Casting Stones or Building Bridges

I’ll give you fair warning right here and now. This is going to be a little controversial, perhaps. In light of this I will tell you something important; I do care what you think and what you believe but I’m not asking to be enlightened theologically or socially at this point. I will hear your comments but I’d prefer that we all respect one another’s thoughts here, even if we do not agree, yes?

My new friend A. had a baby a few months ago, a beautiful baby girl. What makes this already remarkable event even more remarkable is, as she put it herself, that she managed to conceive this child without having had relations with a man. A. and her partner H. became proud parents and that got me to thinking about something that’s been bothering me lately.

What has been bothering me is this thinking I bump up against as I travel in my faith community that somehow A. and H. are living outside of God’s design…that somehow they are “living in sin” to coin the phrase.

Now, on the surface I guess I can see the logic here…mostly as it pertains to the design element…parts working together and all that. I’ve read the scripture passages that are cited. I’ve seen the exegesis of said passages. I know this is a typical way to view homosexuality in the “christian” church and generally I keep my own thoughts to myself on this subject. My personal view is that I’m called FIRST and FOREMOST to love the people who cross my path, lovable, unlovable…no matter what.

This is the thing, though. A. and H. are not at all unlovable. They are engaging, wise and wonderful women. They are committed, responsible, loving people. It’s easy to love them. It really is. Frankly, they are much easier for me to love than a whole lot of people I come into contact with who claim to live INSIDE of God’s design.

Someone said to me recently that “sin is sin” meaning that one person’s sin is no worse than anyone elses and I agree that’s true. Basically, we all have our “thing” with which we struggle, we all are living in sin to some degree. We can hardly help it.

Trouble is, here…I can’t see that my friends feel that they ARE living in sin because of their relationship, because of the person they choose to love. They would not put their choice of lifestyle in the same sin boat as say, Bob, the crazy porn addict. This is their life…to say that Love becomes sin in this case seems so incredibly wrong to me. I just don’t know what shaped box I’d put that into…frankly.

Now, I’ve said this before and I mean it…I am no theological scholar. I’m sure that 15 minutes in a small room with someone really “knowledgeable” on the subject as it pertains to Christianity would be very interesting but to be honest, I don’t really care because I still think that it is all about how we love each other.

I say that if you want to find out how you really feel about a controversial issue like this one, that you get in relationship with someone who walks that road. Once you know how to be in relationship with someone you find out what it means to really and truly love them…in the now…and in the true and in the real.

I would go so far as to say that you don’t GET to be opinionated about homosexual couples until you walk with someone who lives that lifestyle…until you hear their story with your own ears, until you reach across a table and take their hand. I say you don’t get to judge unless and until you do that.

That sounds wrong, yes…I know this. I know there are reams of reasons why people don’t like the idea of homosexuality. That’s OK with me. I don’t like the idea of minivans and soccer moms but I love those soccer moms and everyone else who drives a minivan just the same.

All I’m saying is this; choose love. Choose to overcome the fear of what you *think* being in relationship with someone who lives differently from you might bring. Just listen, put aside your judgement and your preconceived notion. Look at the rock in your hand and use it to build a bridge. It’s totally what Jesus would do. Totally.

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8 thoughts on “Casting Stones or Building Bridges

  1. If we ever needed some Christ-like clarity with an issue, it is this, and we need it fast. I lament against the bigots who act as judge and jury, whose actions merely fuel the fire of the incipient demise of the institutions they have built. I spoke recently with John Smith, Australian minister, and author of ‘On the side of the Angels.’ He said this, ‘that in our search for truth we will walk a very fine line to the self-righteous Pharisee…and that ultimately it’s more important to love than to be right.’

    For as long as I can remember homosexual behaviour has been seen, particularly by those in the Church, as a uniquely awful perversion, existing as a consequence of humankind’s rebellion against God. The argument being that this expression goes against nature, against God’s creative design. The Scripture most used to support this is to be found in Romans 1: 26-28. Johann Christoph Arnold, who in most of his work is a much needed voice of salt and light in a tasteless and dark world, I feel assists in the burning of bridges we all someday have to cross. He also shares and voices the opinion of many who are in no position to be heard.

    ‘It is typical to hear people complain about the injustice of holding homosexuals responsible for an orientation or even a way of life that they themselves did not necessarily choose. But this is only an excuse for sin.’

    Whilst I accept that to explain behaviour is one thing but to justify it is something altogether different, I can’t help but feel Johann is avoiding the big issue. For a difficulty remains; how does the Church proclaim the good news to gay people who does not see their persuasion as a mark of rebellion? (and i for one don’t think it is) As Rowan Williams reminds us, ‘they are told that they are tolerated, even respected; but their own account of themselves before God is not to be recognised.’ The whole issue has become rather polarised, and we are a long way from God’s call, exemplified in Christ. Jesus said, ‘love your enemies’ (and that is what homosexuals are to many Christians). He did not say, redefine them as people with alternative worldviews.

