One of the points proponents of same-sex marriage in the church often make is that the Bible’s trajectory is toward greater, not lesser, inclusiveness. Gentiles, women, eunuchs, “sinners” of various stripes, etc.—all these are, by the time we arrive at the end of the New Testament, clearly at the heart of the kingdom of God, […]
Spiritual Friendship offers a powerful lens into the presence of eunuchs in the NT World.
The New Atlantis Study on Sexuality and Gender (Mayer, McHugh, 2016) was published a few days ago. While well prepared, it must be noted upon first-hand reading that this reads as a report/summary and not original research. Warren Throckmorton would agree in his Patheos critique (you can check it out for yourself).
As I was reading the original report and Throckmorton’s subsequent response — and… the comments (God help me, the comments!) — I sat back and wondered: how are all of these proofs making any difference whatsoever in our love for one another?
It’s been a heavy thought for the past few days.
Even if, for the sake of rational argument, Christians were spot-on correct regarding every single body of credible scientific research, every theological point and counterpoint, every socio-economic rationale denying LGBTQ+ existence & quality of life, it’s all still a resounding gong.
While we must all reach for the highest standards in research & understanding, it still falls on Christians to reach out in reconciliation. Many traditions refuse to participate in such steps. Reconciliation demands recognition for willful hurt, unintentional hurt, & silence when help could have been offered.
Even if all the studies in the world point to a strictly heternormative male/female binary, if we continue to deny people Communion, the pursuit of clergy/lay leadership roles/training, or full participation within the church as a living body, love does not exist.
These doctrines (which do influence scientific approaches, just as other belief systems influence differing scientific methodologies) allow for freedom of religion, but continue to condemn LGBTQ+ people daily. Even if one polarized side has all the correct answers, the distinct, visible lack of Christian presence coming in desire for relationship with LGBTQ+ people (no strings attached) is blatant. Paul’s discussion of the greatest of spiritual gifts (1 Cor 13) is quite literal here.
Until genuine presence is seen & felt at Pride parades, in coffee houses, universities, anti-bullying groups — places where LGBTQ+ people are creating community together — no amount of scientific evidence will ever cover up the gaping need for Christians to come in repentance to a people group they have, and continue to malign — even if the intent is not to malign.
The trust simply does not exist.
No matter how many times Robert A.J.Gagon says that specific theological adherence through specific interpretations of Scripture IS love, it’s not. Love, even in disagreement, would see Christians pouring out of their churches and attending Pride parades with the intent of loving their neighbors, spending time with them, and breaking bread with them.
No desire to throw science and theology and proof about LGBTQ+ wrongness.
No desire to pressure any person to be in relationship, for without it the other person is going to eternal damnation.
No desire to uphold male/female marriage as the gold standard of God’s perfect human union on earth.
Love would see churches pouring into their families who have children who are LGBTQ+. They would begin reexamining their own actions, thoughts, words, emotional responses towards people who claim to be different, and critically examine how they may have been a part of the pain, hurt, abuse and suffering to begin with.
It’s hard to express how deeply these authentic actions are needed by people “proving” how LGBTQ+ people physiologically do not exist.
If Christians creating and disseminating all of these bodies of information worked as hard, if not harder, at loving LGBTQ+ as given in the example above with the eunuch, I wonder how much healing would actually occur.
If I sound slightly defeated, it’s because that’s how this is playing out. I could have a world full of substantiated research to refute works such as the aforementioned report; I could have well reasoned arguments; I could have robust appeals, but none of these will be heard.
- The church still preaches that LGBTQ+ people have an agenda that’s going to destroy our world as we all know it, and kill Christianity
- The church still preaches scriptural inerrance and infallibility, AND that specific interpretations of this inerrance and infallibility are THE ONLY ways to interpret Scripture (and this happens in more areas than just references to LGBTQ+ people; and by other positions)
- The church still preaches that loud truth-telling based on aforementioned interpretation of an infallible, inerrant scripture is how Christians will help the damned see the sin of their lives
- If LGBTQ+ people react negatively, the fall back is that Christians are simply experiencing the persecution Jesus prophesied about back in the day. If Christians get beat down because they call LGBTQ+ couples abominable, it’s of course because the LGBTQ+ community hates Jesus Christ. It has nothing to do with the actions or words of the Christians themselves. The people are absolved.
I don’t have perfected and polished theological responses to every question around human sexuality and gender; I don’t understand every word in scripture (ask me how well I’m doing in biblical Greek at the moment); and I certainly don’t feel capable of standing up to Christians who claim to love me, but seem to have no awareness at all about how hurtful their “truth” really is when they use scripture as they do.
There is no trust.
All this new science could be 100% correct.
But there’s not love that I’ve encountered yet from these authors or their followers that backs up their truth.
Thus, while I am under every obligation to study myself up, I am no obligation to accept any “proof” against LGBTQ+ people, same-sex marriage, or quality of life issues (e.g.bathrooms) when the church pointedly refuses to engage in deliberate, intentional, genuine and loving acts of reconciliation with the LGBTQ+ community. Clearly, these expressions of church are still more interested in throwing hollow words to expose others’ wrongness than they are dealing with the wrong they themselves have committed.
And, while I am under every obligation to love these more difficult expressions of God’s people both as a human being and as a person of deep faith, I am under no obligation to explain or justify to Christians sharing these doctrines, studies, summaries or beliefs why LGBTQ+ people sometimes act in hostile ways. None.
I do not condone violence, trolling, or bullying in any form. But when you wound a person repeatedly, in the name of scriptural righteousness no less, that wounded person is going to lash out. And when you then turn around and call that lashing out “persecution” and claim victimhood, as the oppressor you hold all the cards: you cannot lose. You win on all fronts. You: 1) claim to be correct from the start, 2) demolish all arguments from the other side, 3) call this form of dialogue “dialogue” and love, and 4) brand backlash as persecution against God’s own people.
No one wins against that. Even if Christians moving through this cycle feel like they’re losing, they have already won from the start. It’s an unbeatable system.
Church, you have a massive wide open door here to walk through. You have a choice. Some have stepped through and discovered profound reconciliation and healing. You are seeing the bloody destruction you have helped cause, and you are seeing that no amount of science-lobbing or theological flattery will make disciples. Clearly another element is needed. If it is pain you have caused, Jesus is clear on what you now must do.
What is your decision?