Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Three Days in Heaven and in Hell

I have been reading a lot of information, these last three days. I have been reading scripture, I have been reading commentary, I have been reading web forum posts, I have been reading the news, and I have been reading my self. I was on a mission. It was a simple mission, so I thought, a mission to provide an acceptable and adequate theological reason why I am not, and why I believe God is not, any more offended by same-sex marriage than the marriage of a heterosexual. It was not a simple mission, and some may say I have failed, but I am finished. I will provide what I have come to realize are the guiding ideas I have regarding God and Christ, ideas that some will say are simply incorrect or down-right heretical. I will be alright with that; I am a heretic in good company, that is for certain.

I believe that one reading this expecting to have their mind changed (or expecting I am attempting to change one's mind), will not. These positions and thoughts are not taken and put on like masks or costumes, to be paraded about as fads or hip-thinking. These thoughts and ideas are ways of thinking, ways of life, that have been arrived at over years of prayer, tears, relationships, reading, living, and a little bit of dying, dying to old ways and to old selves. I do not wish one to read what I am writing as a challenge inviting argument, though you are free to do so. Read as if I am opening up to you who I am and why I believe the way I do, whether for wrong or for right, because I wish to convert no one through these particular thoughts today. I seek not to argue, but to explain, expose, and lay myself bare for you to understand.

First and foremost, God is Love. That's Love with a capitol "L". God is also just, holy, and righteous, but, knowing that God is Love, I have come to firmly believe that God's justice, holiness, and righteousness will look like Love. Because of this, I strive to err on the side of grace. When God judges what I have believed and done, I would rather hear that I loved too much to a fault than to not have loved enough. I do not say this to mean that anyone who does not accept same-sex marriage is unloving; I say this to mean that this is where the Love of God has led me.

Regardless of whether or not science ever produces a biological trigger for our sexual orientation, the fact remains that one can not genetically prove that they are biologically heterosexual or biologically homosexual. Neither group, as a being, chose their orientation, either. Demands of proof that one "is born gay" from the heterosexual community should be met with the same demands from the homosexual community that the others were "born straight". I have yet to meet a single person, on either side of the issue that is capable of telling me when they choose their orientation, because orientation is not a choice. I can no more choose to be gay than someone who is gay can choose to be straight; it is a matter of one's very being. A homosexual can choose to abstain from sexual relations, but they will still be a homosexual. The number of people from programs that claim to convert homosexuals to heterosexuals that say they either "reverted" or simply claimed to be "cured" in an attempt to believe it later on down the line, is staggering.

The most loving thing Christians can do is to provide every person with as much access to the fullness of life as possible. If some are right, and homosexuality can be "cured by God", then nothing will stop God's conviction in those lives. But if some are wrong, and homosexuality is a life-long orientation that one does not choose, then a grave disservice has been done to our homosexual brothers and sisters in denying them the same opportunities in life that the rest of us have.

In closing, I have essentially failed in the prime request that was asked of me: to provide scriptural basis for my belief. I will say this, that it my very reading of scripture that informs my belief. The passages of love, grace, and justice speak volumes over the traditional seven passages that are used to exclude our homosexual brothers and sisters to the fullness of life through love and acceptance. I wish I could list for you in neat detail every passage that would prove my position to you, but I cannot. I began to, but it came across as proof-texting, a practice I have learned to despise as it can be used to make scripture say whatever we want it to say. I can only say that the time may come when I will know whether I was right or I was wrong, and my only explanation can only be that I erred on the side of grace.

17 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Rick:
Well, my thoughts are simply this. You have succeeded in your endeavor, because you have taken the time to understand WHY you believe what you believe. IT was not enough for you to simply believe. Will everyone agree with you? Certainly not. Is it alright for people to disagree with you? Of course. Will I tell you what I believe? Not here. :)
Well written and well thought out. Nicely done.

7:17 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

I know that our homosexual brothers and sisters will benefit and value the love you extend to them in Jesus Christ. I think in this all that is the main point whether you view it as sin or genetic or decision or God-given orientation HIS grace and redemptive act is available to all man.

10:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Amy:
nice entry, I agree with that Rick guy. :)
so, let me ask a question.
What do you think of homosexual churches? The clergy AND congregation. Just curious.

