This is a story that is much more multi-layered and complex than any of us might imagine. In day’s past, you might read the headline someone sent me from the San Diego Reader – “In Bold Step Forward, Patrick Henry High School Selects Pretty Lesbian Couple As Homecoming King and Queen” – and simply condemn. . . no questions asked. . . no compassion. I think it’s a good thing that we don’t live (at least most of us don’t) in that kind of world anymore. In the past, you’ve heard me lament the heartless and less-than-God-honoring response to homosexuality that was a part of my high school experience. Sure, it wasn’t extreme, but it was bad enough. I’m not proud of it.
This year, Patrick Henry High’s Homecoming King and Queen – as voted by their peers – are Rebeca Arellano and Haileigh Adams. It’s a first for the high school. It’s also a first as far as anything I’ve ever heard about.
Again, the issues are complex. There’s the issue of homosexuality. There’s the issue of our attitudes towards homosexuality. There’s also the issue of faith. In her acceptance-speech, a cross-wearing Adams was sure to thank Jesus “for making this all possible.” We can also learn a lot from the fact that a student body voted for this.
Perhaps I’m even more concerned about remarks made by Taylor Hunter, a senior at Patrick Henry who was raised in an evangelical Christian home where he was taught that homosexual behavior is wrong. Here’s what the article reports Hunter as saying: “Sometimes you have to stand up for what you believe in, despite what you’ve been told all your life. And I believe in hot lesbians. . . . . I believe that young people are the future, and we have the power to change things for the better. By honoring the beautiful people – whatever their sexual orientation – we can do our part to make the world a more beautiful place. I hope that 2011 will be remembered as the year that teenagers stood up for physical attraction in all its forms.”
Wow! There’s a lot to unpack in that last paragraph. Changing attitudes in our kids, the lack of integration of faith into life, a postmodern ethic, the fruit of a culture obsessed with style and appearance over substance, our sense of what is “better”, issues of the trustworthiness of parental and Biblical authority. All that before we even get to the issue of homosexuality.
I need to think about all of this some more. In the meantime, I decided to revisit some wonderful recommendations from Dennis Hollinger in his book The Meaning of Sex. His words are concise and to the point. Let me pass some on. . . .
“When we look honestly at the teachings of God’s Word, inlcuding those of Jesus, it is evident that Christians and the church cannot legitimize same-sex relations. The paradigm from creation is clear that God created humans in a two-fold way, male and female, and that sexual union is to be a one-flesh relationship between to humans who are not alike in gender. . . .
The church should be unambiguous in articulating God’s design for sexual intimacy: a covenant relationship between a man and a woman. The church actually shows great love and pastoral care though its gracious articulation of God’s designs. We fail the world and struggling individuals when we continually appeal to more dialogue, ambiguity, and merely compassion. . . .
But at the same time we are called to walk and cry with, empathize, forgive, and support those who struggle with homoerotic impulses. We can never apply biblical ethics with cold callousness and harness. We must recall that after discussion homosexuality in Romans 1, Paul gives a list of other sins that we too easily ignore in the church: greed, envy, strife, slander, arrogance, pride, and lack of love and mercy. . . .
What can the church offer pastorally to those struggling with this issue? First, we can offer hope for healing through divine resources and professional counseling. Second, we can offer hope for healing through divine resources and professional counseling. Second, we can offer ongoing empathetic support and accountability for those who find it difficult to change their inward inclinations, but are called to maintain celibacy. Third, we can offer forgiveness when there is failure amidst the struggle, albeit without watering down the ethical norm. And finally the church must rid itself of homophobia, the hatred of gay persons.”
Wow, I’m kind of shocked. I don’t even know what to say as I’m still trying to process all of this, mainly the idea of Christian young people standing up for it!
According to Dennis Hollinger,
“When we look honestly at the teachings of God’s Word, including those of Jesus, it is evident that Christians and the church cannot legitimize same-sex relations.”
Can anyone PLEASE note the biblical passages where Jesus clearly condemns homosexuality as clearly AND often, as he condemns the rich and divorcees remarrying, consequently committing adultery?
