Queering the Christian Table Part 9: Why my humanity isn’t beholden to SCOTUS

To start reading at the beginning of the series, click here.

I’m posting this before I find out tomorrow in 7 hours what the SCOTUS says about DOMA or Prop 8. While most of you will not read these words until after we’ve heard the news, I felt like it was important to say this now.

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I’ve been obsessing all month over the SCOTUS opinions on the two historic cases around same-sex marriage.

Yesterday, I nearly missed my bus due to lingering too long over the SCOTUS blog‘s liveblog of the morning announcements. Today, I felt anxious enough that I bummed a cigarette off of someone. I was mentioning how obsessive I’ve become about this to a friend who replied, “Yeah, I’m keeping up with the announcements by watching your facebook updates.”

Yup.

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But I need to be clear about a couple of things.

1) Even if, by some miracle, the Supreme Court repealed DOMA and ruled in favor of same-sex marriage in California, laying groundwork for federal recognition of the marriages already recognized in a number of states, there’s not a lot of immediate practical implications for me. Which is a grumpy-cat, long-way of saying “I’m still available.”

2) What I really mean to say with number 1 up there, is that I’m not dependent on the legal system to tell me who I am or who I can or can’t share my love and life with.

That is not, in any way, to say that I don’t want legal equality. I also want national laws protecting jobs and housing for all LGBTIQ persons. I also want families to stop rejecting their queer children. I want churches to practice the radical hospitality of Jesus (even though I don’t believe accepting your own Queer members is radical hospitality, I think that’s just normal love of your neighbors and family).

————

And this is where I find myself on the eve of the SCOTUS announcements: recognizing that these decisions have the power to impact how others are legally allowed to treat me, but they don’t auto-magically impact how people actually will treat me, and more importantly, they don’t impact who I am or how I understand my own identity or relationships.

At best they are tools to help other people come to terms with how to honor what I know about myself already.

In short, same-sex marriage laws (along with LGBTIQ job and housing protections) are not for Queer people–they’re for straight people in a heteronormative society. They’re regulations designed to prevent straight people from amassing privilege (which, incidentally, is why they’re so-damn-hard to get passed). Just like the section of the Voter’s Rights law, just stricken by the SCOTUS, was not for People of Color. It was for the white people who were doing the oppressing–to keep them from creating barriers to voting that could reinforce white privilege and supremacy.

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No law can support or affirm the human dignity of any person. It is simply not within the purview of a law to do that. Nation-states do not confer human dignity or rights. At best they are custodians of privilege.

———-

This is why I do not pledge allegiance to the flag of USAmerica. I do not stand or place my hand over my heart for the playing of the national anthem or God bless America. I do not support the military.

I do not live or die by laws of the state. My loyalty is to the kin-dom of God– to the world, to loving my entire human family; striving to love my enemies until I know them as my neighbors and then doing the harder work of loving them once I know them.

Legal protections are good, but loving communities are better.

When it comes to pledging my allegiance, it is to the good news of Jesus that affirms the belovedness of all people; that recognizes as persons–as human–every particular expression of humanity, particularly crossing categories of stigmatized social difference in order to honor the personhood of another.

Placing my hand over my heart is an expression I find myself doing spontaneously when I am deeply moved by the humanity of another person. It is often in the moments of witnessing suffering or sorrow. It is a physical manifestation of compassion–my body’s recognition of another person’s humanity. It is a gesture that comes naturally in the holy moments of bearing wit(h)ness to another person’s life.

Why would I waste this response by binding myself to a system of nationalism that is predicated on asserting higher status for certain people on the basis of arbitrary citizenship?

————

I will have big feelings tomorrow morning. No matter what news gets announced. I will celebrate fiercely when I receive federal marriage approval and job & housing protections (Incidentally, I’ll probably celebrate a lot more when I have someone to celebrate gay marriage with).

But I will not wait for those privileges to be granted to me–not by a judicial system, not by elected officials, not by public opinion polls–not even if it’s “99%.”

I don’t believe that might (or white) makes right. I believe in the given-ness of the sanctity of humanity. I believe that human rights are granted by human breath; by the interplay of oxygen that stands between our being people and our being corpses. As a Christian, I see this breath as the animating Spirit of God.

I don’t believe in “the right side of history.” I believe in stories of past, present, and future that are alive within us and our social communities, showing us who we have been and who are being drawn into being together.

These narratives hold together our small, particular human stories, where we are droplets within the stream of human experience–a shared stream that is turbulent with oppression and deep with compassion.

————

At the heart of the gospel of Jesus, we see these truths. We are not bound or beholden to empires–be they governments, private corporations, or social and religious institutions. We are called into the freedom of loving and claiming humanity–our own and that of those who are oppressed (whom we collude in oppressing to maintain our privilege).

