Reflections on God and Gays, and Much More

reflections on god and gays

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As expected, my recent post about the Duck Dynasty issue has had tons of readers, a lot of Facebook shares, and sparked incredible debate/dialogue, especially where it appeared on Facebook. If you do not follow my writer page there, I hope you will sign on and join in the conversation! The post below is an edited version of something I just posted on Facebook that I think stands alone as a unique statement on my views not only of homosexuality, but -- more important -- of the relationship between God and all of us.

Note: All scripture links were added after I finished the post, not as I wrote it. My worldview is deeply rooted in the Bible's ancient wisdom, and I wanted to provide these links for all who are interested.

I have gone from thinking about this issue of God and gays theologically to thinking about it relationally (though I think the best theological thinking IS relational thinking). If one of my daughters announced she was gay, it would change NOTHING. NOTHING AT ALL. I certainly would not hope for her salvation, at least not any more than anyone else’s, because I believe that if I love my daughters so deeply, God must love them infinitely more, and since my daughters are safe in my care, they must be infinitely safer in God’s. I think the reason Jesus commanded love is precisely because of the way loves biases us so strongly in favor of people, puts us so firmly in their corner and on their side, no matter what.

When I do think of this issue theologically, I see it as something that is evolving culturally, and that that is by no means a bad thing. The Bible pretty much endorses slavery, and for years many used scripture to resist racial equality, but at some point the church began to understand that there simply is no good argument in favor of this terrible thing, regardless of what the Bible seemed to be saying. Yes, even in the face of the Bible’s seeming endorsement of slavery, we can confidently pronounce it a great evil — indeed one of the greatest, because it so fundamentally stands against the spirit of what it means to be human. In the same way, the church will view homosexuality differently in the years to come, and that has already begun. I realize this statement will inflame some people, but anyone who cannot see this is simply not fairly considering past history, current events, and how we know things like this march forward, with the conservative faction dragging their feet but eventually coming along nonetheless.

This simply is the road the church is on and there is no stemming that tide. I say this despite the fact that in some ways my own faith tradition is trying to do exactly that.

Conservatives fight it and fear it, but I welcome it. This is possible because I don’t look at scripture as a list of things to do and not do, things that are good and bad, etc., but as a statement about the availability of God to humanity and how to stand in the stream of God’s mercy and grace. It’s not even about approving or not approving of things — it’s about accepting what is. At Christmas time, Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, and the Apostle John records, “the light shines, and the darkness cannot extinguish it.” Both light and darkness are realities. One does not and, for now, cannot cancel out the other. Light and darkness are in us all. We are all in need of redemption, of heart change, on a moment by moment basis. When the Apostle Paul makes lists of people who cannot inherent the kingdom of heaven, remember, he even includes those who disobey their parents! The point is, none of us qualify. As Jesus says, “With man it is impossible to enter the Kingdom, but with God all things are possible.”

We’re all a mix of good and evil, light and darkness. Jesus even made clear in his parable of the wheat and tares that it is often impossible to separate one from the other. All we can do is learn to see as clearly as possible, and trust that God is active in this world and will sort everything out for us with his own incomprehensible “bias” toward all of us that comes only from love. What we constantly fail to see is that we ourselves, every one of us, are the recipients of that very bias. We are, as Frederick Buechner says, “Under the mercy.” God loves us all that way. That is our only hope — for me, for you, for Aaron, for Nicole, for Phil Robertson and his family, for all of humanity. It is the great equalizer that we all stand in need of God’s mercy. And, rather contrary to some traditional evangelical teachings, no one gets to “accept” God’s mercy and then just be on “God’s side” for the rest of their lives, able to point out the sins and failures of everybody else. We all have that fatal plank in our eye that keeps us continually wanting to try to remove the specks in the eyes of others. So the point of knowing God is whether we realize that we stand in need of God’s mercy at every moment, as people who are both blessed and broken.

This is the gospel (“good news”) that is truly good news — that unites, that helps us see both our need for God and the amazing, beautiful fact that God has already supplied what we need.

All three of my girls, like all humanity, are both blessed and broken in their own unique ways. As a loving father, I do not celebrate their blessedness and condemn their brokenness, for it is that very mix that makes them what they are. Instead I love them as they are and pray that somehow, through the seemingly inconsequential free gift of my love towards them, their brokenness will gradually be healed (a better Christian term is “redeemed“). Further, I don’t even presume to believe I know in what ways it needs to be healed. Perhaps in some ways their brokenness IS their blessing, and vice versa. I know with my MS that is true. I cannot say, “I’m healthy today and that is good, and if I am sick tomorrow that is bad.” All of my life, whether I am sick or healthy, is an opportunity for me to live, learn, and grow in love and grace towards myself and others, to be present and available both to receive and transmit the gracious presence of God.

In summary, and please don’t hear this personally or critically, as I say it with the greatest love for you and the church, I believe the church has taught us rules, systems, methods, and processes (much of which was necessary), but not how to understand the world relationally. We do this intuitively with our own families, but Jesus, as well as all great spiritual teachers in all traditions, points us toward universal love, and boy has Western Christianity ever missed that. As long as I see gay people or anyone else as anything other than my very own brothers and sisters, my very own children, I will hold them at a distance and make pronouncements about them and their lives, and — further — I can do this ONLY when I hold people at a distance. The moment I let go of my need to pronounce and make judgments, and allow myself to just love without condition (as God does), I will simply be incapable of living anymore as if people are math and I can love what I think is good in them and hate what I think is is evil in them. It is then that I can begin to realize that even my perceptions of what is good and evil are tainted by hidden wells of evil in me. And in the seemingly worst people, there may be hidden dimensions of love and truth that have been planted in their lives but have yet to shoot above ground so that they or anyone else can see them.

