Tuesday, August 23, 2005

7. Breakdown

So, today I read John Stott’s Same-Sex Partnerships? A Christian Perspective… and had a breakdown. I haven’t broken down sobbing like that in months. Oh, I’ve cried, but not that really undignified sobbing with the gasping and all the fluids leaking uncontrollably from my face. What made me sob? Well, I’ll get to that. First I’d like to examine his arguments.

He starts off by saying that homosexuals are human, which frightened me… I appreciate what he was trying to do, to make sure that Christians don’t demonize us, but the need for that is frightening. Anyway, he proceeds to outline the prooftexts that people use to say that homosexuality is a sin, and he includes Sodom and Gomorrah in that list, which just frustrates me. I grew up in the church, and loved all those Old Testament stories, and I never once thought of the tale of Sodom and Gomorrah as an anti-gay story – and believe me, I was hyper aware of anything to do with homosexuality that came up in church or in the Bible. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah was always a story about violence to me, and when I got older I realized it was a story about rape.

Anyway, he sets up (sort of) the arguments supporting same-sex relationships and then proceeds to knock them down. I say “sort of” because he seems to present only the weakest portions of the arguments for same-sex marriage – for example, he says that proponents of same-sex marriage will say that the sin for which Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed was the sin of inhospitality. That sounds so weak, and it’s just not true… at least not from what I’ve read… most proponents of same-sex marriage will say the sin was sexual in nature…but it was rape, not homosexuality – and by anyone’s standards, rape is a sin. I found this section of the book rather weak. The next section, however, was another story.

The next section was about how we must look at the marriage that God ordained in the Bible (not necessarily the marriages that are portrayed in the Bible) as the standard. This argument, I must admit, has some merit to me – it reminds me of how bank tellers (I’m told) are not shown counterfeit currency, but are made to study the authentic bills, so that when the fake bills come across their path they will see them for what they are. The problem(s) I have with this is that we do not see too many “authentic” marriages in Scripture… actually; there are none that come to mind right now. Also, the verses that he uses to describe this God-ordained marriage are verses I’ve always read as descriptions, or background, not as prescriptive passages in which every word must be taken into consideration. (i.e.: Genesis 2:24 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife…”). The last problem I have with this argument is that it seems too… misty, or something. There doesn’t seem to be much substance to it.

And then there was the part that ticked me off… the part about gay people being more promiscuous than straight people – like we are some how incapable of monogamy. This is a stereotype that just makes me mad. All the gay people I know are in long-term, committed relationships – serial monogamists, if you will… much like most non-married, non-Christian, straight people. As for those gay people who are promiscuous, well it is usually only for a time, before they settle down…again, like most single, non-Christian, straight people. I’m not denying that those anonymous sexual encounters don’t happen, but I can tell you that I’ve heard way more stories about anonymous sex from my straight friends than from my gay ones... I actually can’t think of a single story like that from any of the gay people I know or have met in the past. This theory about gay people being more promiscuous is something I think Christians like to think so that they can justify focusing on us instead of the sexual immorality that exists among straight people. Somehow gay people are ‘more immoral’ than those kids who strip for beads at Mardi Gras, or the ones who video tape them and put it on the internet, or, well,…I could go on…

So, what made me break down? As I’ve said before, while I’m not sure what I believe right now, I think I’ll probably end up on the side of celibacy, which, as I’ve already said, does not make me happy. Well, on page 81, he says “At the heart of the homosexual condition is a deep loneliness, the natural human hunger for mutual love, a search for identity, and a longing for completeness.” With the exception of the identity issue (I’m not sure why people are always thinking that gay people have identity issues), I see all of that in my future if I choose a life of celibacy…so what does Stott offer as hope? Well…basically, he offers the pity of straight people. I suppose he would use the word ‘compassion’, but it’s pity… or at least it read like that to me. He mentions how we will need a confidant, pastors, therapists, a therapy group, etc… all of this just to maintain a life that will still be lonely. This, to me, is not hope at all. And, of course, he mentions the hope of heaven, which is wonderful… but, well… shouldn’t there be some hope here? I mean, shouldn’t my life be more than just days passing by as I wait impatiently to die? I’m already feeling that. I don’t want to live another 40 years in this same emotional place. I don’t want a life that is ‘less than’ that of my straight friends. I don’t want a life where they take turns having me over for Christmas and Thanksgiving. I don’t want a life where when I die; I just melt away, as if I had never existed.

Anyway, that’s what made me break down.

I have been praying such desperate prayers lately, asking God to help me with this, show me what His will is, what He wants me to do…even to just let me know He’s there. I feel like I’m flailing through this alone, and it sucks. It’s like God’s gone deaf, or He’s ignoring me…or (and I can’t even believe I’m saying this) He isn’t there after all. I guess I’m having a bit of a crisis of faith.


