Questions for Christians Who Do Not Approve of Homosexual Practice

I have weighed in on the continuing debate on same sex marriage on a number of occasions on this blog. As I have done this, I have generally sought to distinguish that debate, which is primarily about the meaning of marriage, from the debate about the morality of homosexual practice and the nature and import of homosexual identity. That debate has its own time and place and recognizing the distinct issues raised by the two debates is essential if we are to think clearly about some of the topical questions that we face. Within this post, I intend to speak a bit more clearly to the debate about homosexual practice and identity.

I believe that there is much to be gained from an intensive engagement with the questions raised by the contemporary gay rights movement and would love to see thinking Christians really attempting to grapple with the issues on all sides of these debates. Rather than just stubbornly defending traditional positions, or rapidly shifting with the times, I think that it is important that we tarry with the troubling questions that are thrown up in this area. Rather than rushing to resolve the unsettling and painful cognitive dissonance that we feel, jumping to comforting solutions that depend much upon wilful blindness, ignorance, or inconsistency for their plausibility, I believe that we must seek to wrestle with the full measure of the cognitive dissonance, not shrinking back from the most difficult questions, even seeking to discover the tough questions that we could ask of ourselves that no one else is asking us.

If we don’t shrink from such questions and are prepared to venture into the very heart of the dark and unsettling uncertainty that they raise, we have the opportunity to learn much, tempering our understandings, taking valid criticisms on board, strengthening certain convictions, while highlighting problematic assumptions. This sort of questioning will require of us a willingness to engage with the most challenging and thoughtful interlocutors, and to ask tough and uncompromising questions of ourselves, when no one else is doing so.

When thinking through issues, I have running debates with myself, constantly searching out new questions to ask myself, looking for new interlocutors, and seeking to discover areas of tension or inconsistency in my thinking and practice. Much of the time I have been disappointed to find, on all sides of such debates, a reluctance to engage with the tough questions, and a preference to remain in broadly ideologically homogeneous groups, whose echo chambers leave our convictions untroubled.

The purpose of this post is to list a few example questions for those who do not affirm homosexuality and homosexual practice and to give an invitation for you to add some of the questions that you find most unsettling on these subjects, or the questions that you would be most keen to hear those who hold such a position answer. This isn’t the place where any of these questions will be answered. We need to hear and to feel their force before we even begin to think about answering them. Within a follow up post, I will ask some questions for those from other positions.

Questions

1. Homosexuality as we experience it today is a distinctively modern phenomenon in numerous respects, with a social character that differs from that of any previous society. To what extent should the Church seek understanding through hermeneutic engagement with the distinctive character of contemporary homosexuality, and to what extent should the ‘newness’ and unprecedented character of modern homosexuality be downplayed? Does this distinctive character of contemporary homosexual identity and practice provide any basis upon which to mitigate the apparent biblical condemnations of homosexual practice, or to distinguish between it and the forms condemned in the Scriptures?

2. Rather than merely reacting to the apparent challenges that the gay community poses to the Church, how can we digest the issues that are raised, both theoretically and practically, in a manner that represents growth on the part of the Church? What are some of the things that we might have to gain from engaging with these questions? How might such a change of posture in relationship to the questions change the sorts of positions that we arrive at, the way that we ask the questions, or the way that we arrive at conclusions?

3. The gay rights movement involves a shared persecuted identity that transcends differences of class, nationality, etc. The movement has been characterized by suffering with those persecuted in various parts of the world, by identification with the marginalized in society. The gay community is seen as a place of acceptance and welcome. Coming out stories can closely resemble evangelical conversion narratives, and reflection upon the principles undergirding shared identity is perhaps most pronounced among Christians and the LGBT community. What are we to make of such potential parallels to the Church? How might reflection upon areas of contrast and parallel help to inform the Church’s sense of its identity? Even if affirming homosexual practice is never going to be on the cards, what lessons might God be teaching us as the Church here? How might such analogies be explored as means for mutual understanding and communication?

