Monday, September 05, 2005

15. A Strong Delusion

I have just now finished reading A Strong Delusion: Confronting the “Gay Christian” Movement by Joe Dallas.  I will admit to skimming through some if it, but that’s because he seemed to be ‘confronting’ things that I don’t believe – i.e.: the notion that believing that homosexuality is innate naturally leads to acceptance of homosexual behavior.  If you’ve read any of my blog you know that I don’t believe that – my attempt to discover if homosexual behavior is okay is not revolving around my belief (or inclination to believe) that homosexuality is innate.  Another assumption he makes is that gay Christians for the most part dismiss the Bible as an authority on homosexuality because the writers of Scripture had no knowledge of homosexual orientation as we understand it today.  Maybe he’s right about the fact that most gay Christians hold this view (Mel White definitely does) – he has had more contact with gay Christians than I have, but that is not the perspective I am looking at this from.  I believe that God knew what He was doing when he put the Bible together, so I’m not going to ignore passages of Scripture simply because the authors may not have understood something – God understands everything.  

So… this book left me a bit frustrated, simply because most of it was not dealing with any issues that I’m thinking about… and because it appears (to me) to give an unbalanced view of the gay Christian perspective.  In the entire book there was only one chapter confronting the actual Scriptural arguments that gay Christian theologians use – and he didn’t cover all of them (notably omitting the arguments I found most interesting: the Roman centurion and the meaning of the word eunuch). He has recommended other books that are more exhaustive, so I’m going to see if I can find copies of them.  I am doing my best to be balanced in my reading.  

One of the other things that frustrated me was his terminology.  This is a syntax thing, I suppose, but for the most part he does not make a distinction between homosexuality and homosexual behavior.  This is a distinction that I think must be made, and the language we use is important in making it… but I may have a personal bias in this… in grade 10 when someone spread the rumor around my entire school that I was a lesbian, I hadn’t done anything, and no one was saying that I had… but… well… it was a bad year.  Luckily I changed schools for grade 11.  Anyway, the point is, the distinction must be made.  And while I don’t think he believes that a person can’t be a Christian and be gay, he keeps saying that because he was not careful with his use of language… and I’m kind of sensitive to that because there was a time (a rather large portion of time) when I was worried that I was doomed to hell because of what I was, so I don’t like hearing that.

One of the things he says that I just disagree with is that Christians do not ‘pick and choose’ what passages of Scripture to believe and preach on.  He says that Christians are quick to condemn heterosexual sin as much as homosexual sin.  I just don’t agree with this.  First of all, no one got up in arms and said that legitimizing common-law relationships between heterosexual couples was a sign that our ‘civilization was in crisis’ … and if anyone did, no one really cared.  There were no protests or letter writing campaigns or spiteful sermons, even though most conservative Christians would agree that common-law relationships are a sin.  For some reason it just didn’t bother people that much… maybe because common-law, heterosexual relationships look like marriage.  Who knows.   And divorce… I almost never hear that talked about.  I went to a church in Toronto where both the senior pastor and his wife had been married previously.  And no one asked whether or not either of their previous spouses had committed adultery, therefore leaving them free to marry again. (Matthew 19:8-9).  And then there’s the issue of women in the church.  Most of the verses that talk about this are dismissed as culturally based, and people look to rather obscure things (like the fact that in his letters Paul sometimes puts the woman’s name first. E.g.: Romans 16:3) to prove that women should be allowed to preach, or speak etc…  And yet when gay theologians try to do the same thing they are accused of diluting Scripture.  

I will say that, other than Tony Campolo, this author is the first one I’ve come across to take the conservative view who didn’t feel the need to use some of the more hateful rhetoric I’ve read.   He also does not insist that all homosexuals can change (even though he himself identifies as ‘ex-gay’).  He probably takes the most reasonable stance on this that I’ve read so far actually… saying that just because some people change does not mean that all change, and likewise, just because some people are unable to change does not mean that this applies to everyone.  

