I was talking with my youth leader yesterday.

He just came back from some Christian conference... I'm not totally sure what it was about though.

I told him what I've been up to these past few weeks, including the birth of this blog and what I've been reading about what it means to be Christian but gay.

And it was this conversation that got me thinking about my own position about this whole "homosexuality within the church" debate.

For a long time after starting this blog I was confused, more so than I was before I knew about the online gay Christian community. Reading blogs like Eric's and JJ's really showed me that I'm not alone in my struggle and my questions. I'm not alone in my guilt and confusion and despair, in the same way that I'm not alone in my quest to seek what God has in store for my life in spite (or perhaps even because) of my circumstances and my problems with my sexuality.

Before, I used to see homosexuality within the church as an issue separate from myself. There was always an underlying level of denial inherent in my perspective. In discovering gay Christian blogs and the community they belong to, and in starting my own blog, I began to seriously think about what my position on homosexuality is. I began to ask-- How do I feel about myself?

I suppose I would have to fall under Side B-- I believe that sex should be within marriage between a man and a woman. I believe that homosexuality is unnatural. I believe homosexual acts to be wrong.

Moreover, I'm very hesitant to accept that I'm a homosexual. By dictionary definition, I admit that I'm gay, i.e. I'm attracted to other guys. But biblically, I now deny the label of homosexuality on my life. I was thinking about one of the clobber verses, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, which lists the kinds of people who will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Initially, I was torn... If the verse was right, then would that mean that as a homosexual by definition of same-sex attraction, I would not go to Heaven? It seemed so unfair, so final... like there was nothing I could do to change that.

But then I realized that I'd been so fixated on that one word (homosexuals) that I'd totally forgotten to look at the rest. Take 'thieves' for example. If a person who was a thief stops his robbing ways, is he still a thief? In the same way, if I don't engage in homosexual practices, am I still a homosexual? In that sense, I agree with certain translations of the aforementioned verses, such as the NIV which says "homosexual offenders".

So ulitmately, this would mean that I believe in celibacy. I believe that God can do anything, and if God has plans to heal me, then He will. But if His plan calls for me to be celibate for the rest of my life, then I will trust in His purpose.

This does not mean I have not had homosexual experiences before. I would be lying if I denied the fact. But I am still a virgin. And as it stands now, I want to stop whatever I've been doing. I want to put God first. I want to deny myself and turn away from the label of homosexual. I want to follow Christ and do His will.

And no, having had homosexual experiences in the past does not make me revert to being a homosexual . Failure does not equate a return to a previous unsaved state of being. A thief who steals in a moment of weakness does not demonstrate his return to being a thief. Thus, failure to hold to my desire to be celibate does not mean I am a homosexual again (By the way, I'm still talking biblical definition here).

Christ said we are new creations in Him. And because of that declaration, I am allowed to fail. What matters is not the failure, but that I continue my walk with Him no matter how many times I fall.

I was chatting on MSN the other day, just talking to my cousin about his friend's problems and giving him advice about God and stuff like that. The problem of sin is one that we all have to think about, whether we're gay, straight or otherwise. It's something we face everyday, and we have to understand what God wants for us if we are to handle it properly.

I guess the more you know and understand of God, the less you let sins get you down because you know guilt's not the point. Of course, that's not to say you shouldn't care about sins. You should care insofar as caring about trying not to sin is concerned. And that's really hard, because we're all only human.

Paul is a very good example for us. He himself said in 1 Timothy 1:15 that "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all." (I wonder, if Paul was one of the worst sinners, could he have had a problem with homosexual tendencies at one point in his life? Then again, maybe he didn't; I'm pretty sure killing people is a more heinous crime than being a sexual deviant and thus qualifies him to be called the worst.)

Some people may say, "Hey, here's Paul, and he says he is the "foremost" of all sinners! So look, he's still a sinner and doing all those bad things!"

But that's, of course, not true at all. In verse 13, Paul says that Christ saved him and used him as a servant "even though [he] was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor" (Emphasis mine). In verse 15, Paul was claiming to be the foremost inasmuch as the history of his sin and his current possibility of tendency to sin is concerned. We all know how many sins can come back to haunt and tempt us, regardless of how well-intentioned we are.

Moreover, in verse 16, Paul continues, saying, "Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life."

So here we have it-- Paul tells us of Christ's mercy and perfect patience. Mercy and patience that is ever-present for those who do His will and set their hearts on it, despite the danger and possibility of committing a sin due to their weak bodies and natures.

We turn away and fall, and feel all the guilt. Then God tells us it's OK and encourages us to get up and turn to Him again. "Give Me the sin, and keep running the race," He says.

In 2 Corinthians 9:6-8, Pauls says that we should all try our best to do our best; we should do all the good that we know we should do, because God has taught us how to be good people. And God is able to make all grace abound to us-- He can give us the strength and resolve we need to be the best we can be... that we can be ready for every good deed.

Paul also says in Philippians 4:6-8:

6Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
7And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
So, all we need to do is ask God.

Once I give my anxieties about my sexuality to God in prayer and trust Him to help me, all I have to do is focus on whatever is good. I may fall from time to time in the future, but if I keep my eyes on God, my heart set on His will, and my mind on all things pure and good, I can rest assured that I will always be on the right path in this race, regardless of my sexual circumstances.