To the extent that the technology of institutions, laws, and governance serve the goal of helping us love our neighbors, they are useful. To the extent that they protect privilege and hinder compassion, they are hell on earth. Either way, they deserve no loyalty. Loyalty; fidelity; love–is reserved for people.

———–

The Christian church is under no obligation to wait for the culture or legal obligations to treat Queer people well.

There’s nothing in the gospel stopping churches and religious institutions from going ahead and affirming God’s call on the lives of Queer people, God’s blessing on vows of fidelity between Queer people, and job, housing, insurance, adoption rights, etc. for Queer people.

Most churches and Christian organizations that obfuscate discrimination over sexual orientation by claiming it as an issue of sin, don’t do the same kind of holiness patrol on the relationships of their straight constituents. Yet their blessing of hetero marriages, their protection of straight employees’ jobs, their granting adoptions to straight people, is in no way seen as an endorsement of unhealthy (even sinful) dynamics in those peoples’ relationships and lives.

By the numbers, if only 10% of the straight folks granted these privileges by Christian churches and organizations had damaging, sinful dynamics in their intimate relationships (a gross underestimation by any accounting method), then there are far more in the “straight and sinful” camp then there are in the entire LGBTIQ camp. So what’s it going to hurt to go ahead and show everyone the same level of dignity in how you treat them?

My challenge to Christian churches and organizations is to lead with the compassion and courage of Jesus. Stop waiting for society to drag us along. God’s Spirit is at work in the world and if it takes using social change to move the church, then She’ll do it that way, but we don’t have to wait, we can go ahead and dance with the Spirit now.

Offering equal protections of relationships, jobs, housing, and healthcare isn’t endorsing a position on same-sex relationships. Withholding equal protections of relationships, jobs, housing, and healthcare is. Moreover, withholding equal protections is collusion with systems of privilege that reinforce stratified definitions of humanity. To Christians, I will charge that this is, in fact, collusion with evil, and counter to the kin-dom of God inaugurated by Jesus in the message of loving God and neighbor.

———–

To my Queer friends, I charge us to fully own and celebrate our full humanity and the dignity and goodness of our relationships. Endeavor to love well and do not let anyone fool us into believing that laws, churches, corporations, or states give us any part of our own humanity. At best, these are technologies that can help those with privilege grow in their capacity to recognize the truth of what we already know: we are breathing, we are here, we are whole and alive–we deserve the same respect as anyone else whether we receive it or not.

Whatever the news from the SCOTUS (and by the time you read this, we’ll all know) remember this: our welcome in the world is not dependent on anyone’s approval.

Read part 10 here.

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51 thoughts on “Queering the Christian Table Part 9: Why my humanity isn’t beholden to SCOTUS

  1. Nicely put! Though I’m not gay, I am a strong support of marriage equality and gay rights. I hope the US Supreme Court makes the right decision and recognizes that ALL citizens should be treated equally under the law.

  2. I can find many, many verses in my Bible that tell me to love my neighbor. But precious few verses instruct me to deprive my homosexual neighbors of their rights. We are made in God’s image: gay, straight, male, female. And occasionally somewhat androgynous. I can’t find any reason to deny anyone the right to a civil marriage.

  3. Although I share your enthusiasm for overturning DOMA and your thoughts on religious acceptance, I do pledge allegiance to the United States, a country in which this type of debate is allowed. My father and grandfathers fought in the Vietnam War and in World War II, respectively, to protect all of our rights. Congrats on being freshly pressed!

      • I share Melissa’s feelings on this issue. The protection of free speech is a big part of why I served in the military. During that time I broke my hand and foot, vomited all over myself from exertion repeatedly, suffered a ton of other minor injuries and acted with honor the entire time. A fact I’m proud of. Most of the people I served with did the same.

        I understand why it’s hard for some to support the military. It feels like you’d be supporting war and all of the atrocities inherent in such a tragic event as war. But no coin is one-sided. Because of the war in Iraq, a dictator who tortured his people and tried various methods of genocide for decades was deposed and brought to justice, along with a great deal of his administration. Because of the war in Afghanistan women’s rights issues in that country and region of the world are being highlighted and covered more in the news, which will eventually lead to change. Because of the overall War on Terror, advances are being made to reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels, which will help the environment. No. War isn’t good, and yes, our government lied to us about the reasons for these wars. But the situation isn’t one-sided, and some good comes with the bad. It’s a matter of looking at the big picture and realizing that the soldiers over there aren’t all murdering psychos. Most of them want a safe deployment, to return quickly to their families, and to have a positive impact on the nations they’re fighting in. They’re not just fighting for America; they’re fighting for freedom in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the world as a whole. Sometimes they screw up, and some soldiers are mentally ill from their experiences, but the hope and goal is for a positive impact for the future.

