joe Dallas’s article offers a complete perspective. I don’t believe he would either. But he does say that for those of us who hold to a biblically informed worldview (those who believe that homosexuality – like many, many other things – falls short of the Creator’s design) face the challenge “to not only maintain and promote a Scriptural position on human sexuality, but also to defend that position against charges that it is inherently destructive. This we can do through rebuttal, reflection, and resolve.”

I won’t work through Dallas’s rebuttal to the slippery-slope arguments put forth by people like Kathy Griffin here – you should read the article for yourself. But what I will pass on is what Dallas says about things that should be part of our own wrestling match with issues of homosexuality. . . or any other sin/sinner issues that we choose to publicly address. He writes, “Granted, the evidence backing charges made by Sykes and Griffin is lacking, and when the church is accused of complicity in these awful suicides, the burden of proof isn’t being met. But we cannot with integrity absolve ourselves of any unfair or unkind attitudes toward homosexuals, and here some serious reflection is called for.” Yep. . . we need to wrestle with this stuff.

And so as you wrestle. . . consider these sentences from Joe Dallas at the conclusion of his article: “We can know the Word of God, seek the Heart of God, and express both the Word and Heart of God to the homosexual. If we resolve to do this, diligently and consistently, we cannot fail.”

I am fully aware that these issues run deep and wide in our culture. They are complex, difficult, and not easy. And if we hope to truly reflect Christ and honor and glorify God through what we speak, teach, and do, we’d better be tending not only to specks, but to logs.

7 Responses

  1. Hi Walt, once again thank you so much for allowing us to present our point of view, even though it totally disagrees with your interpretation of the scriptures on the subject of homosexuality.

    Homosexuality is condemned to such a deplorable hateful extreme by so many Christian fundamentalist preachers that yes, as Kathy Griffin says, they certainly do have the blood of gay suicides on their hands. Those preachers that idly stand by and do not strongly condemn these hatemongering preachers are also complicit. Their silence exhibits tacit approval.
    .

    For anyone interested in reading a presentation showing how condemnation of homosexuality cannot be validly based upon scripture, please read my comments on Walt’s post of Feb.11, 2011.

  2. My “wrestling match” began over 30 years ago when my brother revealed his homosexuality to me, fearing what my response would be. For my part, I have always spoken up when I’ve been around Christian “gay-bashing.” My hope and prayer is that, because of my loving witness, my brother will also speak up when his gay friends are “Christian-bashing.” God is big enough to reach the heart of any of us sinners, and “He who began a good work in you will finish it to the day of Christ Jesus.”

  3. Sue, you write,

    “I have always spoken up when I’ve been around Christian ‘gay-bashing’. My hope and prayer is that…my (gay) brother will also speak up when his gay friends are ‘Christian-bashing’”.

    Your comment Sue is certainly well intentioned, genuine, and heartfelt, but not at all an accurate comparison. In the following I will connote “bashing” as verbal condemnation, and not having anything to do with a physical altercation. However, be cognizant of the fact that there is not one documented case of gays physically attacking people solely due to their Christian belief, but there are literally thousands upon thousands of people physically bashing and killing gays for the sole reason of them being gay. In these thousands I am quite sure that some of them base their attacks on Christian teaching, such as Leviticus 20:13 (KJV), “Homosexuals are surely worthy of death”.

    Sue, you cannot validly equate “Christian-bashing”, as morally equivalent to “gay-bashing”. That’s not the case. Christian-bashing by gays, is done against Evangelical Christian Fundamentalists who have classified gays as vile, contemptible, repulsive, reprehensible, and “worthy of death”. The bashing is against the Evangelical Christian Fundamentalist’s ignorance, bigotry, hatred, physical attacks, and killings. This bashing is also directed towards those Christians who might not feel any hatred toward gays, but consistently fail to condemn the venom spewed against them (see Germany 1939 – 1945).