One of the things he talks about in an early chapter is how he believes that the legitimization of homosexuality will lead to the legitimization of pedophilia.  Now before you get all upset, he (quite strongly) explains that homosexuals are not pedophiles (something I wish would be shouted from the rooftops until heterosexuals get it in their heads… statistically speaking, their children are safer from sexual abuse with us than they are in their own homes with their heterosexual parents.)  What he is saying is that he believes that lifting the cultural taboo off of homosexuality will lead to lifting of other cultural taboos, including pedophilia.  He cites some quotations from various sources that sound strikingly similar to arguments from gay activists – i.e.: pedophilia is a problem only to those who are distressed by it.  

I wanted to address this because I think that there is a fundamental difference between the taboo on homosexuality and the taboo on pedophilia.  I do believe that it was the lifting of restrictions on sexual activities between heterosexuals during the so-called ‘sexual revolution’ that led to the gay rights movement.  The idea was that whatever two (or more… the 60s were weird) consenting adults did together was their own business.  As long as no one was hurt, why should anyone else care?  I think the fundamental difference is contained in the phrase that you will hear repeated again and again in arguments for gay rights – “consenting adults”.  First of all, consent.  As a society, we have agreed that children cannot consent – not that they are not allowed to, but that they do not have the ability to consent.  And this does not only apply to sexual activity.  I remember learning at one point (after a weird incident involving our phone bill) that any contract I signed before I was 16 years old was not in any way binding because it was recognized that I did not have the ability to make that kind of decision.  I believe that for pedophilia to be accepted it would take a fundamental shift in our perception of what children were capable of.  Another huge paradigm shift that would have to take place is in our perception of what our role as adults is in relation to children.  Now, perhaps I am a bit extreme in this (I do work with children a lot), but I believe that one of the major roles of adults (not just parents, but all adults) is to protect children.  And I believe that most people, whether they would word it like that or not, agree with me.  This is why, when organizations like World Vision, or the Red Cross (by the way, donate if you can) want to elicit donations; they will use the image of children suffering more than any other. Instinctively, as adults, we want to protect them.  This instinctive impulse is the main reason why I do not believe that the taboo on pedophilia will be lifted, no matter what taboos are lifted in the sexual activities of adults… at least not as a result of the lifting of these restrictions.  

Anyway, I just wanted to address that because his argument was so alarming, and at its base, rather faulty (at least to me).  

Frustratingly, this author (like Stott) also does not offer anything up as hope for gay Christians.  He tells his story, but it is just his story.  He was gay, he is now not, and so he’s married and happy.  But, as he already stated, this is not going to be the case for everyone.  The thing is, I’m realizing, is that none of the conservative authors (with the exception of Tony Campolo – and even then, it’s only one chapter in an entire book) are writing to gay Christians, they are writing to straight Christians to tell them how to argue against pro-gay theology – this book in particular, as evidenced by the hilarious mock conversations he puts at the end of his chapters.  This does not really help me all that much.  

Next I think I’ll read Boswell’s book on gay marriages in the middle ages… I’m kind of inclined to save it for last, because I’m so excited about it.  I hadn’t realized how much of a historical text it was, and, well… I’m a history buff.  But I don’t really have much else to read on this subject on hand… well, except for Women, Slaves and Homosexuals… which… oy.  I’ll get to it.  I will… just not now.  It’s just too heavy.

15 Comments:

ding said...

thanks for stopping by churchgal. i look forward to reading more here.

Marshall Sherman said...

Question...how do you respond to 1 Corinthians 6:9, "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."?

Or Leviticus 18:22? 22 " 'Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable."

And how do you explain that when God created man, he created a male and a female, and not a male and a male?



Just a couple questions...


Marshall
><>

JJ said...

marshall

The questions you ask are questions I am wrestling through right now, trying to figure out what God wants for me and for my life.

Your first question... let me say that nothing I have done, or am doing could label me a homosexual offender, as I have never even come close to doing anything with a girl. I will also mention that in my reading, the question has come up of what the words that are translated there as 'homosexual offender' meant in their original language. While I'm not sure what I believe on that question, I think the answer is not as black and white as people like to think.