4. How are we to understand the severity of the biblical condemnation of and punishment for homosexual practice and emotionally reconcile it with sensibilities that have been shaped by the experience of LGBT friends and family members in committed and seemingly loving relationships? Reading the story of Sodom, Romans 1, and other such passages, one gets the sense of a sort of rapacious homosexuality, an impression that can jar with the impression that one gets from actually witnessing the lives of many LGBT friends. How can we argue that these biblical texts are speaking to the homosexual relationships that we are witnessing? How ought we to reflect upon just how stark the disjunction between the biblical witness and our personal experience often is in such areas?

5. What is the place of people with homoerotic desires within the Church? How might their struggle with such desires serve as a ministry to the body, and how might the body minister to them in that struggle? How might the Church create a place for LGBT persons where they can thrive in terms of what we regard to be scriptural principles? How is the Church to perceive the identity of those with homoerotic desires, in a society where the concept of ‘orientation’ is given so much importance? What alternative categories and language can we bring to the description of something that is clearly more complicated than just a choice?

6. How should the Church relate to the questions raised by sexual appetite and desire? Paul suggests marriage for those who cannot exercise self-control in 1 Corinthians 7:8-9, admitting the strength of sexual desire and the good of marrying when remaining unmarried would expose us to unsustainable temptation. Such an option would only frustrate homosexuals and make their struggle worse. What means are provided for such individuals to resist temptation, and gain mastery over their sexual desire?

7. If we believe that God’s condemnation of homosexual practice are not just arbitrary and capricious, but are in accordance with created reality and ordered towards our good, what rationale can we provide for such harsh condemnation of consensual acts?

8. Modern sexual ethics, such as that encouraged by people like Dan Savage, gives a lot of significance to ‘realistic’ sexual ethics, recognizing the problematic and untidy character of sexual tastes and appetites and observing the problems resulting from not coming to terms with one’s sexuality. If coming to terms with your sexuality is this important, the common Christian expectation that people remain virgins until marriage can seem to be a recipe for disaster – mismatched libidos, unsatisfied fetishes, sexual frustration, and troubling areas of sexual desire that come to the surface as the terrain of sexuality becomes more familiar, matters that can rock the marriage bed, or cause it to collapse. Many gay Christians have faced a struggle to come to terms with and understand the nature of their sexuality in a context where happy marital heterosexuality is the presumed norm. Not a few of these people have ended up in marriages in which they feel trapped and frustrated, exposing all parties involved to the risk of incredible pain and bitterness. In a culture that values chastity and modesty, and opposes sexual practice outside of marriage, how do we reckon with the issues raised here? Without creating an idol of sexuality, how do we prepare young people and couples to navigate the complicated and treacherous terrain of sexuality and sexual desire? How do we respond to the ‘realistic’ sexual ethic of those who advocate sexual experimentation for individuals and pre-marital sex for couples as a necessary means to come to terms with sexual desire and form happy couples?

9. As Christians, how should we respond to the fact that homoerotic desires (and possibly paedophiliac desires too) likely have some sort of biological grounding? How do we relate this to our doctrines of creation, humanity, and sin?

10. As gender and sexuality issues impinge so powerfully upon subjective identity, especially within our society, do we have the theological resources graciously to address persons for whom a sexuality or gender identification we might deem disordered is integral to who they understand themselves to be?

11. How should Christians relate to LGBT persons outside of the Church? Should we encourage provisions to be made for those who cannot remain abstinent in the face of overwhelming homosexual desire, to limit the damage that they may cause to themselves and others? When the social marginalization and stigmatization of homosexuality encourages risky and dangerous sexual behaviour or widespread promiscuity, should we seek to provide social forms for more committed and durable relationships to be established, relationships that exhibit a number of the virtues that we might associate with marriage, curbing some of the dangerous tendencies that might attend homosexual practice?

12. How should Christians relate to the gay rights movement’s claims to key civil rights? Adoption? Access to reproductive technology? Legal provision for civil unions? Marriage? Protection from discrimination in the provision of services and in employment? Protection from ‘hate language’? Removing public funds from groups that discriminate? To what extent must a Christian commitment to public meaning and truth oppose the gay rights movement in such areas, maintaining differential treatment in the realm of the law and society? Are there any areas relating to civil rights where Christians should be at the forefront? Should Christians give up the fight for public truth and meaning in situations where they are doomed to lose the battle and be pushed into a position of having to make damaging concessions? Should we tactically abandon a debate framed in terms of public meaning, and recast the debate in terms of liberty for various parties, something that we stand to lose less from, both in public reputation and religious freedoms?

