Thursday, September 30, 2004

Sincere Christian Homosexuals

Dr Terence Paige comments on why one's feelings have no bearing on ethical behavior.

-consider the spirituality of gay Christians, in light of their sincere convictions about their own faith, their own spirituality, their own submission to Christ's lordship. (At this point, it is not entirely clear to me whether "non-practicing," "practicing", or both were intended in some of those posts; but for the sake of the argument, let us assume "practicing" sexually active gay Christians).

I confess that it puzzles me why this line of argument would be made by my theologian colleagues at all. Since when did one's feelings become the standard of ethical behavior? Experience, history, and sociology all tell us that people with good intentions can be embarassed or pressured by the group (or society) into changing their behavior and their values; and people with an evil purpose can be emboldened by certain circumstances to commit evil with impunity. Sin has so infected the world-construct that we humans make, that even the voice of conscience is affected by it. I would think we are all well aware that there were plenty of slave owners in this country before the civil war who attended church, prayed and believed utterly sincerely, and whose consciences apparently did not bother them at all! Was slavery "right for them" to practice, then? And there were plenty of Southerners who, in the name of Christ, opposed civil rights and school integration; not to mention Dutch Reformed believers in South Africa who supported and provided the theological constructs to maintain Apartheid. Would they only be wrong if their consciences bothered them? Was there nothing aberrant and needing correction in their discipleship?

In short, does a claim to follow Jesus as Lord baptize any behavior of the claimant?
Granted, some of the stories told here--and many more not told--are heart-wrenching. But the wife who is abandoned by a husband who "discovers" he is gay has her heart wrenched also; as do his family members; and those who looked to such a person for spiritual example and advice. The hurt is not all one sided. Sin is always heart-wrenching, and wreaks its corruption on God's good creation. To say that a homosexual person has feelings, has skills, has a quest for meaning and for God, has a family, and has value, is to say nothing more than that this is a human being. This is true of ALL human beings. It is true of humans who commit other evils, too. Does not the wife-beater have value as a human being? Does he not have something valuable to contribute to the church or to society? He may even be a skilled architect, doctor, carpenter, or other productive member of society. He may have had spiritual gifts. He may have friends who admire him when he is not beating his wife. But none of this, I dare say, would encourage a modern Christian leader to condone wife-beating, or to argue that the church should accept wife-beating as merely an alternate form of Christian relationship style. But wait: there is no commandment against wife-beating; we are not bound by Law anyway; and Jesus never mentioned wife-beating in his recorded teaching. So perhaps we should not be so legalistic about wife-beaters....

Let's not forget, the very definition of a sociopath is someone who does evil without a qualm of conscience.

Amen, and Amen. Man I wish I could claim to have written this.

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