On the Leviticus question... that one verse (and the other that is almost identical to it a few chapters later) are surrounded by other verses that the vast majority of Chritians feel completely free to ignore. Regardless of what side I come down on in this issue, I'm not entirely sure anyone can quote Leviticus to me with any kind of justification.

As for the question about why God created Adam and Eve, not two men or two women -- I don't see what this question has to do with anything. I am not trying to see if everyone should be gay, but the fact remains that a small percentage (not the 10% that is widely quoted, but still) of people are gay (as are a small percentage of most mammals)... so what does God want from this small percentage?

Anyway, welcomce to my blog. I hope I've answered your questions.

Nathan Will Sheets said...

Hey JJ,

My name is Nathan, and I am the author of the ex-gay blog New Love in the Son. (http://ex-gay.nathansheets.com) I have been reading your blog and, though now I do not have any thoughts that I can write down, I will try to get back to you on some of this stuff. I just have to think about how to do this the right way.

Keep seeking after truth!

In Messiah Yeshua,

Nathan Sheets

Marshall Sherman said...

JJ,
From all my readings in the scripture, God clearly states homosexuality is wrong. He destroyed nations for it.

By saying you are a homosexual, you offend God. He is jealous of His glory. And he doesn't want us as Christians to cause others to sin. Without your knowledge, there may be a non-Christian homosexual who sees you and says, "She's doing it, and she's a Christian so it must be ok." and not have the control that you've exorted. Or not even see the need for it.

God is black and white. He's there or he's not. He loves us or he doesn't. He died or he didn't. He created the universe to run in an orderly way. He did not create people to be homosexuals. In Romans 1:26 the Bible says, "That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relationships with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men and, as a result, suffered within themselves the penalty they so richly deserved."

Now, you may not have done anything with another girl. Indeed, you said you haven't, and I have no reason not to believe you. What's the point though, of being homosexual, if you do nothing about it? But, Jesus said, "...if you look at a women with lust in your heart, you've already commited adultry with her." And it's worse for homosexuals because God said it was wrong.

"On the Leviticus question... that one verse (and the other that is almost identical to it a few chapters later) are surrounded by other verses that the vast majority of Chritians feel completely free to ignore.

I know. And it's sickening. It's wrong. And it shouldn't happen. But that doesn't change the validity of the other ones. Just because other people break the law, doesn't mean that it's ok for you or anyone else to break. But I know One who can quote Leviticus to you with justification. Jesus. He fulfilled the law to the last letter. Never broke any one of the commandments, laws or anything. And he wasn't a homosexual. Indeed he preached against it.

What does God want from that small percentage? To turn back to Him. To be the way they were made.

It sounds to me like you're struggling inside. Let's look at an analogy, (I know you have your license, but bear with me.) You're a teenager again. You've jut got your driver's license, and you're taking the car out for the first time-alone-you decide that, contrary to everything you've been told up to now, you're going to drive on the left side of the road. (Remember, this is the USA we're talking about, not the U.K. or Hong Kong) What's going to happen? You're going to encounter serious opposition. I don't mean that to say you'll encounter societal opposition, although that may happen, but you'll also encounter opposition emotionally, physically (doesn't sound like that'll be a problem), and spiritually. Homosexuality is a sin. It's just that way.

God cannot dwell where there is sin. And he cannot and will not answer your prayers while you willingly continue in that sin.

Now, I'm not saying, "You sinner! God is so angry with you, he's not going to talk to you!" I'm simply saying what I've read from my Bible.


JJ, Jesus loves you so much. He doesn't want you to struggle. He doesn't want you to face such opposition! But it's only natural if you choose homosexuality. God will turn you over to your sin.

I'm not condemning you. Indeed, there is no condemnation in Christ. But as a brother in the Lord, I'm simply showing the line. I'm sorry for the long disertation, please forgive me.

God Bless!

Marshall
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Brady said...

Hi JJ. I really like your blog. Lots of things that are going on with me as I have been dealing with my faith and my sexuality. I especially liked your first post about life alone.

JJ said...

marshall I'm afraid you and I are going to have to agree to disagree. I do not believe I am sinning or offending God by being anything, homosexual or heterosexual. Temptation is not a sin, in fact the Bible clearly says that Jesus was tempted in every way.

