Living a Theology of Contrast Instead of Opposition

When it comes to gender and sexuality, we can live at peace with our faith without living in animosity to those who are different.

I’ve been thinking a lot about “positions” lately and what it even means to hold a position.

When people ask about my “position” on “homosexuality,” it’s rarely in the interest of broadening their own perspective, understanding my own, or (God forbid) adjusting their beliefs. Instead, it’s usually because they’re looking for a category (“I’m side a” or “side b” or “affirming” or “celibate”) that allows them to quickly box me away into one of two teams: the good guys or the bad guys.

But what if I don’t want to play for a team? What if I’m tired of the good guys and the bad guys?

I think part of the problem is that we’ve allowed ourselves to become unable to conceptualize a belief system different from our own that isn’t also antagonistic to our own. If it’s different, it must be a threat. 

As a result, “positions” become increasingly defined not by the personal convictions that permeate how we live and think and hope but by the battle stance we take in a never-ending war to protect ourselves from “them.” The discourse is not so much about growth and understanding as it is about winning and losing. And if that’s the case, then it makes perfect sense to sort people into the good guys and the bad guys. 

Now granted, good guys and bad guys really do exist. But a lot of times “good guys and bad guys” are just people who happen to see the world differently. And should difference of perspective really be the deciding factor in who becomes the enemy?

Working Towards a Humble Theology

It seems to me that we’ve lost the ability to believe what we believe with humility. Too often, we treat our own viewpoint as though we see through the eyes of Jesus Christ himself. So when people disagree, we act as if they differ not with us but with God. We might as well make ourselves out to be God. 

But the only person who knows how God views the world is God himself. There’s a reason we call our beliefs “beliefs” instead of “knowledge.” We don’t know. We engage the mysteries of life in faith, not certainty, and we trust that God’s grace will redeem our plentiful blindspots, because if it doesn’t, then all of us are doomed. 

Embracing a Theology of Contrast

So I guess I’m tired of living in a world where, “I’m right; you’re wrong,” determines the nature of discourse. What if I’m wrong, and you’re right? Or what if we’re both wrong? Or even more radical, what if we both have a piece of what’s right?

There’s a time and place for telling people they’re wrong, don’t mistake me. But there’s also a time and place for admitting that we could be wrong too. And quite frankly, I see far more of the former than I do of the latter in theological discussion.

My good friend Mary Sue Dauod put it to me this way: at some point we’ve gotta learn how to live in “contrast but not in opposition,” to borrow her language. We don’t always need to oppose perspectives that don’t fall in line with our own. Living at peace with our faith doesn’t require combat. We can choose to live in contrast instead of conflict.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s a time and place for opposition. But there’s also a time and place for cooperation. And when it comes to gender and sexuality, I think it’s time we learned how to cooperate. We can live in diversity without living in animosity. We can do our best to be faithful to the witness of Scripture while, dare I say, affirming the best efforts of our siblings in Christ to also be faithful to the witness of Scripture. Their best is no better than ours. All of our works are like filthy rags.

Letting Go of Battle Positions When it Comes to Gender and Sexuality

So I guess I’m saying, at least when it comes to gender and sexuality if not for a great many other things too, that it’s time to put aside the “I’m right; you’re wrong” nature of discourse and pick up humility instead. Certain things are definitely worth fighting for, such as the ancient creeds of the Christian faith, but other things are worth adopting a posture of humility for. And I’ve become more and more convinced that gender and sexuality are among those things that require grace, not warfare. 

So here’s to living in contrast instead of conflict. Here’s to living at peace with our faith and not casting suspicion upon those who live differently. Here’s to becoming a conscientious objector to the battles we’ve been told to fight and honoring God’s grace as it falls upon all of us. I’m tired of insisting that I’m right. I’m ready to acknowledge that my best is no better than yours. 

