Board index LGBT: Gays, Lesbians, Bisexual, Transgender, and Homosexuality

Let's talk about it. The Bible says some stuff, and our culture says a lot.
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spiritual conflict (?)

Postby chloe106 » Wed Jul 10, 2019 1:38 am

[color=#800080]Hello! Sorry if this submission ends up being really super long or if it spills out of the LGBT topic, it's sort of a few things but i think this category is best suited. I don't really know where to start with this but I guess I'll just get into it: Basically I've been kind of struggling with my faith for a while now, at varying levels. I was brought up religious, and I've always prayed and learned about the Bible etc, but starting in around middle school i began to question things (i'm 17 now). I've always wanted & continue to want to be a genuine passionate Christian, especially because in my life I've seen so many people who are truly empowered and inspired by their faith, like the kind of people who are overcome with joy & passion just talking about it, and i want that certainty and joy & relationship with God in my own life. however as i said i did eventually begin to struggle with my faith. I cant say for sure as its been so long, but i think that this first began in part due to the LGBT issue. I have always had lgbt friends from really all parts of the community, and in middle school (6-7th grade) many of my friends began to come out about it and be open. I never thought anything of it especially since these were people i'd been friends with for a long time and i had never heard it talked about before. I remember going to our school's GSA Club with them and it was a while before i realized that LGBT rights were really an issue at all. I still remember the first day i learned that there was "conflict" between christians and LGBT people, and going home and reading my Bible and specific verses mentioning homosexuality, and trying to reconcile this information while in a sort of panic, looking on websites, etc to see if there was a way that it wasn't true. i first started doubting my faith around this time, also due to stuff like evolution & just general questions of possibility of different miracles and events (like the Tower of Babel leading to new languages for example), and it wasnt helped by how so many of my peers, their parents, etc are some form of atheist/agnostic just because of where I live i guess. i also remember struggling with my own sexuality for a time, not because i ever had crushes on other girls or anything but because it felt like so many of my friends were LGBT & because i never really was boy crazy like some of my other friends. (I'm definitely straight, i never experimented or anything but i figured it out somehow, but i remember being scared that if i was bisexual then i wouldn't be a good Christian, etc.) anyways i ended up breaking off a lot of my middle school friendships as we lost contact so the LGBT issue kind of went to the back of my mind, but it has recently resurfaced and it's at a time where i think im questioning my faith more than ever before.. basically long story short(ish) i have a really really good friend. ive known him for 5 years now but we only became close about 2 years ago, as of right now he is the best friend i have and probably will ever have-- he's like my brother, but closer, and he knows me better than probably anyone else does, and i genuinely love him. we talk all the time about almost everything, and we've both told each other things that we didn't plan on ever telling anyone. one of those things was that he is in fact gay. he told me only a few months ago, and i am currently one of only 2 people who know. this of course reopened the whole LGBT Christianity thing for me because I'm still doubting my faith unfortunately and this was another thing for me to reconcile. i continue to be very close with him and our friendship really got stronger if anything because i guess we trust each other more now that i know his "secret" but this whole christianity thing is something i haven't talked to him about. he's struggled so much with his sexuality, he said he wishes he were straight, he planned on just marrying a girl for a long time before realizing that it wouldnt be fair to himself or her, and honestly i know any conversation about this with him would just make him more insecure and break down his self esteem etc and besides, he's not a christian (we have talked about religion to an extent & he knows that im technically a christian despite any struggles im having). Also in addition to him, one of my other good friends just cane out as lesbian about 3 days ago which is what really pushed me to write on this site (my friend showed me it a while ago and ive been thinking about writing this entry for a long time honestly). Anyway, the real important thing here i think is my actual thought process regarding the whole LGBT matter. Ultimately, i know that christianity is so much more than this one issue, which is really only mentioned a few times in the Bible, and that the amount of focus put on it is probably kind of crazy. however for years now i just keep coming back to it. i think its the only thing in the Bible that's really stood out to me as not making sense morally. so many things discussed in the Bible as sinful, wrong, etc make sense to me because they genuinely appear to better people & society. sex before marriage can spread disease & hurt relationships, murder & lying are obviously wrong, stuff like that i understand & agree with. but i have never been able to wrap my head around what makes homosexuality bad. all of the LGBT people i know are genuinely good people, and some of them are christians (i think). my gay friend has exactly the same feelings towards boys as I do, no more or less pure of heart. i know that whether or not people are born LGBT is debated, but my friend at least has good relationships with both his mom & dad and has said that he has known he liked boys for as long as he could remember. and isn't love supposed to be a good thing? those are the questions that ive struggled with as of late. mostly the issue is that i'm not sure that I'll ever truly be able to think that homosexuality is 100% wrong, but that goes against the Bible and God's word. i feel like i should just agree with it because it's what God says, but i cant make myself. i don't have the right really to disagree with God of course, and i think that that is my main issue with this whole LGBT thing. I guess i don't really think that it will make or break my whole relationship with God because there are so many sins, I'm not gay, and i feel like in the scheme of things its not as huge of an issue as it is made out to be, but the disagreeing with the Bible part is what gets me. can i even really be a christian if i morally don't agree with God on something, even if it is only just one relatively small issue? i want to be a christian, really, and i know i have other issues to work on with my faith, but this has been on my mind for so long and i think i need to work through or around it before i can work on the other things. i want to be a passionate and true believer but i can't seem to reconcile this issue because i feel like an "agree to disagree" stance is probably pretty unacceptable when the person i'm disagreeing with is God Himself, but i dont know what other stance there is to take for me personally. Ive heard the "love the sinner hate the sin" thing but my main issue is that i cant seem to see homos as a sin. i don't know really if you can solve this problem exactly but any insight would be great as nothing really seems to be helping. either way, ive never talked about this to anyone before because there isn't really anyone i know who i can have this conversation with in real life, sadly. also to wrap up this whole thing i would like to apologize for writing an entire novel in your submission box (this was meant to be short and sweet but i guess I'm long winded) and i greatly appreciate that you took the time to read it. Thank you so so much! have a wonderful day and/or night. thanks again& sincerely, chloe. :)[/color]