        You don’t have to support the military as a government organization, but let your heart look upon the soldiers with compassion, empathy and appreciation for who they are as individuals. That’s all most of them want.

  4. Thanks to all for your kind and encouraging comments. It’s an honor to be featured on Freshly Pressed and to have you all reading my words on this topic on today of all days.

    Peace,
    Daniel

  5. I have just spent the last several hours reading through this series of posts. Wow I find your particular understanding of Christianity refreshing. I only hope that more Christians may find similar truths that you have found. Life is a discussion not a war over who is right.

  6. I am a Christian. I’m sure it won’t be long before it’s accepted to hate me for that, and it’s pretty common already in media and humanistic culture.

    I actually don’t disagree with legal recognition of same-sex marriage. I don’t think the US constitution is the 3rd testament of the bible and I don’t think it should be held to that standard.

    I agree that Jesus loves and wants Christians to love homosexuals.

    The argument really needs to be broken down into personal, political, and spiritual. On a personal level, all people should be loved and accepted. On a political level, people should vote based on what they believe to be morally right and good for the country. On a spiritual level, people need to turn things over to God–not the church–God. When the spiritual, political, and spiritual get confused, nothing goes right. This is the cause of hatred and it comes from every kind of person.

    All that said, the church absolutely should oppose same-sex marriage because it’s a lifestyle that does not stand up to biblical interpretation. I cannot be separated out from the rest of scripture and given some kind of special status.

    If a Christian is against same-sex marriage, you may reject them because of what they believe.
    If a Christian supports same-sex marriage, you should reject them because of what they don’t believe–the very Word of God that they claim to believe.

    If a person is against same-sex marriage, it does not mean they hate. Don’t confuse the personal, political, and spiritual. It’s not anyone’s place to do that.

    I’m fully prepared to be hated. It won’t be because I mistreated or hated others. It will be because I refuse to call something what it is not.

    • Brian,

      Thanks for your perspective. If you’re interested in my response to some of the issues that you raise, I’d invite you to take a look at some of my other posts in the series. I’m grateful that you took the time to read and engage with my ideas here.

      Peace,
      Daniel

      • I took your invitation to read more of your posts. You have a lot of philosophical discussions and there’s no doubt that you are intelligent. I would also say without a doubt that you are a loving person.

        The one post that I saw that you actually talk about scripture, you deal with a very obscure story. I was hoping you would deal with some of the more literal discussions of sexual sin such as Leviticus 18. For example, tell me which of the “other” sinful practices should be made legally acceptable? Romans 1, which of the “other” practices should be made legally acceptable?

        The freedom from the law that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ is freedom from the judgement. It’s a redeeming of the person, not a redefinition of sin. Sin is still sin. Sexual sin is still sexual sin from Genesis to Revelation.

        All are welcome into God’s house. It’s expected that all will still struggle with sin, but nowhere does scripture ever say that sin is no longer sin. God makes no exception.

        Having said all that, I accept that if a homosexual person comes to Christ they won’t instantly become heterosexual. Certainly, when I became a Christian, the sinfulness of my life was well seated. God stepped me through many things in a time-table that I could handle and He didn’t start with the hardest thing. He was gracious, loving, friendly, and enjoyable through the process.

        I accept God’s timing in anyone’s life. Being in the process is awesome. But, at no time will I ever, or should we ever say that sin is not sin. It’s not biblical to do that.

        The supreme court cannot change the Bible. The constitution cannot teach me about God.

      • Brian,

        Thank you for your thoughful response, and for taking the time to read through my words and for your faithfully wrestling with how to read scripture.

        You’re right that I haven’t yet directly addressed a lot of specific passages. I’m writing this series and I felt like I needed to start with some questions about how we read the Bible. You’ve probably also noticed that I’m asking questions about how we understand what sin is, why it’s sinful, how it harms humans and damages relationship with God. I think this is really important in terms of how we go on to discern what to call sin in terms of all sexual relationships, and far beyond–I think we need to work on this definition of sin so that we can engage in better conversation from global capitalism, to employment practices, to whether we should eat fish from depleted fishing zones.

        What I mean to say is that I want to think through how I’m reading and interpreting the Bible. I think that is a big conversation that can be had over the internet. Mostly, I read specific Bible passages in person with other people that I have a relationship with. That’s my personal approach, because I find I’m more likely to listen to what God might have to say through another person if I can’t just “unfriend” them or turn off my computer screen.

        That said, I’m grateful for your pushback and I might, in future posts, deal with some of those scriptures. For now I’ll recommend an evangelical perspective on these texts: I think Matthew Vines has done some good work here: http://www.matthewvines.com/transcript. I’ll also recommend an Episcopal perspective on these texts that can be found in Gene Robinson’s book: God Believes in Love: Straight Talk about Gay Marriage.

