Lesson 13: Gay or Straight

I was the kind of pastor with whom people shared their inner, often hidden lives. Early on, I became aware that almost everyone struggles with sexual issues in one way or another. I also came to realize people’s public personas were often just the opposite of their real selves. For instance, someone who was always speaking out against premarital sex had spoken to me about engaging in it since an early age. A pastor who regularly gave sermons about homosexuality as an abomination had revealed to me he was a practicing gay man. Needless to say, this makes me very wary of just about every claim made in the human sexuality discussion.

This suspicion is reinforced when theologians known for calmly and rationally discussing every other matter become angry and even profane when speaking about this issue. The most sophisticated often throw out abusive slogans such as God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. They incite fear warning about the possibility of sexual assault in transgendered restrooms or the destruction of women’s athletics.

At the same time, I myself experience some uneasiness as the LGBTQ+ community pushes us to quickly change all sorts of learned sexual attitudes. None of us are used to having our pastor or children’s teacher be open about their sexuality. And I am regularly challenged by friends who believe the Bible teaches heterosexual parenting is part of God’s plan. Indeed, some of my acquaintances even think the movement is part of a secular humanist program that is actively seeking to close the doors of all churches.

I also don’t take much stock in supposedly orthodox pronouncements in this area because I have noticed changing personal experience leads even the most adamant to change their minds. One of my Roman Catholic friends who worshipped daily abandoned her former position following the death of her husband when a gay couple down the street proved to be her most loving comforters. Sadly, her experience led to her leaving the church. I also have a number of friends who quickly became supporters of the movement when one of their children came out or after a college roommate committed suicide.

As a rule, I go with compassion in this kind of situation. After going through all the arguments and acknowledging my own emotional involvement, I believe the Christian position has to be extending love. We can and should discuss what this might entail but it can in no way deny the dignity of the homosexual person.

I’m comfortable taking this position first because I think liberation is a central theme in the history of salvation, beginning with the freeing of the Hebrew slaves in Egypt and extending through freedom of race, class, women, and so much more. I find no good reason for stopping this freedom movement with the LGBTQ community.

Second, I find it difficult to make this a central issue in the church when Jesus did not make it a part of his message. I have to think if it is so important, Jesus would have addressed it.

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