Gentiles and Homosexuals (pt. 5)

Inasmuch as I’m still on vacation, and still not able to get any sort of access to the internet, I figured I’d keep putting up posts on how God’s desire to bless the whole world might mean that Christians should participate in such blessing without requiring, first, that people act like us. The God who causes the rain to fall and the sun to shine on the evil and good alike, I’m arguing, wants us to work toward extension of God’s blessing to all around us–even when we believe they are acting outside of and even against the will and work of God.

In other words, the New Testament itself demands of us that we not only assess what we are supposed to do as God’s obedient and faithful people, but that we not require of others that they so act before they receive God’s blessings from our hand (or God’s). (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.)

In short, the argument has been that if we want to know how we who believe homosexual activity is sinful should treat our gay neighbors, we can do little better than looking at how Jesus treats Gentiles and other outsiders. Jesus enacted, and proclaimed, the love of God that brings rain and sun on the evil and the good alike–without demanding, first, that the evil become good. And he calls us to do the same: to be children of our heavenly Father who so showers His blessings.

A recurring apprehension I hear when I suggest that this applies to advocating gay marriage in the state is that it undermines our responsibility to uphold the standards of God. Is it not our duty to shine our light by living differently and calling people to something different rather than blessing their sin?

Image: Michal Marcol / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There will be no mercy in judgment for anyone who hasn’t shown mercy. Mercy overrules judgment. My brothers and sisters, what good is it if people say they have faith but do nothing to show it? Claiming to have faith can’t save anyone, can it? Imagine a brother or sister who is naked and never has enough food to eat. What if one of you said, “Go in peace! Stay warm! Have a nice meal!” ? What good is it if you don’t actually give them what their body needs? (James 2:13-17, CEB)

What is the faith that God will approve? It is a faith that puts belief into action by caring for the people who are around us. While we are tempted to spiritualize this, deferring to “taking care” of people by calling them to repentance, the NT consistently looks at material provision, caring for people as they are embodied and part of the social world around us, as the means by which such care is to be extended.

These passages, altogether, frighten me a bit. They tell me that the very things we are most prone to look to as indicating and expressing our faithfulness to God are the things that are most strongly preventing us from exercising the law of love that shows us to be children of our Father in heaven.

Why would I rather approve of homosexual marriage in the state than enforce a Christian heterosexual standard? Because I would rather be found guilty of extending the blessings of divine provision for human flourishing (marriage, stability, comfort, healthcare, inheritance) beyond their proper bounds than of hoarding them for the people of God alone to enjoy. These passages together suggest to me that such indiscriminate dissemination is what it means to be a child of the one true God.

16 thoughts on “Gentiles and Homosexuals (pt. 5)”

  1. Good post, Daniel. But what happens when “they” see our mercy, are struck, converted, and join the church? Surely the very marriage we supported can’t now be condemned?

    1. I wonder why you use the verb, “condemn”, Joshua? If we are the particular community identified by our unity “in Christ”, in the image of God, we are called to honor a Biblical understanding of who God is and how God acts in creation. Paul explicitly told the Corinthians that we’re only to judge “those who are inside” the church. As for the identification & discernment of people who are acting righteously and those acting wickedly, we have no other standards except Scripture. (cf., 1 Cor. 5-6)

      Even so, the “penalty” Paul applied is only to exclude from the community the one(s) acting in ungodly ways – whether those ways are drunkenness, gossiping, thieving, reviling, or acting immorally sexually. Does that penalty arise to the level of “condemnation”? It seemingly does not, according to the words of Jesus, James and Paul, ISTM. (e.g., cf., James 4:11-12, Rom. 14:10-12)

      Daniel did express his opinion about homosexuality as regards to the Christian community, here: http://www.jrdkirk.com/2011/05/11/homosexuality-in-the-news/

    2. “But what happens when “they” see our mercy, are struck, converted, and join the church?”