13. How should Christians address the ugly history and present reality of homophobia in the Church? Do we even have the right to speak into these debates? If we do, how would we argue for the existence of such a right? How can we speak into current debates without providing refuge or support to those with a personal animus against LGBT persons?

14. How are we to relate to ‘gay Christians’? How can we recognize the genuineness of someone’s faith while they are persisting without repentance in activity that the Scriptures appear to class as sin of a great degree, but which they do not perceive as sinful or morally compromised at all? Are there any clear precedents for this sort of issue? How should we respond to such serious sin of ignorance?

15. How are we to appropriate the Old Testament civil law and sexual regulations? Can we just shrug off the fact that practising homosexuals seem to have been sentenced to death under the Mosaic Law? If homosexuality remains such a serious sin under the new covenant, should we support a movement towards criminalizing and punishing practising homosexuals in the long run, even though we might deny the legitimacy of the death penalty for it in the context of contemporary society and the new covenant order?

Is the fact that few Christians are advocating this merely an effect of the present location of the Overton window, or are there principled arguments against it? To what extent do Christians dissemble the ultimate trajectories of their positions given the sensitivity of the current social and political situation, just as they accuse the gay rights movement of doing?

Are we guilty of the exact same selectivity as that of which we accuse Christians supportive of gay rights, when we fail to apply certain elements of Old Testament sexual legislation, such as that forbidding sexual relations with a menstrual woman? What principles are guiding our appropriation of the Old Testament Law here?

16. What form should the conversation surrounding homosexual practice take? Should a conversation be entered into, or does this compromise our witness by treating homosexual practice as if it could be entertained as a ‘thinkable’ option? To what extent should we be seeking to be attentive to the self-reported experience and perception of practising gay Christians? To what extent should our language be condemnatory, when such language might hurt or alienate vulnerable Christians? Is there a way in which we can speak clearly against the justification of homosexual practice, while maintaining a deep sympathy and support for those who are struggling?

17. How are we to relate to the questions of nature that this debate throws up? How ought we to relate to the person who perceives himself to be a homosexual and ‘born that way’, unable to change, no matter how much he tries? Should engagement with such people clarify our understanding of what is ‘natural’ in any way?

18. Should the Church support the use of therapy designed to change people’s orientations, when such therapy has often seemed to be ineffective and deeply damaging in the long run? What lessons can the Church learn from engaging with the academic literature on this subject?

19. As Christians, how do we treat the ‘exception’, while maintaining biblical norms? For instance, how ought we to relate to the intersexed, who under some definitions make up over 1% of live births? The biology of a number of these individuals would seem to many to write them out of the script. I think that many regard the person who experiences exclusively homoerotic desire in a similar way, and feel that they must be excluded for that reason.

In biblical teaching, the exceptional figure can be sometimes be treated as the paradigmatic case of the reversals characteristic of the kingdom. The kingdom of God is most clearly seen through the lens of such figures as the eunuch, the barren woman, the Gentile, or the extreme sinner. Could it be that some of the paradigm cases of the kingdom in our day and age are intersexed persons or those Christians with homosexual desires? Does the church need to work to rediscover its character as the place of the exceptions, rather than merely underwriting the status of the norms? Passages such as Isaiah 56 speak of the inclusion of exceptions such as the eunuch: how might such inclusion be practically reflected in our treatment of homosexuals? How might the ‘exceptions’ teach the Church about its own identity?

20. Does the Church’s privileging of the family lead to a forgetfulness of the vocation of singleness, deep friendship, and a loss of resources with which LGBT might be ministered to?

21. How can we clearly frame God’s condemnation of homosexual practice by the grace and goodness of the gospel? If homosexual practice is inconsistent with God’s good ends for humanity, how might deeper acquaintance with those good ends help us to demonstrate that homosexual relationships are rightly avoided for the sake of some richer and greater?

