Read previous posts in this series:
- The Narrative Question
- The Authority Question
- The God Question
- The Jesus Question
- The Gospel Question
- The Church Question
For some reason, every time I write about the issue of sexuality, I get myself into trouble. I’m not sure how I do it, but I do.
McLaren seems to have the same problem; but I know why he gets himself into trouble. He refuses to take a position and yet he constantly pushes people to ‘expand’ their thinking. In other words, his position is that your position is wrong – specifically if you believe that homosexuality is a sin.
So, let me make my position clear – so the fundamentalists will be happy and the ACLU can get their lawsuit ready. The Bible is pretty clear that homosexuality is a sin. Sorry, that’s just what the Bible says. No matter how you try to manipulate the words of Romans 1:26-27, they are still pretty clear that homosexuality is an act motivated by sin.
That being said, I think we approach homosexuality as a sin WRONG.
Example #1 – The Couple
Consider this situation – a young couple comes in the back door of the church during service. They sit in the back row and the young man puts his arm around his companion. He whispers in his partner’s ear during the service. They might even be holding hands during the songs. They both smile and laugh at the right times. During conversation with one of the parishioners, they indicate that they are living together and looking for a church.
If the partner in the story were a beautiful young lady, we would smile and invite them to journey with us. Inside our heads, we would be saying, “Maybe as they grow, they will realize they are living in sin and need to get married.”
Now imagine that the partner is a handsome young man. This is a GAY couple. How would most churches’ response change? How would they have looked at the couple while they held hands there in the back row? Would the pastor have even been able to finish his sermon without calling them out? Would the ushers have quietly (or not so quietly) escorted them out of the building?
But what’s the difference? When we thought the partner was a female, they were living in sin. Now we know it is a male, and they’re living in sin. Both are SINNING. Adultery is a sin; fornication is a sin; homosexuality is a sin.
Example #2 – The Porn
A mother opens her son’s underwear drawer to put some folded clothes away and discovers his stash of girlie magazines. She is shocked and appalled. She tells her husband about them – after she’s thrown them away to keep her husband from sinning. When their son comes home from school, they confront him. The father takes his son aside after they talk with the mother. “Look, son,” he says with a bit of a secret smile. “I know you’re curious. Women are attractive. It’s not that big of a deal; but you need to deal with this so your eyes and mind are pure when you get married. Wouldn’t want your wife to have to live up to unrealistic expectations.” This is usually concluded with a snicker or a punch on the arm.
Now flip the situation. It is a teenage GIRL who has stashed female pornography. Mother is disgusted. Dad is ashamed. She comes home to accusations, “Are you a lesbian or something!?!” Her parents begin to wonder whether those sleepovers were really all that innocent. The girl is ostracized.
But what’s the difference? Pornography is pornography, regardless who it is that you’re looking at naked or having sex. Do you see the difference though?
I Call This The “Gays-Are-Gross” Factor
For most Christians, homosexuality is elevated above other sexual sin. It is treated as if it is somehow worse than adultery or fornication. This is cultural and not biblical.
(It fascinates me that this elevation of homosexuality has risen to such a level that we actually read it back into biblical accounts, like the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19. We focus on the homosexual aspect of the passage while ignoring the fact that Lot permits a gang rape of his daughters. By the way, Ezekiel states plainly that Sodom was judged for greed and inhospitality, not homosexuality – Ezekiel 16:48-49)
We were created as sexual creatures. Sin has perverted that sexuality – whether it is perverted into pursuing multiple partners, using sex as recreation without consideration of its spiritual nature, pursuing homosexual gratification, using pornography, or whatever other perversion might come along.
Sexual sin is ALL abhorrent to God; and the answer is not ostracizing people who practice one sin while coddling others. The answer is to pursue a godly sexuality that is defined by God’s desires for sex and not OUR desires for gratification via sex.
So, Back to Brian McLaren
I seem to have used this post to expound on my frustrations, but we need to get back to Brian McLaren for a minute. I think McLaren’s fear of coming out and saying “Homosexuality is good” prevents him from making any kind of worthwhile statement in this chapter. He knows that people who read the Bible literally (i.e. people like me) will find that statement in direct violation of Scripture.
Personally, I think we should not be afraid of saying homosexuality is sin; but only if we’re also not afraid to say that other sexual sin is just as sinful. Even better than that, however, would be to embrace those who are in sin and lovingly speak the truth of God’s Word into their lives and see the Holy Spirit heal their sexuality.
For more information on ministries who approach sexual sin from this perspective, I recommend checking out http://xxxchurch.org (now called “Fireproof Ministries” but I think the original name was much cooler).