This great unknowing is the basis for humility, and — in that strange paradox Jesus talked about all the time — humility is the only basis for really being able to know much of anything that matters.

We are all without the knowledge we need. We are all deeply wrong, I’m sure, on things that matter very much, and we are all under the the mercy of God. I have chosen to believe that that is a completely safe place to be.

Three Things to Do in Response to this Post

1. Would you be willing to forward this post to as many of your friends as possible? I know this post won’t “fix” or “solve” anything, but I sure do believe we need more words like this out there in the ether.

2. Would you — personally — consider subscribing to this blog? I have so much more healing stuff I want to tell you, and changing the world only happens one person at a time. If you’re interested, you can subscribe here.

3. Would you leave a comment? I want to hear your journey and your reflections on my reflections.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. A request for me to defend some of my comments does not obligate me to do so.

  • Neil Pettifor

    Certainly a complex issue, David, and you like everyone, are entitled to your opinion. However, I am chafing at the suggestion that the Bible ‘endorses’ slavery and that the Western church’s stance evolved from full acceptance of the institution to full condemnation. To debate this would be a diversion, but suffice to say that I don’t believe the comparison to the modern church’s changing view on homosexuality to be a valid one. While the Bible does not clearly endorse slavery, it clearly does condemn homosexual behavior. To say that this sin is on par with all other sin does not remove the fact that it still is what it is: SIN. That so many in the modern church want to obfuscate that is not a good thing.

    You and I can nonetheless find agreement that the church has often gone too far in pointing fingers at those they regard as ‘sinners’ while ignoring the remaining fingers of the hand that point back at them. We are all indeed either sinners, or sinners not yet saved. You correctly state that accepting Christ’s forgiveness does not entitle us to cancel our debt to his great mercy and heap scorn on our fellow sinners who may only happen to sin differently than we do.

    When we say that we love someone it does not mean that we must approve of every aspect of their behavior; when we say we disapprove of someone’s behavior it does not mean that we must therefore hate them. ‘Hate the sin, love the sinner.’ Let us not neglect either aspect of the old maxim.

    • Thanks for your comment, Neil. We obviously do not agree on this issue, but love, when fully realized, makes approval and disapproval irrelevant. However my children may live, I want only peace and good for them. I may or may not have “feelings” about things they do, “convictions” about certain decisions, etc., but it matters little, and utterly pales in comparison, to my desire that they be well.

      In my opinion, as long as we are speaking of the issue in terms of approval and disapproval, we have not realized love. Approval and disapproval are only things we prioritize with people we do not know and love. As soon as we enter into the universal biasing action of love, love becomes what matters. Approval and disapproval, though present in certain situations to certain degrees, are not really the issue. They simply play different roles in the context of a deeply loving connection to a person.

      Regarding slavery, I understand your hesitancy to accept the comparison. I used to be hesitant myself. However, I think it’s hard to conclude that the Bible does not accept/condone slavery. The Bible is a product of its time. Furthermore, as far the clarity of the Bible’s condemnation of homosexuality, the Bible condemns many things we do not necessarily condemn today (and approves of a great deal we do not approve of), and the point of my post is that in coming years and decades, homosexuality will be (and I believe should be) understood the way most people now understand tattoos, marrying people of different faiths, etc. Though I completely understand disagreement with this statement, it will ultimately not matter — this is the way it’s going.

  • zoomper

    Good writting! Yet not too inclusive! I agree with you thatwe are miles away to grasp in our search what Jesus showed us to follow. Its very difficult to separate the wheat from tares only until is ready to harvest, for at the final stage, when it is ripe, they distinguish themselves. Yes Love is the greatest, and I, mylself, am searching to learn it more, understand more and live it more. I think it has no correlational aspect between slavery and homosexualism, and I think you are wrong there ( my point of view, please don’t be offended.) It is a very difficult debate when it comes to homosexuality. But the action it self it is clearly a sin. The individual is another debate. We all need healing, we all have fallen short due to sin, from God’s glory. Some times we tend to say that God’s love is all there is, but we forget that the scepter of rtighteousness is in his hands. And as such it is so righteous and balanced that WILL NOT show any incination to left or right up and down. Maybe we are trying hard to be well with every one, and not realize that Jesus said that in him “there is no world peace” he came to bring his PEACE in which is far beyond what we are doing so far. We need help. We are getting distracted by the second, and the fixing we all try to implement creates worse damage instead.

    • Not too inclusive? Is it terrible to throw open the gates of heaven and announce that the kingdom is here, available to all, etc? It interests me that every time a person attempts to do this, he/she is condemned as a heretic. It seems we must control the gospel at all times and make sure the “wrong kind of people” don’t hear the gospel as being too welcoming and too available to them.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • Laura

    Thank you for so eloquently expressing the exact thoughts of my heart! I’m so thankful that people like you are spreading this message of love! You may be interested in this sermon that my pastor, Matt Miofsky, preached on this subject, at our church The Gathering in St. Louis, MO: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JogH3vsfR4

  • God blesses us each day all day. God is number one and life with family and friends flow with it. We stretch our minds by reading and being open to realize our way in life is the way we choose it to be, who am I to say there is no other path one can take. God will lead us if we only allow him to. Our book is written. We can fight it or go with it. God wrote the book so we all know where this will end.

    • Thank you for reading, commenting, and sharing, Genita!

  • Jill Porter

    God is so much bigger than we can even begin to understand and He wants above love. God made a way for all to be in that love. Thank you for your insight and level way of moving the muck out of the way. I am sharing.