7:11 PM  
Blogger manofredearth said...

I don't think that "homosexual-only" style churches are any more healthy than a church that is for whites only, blacks only, or heterosexuals only (which is what many homosexuals see when they enter our churches, whether they are correct or not). I can see why they have begun to exist, though most do state that they are open to all people. It is startlingly similar to what happened with the African American community that sought out refuge within "their own" churches during a time when they were not allowed to associate with Caucasians as equals. As a Church, collectively, we need to take down these barriers. As human beings, collectively, we have not been very good at that during times like these.

10:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

just because you believe something and it may make perfect sense to you, it doesn't mean that it's right. see proverbs 14:12

all this warm and fuzzy christianity is sickening.

2:56 PM  
Blogger manofredearth said...

"There is a way that seems right to a person, but in the end it leads to death"
Proverbs 14:12

This has been provided as a service for those who were not going to take the time to look up a vague refrence that has no adequate relation to the current conversation, seeing as how it is a subjective phrase.

8:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the scripture is completely applicable to the logic you are using here. you "feel" a certain way about this issue, but it doesn't, in any way, make you correct. your emotions are not what you should base your beliefs or convictions on.

11:18 AM  
Blogger manofredearth said...

Seeing as how you feel that this particular scripture applies in this manner, I will respect your opinion while disagreeing with you.

11:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems to me that you were not objective in your search. You had an agenda and you went to prove it by any means necessary.

At least that is the perception. I would have been more accepting of your arguments if you were at least seeking truth and not to prove a point.

8:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is BethE

Anyway, I'm glad you've taken time to search for what you believe. I respectfully disagree with you. Perhaps a homosexual is born that way, with a predisposition to it, but could we not say the same about pediophiles? (I am NOT comparing the two as if one were equal to the other.) But, many men (and women) in the world believe strongly that they were born to "love" children. Does that make it right or acceptable? Absolutely not. Homosexuality could, very well, be one of those MANY sins into which we are born. This is a fallen world and I, as much as anyone else, was born with sin. I choose to let God take all that sin and deal with it and don't try to justify it into being right.

However, all that being said, I pray we all can err on the side of grace.

9:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not going to start off saying that "I'm glad you took the time to search this out on your own."
Because I for one am sort of blunt sometimes. Here is the issue yes love the person not the sin but being gay is laid out in the Bible as being sin. Yes you can also choose. What is mistaken for "biological urges" is sin nature. The devil whispering in your ear. Here is the the verse that backs me up on the sin part.

Romans 1:21-32(NIV)
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised. Amen.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, Godhaters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

Here is the same verse but from The Message

What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn't treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life. They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand.
So God said, in effect, "If that's what you want, that's what you get." It wasn't long before they were living in a pigpen, smeared with filth, filthy inside and out. And all this because they traded the true God for a fake god, and worshiped the god they made instead of the God who made them--the God we bless, the God who blesses us. Oh, yes!

Worse followed. Refusing to know God, they soon didn't know how to be human either--women didn't know how to be women, men didn't know how to be men. Sexually confused, they abused and defiled one another, women with women, men with men--all lust, no love. And then they paid for it, oh, how they paid for it--emptied of God and love, godless and loveless wretches.

Since they didn't bother to acknowledge God, God quit bothering them and let them run loose. And then all hell broke loose: rampant evil, grabbing and grasping, vicious backstabbing. They made life hell on earth with their envy, wanton killing, bickering, and cheating. Look at them: mean-spirited, venomous, fork-tongued God-bashers. Bullies, swaggerers, insufferable windbags! They keep inventing new ways of wrecking lives. They ditch their parents when they get in the way. Stupid, slimy, cruel, cold-blooded. And it's not as if they don't know better. They know perfectly well they're spitting in God's face. And they don't care--worse, they hand out prizes to those who do the worst things best!

I think this will be sufficient enough for you.

11:01 PM  
Blogger manofredearth said...

"being gay is laid out in the Bible as being sin. Yes you can also choose. What is mistaken for "biological urges" is sin nature. The devil whispering in your ear."

Right, we're miles apart here, but you're not saying anything I will disrespect you for, we just disagree.