Re: spiritual conflict (?)

Postby chloe106 » Wed Jul 10, 2019 1:46 am

oh my goodness i knew that was long but i didnt realize it was THAT long; i am shocked and also truly sorry for writing so much hahaha. a million sincere thank-you's to whoever reads it <3 i really appreciate it & you and i hope you have a great day or night.

Re: spiritual conflict (?)

Postby chloe106 » Wed Jul 10, 2019 1:54 am

also i just noticed that somewhere near the bottom i mistyped "homosexuality" as just "homos" so i wanted to correct that. it's somewhere after the phrase "love the sinner hate the sin." thanks again & im going to stop obsessively reading this post now so thank you and goodnight!! thank you

Re: spiritual conflict (?)

Postby jimwalton » Wed Aug 14, 2019 12:01 pm

Chloe, thanks for writing. I hope we can have several conversations about this, or a string of conversations, to be able to talk about whatever you want. I'll try to write just a short thing this first time to get the ball rolling, meaning I won't be addressing everything you wrote, but I'll try to hit the biggies, and we can go from there.

Thanks for being so honest and open. It really will help us to hopefully have a great conversation. I will be just as honest and open.

You're doubting your faith and the whole "Christianity" thing from several different angles, and we can talk about those as they come up in the next couple of exchanges. But obviously the big meal on your plate is the LGBTQ issue. Let me start off with a few general things.

First, I don't read in the Bible anywhere where God gives us permission to treat people poorly (except Christians who are being hypocrites and deliberately sinning and being proud of it. The New Testament does talk about putting them out of the church and not having fellowship with them anymore). But I think it's terrible that some Christians have been so nasty to gays. The Bible doesn't approve of that kind of nastiness. What I read in the Bible is that we're supposed to love everybody (even people we don't agree with, even people who are sinning). I'm shocked and embarrassed by some Christians' terrible treatment (name-calling, nastiness, shunning) of gays.

Second. You're absolutely right that our culture is making WAYYYYYY too much of the gay issue, as if it's the only part of life. It's way out of control. Every issue is becoming a "gay" issue: politics, business, entertainment, religion, education, etc. It's crazy. Since when did one part of life take over all of life and become the only defining factor of existence? There are sooooo many issues in the world (nuclear destruction, global warming, international finance, immigration, corruption, sexual trafficking), and yet we make LGBTQ the defining issue. Weird. So with the other areas. In Christianity, God sent his Son to die for the sins of the world so we can be made new and set free from sin to live in Christ, and yet we make LGBTQ the defining issue. Weird again. It's way out of balance.

Third. It's true and undeniable that the Bible defines homosexuality as a sin, but the Bible never tells us why. In our era, many people (you included) consider being gay just another form of a legitimate relationship, and they want to know what makes it so "condemnable."

Some Christians would argue that the sin of homosexuality is one of complementarity: men and women’s bodies were made for each other (they complement each other). While there is a certain and unavoidable truth to that, it’s not an argument the Bible ever makes when it talks about homosexuality. It never identifies a lack of complementarity as the reason it is condemned. The text most often cited in that regard is Genesis 2.24, but even that text, when hard pressed, is not about complementarity, and it certainly is not discussing the issue of homosexuality.