And not that I think that this is a point on the pro-gay theology side, but you are wrong in one thing, Jesus never once mentioned homosexuality. He did not preach against it.

As for finding it disgusting that Christians feel free to ignore most of Leviticus, again I disagree with you, Jesus disobeyed the laws set out there (about washing hands, working on the Sabbath), and God revealed that not all of those laws were necessary for Christians when he revealed himself to Peter. I simply do not see Leviticus (and the laws therein) as a moral guide.

As for whether or not God made anyone homosexual, again, I'm just going to disagree with you. I don't know what makes people gay (any more than I know what makes some animals gay), but I am, and I am trying to glorify God in my struggle, and in my search, and in my life.

I do not believe that being honest about my search into what the truth is about homosexuality will turn anyone away from God, I think we are called to be as honest as we can, no one is drawn to an inauthentic gospel.

...anyway...

Brady Hey, welcome to my blog! I checked and you've got one too! I don't have time right this moment to go over there, but I will head over there later. So excited to meet other people on this journey with me! :)

Marshall Sherman said...

You're right, my mistake, I was thinking of Paul. I'm sorry.

And again, you're right. Temptation is not a sin. But you are offending God by not being what he made you. Essentially it's saying, "I don't care how you made me, I'm going to be like this. Because that's how I feel."

"As for finding it disgusting that Christians feel free to ignore most of Leviticus, again I disagree with you, Jesus disobeyed the laws set out there (about washing hands, working on the Sabbath), and God revealed that not all of those laws were necessary for Christians when he revealed himself to Peter. I simply do not see Leviticus (and the laws therein) as a moral guide."

I was specifically talking, and I believe you were too, about the laws regarding sexual relations. Jesus said he did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. The laws and precepts about washing your hands before you eat, were not given by God. Those were rules man made up, to be more "holy". When Jesus came he didn't have to follow them because 1) they weren't given by God, and 2) He was making the point, it's not actions that make you holy.
As for keeping the Sabbath holy, I can't find one specific incident where he did anything unholy, EVER. So yeah, he did picked some grain on the Sabbath, but he didn't do anything unholy. Besides, HE could disobey any laws he wanted to! He was God! He made the laws:-). Did he disobey them simply because he could? No. But he could have.

"As for whether or not God made anyone homosexual, again, I'm just going to disagree with you. I don't know what makes people gay (any more than I know what makes some animals gay), but I am, and I am trying to glorify God in my struggle, and in my search, and in my life."

Very well. I disagree with you, and as I have used Bible verses to back up my opinion, and I haven't seen any on yours, in my own little mine, I'll have to see that I'm right. Unless you can provide me with some scripture that says homosexuality is ok. If you can do that, then you'll convince me.


praying for you!

Marshall
><>

Brady said...

Hi Marshall,

When you tell JJ that she is offending God by not being how God made her, I'm a bit confused. You see, she has said on here that she has tried and tried to be straight, but she isn't. If you read around, you'll find lots of Christian gays that have tried to be straight but are never able to achieve it. Even many (most) ex-gay groups out there admit that some gay people may have to be celibate because heterosexuality is not achievable.

Now, I can see how you can disagree with someone like me. I am Christian and gay, and I have decided that my committed relationship is the best answer for my life.

But, JJ is celibate. She is doing everything God and the Church as her to do. If you look around, even the most generous claims of ex-gay groups claim that only about 1/3 of their participants are able to become straight to some degree, and their claims are nothing more than anecdotal, so I have a sneaking suspicion that they are over reported.

JJ seems to have tried to be straight, but it is not working. She hasn't done anything to "be gay" except for admit that she is attracted to the same sex. I think it would be more of a sin for her to lie about that all of her life than to simply admit what is there and try to work through it.

Also, in your last comment, I don't think JJ ever claimed that scripture said homosexuality was ok. She simply said she had no idea why people are gay. That's a far cry from saying gay relationships are ok.

JJ- thanks! Feel free to stop by sometime...