OK, so those are a few suggested questions to get things going. Leave your own questions in the comments!

About Alastair Roberts

Alastair Roberts (PhD, Durham University) writes in the areas of biblical theology and ethics, but frequently trespasses beyond these bounds. He participates in the weekly Mere Fidelity podcast, blogs at Alastair’s Adversaria, and tweets at @zugzwanged.
This entry was posted in Controversies, Culture, Ethics, Sex and Sexuality, Society, Theological. Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to Questions for Christians Who Do Not Approve of Homosexual Practice

  1. Paul Baxter says:

    Good topic. I’ve thought and wrestled with a few of those myself over the last few years.
    The question I might add, relating to the particularities of my church polity, is this, what questions should be asked, and what answers should be deemed appropriate regarding homosexuality when interviewing people seeking membership in the church.

    On a completely different and lighter note, my wife and I recently watched a few episodes of a reality show called Tabatha’s Salon Takeover. Somehow it brought to mind some comments you’ve made before about leadership and relationships. The show gets a bit formulaic after watching a few episodes, but I’d enjoy seeing your thoughts on it if you get a chance. Episodes are available on youtube. Watching two of them should be sufficient.

    Hope all is well with you.

    • Good question on church polity. There are a lot of questions in that area that I didn’t raise. For instance, to what extent should differing views on homosexuality provide a barrier to church unity?

      I haven’t seen it. I will have to take a look. Thanks for the recommendation!

    • And things are going well with me, thank you. I trust they are well with you too.

  2. I don’t have any answers, but have you read The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert?

  3. Cynthia Mcquerry says:

    As an ex lesbian/ bisexual who was raised as a christian, i can say that men and women differ in this area. I personally do not believe people are born this way, but are a product of the society we live in, circumstances and experiences. As a child, i was exposed to female sexual experimentation between friends which i believe laid the foundation of deviant sexual behavior. As a teen, i longed for intimacy and found others who did as well. My casual use of drugs and alcohol numbed the guilt and my need for “love” fueled the fire. Perhaps a female’s need for closeness contributes to this behavior and males dont seem to need the emotional feelings as much as the physical . Often, i have seen addictions such as sexual and drug and alcohol go hand in hand with homosexuality. That is not a blanket statement, just an observation. I used to think it was to numb the guilt, but now i see it as more a part of some people’s spiritual condition. There are many who dont seem to have other addictions, and some women choose to be with females after extreme emotional or physical violence against them by a male. These are just some more thoughts from one who has been there. I was married for 23 years and have 6 children and 4 grandchildren and dont think about being that way any more.

    • Thank you for the comment, Cynthia, and for sharing your experience.

    • Carrie Ann says:

      Have you thought the reason why drugs and alcohol plague people like me is because of ignorant Christian parents (or friends, or even community! I’ve had a friend who was accepted as gay by his parents, but his pastor called him out in the middle of a sermon and told him he’d burn in hell and encouraged others there to condemn him too! How’s that for ‘loving grace’?) who belittle, mock, and outright spew hatred in our direction? You know, that little detail? It’s not exactly like I’m addicted to other females, or that I had a bad experience with men. I just… don’t… find… men… attractive. I don’t. They’re okay looking, but I wouldn’t want to have intimate relations with them. Is that really so hard to understand?

      • I am truly sorry to hear of your experience and those of your friend, Carrie Ann. I hope that no one here condones such abusive treatment. I don’t doubt that the spiritual abuse of some congregations and the homophobia that is endemic in some Christian contexts has led to the alienation and marginalization of many vulnerable persons, leading them to get into self-destructive patterns of behaviour.

        I am much less persuaded that this is a sufficient explanation for fact that drug use is several times higher among gay persons than in the general population, nor that the hedonic partying lifestyle that has a particular strong expression in certain gay communities is comfortably attributable to the reality of homophobia, rather than a preferred form of gay socialization that would exist even in the absence of homophobia. I suspect that if you told a significant number of people engaged in these subcultures, where drug use, casual sex, and other risky or self-destructive practices are widespread, that their behaviour in these regards is a result of the fact that they are victims of homophobia, rather than something wilfully chosen, they would be rather offended by a seemingly patronizing assessment.