God’s Unique Blessings in the LGBT+ Experience of Christians

This is the sixth post in a month-long series on “celibate gay pride,” exploring the glory of God as revealed in the lives of celibate gay Christians. I’d like to publish about 1-2 posts every week over the month of June. But I need your help! The more feedback I get, the more I can make things relevant. As the series progresses, please comment below or share your thoughts via private message. Any interaction will be a HUGE help as I tailor the content. Suggestions and requests are 100 percent welcome!

Also, I’m specifically talking about and for celibate gay Christians in this series. To be clear: this is not an argument for why gay Christians ought to be celibate. I want to clarify this at the outset, because I often receive various criticisms from non-celibate gay people who tell me that my arguments aren’t convincing. But there’s a reason for that. I’m not trying to make arguments for or against any particular sexual ethic in my blog. This blog is simply for LGBT+ Christians who believe in the traditional sexual ethic. It’s not a blog for convincing LGBT+ Christians to accept a sexual ethic they don’t believe in, and I do not believe that all LGBT+ Christians must accept this ethic. However, many LGBT+ Christians nevertheless do live by the traditional sexual ethic. So if you’re interested in learning about celibate gay believers (and/or the larger LGBT+ community that believes in the traditional sexual ethic), then by all means read on. 

For more posts in this series:

  1. Are Celibate Gay Christians Allowed to Have Pride?
  2. Take It From an Expert: Same-Sex Attraction Is More Than Just Sexual
  3. Gay Attractions Create the Context for More Than Just Sin
  4. Gay People Are Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
  5. Same-Sex Love is Good and Beautiful
  6. God’s Unique Blessings in the LGBT+ Experience of Christians
  7. LGBT+ Christians: When Unlikely People Are God’s Greatest Champions

The LGBT+ experience has been a unique source of blessing to Christians who are sexual minorities and/or gender minorities.

Far too often within conservative Christianity, the dominant narrative about LGBT+ people centers upon sin and shame. For many of us in the church, it can feel suffocating. As though the only way we can talk about our sexuality and orientation is in the context of repentance and anguish over being “broken.” As though queerness can only be understood through the lens of suffering.

But there is far more to the LGBT+ experience of Christians than struggle. Sure we struggle. All people struggle. But all people experience joy and happiness too. I affirm the historic understanding of Biblical sexuality, and I affirm that sinful desire tempts us to forsake God’s created design for humanity. But I also affirm that LGBT+ people are not defined by sinful desire, and I affirm that God works through the LGBT+ experience for his glory and for the good of his church. For me, as a celibate lesbian, my sexuality and orientation has brought about so many tremendous blessings (to me as well as to others) that I wouldn’t trade being gay for the world.

So with this in mind, I reached out to some fellow LGBT+ Christians to get their perspective. My main question was pretty simple: “How has your experience as an LGBT+ person been a unique source of blessing in your life?”

The responses were pretty incredible. All of these people affirm the Bible’s historic teaching on gender and sexuality. Some use their names; some remain anonymous. And all describe specific ways in which their non-straight and/or non-cisgender experience brought about profound blessing to their existence.

If you’re a sexual and/or gender minority who affirms the Bible’s historic teachings, I hope that you will find their perspective as encouraging as I did. And if you have stories of blessing yourself, please share in the comments or send me a message! I would love to hear your story! On the flipside, if you’re a straight Christian struggling to understand the LGBT+ experience, I pray that you would find the following perspectives eye-opening. And ultimately, I hope that you can see LGBT+ people as a source of blessing to you and to the church as a whole. more “God’s Unique Blessings in the LGBT+ Experience of Christians”

What Christians Don’t Want to Admit About Celibacy and Homosexuality

In my last post, I discussed the loss of physical touch in American culture and the role it’s played in stripping gay people (and everyone else) of access to non-sexual affection. Today, I want to talk about an even deeper trend. The decline of social capital.

Celibacy is next to impossible for gays, lesbians, and other LGBT+ folks thanks to the decline in social capital.