JJ said...

marshall I think there is a fundamental difference in what you and I are talking about. You keep saying that homosexuality is a sin, but homosexuality is nothing more than a state of being. The question I am trying to answer on my blog is whether or not homosexual behavior is wrong. There is a clear difference. I do not think I can possibly be offending God by stating the fact of who I am. I spent years asking for Him to change me, and for some reason (known only to Him) He wouldn't, so I am now trying to figure out how to live out a Christian life without lying about or denying who I am (whether or not that is what God made me to be, I can't pretend it's not true).

As for the idea that the Bible says that everyone was made straight, I don't see that anywhere. I actually would encourage you to read other entries in my blog (The Children are Free for starters) because you seem to think that I am trying to push aside the Bible, and I am not. There are actual, Biblical arguments suggesting that homosexual behavior might be alright, I'm trying to decide what I believe.

And Brady is right, the groups that work to make gay people straight do not have a very good 'success' rate.

Eric said...

Marshall - judge not or you too will be judged. do you need the scripture address for that one?

your arrogance of assuming that your interpretation of things is the only truth reveals the insincerity of your statement when you say "I'm not condemning you".

who are you kidding?

you say, "i'm praying for you" as if people who disagree with your interpretation of "our" Bible is lost. to say that i disagree with you does not mean that i disagree with the Bible or with God. you are not truth. Jesus is.

rather than using scripture like a dagger to pierce the hearts of those who worship Jesus as Christ (believe it or not, they are out there even if you don't see them and even if they don't agree with you), try taking the plank out of your own eye. your pride is blinding you.

"praying for you!"

Eric said...

sorry for my last comment JJ to Marshall - perhaps it was a bit strongly worded...

question for you JJ - what and where did you hear something about the meaning of the word "eunuch"? I recently was told an interpretation of it and want to research it more.

JJ said...

eric No worries about your comment to Marshall, I was doing my best to hold back!

The eunuch thing is from The Children are Free, which I think you mentioned that someone had leant you. I can't remember what page, but it's in the section that discusses gays in Scripture.

Anonymous said...

JJ,

This is Di the anonymous blogger again.

Just stopped by to say that I've never read this book and never had a desire to. I did, however, read Desires in Conflict from cover to cover to educate myself on NSF's struggle.

It's a very good read. It helps you understand the root causes, even though most of it is written to the male point of view. And keep that in mind when you read some of these kinds of books. The root causes of homosexuality and the behaviors vary WIDELY between men and women. A lot of what comes across as a "stereotype" (such as promiscuity) is very common among gay men, but not so much with women. This is one of the things that frustrated NSF when he was in the gay world. The monogamous relationships were rarely truly monogamous.

Every struggler I have known has a deep, unfulfilled need for love. But then again, so have many other people! What I need to stress to you is that there are many kinds of love, not just the romantic kind. And platonic love, in my experience, lasts much longer than the romantic kind.

Blessings,

Di

clint said...

JJ-

Hi, JJ. Just found your blog a short while ago.

I don't know whether any of my own thoughts from when I was struggling with this will help you with this, but I'll offer them to you anyway.

The law from Leviticus 18:22 is a part of the Old Covenant -- like wearing clothes of a single kind of cloth, never cutting your sideburns (if you were a man), eating Kosher, isolating yourself during your period, saying a specific Hebrew prayer every morning before getting out of bed, and countless other laws and ritual acts which no longer apply.

In many ways this Old Covenant was easier -- follow these specific instructions and you know you are saved. The New Covenant, through Faith and Love, is simpler, but not as clear-cut. It requires us to search our own hearts and understand for ourselves what brings us closer to God and what brings us farther away.

Romans 14 is one of my favorite passages on this. It makes it clear that one man's path to God may be completely different from yours, without rendering either your path or his invalid.

(In passing, on Romans 1, it's amazing how many people never get past the first chapter of Romans, and never even realize that in using that passage to condemn you or me they have simply fallen into Paul's rhetorical trap and condemned themselves.)

Best of luck on your spiritual journey. So long as you honestly and openly seek Him through your own heart, He won't let you fall too far astray.