    The Evangelical Christian Fundamentalist gay-bashers strongly lobby against gays having the same civil rights as they themselves enjoy. Let me repeat that. The Evangelical Christian Fundamentalist gay-bashers strongly lobby against gays having the same civil rights as they themselves enjoy. Evangelical Christian Fundamentalists lobby against a loving gay couple being able to adopt a love and affection needy orphan. Evangelical Christian Fundamentalists lobby against gays being allowed to be schoolteachers, pastors, scout leaders, soldiers and more. Evangelical Christian Fundamentalists refuse to formally allow the love gays have for one another to be formally recognized in a CIVIL marriage. Evangelical Christian Fundamentalists want to make it illegal for consenting gays to express their sexuality in the privacy of their own home. Need I go on?

    Now, for what reason(s) do you see Evangelical Christian Fundamentalists as having a right to bash gays? You see, there is absolutely no “right to bash” equivalency that can be drawn between the two bashing groups.

    I think gays not only have a right to bash “Evangelical Christian Fundamentalist gay- bashers”, but also a God-honoring duty to do so.

    Let me ask you, do you also see women rape victims fighting back, resisting and condemning their rapists, as “rapist-bashing”?

  4. Jonathan Dudley, Special to CNN says,

    “Growing up in the evangelical community, I learned the Bible’s stance on homosexuality is clear-cut. God condemns it, I was taught, and those who disagree just haven’t read their Bibles closely enough.

    Having recently graduated from Yale Divinity School, I can say that my childhood community’s approach to gay rights—though well intentioned—is riddled with self-serving double standards.

    I don’t doubt that the one New Testament author who wrote on the subject of male-male intercourse thought it a sin. In Romans 1, the only passage in the Bible where a reason is explicitly given for opposing same-sex relations, the Apostle Paul calls them “unnatural.”

    Problem is, Paul’s only other moral argument from nature is the following: “Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair, it is degrading to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory?” (1 Corinthians 11:14-15).

    Few Christians would answer that question with a “yes.”

    In short, Paul objects to two things as unnatural: one is male-male sex and the other is long hair on men and short hair on women. The community opposed to gay marriage takes one condemnation as timeless and universal and the other as culturally relative.

    I also don’t doubt that those who advocate gay marriage are advocating a revision of the Christian tradition.

    But the community opposed to gay marriage has itself revised the Christian tradition in a host of ways. For the first 1500 years of Christianity, for example, marriage was deemed morally inferior to celibacy. When a theologian named Jovinian challenged that hierarchy in 390 A.D. — merely by suggesting that marriage and celibacy might be equally worthwhile endeavors — he was deemed a heretic and excommunicated from the church.
    How does that sit with “family values” activism today?

    Yale New Testament professor Dale B. Martin has noted that today’s “pro-family” activism, despite its pretense to be representing traditional Christian values, would have been considered “heresy” for most of the church’s history.

    The community opposed to gay marriage has also departed from the Christian tradition on another issue at the heart of its social agenda: abortion.

    Unbeknownst to most lay Christians, the vast majority of Christian theologians and saints throughout history have not believed life begins at conception.

    Although he admitted some uncertainty on the matter, the hugely influential 4th and 5th century Christian thinker Saint Augustine wrote, “it could not be said that there was a living soul in [a] body” if it is “not yet endowed with senses.”

    Thomas Aquinas, a Catholic saint and a giant of mediaeval theology, argued: “before the body has organs in any way whatever, it cannot be receptive of the soul.”

    American evangelicals, meanwhile, widely opposed the idea that life begins at conception until the 1970s, with some even advocating looser abortion laws based on their reading of the Bible before then.

    It won’t do to oppose gay marriage because it’s not traditional while advocating other positions that are not traditional.

    And then there’s the topic of divorce. Although there is only one uncontested reference to same-sex relations in the New Testament, divorce is condemned throughout, both by Jesus and Paul. To quote Jesus from the Gospel of Mark: “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery.”

    A possible exception is made only for unfaithfulness.

    The community most opposed to gay marriage usually reads these condemnations very leniently. A 2007 issue of Christianity Today, for example, featured a story on its cover about divorce that concluded that Christians should permit divorce for “adultery,” “emotional and physical neglect” and “abandonment and abuse.”