There’s an elephant in the room when it comes to LGBT+ issues, and many Christians will never admit it. It’s like there’s this collective fear that if we let the secret slip, then all the hordes of gay people who were going to live a celibate lifestyle won’t buy it anymore. News flash — most of them don’t buy it already.

So I’m just gonna say it: The social landscape of modern America is making celibacy practically impossible.

There. I said it. Celibacy is next-to-impossible. It’s not like gay people don’t know it already. It’s not like everyone doesn’t know it already. And it’s time we came to terms with it. We’ve got to admit the truth before we can change it.

So I’ll say it again. Celibacy is becoming impossible thanks to our declining social reality. And it’s time we did something about it. more “What Christians Don’t Want to Admit About Celibacy and Homosexuality”

LGBT Words Are More Precise than the ‘Same-Sex-Attracted’ Umbrella

This post is the 6th in a 7-part series called “Gay or Same-Sex-Attracted?” Each post covers a reason to use the words “gay” and “lesbian” as a Christian. On Friday, we’ll conclude the series by addressing a few lingering questions that still remain. So if you have a question, please shout it out! Either in the comments or through my contact page. I look forward to hearing from you!

To check out other posts in the series:

  1. Gay or Same-Sex-Attracted? Navigating the LGBT Language Police
  2. Christianese Like Same-Sex-Attracted Pushes Away the LGBT Community
  3. Gay Doesn’t Mean ‘Sin’ And Neither Does Same-Sex-Attracted Mean ‘Holy’ 
  4. Why Gay and Lesbian Identities Don’t Undermine Identity in Christ
  5. Why Homosexual Christians Are Called To Identify With Gays And Lesbians
  6. LGBT Words Are More Precise than the ‘Same-Sex-Attracted’ Umbrella
  7. Gay or Same-Sex-Attracted? Answering Some Lingering Questions

Or to read the full article:

Also, I feel the need to clarify that I am a celibate lesbian and fully committed to a traditional sexual ethic as outlined by Scripture. If you haven’t read my About page or previous posts, this could get lost in the conversation. I want to avoid misunderstandings as much as possible, so hopefully this information is clear!

LGBT words like gay, lesbian, and bisexual and more precise than same-sex-attracted for the Christian.

Seeking Clarity on Sexuality but Getting Confused

One smaller but influential reason why some Christians prefer to use “same-sex-attracted” over “gay” comes down to accuracy. They believe that “same-sex-attracted” fits them better and avoids misunderstanding.

And I get where they’re coming from. Accuracy is important when it comes to language. You definitely shouldn’t call yourself gay if you’re not gay! But on the other hand, if “gay” doesn’t fit your experience, “same-sex-attracted” is unlikely to do any better.

For example, when I ask a person for their ethnic background, I’m usually asking for more than just “I’m a minority,” or “I’m a non-minority.” I want to actually learn something, something that helps me understand them. Something like, “I’m Hispanic,” or, “I’m Polish on my dad’s side.” I’m asking for something specific.  

And it’s the same thing when it comes to sexuality. I want to know more than just “I’m heterosexual,” or, “I’m non-heterosexual.” And “same-sex-attracted” doesn’t do that. It’s a catchall term for a vast array of non-heterosexual experiences that are tremendously different from each other and require tremendously different responses. more “LGBT Words Are More Precise than the ‘Same-Sex-Attracted’ Umbrella”

Christianese Like “Same-Sex-Attracted” Pushes Away the LGBT Community

This post on Christianese is the 2nd of a 7-part series called “Gay or Same-Sex-Attracted?” I’ll be publishing every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday over the next two weeks, and each post will cover a new reason to use the words “gay” and “lesbian” as a Christian. Please feel free to share your thoughts. I love having dialogue and feedback!