Eric said...

You're not in this alone my friend. I'm there with you with the same or similar questions.

The pity of an ignorant straight man isn't something that we're looking for. We have the empathy of Christ, who lived among us as a man - experiencing the tension and conflict of the flesh so that He would know why it is that it was necessary for Him to die...for us. Because without Him, we don't have a chance. The good news.....we do have Him. He loves us. He understands. He's there.

It's a long process that requires patience - this thing we call a journey. This journey is really simply just us "waiting on the Lord". It's seems like torture. But this constant reliance upon God and the cries out to Him and the pleading with Him for answers accomplishes a great and wonderful purpose.

We are in His presence. While we're there, let's worship.

Nick said...

Hey JJ,
I've just been reading your blog and wanted to offer a few words of support. I came to terms with my own homosexual attraction when I was younger - around 16 - and I think it must be bloody tough to be doing it when you're older, and when you thought you were more secure in your life (sorry, that might be a bit of an assumption). Stick in there.

I am sure I will be seen as pouncing upon your crisis of faith, but as you have already pointed out instances in the Bible which do not agree with your beliefs, maybe you should consider the possibility that the Bible is not a good foundation for those beliefs.

I won't make any more mention of questioning your faith unless you say it's okay. If you still feel truly Christian, that's your choice.
In that situation, I want to ask, how many other Christians with homosexual attractions do you know, face-to-face? Do you have people in a similar situation to speak to? I'm sure it'd help you a lot to actually sit down with like-minded people and discuss your problems. I don't mean in a group-therapy situation, but just over a cup of tea in the privacy of your home.

You are not a bad person. Be strong!

Brandon said...

Have you read "The Children Are Free" by Miner or "What the Bible Really Says about Homosexuality" by Helminiak? Also, pick up a copy of "What God Has Joined Together?" by Myers.

All great books! And no matter what side of the issue you come down, you are NOT alone. Not only is Christ by your side, even when you'd rather He go away, but you have TONS of GLBT borthers and sisters in Christ all around the globe. :)

Kelly said...

JJ, I'm praying for you. God has laid you on my heart since I first found your blog last week. I don't understand everything you're going through, but I understand loneliness, and what it's like to be looking at forever with no one because I felt like God wanted me to love a guy who didn't want me. I think the hardest part for me about that was that the Christians around me judged me for loving him and walked away from me instead of even giving me the support of their encouragement in Jesus Christ. It's the worst place in the world to be when something's wrong with the Body of Christ. I am praying that you will know the fullness of God's love and be taken away by the wonder of His heart (Eph. 3:14-20).

Don't despair. Hebrews 6 is a really cool passage on hope that God gave me recently when I was struggling with feeling like He wasn't there--even being engaged, I've been lonely! I think we all, gay, straight, single, married, human (alien??? :-D), will only not be lonely when we have the Lord as our best friend.

Can you fathom that He wants to know us? That He wants us to know Him? I can't. I get up in the mornings and live my earthly life... but I can't see Him. I can't feel Him. Sometimes, I forget He exists. And then some days, He rushes in with His uncontainable glory and bursts in my soul with His joy to remind me that I am not alone.

My sister made an interesting point recently about something God has been teaching her--that we don't have to be perfect to talk to Him. We don't have to be sinless to tell Him about what we're feeling and how we're hurting. We don't have to have everything figured out for Him to love us as we are. I think it's because of Jesus (Romans 7-8 talks a lot about this!)

Thanks for your honest sharing! Hope you don't mind my posting.

Eric said...

JJ - ((BIG HUG))

Nick - actually the Bible is a good foundation because it offers the love of God. we all need that. there are many gay christians that have found peace in what used to be a struggle for them. you provide a good suggestion of sitting down with a gay christian over tea.

Brandon - good to see you around the blogosphere again. i'll put those resources on my list of things to check out.

Kelly - i really appreciate your encouragement for JJ. She's special and awesome. i'm encouraged by your comments and your sister's point as well. thx.

JJ said...

nick, Thanks for your comments. Please feel free to say whatever you want (well, within reason) -- part of my reason for making this blog is to hear all the different opinions I can. I did want to clarify one thing though. It is not the Bible I am disagreeing with, it is the various interpretations of the Bible that I am questioning. As for finding someone to talk to, I'm working on that. I have people that I talk to, but they are not gay...so there is only so much they can understand. It can get a bit frustrating.

brandon, thanks for the recommendations! I got "The Children are Free" in the mail the other day, so it's next on my list of readings. I'll add the others you recommended to my queue. :) And thanks for the reminder that there is a community of believers out there to support me.

eric, as always, thanks for showing up on my site! It's nice to know that there is someone out there who is asking the same questions as me.

kelly, thank you so much for your prayers... they are very much appreciated.

Actually, I appreciate all of your support, more than I can say. Thank you so much.