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  5. Lots of questions to wrestle with on a topic that is very challenging to navigate today. I agree that churches need to wrestle with these questions as the culture and the Scriptural teaching on this continue to separate.

    I will quickly comment on #21. I think that if we replace “homosexual practice” with “sinful practice”, then this is a question that the church has always had to address. And it is a question every person has had to think through as they evaluate their walk and its conformity to Christ. The sinful practice and relationships may vary at different times and for different cultures, but the principle challenge still exists how does the church communicate the good news to sinners. The challenge for the sinner (and that is all of us), is how do we respond to God’s commands that go against our natural desires and may prevent us from doing what we would otherwise want to do.

    A rewording of question #21:
    How can we clearly frame God’s condemnation of [sinful practice] by the grace and goodness of the gospel? If [sinful practice] is inconsistent with God’s good ends for humanity, how might deeper acquaintance with those good ends help us to demonstrate that [sinful relationships and behavior] are rightly avoided for the sake of some[thing] richer and greater?

    Thanks for a challenging post.

  6. Chris Wooldridge says:

    A few thoughts…

    1. The laws in Leviticus 18 and 20 don’t address thoughts or feelings much (either negatively or positively), they tend to be focused solely on acts. Likewise, when Christians approach the topic, we typically regard ‘homosexual practice’ as wrong, but not ‘homosexuality’ per se (in a simple, rationalistic way). But most of the arguments for Christian acceptance of SSM are quite emotionally charged arguments generally (at least from my experience). How can the two very different ways of thinking interact?
    2, 7, 8. We might begin to see marriage as a vocation (like singleness), not simply as an ‘expression of love’ (a positive step I think). How might we begin to view Christian dating with these considerations in mind?
    3. It would be tempting to ask ourselves whether the LGBT community would have ever experienced any broad acceptance if the church had been more loving and tolerant of those with homosexual (and other sexually abnormal) desires. Why aren’t we the first place people run to, rather than the first place people run from?
    4, 9, 10, 17. Are people, homosexual or otherwise, basically ‘nice’ at all? To what extent does Romans 1 enable us to peer deeper into reality and to shake us from our comfortable misconceptions about ourselves, including our sexual identities?
    5, 6. In an increasingly individualistic society, loneliness can exacerbate problems associated with unmanaged desires. How can the church act more like a community where the lost can find love and acceptance?
    11. Did the existence of the death penalty in Israelite society help this issue and could it help us too?
    12, 13. If the church is at the heart of every culture (by definition), then how do we sensitively but firmly present this truth to the world? Should the Church ever appeal to just being a ‘party’ which requires liberty like other ‘parties’?
    14, 15. How does this cause the Church to readdress the crucial but neglected topic of excommunication?
    16. Perhaps we need to recover a culture in which healthy, good-natured debate happens? The importance of formal, public debate is highly neglected.
    18. Should the Church approve of all the kinds of behavioural therapy that is provided by our national health service?

    • Thanks for the comment, Chris. You make some good points. Are there any particularly tough questions on this subject not already mentioned with which you think that we really need to wrestle?

  7. Chris Wooldridge says:

    Well, it would probably be the second response I raised. Gay marriage is rooted in the idea that marriage is simply an expression/public recognition of love. If marriage is a vocation, how should a Christian approach to dating in the western world reflect this reality?

  8. Several of the questions deal with the topic of the “image” or typical understanding of homosexuality in our culture today. I don’t mean this as a definitive or sufficient explanation to those questions, but I’m persuaded that some of the perceived differences in homosexuality today (from being a “persecuted group” to having a totally different character than in the past) is in large part due to the excellent advertising efforts on the parts of pro-homosexual groups. Tying this movement with civil rights was a stroke of genius, for instance.

    That makes good questions even more important to ask (for both sides), but in my experience it also means that there are layers upon layers of emotion to cut through with many people before you can even have a decent conversation about the topic, I’m afraid.