Does this purported condemnation of homosexuals damn them to hell as Jesus damns the rich to hell?
And what about Jesus’ copious, direct, unequivocal, caustic condemnation of divorcees remarrying, thus committing adultery?
Why the overwhelming time, effort, and money spent on condemnation of homosexuality to our young people, but not on Jesus’ teaching on wealth and divorce? Could it be that so many of our church members are rich and/or divorced?
And we wonder why we’re called hypocrites.
I’m not sure of the point that you are making. Sin has detrimental impact…to the point of condemning al to Hell, whether it is the love of money or sexual perversion. There is nothing inherently wrong with wealth (i.e Job, Solomon, Joseph of Arimethea). Rather, the love of possessions or wealth is the sin. You imply that homosexual behavior is not as sinful as wealth and/or divorce and remarriage. Scripture is clear on these teachings. Paul’s words are just as inspired from God as the Words of Jesus.
All of Scripture is revealed truth from God, so emphasizing just the Words of Jesus does not take into account the full counsel of Scripture. God’s Word is abundantly clear on the sin of adultery, which includes both homesexual and heterosexual relations.
You are correct in the imbalance of the homosexual condemnation in the life of the church. But, that does not negate the statement by Dennis Hollinger, which is biblically true.
Futhermore, I make an anecdotal comment that I believe could be proven: There is more money, time, and effort spent by evangelical churches, denominations, and groups on restoring marriages, and promoting biblical manhood and womanhood than on condemning a homosexual lifestyle.
I’d personally love an answer to Jim/Diane’s question: “Can anyone PLEASE note the biblical passages where Jesus clearly condemns homosexuality as clearly AND often, as he condemns the rich and divorcees remarrying, consequently committing adultery?”
We hear so many conservative Christians shouting about legalizing same sex marriage, but not such shouts to make divorce illegal or adultery punishable. Why the silence? If you take the texts so literally and seriously, how many of you have sold all you have and given it to the poor?
That question assumes that the number of times the Lord says something breaks God’s law implies it is more serious to Him than something we read about only once or twice. Sin is sin. All sin and every sin is against God. God has no measuring stick saying, “well, I told time and again I didn’t like this behavior so your judgment will be harsh because I really emphasized that – you should have known better – while this other sin, well, I really only told you my expectations once, so I guess we’ll let this one slide.” In fact, what Jesus said in Matthew is “For out of the HEART come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man ‘unclean’; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘unclean.’” (Matt 15:19-20) Jesus said even our thoughts are evil. And He knew, He took on every single one of those sins and received judgment for them. Jesus knows how seriously God takes every sin. That being said, I’m amazed at how the church emphasizes homosexuality most other sins. Like it has a special class of sinfulness. Sin is sin. Someone involved in homosexual sex is committing the same sin as someone involved in heterosexual sex outside of marriage. Jesus quoted God in Matthew 19:4-6,8 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no man separate…Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.” Here is where Jesus has defined God’s purpose for sex and marriage (and, yes, even divorce – divorce is acceptable in certain cases – Jesus defines that too – it was written into the law to protect the wives of men who would otherwise abandon their wives for another). Malachi 2:15 says “Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring…” God had a plan from the beginning. Sin brought chaos and confusion to that plan. Our purpose as Christians should not be to single out the “really bad” sins (Jesus spent most of his time condemning the religious for doing just that) but not to condone sin either. We just have to be honest about sin – God has spoken so we know what offends Him so that we know we need forgiveness and in so knowing, we find out that He even provides that for us through Jesus Christ! I’m actually amazed at how little self-control we expect of homosexual people. Like, because they’re homosexual they MUST fulfill that desire for sex. How insulting! The homosexual believer is called to live the same kind of life as the heterosexual non-married believer – sex-free, porn-free. Are the desires for sex still there? Of course! But we take those to our Father and acknowledge, I have un-fulfilled desires, I wish I could fulfill them, but I chose You, Lord, over sensual pleasure because I trust You are good and have set these restrictions for my own good and the good of others.
