This is prompted more by recent conversations I’ve been having than by the Scripture in the reading the plan, but it seems a good time to discuss it nonetheless. This post is not meant to be definitive. This post is going to be my experience with the question of sexuality. I will, next month, address specific verses, the language used, and our interpretation of them. This month, however, is more of an introduction.
I was raised very conservative. Homosexuality was presented as a perversion, the King James translation was taken literally, directly; and the most liberal approach to the subject was to consider homosexuality as a disorder, the result trauma experienced early in life.
I was taught that the world is actively seeking to corrupt us, to twist us, to brainwash us into believing what is wrong is acceptable, even good.
I still believe the latter assertion. I have yet to read or hear anything that calls this belief into question. The world is broken, and there are forces at work in the world that seek to break us all.
As a result, as the world around me became more and more accepting of homosexuality, I became more and more wary. First of all, there’s the simple danger that continued exposure to a idea makes it familiar, and that simple familiarity breeds comfort. Secondly, logic is flawed and easy to manipulate, therefore all arguments, especially those that seem convincing, must be very closely and carefully examined.
I want to make this point first and strongest: I spent twenty years in prayer, asking the Spirit to safeguard my conviction, to preserve my faith, to protect me against the corrupting influence of the world. The only peace I have ever found has been in the concessions that led me closer to acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community. That, in and of itself, is enough for me to release the idea that being in this community is sinful.
The Spirit was sent to guide us. We were promised protection as well as peace, wisdom, teaching. If, over the course of twenty years, this is where the Spirit has led me, I will accept it. This is where I find conviction.
As for the Scripture, I would like to make it also perfectly clear: I am not calling into question the accuracy or the inspiration of the Scripture. I am not suggesting that the message of the Scripture has in anyway changed over the years. What I am suggesting is that our understanding has been incomplete. That our understanding changes over time.
God meets us where we are. He never forced an abandonment of slavery despite the nature of the institution. The practice of non-heteronormative relationships throughout history has, especially in the cultures surrounding the Jewish people, been exploitative and/or part of pagan worship. This is why both historical context and the historical development of language is vital to an interpretation of relevant passages. Language changes over time. Our understanding and practice of non-heteronormative relationships has changed over time. Some injunctions and declarations within Scripture were cultural (does your church still require women to cover their hair?).
As for the ‘natural order’ of things? On a genetic level alone, we have come to understand that biological sex is not as cut and dry, black and white, male and female as we thought it was, on a level much deeper than observable hermaphroditism. On a psychological level, we can’t even begin to understand how the brain works on the level of identity. Our understanding of orientation is in its infancy.
I’m not suggesting our nature has changed over the centuries, but that our understanding is developing, growing.
And regarding the apparent increase in occurrence that might suggest the insidious agenda of public corruption has been successful I have only this to say: increased awareness does not increase the occurrence, but rather increased awareness results in the increased acknowledgment of existing occurrences. It isn’t simply that people feel safer living openly, though they do, but people that would have lived lives of suppression and self-denial are now coming to understand themselves in a way that has been denied them through the weight of cultural pressure.
I truly believe that we all must seek to be in alignment with the will of God. We must submit ourselves to the conviction of his Spirit, identify the sin in our lives, and endeavor to surrender to her correction. I want to be clear. I do not believe that being a part of the LGBTQ+ community is to live in sin.
That said, I do believe that those in the Christian community that do still feel that conviction should, in a spirit of love and faith, trust the Spirit to perform the act of conviction. We do, in all good faith, understand that you do sincerely believe this to an act of sin. We ask that you, in all good faith, understand that we disagree. It is not a matter of choosing indulgence and trusting forgiveness. It is not a matter we consider permissible in our uncertainty. We, just as sincerely as you believe it is a sin, believe that it is not and that this belief is the result of culture and tradition rather than Spiritual leading.
I will return to this subject with an examination of specific Scriptures next month.