  9. Matthew N. Petersen says:

    Several Christians–most notably Paul Evdokimov (though also, it seems Bulgakov and Charles Williams)–have argued that an understanding of marriage as being primarily a social institution is insufficiently Christian, and that instead, marriage is a sacrament of love. How is this idea related to the question of gay marriage? Is there some reason that homosexual love cannot be sacramentalized? If so, are we really saying (covertly) that homosexuals actually hate each other?

    On the other hand, are arguments based on marriage as a social institution inherently sub-Christian? If so, how can (or simply can) they be fully Christianized?

    Finally, if we ultimately need to reject Evdokimov’s conclusions, how do we answer the questions he raises regarding the nature of marriage?

      • Matthew Petersen says:

        Although this is the place for questions, and I really appreciated that you didn’t rush to answer, I would be interested in your thoughts.

      • Thanks for the comment, Matthew. I apologize for the delay of my response. As you can probably tell, things have been rather busy on the comments front elsewhere.

        In response to your questions, I would say that marriage is much more than a social institution, but it isn’t less. Speaking about marriage as a social institution is a way in which we seek to accommodate our convictions to the wider cultural debate on the subject. However, it must definitely never be all that we say on the matter. If arguments based on marriage as a social institution are not all that we say on the subject, there is nothing inherently sub-Christian about them. They only become sub-Christian when they serve as the limit of our discourse on marriage.

        Homosexual love cannot be sacramentalized as marriage for several reasons. First, marriage was established by God, and established in a male-female form. God joins husband and wife together, not man alone. Second, marriage received a unique blessing from God. Third, marriage is not the sacrament of love in some purely generic sense, but of love that fulfils the telos of sexually dimorphic bodies, the unique form of love that brings both halves of the human race together as one flesh, of love whose expression and natural fecundity is capable of conceiving others to be comprehended within that single bond of love. Fourth, marriage displays the bond between grace and nature and does not nullify the latter in affirming the former.

        And, no, we are not saying that homosexuals hate each other. What we are saying is that the love between them can never be marital in character. Also, to the extent that it is specifically a sexual relationship between two persons of the same sex that is seeking to be recognized as sacramental, not merely a relationship of spiritual kinship or committed friendship, such a relationship is presented as contrary both to nature and divine will in Scripture. We should be able to distinguish between the goodness of the affection and commitment that can exist between two persons and actions that they can consensually engage in that are contrary to God’s will. There need be no contradiction between recognizing the positive dimensions of the former, while condemning the latter. There can be much to admire and even emulate in many same sex relationships: we are neither justified in legitimizing the sin of homosexual activity or in condemning every dimension of such relationships.

      • Matthew Petersen says:

        Thanks for the response! It’s helpful seeing other people’s thoughts on these issues. The last paragraph was particularly helpful.

        I think I would phrase a few parts differently, but I mostly agree. The supernatural does not destroy the natural, but raises it up. So the Christian understanding of marriage does not invalidate pre-Christian (pre-Christian, not sub-Christian) marriage, but transfigures it into a sacrament of Christ’s love for His Church.

        Likewise a Christian marriage is, first, an image of the Marriage of Christ, and His Bride. In the following quote, Charles Williams may lay a bit too much emphasis on the identity of the lovers with Christ, but his point stands:

        “Lastly, this identification [of love with Jesus Christ]–this caution is perhaps unnecessary?–is in no sense brought about by man, any more than the Mass is the result of our efforts. Every Mass was said once on Calvary, and we do not so much repeat as are in the Mass absorbed into that eternal offering. So each marriage was lived in His live, though–in terms of time–it waits its due time in the order of the universe to become manifest. Whether they are conscious of it or not, no pair of true lovers are in their history more than this accorded manifestation. Their business is not to be, but to know that they are, His symbols, and that their marriage is His life.
        ~Outlines of Romantic Theology”

        It is only in that context, a context which treats the individuals as partaking of the Reality, Christ and His Church, that the flashes of love are the very Flame of the Lord (Ct 8:6), and hence only in the context of imaging Christ and His Church that marriage can be a sacrament of love. Marriage is indeed a Great Mystery–The Vulgate reads sacramentum hoc magnum est–but only because we speak concerning Christ and the Church.