HAL, thanks for your well- intentioned response. From your comment it appears that I failed miserably in expressing myself. Let me try again. I will respond to each of your statements in chronological order.
“I’m not sure of the point you are making.”
I have four questions in my above comment that I seek answers to. Therefore, my “point” is what are the answers to those questions?
“There is nothing inherently wrong with wealth (i.e Job, Solomon, Joseph of Arimethea). Rather, the love of possessions or wealth is the sin”
Here I’m not sure if you are serious or just being facetious. Let’s presume you are serious. The ONLY instruction in the entire Bible, that Jesus spoke of identically on three different occasions – Matthew 19:4, Mark 10:25, Luke 18:25, is,
”And again I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”
Please reread that quote Hal, and realize that it absolutely does not say, “…than for a rich man who ‘loves his wealth’ to enter the kingdom of God.” Jesus’ words here have absolutely nothing to do with love of wealth but everything to do with its obscene accumulation while others live in indescribable horrific conditions. If you are serious the only thing I can conclude is that you are one of those “rich men” who finds justification with hoarding your wealth because you are not “in love” with it.
“ Paul’s words are just as inspired from God as the Words of Jesus.”
Oh really? Do you realize Hal who it was that said that God inspired Paul’s words? Paul did. Ted Haggard, Ken Copeland, Peter Popoff, Harold Camping and numerous other “chosen” preaches have also made that statement. A little self-serving going on here perhaps? If I say that my words are inspired by God, how does that differ from Paul stating that his words were inspired by God?
Additionally, in Corinthians 7:1,7 Paul says, “ …it is good for a man not to touch a woman…but if they cannot contain themselves, let them marry…” Hal don’t you find this a little contradictory to God advising, “Go forth and multiply?” Do you really think Paul’s words here were inspired from God?
In Romans 1:30-32, Paul says,
“Backbiters… proud boasters… those disobedient to their parents…they which commit such things are worthy of death…”
What if the backbiting occurs in the throes of sexual passion, does that count? Also, I would NEVER, EVER, believe that my children were worthy of death when they disobeyed me. Do really believe that Hal? Do you really think Paul’s words were inspired from God?
“…that does not negate the statement by Dennis Hollinger, which is biblically true.”(“When we look honestly at the teachings of God’s Word, including those of Jesus, it is evident that Christians and the church cannot legitimize same-sex relations.” )
AGAIN, as I ask in my very first question, “Can anyone PLEASE note the biblical passages where Jesus clearly condemns homosexuality?” NO ONE has ever been able to find such a statement, not even Dennis Hollinger.
”There is more money, time, and effort spent by evangelical churches, denominations, and groups on restoring marriages, and promoting biblical manhood and womanhood than on condemning a homosexual lifestyle.”
“Promoting manhood and womanhood?” This is TOTALLY irrelevant to the question I asked, which was,
“Why the overwhelming time, effort, and money spent on condemnation of homosexuality to our young people, but not on Jesus’ teaching on WEALTH and DIVORCE?”, which Jesus emphasizes on numerous occasions.
I sincerely hope this helps you to better understand my first comment Hal.
Bravo Brian and the Rhuelings !
Yes Brian I would also like an answer to that question, but we’ll never get one. Fundamentalists always deflect Biblical criticism away from their wealth and adultery (divorcees remarrying.), towards gays and others not like them. It is so unfortunate that fundies have taken over the Christian Church. My friends use the terms “fundies” and the “The Haters” synonymously. They are so influential that they even have gay haters running for President – Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, and possibly Sarah Palin.
Also Brian, you will never hear a fundie pastor preach to his front row pew sitting wealthy contributors that Christ has warned them, with utmost certainty that they are going to Hell. Nor will you ever hear that those who have remarried are violating the Commandment, Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery. What fundie preacher would ever preach Jesus’ teachings on wealth and sinful remarrying when it would affect the weight of the offering plates?