What you have posted is, in my opinion, part opinion and part scripture out of context. You've provided an excellent look at why people who are not gay but commit homosexual acts, especially with child students, as this verse most likely attests to, is wrong. You have not addressed, except by speculation, why anything is wrong with the person who is a homosexual. Since we can no more "prove" our innate heterosexuality than they can their innate homosexuality, I will take their word that they are "born" or "naturally" or "inherently" homosexual in the same way they, and you, accepts it when I say the same regarding my heterosexuality.

PS- More voices are great, but no more meaty anonymous posts. I have nothing against anyone's opinion, I welcome it heartily, but if you won't be identified I can't keep your opinion up. Anonymous posting is turned on only so those who have no Blogger account but identify themselves in their post can post. Thanks!

7:00 PM  
Blogger Eruetelehtalme said...

(By the way if you reply to this I don't mind if you feel like totally chewing me out, I get that sometimes from others for my opinion and I'm used to it.)


Hey just got in on this I'm curious how does this verse apply more to the acts with child students from what I can see this is an address to everyone not just teh child students thing.

One other thing I don't know if this is out of context or not but these verses also say that men are without excuse because all creation knows in the depths of their soul that God is real.

One other question if God made man in his own image,and with the Bible clearly showing God's view on homosexuality how then Biblicly can we say that homosexuality is part of genetics?
(Of course if you feel I am wrong I would like to see your views.)

Genesis 1:26-27
"Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, [b] and over all the creatures that move along the ground."



So God created man in his own image,

in the image of God he created him;

male and female he created them."

(Yeah I know this is just me but I would like to put a little emphasis on the "....male and female he created them.")


Entire section:

Romans 1:18-32
"The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised. Amen.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, Godhaters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them."

(Oh yeah before i forget these verses are both NIV thanks for reading my questions on this matter)

12:45 AM  
Blogger manofredearth said...

Thanks, Joyce, I'm not mad at all. I think you ask good questions. The best possible thing for me to do is to direct you to a book of essays edited by Walter Wink titled "Christianity and Homosexuality". I have been accused of dodging the discussion when I do this, but I simply see it as putting a good source of info into the hands of others.


I'll speak a little bit to what was posted, but please try to read that book if you can. It's not the Bible or an answer-all, but a good tool for understanding where I and other Christians are coming from on thise issue.

The passages of our creation tradition are not a theological statement of our sexual indentities but a statement by early worshippers answering their question, "Who did all this?"

The passage dealing with God giving people up to a state not natural to themselves is interesting. Have you ever come across anyone who is "curious" about same-sex relations, but admittedly not gay? They differ from those who are "naturally" gay. We know enough of history at this point to know that there have always been both "naturally" gay individuals and "curious" individuals. This verse speaks more to the "curious" individuals who are not deciding if they are gay or not, but are merely seeking sexual activity or "thrills/oddities". This could circle back to "I believe, in one way or another, all people choose to be gay or can become 'not gay' somehow," but I have adressed that impasse already.

Thanks for your comments. I am still mildly suprised that this one continues to gain new readers after several new posts. Well, discussion is good.

2:01 AM  
Blogger The Thief said...

I'm not surprised that this one continues to get new readers; it's controversial, while you and Katieeden's great outfits or your pint aren't...

My only critique to your post is that I don't think same-sex marriage actually offers the same "fullness of life as possible" as heterosexual marriage, simply by definition.

Much as the fullness of the Church (capital C) includes blacks and whites (and other races) and liberals and conservatives, marriage includes a man and a woman. The very differences beg for togetherness. This is, btw, one of the main beefs I have against much of the Church Growth Movement...

3:59 PM  
Blogger manofredearth said...

Yes, Brian, I'm sure you're thoughts about the attention to this particular post are right on the money.

3:15 AM  
Blogger manofredearth said...

Brian, I thought of this last week while spending time with some Christian singles:

The fullness of life can be fully experienced by same-sex partners as it can be by male-female partners as it can be by singles. The idea that a person is unfulfilled unless partnered, whether same-sex or not, now seems to me rather wrong given the fullness of God. A partner can certainly be fulfilling, but not to the point where a single person loses out on the fullness of life through God. In this way, neither would same-sex couples be missing any of God's fullness in their lives (in-as-much as I disagree that same-sex relationships are any more sinful than male-female relationships).

11:21 PM  

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