    The author emphasizes how impractical it would be to apply a strict interpretation of Jesus on this matter: “It is difficult to believe the Bible can be as impractical as this interpretation implies.”

    Indeed it is.”

  5. MY COMMENT – Evangelical Christian Fundamentalists (ECF) have no logical refutative argument.

    Considering the lack of such, ECF’s continued strong condemnation of homosexuality is an appalling abominable act, especially when the devastating consequences of homosexuality condemnation are known.

    Jonathan Dudley’s arguments are the epitome of “going deep” on this subject.

    With all due respect Walt, compare his defense of homosexuality with your condemnation of it in your comment on the Feb. 11, 2011 post.

  6. Walt, you failed to publish the article from Jonathan Dudley that I was commenting on, consequently my above published comment makes no sense.

    I submitted Jonathan Dudley’s article immediately prior to my comment.

    I will resubmit it and please place it above my comment for proper continuity. Thanks.

  7. Jonathan Dudley, Special to CNN says,

    “Growing up in the evangelical community, I learned the Bible’s stance on homosexuality is clear-cut. God condemns it, I was taught, and those who disagree just haven’t read their Bibles closely enough.

    Having recently graduated from Yale Divinity School, I can say that my childhood community’s approach to gay rights—though well intentioned—is riddled with self-serving double standards.

    I don’t doubt that the one New Testament author who wrote on the subject of male-male intercourse thought it a sin. In Romans 1, the only passage in the Bible where a reason is explicitly given for opposing same-sex relations, the Apostle Paul calls them “unnatural.”

    Problem is, Paul’s only other moral argument from nature is the following: “Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair, it is degrading to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory?” (1 Corinthians 11:14-15).

    Few Christians would answer that question with a “yes.”

    In short, Paul objects to two things as unnatural: one is male-male sex and the other is long hair on men and short hair on women. The community opposed to gay marriage takes one condemnation as timeless and universal and the other as culturally relative.

    I also don’t doubt that those who advocate gay marriage are advocating a revision of the Christian tradition.

    But the community opposed to gay marriage has itself revised the Christian tradition in a host of ways. For the first 1500 years of Christianity, for example, marriage was deemed morally inferior to celibacy. When a theologian named Jovinian challenged that hierarchy in 390 A.D. — merely by suggesting that marriage and celibacy might be equally worthwhile endeavors — he was deemed a heretic and excommunicated from the church.
    How does that sit with “family values” activism today?

    Yale New Testament professor Dale B. Martin has noted that today’s “pro-family” activism, despite its pretense to be representing traditional Christian values, would have been considered “heresy” for most of the church’s history.

    The community opposed to gay marriage has also departed from the Christian tradition on another issue at the heart of its social agenda: abortion.

    Unbeknownst to most lay Christians, the vast majority of Christian theologians and saints throughout history have not believed life begins at conception.

    Although he admitted some uncertainty on the matter, the hugely influential 4th and 5th century Christian thinker Saint Augustine wrote, “it could not be said that there was a living soul in [a] body” if it is “not yet endowed with senses.”

    Thomas Aquinas, a Catholic saint and a giant of medieval theology, argued: “before the body has organs in any way whatever, it cannot be receptive of the soul.”

    American evangelicals, meanwhile, widely opposed the idea that life begins at conception until the 1970s, with some even advocating looser abortion laws based on their reading of the Bible before then.

    It won’t do to oppose gay marriage because it’s not traditional while advocating other positions that are not traditional.

    And then there’s the topic of divorce. Although there is only one uncontested reference to same-sex relations in the New Testament, divorce is condemned throughout, both by Jesus and Paul. To quote Jesus from the Gospel of Mark: “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery.”

    A possible exception is made only for unfaithfulness.

    The community most opposed to gay marriage usually reads these condemnations very leniently. A 2007 issue of Christianity Today, for example, featured a story on its cover about divorce that concluded that Christians should permit divorce for “adultery,” “emotional and physical neglect” and “abandonment and abuse.”

    The author emphasizes how impractical it would be to apply a strict interpretation of Jesus on this matter: “It is difficult to believe the Bible can be as impractical as this interpretation implies.”

    Indeed it is.

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