Yes PB you are correct, there is one exception allowing divorce, which is in cases of a spouse fornicating. Such an extremely important word yet the Bible NEVER even defines it. In this case of allowing divorce the spouse though can never remarry. One must spend the rest of their life in cold personal isolation without any sharing of intimacy. Since the Bible ONLY allows divorce on fornicative grounds, the wife who is subjected to daily physical, mental, and emotional abuse, must endure this cruel and unbearable life until the day she dies. But if the husband fornicates she can divorce. Can anyone say “sickening?”
My brother who just showed me this post has told me that this site is not the usual fundie site. People here do not hate gays, they only hate and condemn their behavior. Give me a break. If you condemn my behavior you are condemning me. I engage in a loving, cherished, monogamous, life-sharing and enjoyable relationship, no different than that enjoyed by heterosexual couples. How can you possibly be so cold and heartless to try to legally stop me from enjoying the same life-enriching gift that you can enjoy? How would you like it if gays poured millions of dollars into trying to make it illegal for heterosexuals to marry?
That is truly a sad commentary Gail, showing that all the gay bashing presidential candidates are Christian Republicans, but you forgot the biggest gay bashing Christian Republican presidential contender – Pennsylvania’s own former Republican Senator Rick Santorum.
Unfortunately the gay bashers have definitely taken over the Republican Party and are the prominent speakers for Christian Fundamentalists.
The further these comments go from Walt’s original post the more we forget what he was saying.
Truly the God we serve (if we indeed serve Him) is a God of love.
I do think you can condemn a behavior without condemning the person. Jesus showed us how to do this with the woman caught in adultery and the woman at the well (both struggling with their sexuality). He said to the one “…neither do I condemn you, go now and leave your life of sin…” He condemned her behavior, but he loved her (he just saved her life!). I see this with my kids, too. They are naughty sometimes but I never stop loving them. I can condemn their behavior and discipline them, but I still love them. I can say that shoplifting is wrong without hating the shoplifter. Remember Les Miserables? It’s all about grace! The greatest commandment is to love God with everything we have and to love others as we love ourselves. But how do I love myself? There are times when I don’t like myself, but I always want what is best for me. C.S. Lewis taught me that… So that is how we can love others- we desire what is best for them and act out of that love. So the question is: What is best?
EXCELLENT POST! You are absolutely right about being able to condemn people’s behavior without condemning the individual. You also gave a most pertinent example.
Not to speak for Gail, but from what I have seen and heard from so many Evangelical preachers is that their condemnation is so severe that it is easily interpreted as hatred for the individual, and in some cases may very well be. Walt’s loving and caring concern shown toward gays, is definitely NOT what most gays experience.
NIV I Corinthians 6:9-10
Do you not know the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God. Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor theives nor the greedy nor drunkards or slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
REPLY TO ANONYMOUS
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
ANON, who you gonna believe – Paul or Jesus? Pick one. I pick Jesus.
Also I must ask, why do female prostitutes get a free pass? That’s not fair!
You also may what to inform the millions of divorced and remarried devout Christians (adulterers) that they are going to Hell. Happen to know any of these people? If so, wouldn’t it be the right thing to do by informing them of it?
“ When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. He answered, Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”
Whenever I hear Jesus words to the woman caught in adultery, “Go and don’t sin again,” (John 8) in these discussions, I wonder if anyone besides me ever wonders if Jesus concern wasn’t the sin at all but rather the effect of the sin in her life. As I know Jesus in my life, the words sound more like, “Daughter, go and stop this life. Look where it brought you.” To me this gentle voice is very different than
the finger shaking, “Go and sin no more” which I usually hear from folks. “Neither do I condemn you…” Hmmmm… not sure I’m being very clear. What do you think?
I read the quote that a student hopes “2011 will be remembered as the year that teenagers stood up for physical attraction in all its forms.” Reading it today, in light of the ongoing Penn State issues reminds us of the dangers of “all the forms” of physical attraction. We are in serious trouble if we buy the lie that sex is ok with someone, because there is an attraction.