    Men must learn to love one another. ‘A man needs a woman but he needs a man too, and I don’t see how you can really live an honest life without waking up to that.’ John is of the opinion, and I think he may be correct, that the gender debate has been hijacked. A minority has managed to bring us to this extreme at which the Church finds herself, the fear of showing freedom of physical expression. John concludes that, ‘I am everlastingly thankful to my father for teaching me how to cry, and for Jesus for teaching me why I should.’ There is a beautiful story that seems to capture what I am trying to say. It involves a certain Rich Mullins who, one night, accepts a lift from a relative stranger from a small town back to his campsite.

    ‘And so we got in his car, and just as we pulled out from under the last light in town, the guy said, “You know what, I should probably tell you that I’m gay.” And I said, “Oh, I should probably tell you that I’m a Christian.” And he said, “Well if you want out of the car…” I said, “Why?” and he said, “Well I’m gay and you’re a Christian.” I said, “It’s still five miles and it’s still dark.” He said, “I thought Christians hated gays.” And I said, “That’s funny, I thought Christians were supposed to love. I thought that was our first command.” He said, “Well I thought God hated gays.” And I said, “That’s really funny, because I thought God was love.” And then he asked me the big one. He said, “Do you think I will go to hell for being gay?”…then I said to him, “No, you won’t go to hell for being gay, any more than I’ll go to hell for being a liar. Nobody goes to hell because of what they do. We go to hell because we reject the grace that God so longs to give us, regardless of what we do.”

    The kind of love Jesus describes in the story of the ‘Good Samaritan’ is far more dangerous than we have allowed it to be. It requires an intimate expression that pushes and expands our boundaries. It may demand of us that we revise our position concerning the sexual expression of anyone who is gay, who are after all just like the rest of us, trying to find a way of being faithful and obedient in the light of the revelation we’re given. Rowan Williams’ hope is that ultimately ‘what we disagree about is how knowledge-in-Christ is mediated and made actual in the Church’s life. Intolerance and fear in our communities contribute to an alarmingly high rate of self-hatred, violence and even suicide. If we remain silent, we help perpetuate the tragedy.

    I think that’s a rather long-winded way of saying, I with you on this….

  2. And me too …….. thanks for the thoughts Papa chambers – I appreciate them but being a journalist I’m into soundbites so I’m kinda glad someone trying to catch him out one day asked Jesus what is the most important commandment ….. basically what this whole faith thing about ….

    His answer. Love God and your neighbour …… and thats it. Maybe we should all try that for a while and see how the other questions then look .

    pax Christe Tecum

    m

  3. wow. i had no idea you’d written this till now.

    hrm. clearly, i have a lot invested in this conversation, and i am so with you in your idea that you don’t get to judge unless you know a real actual gay couple.

    i spent a lot of time and heartache and money for therapists on this question: can god ever look down on my love and call it holy? or will i always be deemed less than? other than? outside of?

    no one can ever answer that question but me. in fact, no one has the right. i choose to believe that i am given wisdom just like anybody else. my gayness doesn’t exempt me from that. and so i look at the fruits of my life, and there is no doubt that i am living quite the holy one.

    we’re living our lives in front of our friends and family, who are all in various places on the spectrum of acceptance. i can honestly say that there have been many stories of reconciliation and grace over the years, all because we are simply being ourselves in front of each other. that’s all i can ask.

    in the meantime, i wait for the day when the word “sin” isn’t on the lips of so many people in the same sentence as “homosexuality”. i am a sinner in a whole lot of ways, but i am wholeheartedly convinced that my sexuality isn’t one of them, any more than a heterosexual’s is.

    therein lies the rub, right?

  4. You know here’s the thing…as idealistic as it may sound I don’t think it’s wrong to hope that one day love will be the defining factor in how we treat one another. I think that is what Christ brought to us. It was so radical, so outlandish….and it still is.

    And you know, therein does lie a rub of one sort or another but it’s a rub that we choose. It’s not a rub for me because I think that loving people supersedes doctrine…but it may be a rub for someone else. That’s not my struggle and I’m glad of that…because I just think you’re awesome, Anne, that’s all.

  5. dear father M, exactly, what was it…. ALL the law and prophets hang on those 2 things

    annie, i agree, sin is one thing but being gay is so the opposite – lovely to see your daughter growing!

    Mrs m, am glad i stumble by – if these two ragamuffin’s are your friends then you must be a good cookie 🙂

  6. Loving so many of my favourite people talking to each other. I have nothing intellectual to add to the conversation… I’m just glad it’s happening.

    As Cary has written on her arm: In the shelter of each other, the people live. I’m glad you’re all on my island… let’s keep loving.

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