Wednesday, July 05, 2006

"God is busy. Please call back."

Recently, I have been struck by the stories of Christian homosexuals, and their struggle (and often failure) of maintaining a heterosexual lifestyle as demanded by the Christian community in which they live.

The Bible teaches that homosexuality is a sin. Yes, I have seen the arguments and exegesis as to how Romans 1 is teaching that only homosexuality in certain instances is a sin, and is not a universal prohibition. I have seen the arguments of how the Mosaic Law is no longer in effect, and even then did not clearly prohibit homosexuality. I understand how 1 Cor. 6:9 has a difficult interpretation.

All that being said, I find such argumentation as tortured as an inerrantist attempting to align the two (or three) accounts of Judas’ death. In a sentence—it is not persuasive. To be brutally honest with myself, I must admit that the Bible condemns it. (Of course, I am equally convinced that honesty demands the Bible supports slavery, polygamy, genocide, infanticide, and is ambivalent to abortion, alcohol drinking, and the occasional smack of the wife, so as a moral guide, it is hopelessly askew.)

What is the homosexual to do? Why, it is as simple as pie—just like any other sin: “Don’t do it.” I have never seen an argument that an urge to sin is a sin. I may want (for a moment) to cause bodily injury to that thoughtless punk that just cut me off on the highway with a gas-guzzling SUV and spinning rims, but as long as I don’t act upon this momentary compulsion, even Christians would agree that I have not sinned.

In the same way, the homosexual may have a desire, and even an unsolicited thought of engaging in a homosexual act, but as long as they do not act out upon it, we are to understand, sympathize, and even congratulate them upon their restraint. And, even further, to demonstrate their conquering of this sin, they commit to heterosexual marriages, have children, never look at gay porn, and go about happy, healthy lives.

And then commit suicide. Or become depressed. Or spend years in therapy, trying to be what the Christian community defines as “normal.” And get divorced. And become shunned by the very social group that they begged, pleaded and attempted to do everything humanly possible to join.

I am aware of families being torn apart and worse, am aware of a current situation in which a young woman is engaged to a man who is struggling with this exact problem. Mixed marriages (“mixed” meaning a variety to things from religious preference, to race, to social status, to sexual orientation) are rough roads—voluntarily entering one is unimaginable to me.

But to a Christian—why not? After all, homosexuality is just one of many sins. We are all sinners, right? If a person would only marry someone who will never sin, no one would ever marry. Homosexuality may be a bit more difficult, but it is still only a sin.

As I was thinking about this situation, and reading the numerous tales of homosexuals that struggled and fought with “sin” for years and decades, eventually ridding themselves of the religious grapples, and coming to terms with who they are—it struck me. Why doesn’t God eliminate this sin for the individual? A “Problem of Evil” on a one-person basis.

The equation is not complex. I am assured that God hates sin. That God will eventually rid the entire Universe of any sin, or at least contain it in a location inaccessible by those He really loves. I am informed that while philosophers argue over the some ultimate reason that sin must exist, as to each individual God would desire at the least a reduction, if not complete elimination of sin.

So on the one hand we have the Creator of the human, the universe, and the ability to sin that has not only the desire, but the capability to eliminate it.

On the other we have the human that equally desires to be rid of this sin. As I read these tales, I am humbled by the efforts, time, attention and money that is poured into becoming a heterosexual. These are Christians who struggle every minute, and with but one desire—to no longer be this “hideous monster” as portrayed by the Christian world in which they live.

They pray and beg God to take away the desire. They go to counseling and pray and beg God to take away the desire. They go to groups, meetings, buy books, articles, materials, classes, and pray and beg God to take away the desire. They enter programs, week-end retreats, specialized meetings and pray and beg God to take away the desire. For years and years and years. All to no avail.

It is a disservice, even a disgrace, to say they did not try hard enough, or just “wanted to sin,” or “let sin rule their life.” In looking at the effort involved, by the thousands that have recounted these tales, one must appreciate that it is not a simple, “you enjoy sin too much.”

We have a God that can and desires to take away this “sin.” We have an individual that asks (and begs and pleads, and implores) to take away this “sin.” We have a God (so they tell me) that loves humans so much He would kill Himself for them; that desires a relationship with humans. We have a human that is striving with every ounce of energy in their being to also have that relationship, and also please this God. We have a God that claims that holiness can only be obtained through asking God, and we if have faith we can move mountains. We have a human that believes this so much they will travel 1000’s of miles and use precious vacation days to attend one conference in the hope of touching this God and eliminatinge this propensity.

Quite frankly, it appears to be a match made in heaven, so to speak. Why doesn’t it work?

When we discuss the grandiose “Problem of Evil” it is easy to use philosophical justifications, such as “greater good” or “ultimate purpose” or “God’s glory” or (my personal favorite) “we don’t know.” It seems to more difficult when looking an individual in the eye.

Explain to the Christian homosexual how their daily struggle, their family being torn apart, their depression, their lack of self-worth, their incessant pleading on deaf ears, their being shunned by those they desire to socialize with, all is for some unknown “ultimate purpose” of God. Or that it somehow is giving God the glory to wreck a human. Oh, and don’t forget to hand them a “God Loves You” bumper sticker to pour salt in the wound.