To check out other posts in the series:

  1. Gay or Same-Sex-Attracted? Navigating the LGBT Language Police
  2. Christianese Like Same-Sex-Attracted Pushes Away the LGBT Community
  3. Gay Doesn’t Mean ‘Sin’ And Neither Does Same-Sex-Attracted Mean ‘Holy’ 
  4. Why Gay and Lesbian Identities Don’t Undermine Identity in Christ
  5. Why Homosexual Christians Are Called To Identify With Gays And Lesbians
  6. LGBT Words Are More Precise than the ‘Same-Sex-Attracted’ Umbrella
  7. Gay or Same-Sex-Attracted? Answering Some Lingering Questions

Or to read the full article:

Also, I feel the need to clarify that I am a celibate lesbian and fully committed to a traditional sexual ethic as outlined by Scripture. If you haven’t read my About page or previous posts, this could get lost in the conversation. I want to avoid misunderstandings as much as possible, so hopefully this information is clear!

Same-sex-attracted is Christianese. Christians should use the word gay.

 

Imagine you’re with a group of acquaintances. You’re getting along just fine, when suddenly the person next to you says something about celloflake. You’ve never heard of celloflake, but you decide to nod for the sake of pleasantry.

However, it appears that everyone else in the group knows exactly what celloflake means. And to your dismay, the conversation continues, flowing into something about nitrogen kickoffs, flanges, and DPUs. It doesn’t take long for you to realize that you don’t belong, and you graciously excuse yourself, hoping to find a better crowd.

The Power of Language

If you’re placed in a situation with unfamiliar vocabulary, you’re bound to feel uncomfortable. Or you might even find yourself in a situation where you do understand the words — it’s just that the language happens to be straight out of a Jane Austen novel, and you don’t talk like that. Sure, maybe you’d be friendly and try to connect. But it would be difficult.

Trust me, there’s nothing like a language barrier to make relationships a challenge. I’ve lived in South Korea for a year, and I know. Without language, we can’t understand or connect with people. And even with a shared language, relating is difficult when you don’t have the same dialect, vocabulary, or even accent. more “Christianese Like “Same-Sex-Attracted” Pushes Away the LGBT Community”

When Words Like “Gay” and “Lesbian” Mean “Bad”

There’s so many ways that this post could be misinterpreted that I almost wish I could put a disclaimer after each section. C’est la vie!

In short, I’m suggesting that the church’s synonymous association of gay with “bad” is more harmful than anything else. Queer sexuality, in particular, needs understanding and not denial. I’m definitely not trying to suggest some sort of post-modern, pop philosophy of embracing yourself, regardless of sin. Instead, I’m trying to say that the church’s insistence on associating queer sexuality with sin is blinding us to God’s purpose in it. That was certainly my own experience, which I share in the story below and hope to unpack in the coming weeks.

Gay and Lesbian Sexualities Are Good, Christian

“That’s gay.”

My brother sounded sarcastic. I was barely old enough to be in pre-school and had never heard the word “gay” in my life.

“What’s ‘gay’?” I asked, but a grown-up in the room quickly hushed us, mumbling something about it being “bad.” My curiosity was piqued, but I didn’t press any further. “Gay” meant “bad.” I catalogued the definition in my brain, and for years, that’s all the word ever meant. more “When Words Like “Gay” and “Lesbian” Mean “Bad””

Charting a New Course: On Gayness, Celibacy, and the Christian Life

Gay, celibate Christian blogging about celibacy and issues that affect LGBT+ people
Last month, I announced that I would be introducing a new topic to the blog. Read below to find out more!

 

I executed operation “room-to-sit” a few weeks ago when a friend visited my apartment. It’s a familiar routine now that I live in South Korea, where space is limited in my one-room studio. When she arrived, a stack of notebooks decorated my couch, which I embarrassingly cleared to make room for her. One was a prayer journal, another a thought journal, another a creative journal, another…

Well, I tried explaining the notebooks… but I think I just succeeded in looking strange. more “Charting a New Course: On Gayness, Celibacy, and the Christian Life”