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.”