Conversations, emails, interactions over past blog posts, and some very targeted reading all combined over the weekend to increase a sense of personal interest, urgency, and deep need that I didn’t imagine could intensify beyond the level it had already reached by the end of last week. I know I’m not alone in this.
The dialogue over the issue of homosexuality, same-sex attraction, and gay marriage is intensifying. Whether we know it or not, all of us already believe something on this. We come down somewhere. And whether we have consciously or unconsciously come to our conclusions, the time has arrived where we will need to address these issues with depth and integrity as we discuss them amongst ourselves, with the homosexuals we know and those we know that we don’t know that we know, with a watching culture, and with the kids we know and love. Failure to study, pray, think deeply, and discuss through these issues will be failure. . . plain and simple.
As I continue to pursue those tasks I do so knowing that I have to start somewhere. The foundation. . . the starting point for me. . . is on the will of God as revealed in the Scriptures. This is the foundation on which I’ve built my entire Christian life. It is a foundation dependent on God, not on me. It’s my desire to faithfully look at all of culture and life through the lens of Scripture, rather than looking at Scripture through the lens of my culture and life. It is my hope and prayer that I would faithfully pursue this task along with the great cloud of witnesses and community of faith – both living and dead – who have built their lives on the foundation of historical, orthodox Christianity. I humbly say these things because I’m afraid that the current cultural climate can too easily steer the ship of our faith in directions that are not faithful to that foundation. Instead of conforming our lives to God’s will and way, we too easily conform God’s will and way to our lives. I want to know what to believe and how to live to the glory of God. I can’t jettison this foundation and these commitments because it’s culturally convenient. I can’t.
And so I continued in my quest to read about homosexuality and the Christian. I devoured a short yet profound book by Wesley Hill, Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality. Wes Hill is a young thirty-something scholar who is passionate about his faith. . . the historical and orthodox Christian faith. Wes Hill thinks deeply and with theological intentionality. He is passionate about the foundation, even though that foundation doesn’t mesh with cultural norms regarding how to best live out what he feels every minute of every day. You see, Wes Hill is also gay, a reality that he describes as “a steady, strong, unremitting, exclusive sexual attraction to persons of the same sex.” As he has struggled with the sexual realities of his life, he has also struggled to live faithfully as a follower of Jesus Christ. And that’s what’s so refreshing about Wes Hill’s story.
In Washed and Waiting, Wes Hill peels back the curtain to a world many of us have never experienced as he takes us into his battle with shame and loneliness. He unpacks what the Gospel demands of homosexual Christians. . . and how the Gospel actually enables the homosexual Christian to not act on his/her homosexual desires. It’s a book about understanding what it means to be washed by God’s son and waiting with faith for Christ to make all things. . . including one’s broken sexuality. . . new. This is a book about how, “practically, a nonpracticing but still-desiring homosexual Christian can ‘prove, live out, and celebrate’ the grace of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit in homosexual terms.”
In many ways, this was not a book solely about the homosexual’s struggle with brokenness. It’s a book about my unique brokenness. . . sexual and otherwise. . . the sinful bents and inclinations that I struggle with. . . the crosses I bear. . . the broken parts of my life that I need to submit to the Gospel and battle with for the rest of my life as I see my life as not temporary or my own, but as a part of God’s unfolding bigger story. What I read in Washed and Waiting meshed perfectly with what I’ve been reading over the last couple of weeks in N.T. Wright’s After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters. You see, God calls us to live virtuous lives that are marked by growth as we embrace and practice virtue. It’s a process that’s not only difficult, but that takes a lifetime.
A young man named Wes Hill spoke to me this weekend. . . with a depth of spiritual maturity that has challenged me to go deeper not only in my understanding of homosexuality, but in my own faith. After all, “the Christian’s struggle with homosexuality is unique in many ways but not completely so. The dynamics of human sinfulness and divine mercy and grace are the same for all of us, regardless of the particular temptations or weaknesses we face.” While many in our culture would hastily conclude that Wes Hill has gone against his nature to lock himself in some kind of unrealistic and out-dated moral prison, there is an amazing freedom that oozes out of his story as he has intentionally allowed himself to be swept up into God’s bigger story.
I’m liking this journey. . . and I’m interested to see where God is taking me.