        But this does, I believe, show that gay marriage, is, at least in a sense, symptomatic of a Christian heresy–one that seeks to worship the flame of love, while denying that that flame is the Love of the Father and His Son Jesus Christ, namely, the Holy Spirit; and treats our marriages as a sacrament of love, without reference to Christ and His Church.

  10. What I find intriguing in all the above, and very well delineated, is the absence of a discussion on how much should our sexuality determine who we are in action as opposed to the lack of activity? I mean to say that there is a mystery about our sexuality individually and in society. Can not our sexuality be something we must give back to God, almost like a sacrifice? Can it be gift in the absence as well as in the presence? For example, as a woman who has been chaste, indeed, celibate without the vow, for almost 30 years, but very much having the same needs and desires as any other heterosexual, I can only literally move beyond the sensual and even spiritual ideas I have of myself in order to become holy. Truly, I have to become a new person, not one I think I am. There is more to me than I realize, The question of sexuality must be addressed in all people who find themselves in a situation in life were they must be totally chaste. Now, that not only means in practice, but in spirit. A spiritual chastity, a transcendence, which only comes truly in dying to all one’s desires and needs, is possible. This is the call of all of us-to a perfection, either found here, or after some type of purification after death.

    This is the rough road of dying to self, which John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila and others describe clearly. The challenge before all of us is most difficult, and even painful. But, if one truly seeks Love, Who is a Person, that is Christ, and daily sees one’s humanity as needing redemption in everything, the task becomes real and doable.

    I am not downplaying loneliness, or being, and feeling unloved or incomplete. I have faced that all these years, as I have never been loved by a man, as many have, but come to some peace that my sexuality will never be fulfilled on this earth in the way nature intended, and more importantly, that I do not even understand the type of Love which allows me to come to peace in the void. To not have had the blessing of a loving relationship has denied talents, gifts, possibilities for creativity. In other words, many aspects of who I am will never be realized in my lifetime. One can come to peace. This is not easy. But, it can and does happen. This is not denying my sexuality, but seeing it transformed into something else I can hardly imagine.

    We are so used to thinking that action is fulfilment that we forget that even fulfilment in love can come about in contemplation and self-denial. This most likely sounds impossible, but I can assure it, as a hearty, loving woman, that there is a different kind of love to be found in the denial of human love and physical intimacy. I hope I do not offend anyone by seeming simplistic, as the way, although simple, is as complex as each individual. Love is more than we know.

    • Thanks for the comment, Marie! As the post above is designed only to pose questions to Christians who do not approve of homosexual practice (a group among whom I include myself), I don’t really outline my answers to them. My hope is that we will all take time to feel the force of the questions before trying to answer them. I make some remarks within this post, which might tie into some of your thoughts.

  11. Thanks and I shall take a look at the other link.

  12. Pingback: Ten Years of Blogging: 2012-2013 | Alastair's Adversaria

  13. stasisonline says:

    Good questions, many of which are not easy to answer. But so many questions that just responding to a few seems too inconsequential to even begin, and responding to all questions seems too much for others to read!

    • Thanks for the comment, stasisonline. The main purpose of this post is not to look for immediate responses, but to spend time tarrying with the questions, experiencing and acknowledging their full force and adding more questions of our own. It is possible to respond to these questions, but our instinctive tendency in such situations is always to rush to respond or to counter with our own questions or accusations. I want to discourage that tendency. Instead, I would like us carefully to listen to and think about the challenges to our positions, to recognize the real tensions that they expose, and to resist the urge to respond immediately. As we engage in this process, I believe that the responses that we do finally adopt will be more perceptive, judicious, appropriate, and responsible.

      • I also believe that people will take our responses a great deal more seriously when we demonstrate our willingness truly to attend to their questions, not to rush to answers, and not habitually to give answers that seem to be designed to dismiss or brush off tough questions. Having done our duty here, we will be much harder to dismiss ourselves.

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