And let’s not forget the collaterally injured as well. The spouses that pray, and beg and plead, and attend the meetings, the counseling, the conferences. That hope somehow God would make the spouse so desirable, that all thoughts of homosexuality would forever disappear. That meet privately with pastors, counselors, and friends, and try this technique and read that book, and do everything they can to help the other individual. Only to hear, someday, “I’m sorry, but….”

And God is getting some glory, or devastating those lives too, for some ultimate “good”?

And the children that hear their parents are separating, after having been deprived of their father or mother or both while they are off attending meetings and conferences and counseling and praying and praying and praying.

“God loves you, and he could have changed your parent, but He didn’t. Sorry your home life is impaired, your friends whisper behind your back, you have to move, you have “weekend visitation,” you have to struggle with parents with a perpetual half-look of guilt for not trying hard enough in some way…”

What possible reason could a God give to justify this treatment?

That the individual needs to struggle? In order to grow and mature? How much growing and maturing does a person need! Part of a “maturation” process is to resolve a problem and move on. We learn to sit up, then creep, then crawl, then walk, and then run. Is it “maturing” to continue to struggle to crawl?

Does God desire we get stuck on one “sin” and work the rest of our life on that area, putting every effort we can to resolve it? What is “maturing” about that?

I thought part of the idea of trusting in God was to see what He CAN do, not what He REFUSES to do.

Is it the individual’s fault? For not working hard enough? For not conquering sin? Wait a minute—if an individual can conquer sin on their own, why do we need a God? If they cannot, how are they to conquer sin? By asking God? That is what the person is doing! If God can’t conquer it, what is the point of asking Him? If he can, and refuses to, what is the point of asking Him?

On Sunday we are informed, through song, that God is an “Awesome God” and “Loves the whole world” and in the sermon I am told that all things are possible through God, and God Hates sin, and God wants to take away our sin, if we would just ask, and that the Holy Spirit is working in lives.

On Monday, the homosexual is informed, “Oh, but God can’t do THAT….”

Even as a Christian I was appalled at the harsh treatment Christians have given homosexuals. Recently, I have become more dismayed as well. As shocking and horrid as “God hates Fags” can be, the long, slow, torturous death of “We haven’t solved this sin yet, so let’s try one more thing, since God can’t seem to do it…” is equally as putrid.

I am deeply concerned as I watch this young couple enter a relationship, with the thought of “With God we can solve this” after having seen the “solutions” of destroyed homes, wrecked lives, and ostracized persons.

I know that Christians truly believe this, and can’t help but be convinced. I wish they would ask themselves, “Why it is that God won’t intervene?” and honestly consider the heartache that would be avoided by realizing God can’t heal amputees, nor change homosexuals.

2 comments:

  1. My heart also goes out to that young couple, who think that God can and will heal the "sin" of homosexuality in this young woman's proposed partner.

    Because I am one of the statistics - myself and my soon-to-be-ex husband. We, who had a 21 year relationship, and a 20 year marriage, based for years and years in "You're doing the right thing - God will bring you through."

    The ex-gay "ministries," the Believer's Conventions, the near-neglect of our beloved daughter as we traveled to this prayer minister and that deliverance expert and this ex-gay meeting. The years of turmoil for both of us, faces to the floor as we prayed and cried out to a god who wasn't listening - or had just decided that we weren't good enough to help.

    And now, with a 20-year old daughter who loves us, but is grappling with her own issues of watching her Daddy suffer and cry out to the god she was raised to believe in - and her own feelings of neglect as her mother spent so much time praying over, counseling, and crying for her suicidal father that she felt alone herself - and her feelings for her mother, who continually sought to be the "proverbs wife" throughout it all.

    And here I am, a wife who has only ever loved one man, finding that for the first time in her life she will be alone, without the dream of the happy family and the "power" of God.

    And my beloved, who must leave and finally be AUTHENTIC and who he is - yet also flounders in the guilt of the destruction of our marriage.

    I pray - maybe to a more benevolent and less sadistic god than the one we were raised on - that this young woman (and the young man who struggles with his "sinful" sexuality) will stop, accept one another for who they are, and never get married.

    I pray for a society that will accept people for who they are so that no more of us will be harmed by lies and closets.

    Mostly, right now, I pray for me - because due to our belief, and our prayers, and our struggle, I will now, in my middle age, be starting over. All because we thought that he could change and struggled to make it so.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow...
    This is really something. Thanks DagoodS and churchdropout for writing this. My gay brother died of AIDS in '86, was one of the first to be diagnosed with the disease. I remember how much pressure was put on him to "repent" before he died so he'd go to heaven. Imagine someone that sick having to deal with that kind of pressure as well. Damn.

    A little more on the biblical deconstruction of this. You are right DagoodS that one would have to be "delivered" from the desire or inclination. Paul makes a point of teaching that "it's better to be married than to burn."(that's some assessment of marriage, no?). There is obviously so much more to sex than orgasm, otherwise masturbation would suffice and we wouldn't need Pauls marriage solution. That being said, what does happen to the man or woman whos inclination is toward the same sex? They, if not delivered, are just supposed to "burn" i guess.

    ReplyDelete