I recently came across a post by Brant Hansen in which he discusses his thoughts on homosexuality. I was glad to see that a fairly conservative straight Christian can have such a welcoming view towards something he can’t fully understand; this gives me hope that the Church can continue to grow in difficult areas without causing major schisms and exiling those who don’t fit into the box (that wasn’t meant to a dig at the Anglican Church, but as I wrote it that situation did immediately come to mind).
There is, however, a couple things I want to address about Hansen’s post: first, he seems to be discouraging gay Christians from identifying as gay. While I completely understand this opinion, I’d like to talk about some of the reasons I decided to begin to identify as gay rather than same-sex attracted.
To be honest, part of it was a solidarity thing. There’s something very encouraging about being able to identify with a community after so many years of feeling alone. Sure, we could all identify as same-sex attracted, but that feels more like a group of people in some hopeless drug trial longing for a cure rather than a faithful community banding together to help each other on the road towards holiness.
Another reason for choosing this language is that SSA, ex-gay, and other such terms still imply or implicitly state that I believe these attractions to be temporary which I no longer do. After years of prayer and struggle and begging, I’ve come to a place in which I’m content in my orientation. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not something I would have chosen for myself, but I also think it can be used to advance the Kingdom in unique and inspiring ways so in that sense, I’m OK with it. Likewise, in Two Corinthians¹ 12, Paul talks about how he was given a thorn in the flesh to keep him humble. He prayed three times for God to take it from him, but after that, he decided it was not meant to be and seemingly gave up asking. I can tell you, I begged God to remove my same-sex attractions a lot more than three times. Does that make me holier than Paul? I’ll let you be the judge (Actually, no, no I won’t. I’m not holier than Paul. Definitively.)
Lastly, it’s about honesty. There’s something so freeing about just being able to say what I am because there’s so much more to the word gay than my attractions. Being able to find other people who can relate to those things and say “Me too!” has been a huge blessing. One insignificant and yet strangely wonderful things has been singing along with sappy love songs and using male pronouns. I know it sounds dumb, but it has been freeing to express that part of myself even if it’s only in privacy of my car
The next thing I want to address from Hansen’s post is his discussion of marriage and singleness in the church. He approaches singleness and celibacy for LGBT folks in a way that I’ve seen a lot of straight Christians address it which is this: sex and marriage are not the solution to all your problems nor are they the penultimate state for a person to aspire to. The Church has incorrectly made marriage out to be an idealized concept that God didn’t intend and, as a result, people can’t see an end to their loneliness that doesn’t involve a committed relationship and usually sex along with it. I wholeheartedly agree with Hansen on this; I think this is one of the biggest problems facing Evangelical Christianity in our time. However, what I disagree with is his solution or lack thereof.
What’s important is for the Church to promote true community and a sense of family for all singles, especially those who identify as LGBT since they are so much less likely to have the opportunity to enter into a church sanctioned relationship. As others have said, it can’t be a matter of simply inviting a single person to dinner once a week. That isn’t family and it’s not likely to assuage the intense loneliness that many singles in the church face. Until the Church is able to really step up and invite single people into true community, it’s going to be really difficult for them to accept pronouncements about how to live their lives. And since I hate when people point out a problem without at least giving some ideas or a solution, here’s my list of things people have done or that I would have liked them to do in order to make me feel a part of a community:
- Keep an eye out for single people during your church service and invite them to sit with you. It’s a small thing, but it can have a big impact on a lone person watching a room full of happy families.
- Invite a single person to live with you long term. I know this is a big one and it can be hard to give up your personal space and freedom, but I think this can be really beneficial to everyone involved.
- Welcome a single person to be a part of your kids’ lives. Invite them to birthday parties and school plays and sports games. I think there’s a stereotype that single people (especially LGBT single people) don’t like kids, but I think that’s related to a feeling of being an outsider.²
- Involve your single friends in important family decisions like moves or job changes. While I don’t think anyone would expect their input to be given the same weight as an actual member of the family, I think it would be great to at least ask their opinion and let them express how they feel before the decision is made.
- Take your friends with you for family vacations. I can’t tell you how much it meant to me that my friends invited me on a family vacation with them. It was a lot of fun and I think it really cemented our bond of friendship and family.
And one final note, yes I did get the memo about how today’s blog should be about Holy Saturday and how it’s always overlooked in favor of Good Friday and Easter Sunday, but I decided to shake things up.
¹ Sorry, I couldn’t resist : )
² Additionally, there has long been an unsubstantiated fear that LGBT people are more prone to sexually abuse children which, I know for me, has made me fearful making any type of connection with my friends’ kids. It may all be in my head, but I feel often feel like I’m under extra scrutiny because I’m single and gay. Meanwhile, if there is extra scrutiny, I can’t even fault parents because they’re trying to protect there children which is obviously immensely important.