      I suppose they shall have to answer to their own master (Romans 14.4). Best thing you could do is to teach them to hear the master’s voice for themselves.

  2. Here’s a question: What if we could approach our gay neighbors and say, “I have a gift for you. I can introduce you to someone who will provide the security, intimacy, loving relationship you so long for. I can bring you to someone who will heal and restore the pain and trauma of your past.* In short, I can help you become The human you were created to be. (Oh, and afterwards, you probably won’t want to be gay anymore.)”

    Would that be OK?

    *Most GLBT (is that the right order?) I’ve come across have very deep seated trauma from their past. Not all, most.

    1. Get your causality straight. It is very likely that the deep seated trauma comes from people like us who judge, not deep trauma causes homosexuality.

      1. Causality is inherently almost impossible to prove scientifically, Adam. Human experiences, humanity and human sexuality are intricately woven and interdependent. Do you believe it’s even possible to “get [it] straight”?

        FWIW, I was a co-director of a shelter for battered women & their children. It wasn’t unusual for women who’d been seriously abused by men to turn to relationships with women. None of us ever “judged” them, because they’d trusted us with their deep wounds. I don’t see this issue as well-demarcated & essentially static as most people tend to use/see it, even though I do hold to traditional Biblical understanding of God’s ideal & life-giving purposes in the gendered image of God in creation.

    2. I can introduce you to someone…and afterwards, you probably won’t want to be gay anymore

      That’s all very nice, I suppose, but what do you do if (when) they politely decline your offer? Or they accept your offer, and are still just as gay?

      You going to (continue to) wield U.S. law to prevent them from their most meaningful, intimate relationships?

  3. Just diving in quickly to say that there is a bit of a false division in referring to Christians and their gay neighbors. Seeing as how so very many of us queer folk are actually also Christians. Your post seems to imply that one who does not believe homosexuality is sinful is by definition not a Christian or “one of us.”

    Joshua–I was indeed struck by mercy and joined the church. But not human mercy, that is for sure.

    Mike–Please do send such paragons my way. I am an excellent cook, very intelligent, with a razor sharp wit. I am not particularly in need of rescue, but please feel free to send your knight on a horse.

    My best to you and yours, Daniel. Looking forward to seeing you in November :-)

    1. Thanks, Katie. I’ve been focusing in this series on Christians who aren’t gay and aren’t “affirming,” so I probably lost sight of this qualification.

      I do think that in terms of Christian wrestling with the homosexuality the gay Christian population is one of the most significant, even new, factors to deal with.

      1. Thanks, Daniel. As I read back through your posts I realized you had a different audience in mind. I also realized Mike was referring to Jesus rather than potential romantic partners–had a good laugh at myself over that. Anyway, blessings on your travel and peaceful return.

  4. Mike, I don’t think that anyone – GLBT, celibate or heterosexual – wants to be approached only because we want them to be introduced to Jesus. ISTM, we should trust God in us to testify to Who he is as we’re friends to them. Many, many people have deep seated trauma, abuse, hurt or betrayal in their lives. IMHO, we’re called to see them as worthy of our love (1 Cor. 13 love), in the power of Christ (even if they don’t know Who empowers us). Healing comes through people who won’t see others through lenses colored by their past, their sins (we’re all in that sinking boat, w/out Jesus), but who see persons, created in God’s image, broken but created & loved by the same Father who loves us. See others, be their faithful & trustworthy friend, tell the truth in love if/when asked, but most of all, be the hands & feet & heart of Jesus, just as He is to us.

    1. Complete agreement, Ann. I’m simply saying we, as sons & daughters of the Creator, have more to offer than just “being nice.” Our love ought to include both the offer to legitimately change and to love even if the other does not change.

      1. We’re in emphatic agreement, then, Mike. :) The hardest aspect of this is always living in the tension of wanting to judge finally, when we’re told to leave that to God alone. It’s so hard for us not to want THE answer, now, and to trust the God whom we cannot see with all mercy & justice.

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