The other day I was asked the question: “What does your Church believe about homosexuality?”
There are a many ways to answer that question, none of which are easy in anything less than a good sit – down – conversation. Yet, in the manner we attempt to answer that question as Church is of vital importance.
In a fast world of technology we want fast answers and if I as a spokes-person for my Church can’t deliver answers in a quick and speedily way, then I (and the Church) is dismissed. What I try to say is that big questions like this, that pertains to identity and purpose, must be allowed to take time. For instance, the question about homosexuality can not be disconnected from the questions of Grace and Law, Being and doing etc, and how they relate. It is a part of a whole and it takes time to look at the big picture.
So let us take a look at the big picture.
Many people, me included, walk around here in the West thinking that we are free. Free to choose what we want. Free to choose what to believe, what to eat, our gender, to have children or not. This is true, to a degree we are “free” to choose some of those things. What we have forgotten in this hodgepodge of choices is that we at the same time very much are slaves. We are slaves to the law. Our freedom is limited. We are not free in many ways. We didn’t choose our birth place or even to be birthed, some people can’t have children, we can not fly in our own strength etc. We are somewhat constrained by the laws and structure of nature. What does that mean, you might think and what does that have to do with our sexuality?
See the law, works, physicality, body or just any kind of structure in general can not operate or find its fulfillment without the corresponding attribute in the realm we can not see. Structure is pointless unless it holds some content. Law is futile without grace fulfilling it, works are dead without faith and love and our body is just an empty shell if it is not filled with the breath of life, the pneuma. Our physical body as men and women reveals a spiritual identity as well. Physicality depends on spirituality (proper) for it’s function and purpose. In a post modern world, much focus have been on the material and the physical, the things we can see and in the supersonic development of contemporary science the spiritual side (the side that actually interprets the physical side) got ignored. Many of you that are reading this are so entrenched in the material way of looking at things that you are not even sure what I’m talking about. What I’m trying to say is that the spiritual realm is the realm that is yet to be revealed and is revealed more and more when we step out in faith, anticipating it’s existence. (Not unlike the movie “The Matrix”) This is how groundbreaking science works, a leap into the unknown based upon a certain calculation, anticipating a not yet revealed reality. And there is always more to be revealed.
Once we got spell bound and hell bent on mapping and understanding the physical (the revealed) we started to ignore our spiritual origin that created all we can see in the first place.
When we ignore the spiritual things (not yet revealed) we tend to separate the spiritual from the physical thinking that they belong to different compartments. The physical belongs to the compartments of physics, biology, natural science etc while the spiritual belongs to religion, psychology, philosophy etc. Truth is that these categories can not fully blossom if they are separated from each other. Anyway…
We have created a system of choices, based upon an understanding of the world that heavily leans towards the physical (the revealed) and that has lead us to base our worth in what we achieve and do. We are valued according to our job, how we look, how we behave, our achievements and how much money we earn and spend. We measure success by way of progress in the physical. (We can cure this disease, we can feed all the people of the world etc) All the busyness of activity clouded our vision from seeing that our worth is not based upon what we do and achieve but rather on who we are.
If we base our identity on what we do then the power of self suggestion will eventually determine that what we do will give us the purpose for our being and the platform of our worth. I won’t argue that what we do doesn’t matter, it does, a lot, but it is not what determines our worth or who we are. Worth is determined by the eyes of the one that loves you without restraint and in this case, that’s God, your Father. We are created in His likeness and He is in love with us. That is the foundation of our worth, not what we choose to do or believe and how successful we are fulfilling those choices or not.
If you base your understanding of who you are on what you do, then it is logical to start to believe that you are self-contained, self – aware and self created. Hence gender for example becomes a matter of personal opinion and choice rather than biological appearance. The subjective/individual interpretation of reality takes precedence over objective/communal one. I decide who I am is one of the creeds that echoes on the street called Zeitgeist. Obviously the antithesis “You decide who I am” is not true either. But maybe we should give a third way some room even if it’s not politically correct: God created you and will continuously heal you until you become the true you.
The debate around homosexuality is often focused on the right of being true to what one feels is true about oneself. I’m not coming against the freedom of trying to be true to what we believe the reality of ourselves to be. What I would like to suggest is that maybe we put to much trust in ourselves in determining who we are? Truth is that we are not self – contained, we need food, water, light and all kinds of things. We are not self – aware, we only get to know ourselves in the face of the other. We are not self – created, we needed someone to bring us into this world. Yet, we have such a hard time actually letting someone else speak into the core of who they perceive us to be.
God is delighted when a woman forms and sustains a living friendship with another woman, the same goes for men. Love within the same gender is naturally a part of God’s great repertoire. But that does not mean that the same gender should sleep with one another as men and women do. Intercourse is the symbol of and the way in which the two that are different becomes one. Per definition, two of the same can’t have intercourse as it requires the biology of two different genders when it comes to humans that were created in the image of God. When two people of the same gender have intercourse it is actually not intercourse proper but a pseudo version of it. Saying that it is just reveals the determination by the individual to bend creation to the individual will and interpretation of it.
Love is more then sex. Love is bigger than eros. Love is more than a feeling. Love is more than what we with our individual work and legal minded paradigm decide it to be. We are a result of love, a love revealed within the Holy dance of the trinity. Three different Persons in One eternal will and communion.
Why is it important to spend the time answering the question of homosexuality? Why is it such a hot topic in the first place? Because it touches upon the questions of who we are and in Who’s image we are created. It’s controversial because it is important. So what do I say to the ones asking me about homosexuality and what our church believes about it? First I answer with a question. Do you have two hours? If not then I just say that we are a church that believes in the Holy Trinity and in the Incarnation and that that is our base for sexual theology. I welcome anyone to Church regardless of where they are at but I also try to make it clear that if you are looking for a Church (or a god for that matter) that will conform to what the you alone would like to see then we are probably not the best fit.
Sexuality is not a right that we can take for granted. It is a gift that can be received or rejected. Freedom is not a right that we can take for granted. It is a gift that can be received or rejected.
To you that are either struggling with sexual identity or not struggling at all but have concluded that you are homosexual I would welcome your comments or feedback as I am well aware that I have a hard time relating to the reality you face. We are created in the image of God and He loves us all with an everlasting love. The cross presents itself to us all in different ways and I pray that the Church would learn to talk about these things in ways that displays God’s love with integrity.