Other people would argue that it’s "unnatural." That’s a variation of the complementarity argument, and while Paul, in Romans 1, seems to allude to the unnaturalness of homosexuality, his argument is ultimately connected with idolatry: godlessness played out in our lives—a trading of dependence on God for dependence on other things. But some may wonder why homosexuality is a "dependence" on other things when it is just considered a love relationship. In the case of idolatry, though, and Romans 1, homosexuality is portrayed as a symptom of a spiritual problem of wayward desires that are not founded and grounded in the glory of God.

Still others contend that the sin of homosexuality lies in that it is ultimately not procreative and cannot be. While the argument is inevitably true (without the workings of modern science, gays can't have babies), it's again not an argument the Bible makes.

Sin in the Bible is a nuanced word, rather than a singular simple one. Sometimes it's defined by its causes, sometimes by its character, and other times by its consequences. It can be open rebellion against God as well as quietly avoiding doing what is right. It can be ignorance, inattention, irreligion, iniquity, perversion, or evil. It can be talking about non-conformity to the law of God, a breach of the covenant, or an expression of unbelief. Which of these applies to homosexuality?

In Genesis 19 (Sodom) and Judges 19, the case at hand clearly involves violent sexual abuse, something we all recognize as wrong in all of its many contexts and expressions, even in our day. In Romans 1, Paul talks about homosexuality as being physically degrading, a moral breach, and an unnatural expression of lustful desires. The context of Paul's thoughts is the abusive pederastic (raping children) culture of the Greco-Roman world—again, something we all recognize as wrong in all its many contexts and expressions. The text makes it quite clear that the homosexual world of Paul is a violation of cultural understandings of honor and shame, the expression of ungodly desires, and the unnatural degrading of others. I think we all agree with that part.

In Leviticus 18 and 20, homosexuality is listed in the chapters enumerating unlawful sexual relations, couched in a context of incestuous relations and idolatry. Some think it refers to cult prostitution, others to pederasty, and others to casual same-sex relationships. Without particular explanation, we are best to regard it as a general prohibition of homosexual relations, regardless of their source or expression.

In the later letters of Paul, the terms of homosexuality in the lists of forbidden and sinful activities relate to prostitution (sex trafficking) and child sexual abuse, again—common in the Roman world and recognized to be wrong in ours.

While it is not clear in the Bible why homosexuality is sin, it is overwhelmingly and uncompromisingly clear that it is. And while some people argue (quite convincingly) that the homosexuality of our culture is a very different thing from what it was in the ancient world, the argument ultimately fails in that the Bible never entertains a nuanced understanding of the sin of homosexuality. In the Bible, it's always and unavoidably considered sin, no matter what form it takes.

The distinction between sexual orientation and sexual expression—another argument on the table—is a modern one that would make little sense in the ancient world, where the notion of sexual orientation was absent. Most scholars agree that the ancient world thought simply of sexual drives that manifested themselves either heterosexually or homosexually. Paul's argument in Romans 1 shows no interest in orientation, but addresses homosexuality unambiguously as "excessive lust" and "contrary to nature." Brownson says, "So here is our paradox: In the ancient world, if a man ceased engaging in prostitution or another sexual vice, he was no longer a malakos (the active partner in a male homosexual act) or arsenokoites (the passive partner in the same act). But in our [modern cultural] context, a person is still gay or lesbian regardless of their behavior." So a person "being" gay is not something the Bible addresses, only acting out homosexual activity. So is being gay a sin, or just acting out? In a parallel sense, is it a sin to be a thief, or is it only sin when one steals something?

Brownson continues: "It's also a problem to say that it's OK to be gay as long as they don't act out, for the Bible decries impulses to sin as manifestations of a sin nature (James 1.12-15), and not at all neutral (Mt. 5.21-22, 28). If same-sex acts are always morally wrong, then the impulse to engage in those acts is also a manifestation of a sinful inner state. Certainly we must always distinguish between inclination and action, and we are all accountable for our thoughts as well as our actions. Yet we know that impulse and action do not carry the same guilt before God, who searches the heart. At the same time, if an action is wrong, the inward impulse toward that action is also culpable to some extent. Lines get easily blurred."

The conclusion is necessary: the Bible regards homosexuality as a sin, but doesn't specifically tell us why. The "why" seems to have many dimensions and subtle understandings. While philosophically and theologically the arguments of complementarity, conception, and "unnaturalness" ultimately all fail in their biblical explanations, we must continue to study and consider what the Bible is teaching us and why.

All that may have been too long and too much to read, but I was hoping it would be helpful.

I don't want this letter to get too long, so I'm gonna stop here, but I want to talk more. Please don't walk away from Christianity because of LGBTQ. There is so much more going on, so many more aspects, and so much at stake. LGBTQ can't control the entire conversation about everything, as seems to be happening so much in the country.

I know I didn't answer all your questions, so please write back and we'll keep talking about whatever you want.

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