No doubt there will be times when I fail. But I've learnt that you should never let sin make you give up. 'Cause that's what Satan wants-- All he is trying to do is make you give up. He knows that once you want to go back to God, you can because he knows that God's love knows no limit. Satan's ultimate agenda is to make you lose hope and stay down when you've fallen.

Cause that's when he can build on his work. Defeat is the one of the foundations on which he builds his evil. Defeat is what empowers the other evils. If you keep hope and faith, then whatever gets you down is thrown off easier because you have God reminding you that it's not over.

But once you give up and stay fallen, then the sin and evil just keep piling on. It's like falling down and getting dirt shovelled on top of you-- the best way to get it off is to stand up and keep running... if you stay down, you'll risk getting buried.

Peter said it best in 1 Peter 5:6-10:

6Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,
7casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.
8Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
9But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.
10After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.

Amen to that.

6 comments :: I was talking with my youth leader yesterday.

  1. Hey Ash,

    I don't disagree with you. In fact, i shared these thoughts you share now for many many years. I avoided reading or talking about anything related to gay and Christian because i assumed i knew what it was all about and I made a decision that it was wrong before knowing all the angles.

    So in my journey, i had to start with a neutral position. I make no conclusions regarding Side A, Side B, or ex-gay until I've informed myself as to why people disagree about this. Once i'm informed, then i can confidently make a decision. How long will this take? I'm don't know. Weeks. Months. Years. A lifetime.

    As part of my journey, I started considering that word - "homosexual" as stated and referenced in the Bible. In today's mindset, we know the word to refer to same-sex attractions. The question i started asking and researching was what did that word mean back in the day when it was written and what was the context?

    The word in the way it's been used tends to be connected with acts of violence and idolatry but not in a context of only same-sex attraction - much less - committed, loving, and monogamous same sex relationships.

    So the question of context should have us consider this when trying to interpret what the word "homosexual" means when reading it in Scripture. When he says "homosexual" does he mean someone who participated in idol worship and sexual rituals and prostitution with men? Does he mean men who were married but had a young pleasure boy? Does he mean men who committed acts of violent rape as a means of humiliation? Or does he mean any form of same sex attraction even in the context of care and love? It's easy to read a word and transfer over today's definition to assume what it means. However, in interpreting Scripture, we know we can't do that.

    We know that the word "love" has many definitions in today's culture. I love you. I love food. I love my dog. I love my mother. I love God. I love my lover. I make love to my lover. I love going to the movies.

    In Jesus' day, they referred to "tax-collectors" as sinners. Are they sinners because they collected taxes or because of the specific behaviors that tax collectors back then were doing - such as collecting too much so that they can keep some of it? When they refer to tax collectors back then, were they referring to IRS agents of today? Are IRS agents sinners?

    When they referred to homosexuals back then, were they referring to pedophiles of today? Or were they referring to a couple of the same sex that are committed to each other for life monogamously and both love God and consider themselves Christian?

    In context to the whole of the bible, does God talk about the changing of our sexuality (sexual orientation) or does He talk about the changing of our character (which changes our behavior)?

    I have no answers. But my journey of asking the questions is bringing me closer to Christ because I have the freedom to ask.

    Bless you, Ash!
    Eric
    Two World Collision

  2. You make a very good point, Eric. And don't get me wrong-- I didn't come to my current conclusion lightly. Everything you've said here I've read before. I know full well the importance of context in biblical interpretation. And the questions you pose are all fair and realistic.

    What does the Bible really mean when it talks about homosexuals? Like you, I have no answers. But I choose to err on the side of caution and not claim anything to suit my needs or to make myself feel better about being gay. Neither am I condemning those who are Side A. I respect their right to their beliefs, even if I believe they are wrong.

    I'm just saying that in my own personal journey and belief in what God wants for me, I choose to stay celibate and hopeful that God will guide me. If His purpose determines that I am not yet ready to know His truth and purpose, or that I never will be, then so be it. But ultimately, I believe that if I hold tight to my faith in Him, He will show me the truth in His own time, if at all, and if it is in His plan.

    Thanx for taking the time to say something, Eric. I appreciate it.

  3. I believe a more accurate "Side B" translation of that word would be "active male homosexuals." The word has a specificly male meaning, so it would not directly refer to lesbianism. At the same time, activity is involved, so desires are not being condemned. I would agree with Eric that homosexuality is a modern concept. Certainly, the Greeks were aware that some individuals prefered same-sex activity more than others, but our concepts of sexuality would be rather alien to them.

    Personally, I'm one of those "Side A" types and rather liberal in my theology to boot. Too much a quasi-rationalist I fear. Anyway, hope you find yourself in the proper relationship with God wherever you are in the journey.

    detrevni28@yahoo.com

    7:49 AM

  4. Interesting point.

    Thanx. I'm praying hehe.

  5. Thank you for your words here -- I too am on this journey. I am 42 years old and have spent my adult life as a celibate - because I have never really studied the issue and felt that the only choice I had was to be a eunuch for the sake of the kingdom of God.

    Only recently have I come to find the possibility of a sam-sex relationship and my Christianity might even be possible. That is not to say that I have gone Side A, but to say that I have begun to realize that it might be possible.

    Your words here of course encouraged me back toward Side B, where for the time I will stay.

    God Bless,

    Marlin

    Marlin

    2:21 AM

  6. I'm glad to know my comments encouraged someone. I pray God reveals the answers you seek in your journey, just as I pray he reveals mine.