        Peace,
        Daniel

      • Be careful about bringing opinions into your bible study. Use the bible to interpret the bible. Don’t use opinions, emotions and a world view. Let scripture do the talking and the leading.

        Grace be with you.

    • Looking through some of the responses to the post here, and btw, I thought it was brilliant, I stand with yo, Brian, in your response. I don’t agree with same sex marriage, it goes against what God intended. That does not mean I reject any person who prefers a same sex relationship (and I prefer not single them out as “queer”, we are all “queer” in that none of us our sinless). I abhor the rejection of any race, sexuality, religion etc etc, we are commanded to love, we are commanded to hate sin but love the sinner, we are to love our neighbours as we love ourselves, we are sinners. None so much as me.

  7. Although this ruling doesn’t affect me personally, I hope to see a day when both Democrats and Republicans stop using the government to push their own version of morality.

    Legislating morality does nothing but divide us, and create criminals for doing things that harm no one but themselves, if even that.

    Live and let live, and get the government out of our business.

  8. Reblogged this on Preferring Peace and commented:
    While I don’t necessarily agree with everything here, overall I’m really moved by this post. I think it poses some important questions to our society at large and the Church specifically. Great essay.

  9. Personally I am against the government even having the right to issue marriage licenses. A licenses implies that it is a privilege not a right, much like driving. They should issue certificates, as a form of recognition, to anyone party who chooses consensually to marry.

    My study of God and biblical text promises God’s love. It also instructs me to love my neighbor as I seek God to love me. Nowhere did Christ stipulate who to love, besides when He said love even your enemies. Since I have no enemies it is simple, as my sister often writes, “love unconditionally”.

    Sins are between God and sinner. We all sin and they are not rated. The Ten Comandments speaks against adultery, The Bible defines adultery as even thinking of someone, who is not your life mate, in a sexual manner. Thus in my observation I would say almost all of us have lusted and committed adultery. Very few if any people say devorsies or sinners can not be married. So, for those who choose to judge, which is a sin, saying homosexuality is sinful and thus anyone committing the sin can not be married legally, this thinking would outlaw all marriage. If sinners may not be married, then no one can. I say all people because The Bible states all will and have sinned.

    I am filled with great sorrow that so many of my fellow believers have selected certain sins to focus on. Just today I was irritated at someone for delaying me. That would be a thought of impurity and not love to my fellow man. Graciously when I seek it before I find sleep, God will grant me forgiveness. Focussing on ones own sin and loving with all we have is the best we can do.

    Bless you for you courage to post your heart. Know, I am blind to your sins as I hope you are to mine. I can not name your sins, they are between you and God alone. They are only known to me because sin is common to us all. Let us share also in the only thing that concurs sin, love! Most importantly, I love you completely and unconditionally.

    -Brooke’s Sister

      • I would suppose sins that harm others such as murder. In the Bible the only sins I know that are seperated out is causing harm to children or leading them astray and denying Christ. There may be more that I am not recalling.

        Mostly I don’t believe the government should regulate laws based upon a religious view. Looking back in history oppressive states either forced religion or denied it altogether.

        I’m off topic my actual point which I failed to make is I value the poster as a fellow person. I love him as a brother and am grateful for his willingness to share and be open.

  10. Hello! Congratulations on being freshly pressed. Hope you don’t mind that I reblogged this. Coming from a very strict Fundy background, I think that I wouldn’t have rejected Christianity if more people had thought, spoken, and behaved like you have in this essay. Also, I would like to share this on bjunity.org, if I may. I think it would help a lot of LGBTQ people who are struggling to reconcile sexuality with spirituality.
    A couple key points that I want to comment on: Religious links to nationalism. I absolutely agree that there is no place for nationalism within the lvies of professed Christians. No where throughout Holy Scripture are the children of God commanded to take secular law into their own hands or to facilitate it in any way. The New Testament message is completely contrary to this ardent and perverse nationalism that has sprung up in the American church. I applaud your willingness to take such a firm stance on this.

  11. Beautifully written. My Christian faith was tested for years until I met a grace filled Pastor who let me know without shame that I am a child of God created in his image. Being gay and Christian isn’t always easy and sadly I have found the “issues” often lie more with my gay brother and sisters than my Christian brother and sisters.

    BTW, wasn’t it an awesome surprise when the decisions were announced yesterday, made all the worrying and obsessing worth it!

    Congrats my gay-Christian brother!

  12. Many, not all, Christians who use the Bible to say why homosexuality is wrong are severly misguided or just plain hypocritical. I wrote a blog recently (I’ve attached link below) about how George Takei is my new hero. In it I used the Bible to basically call out these homophobic Christians who hide behind the Bible by saying that if they wish to abide by one rule in the Bible then they must abide by them all which includes condoning slavery and the oppression of women.
    As far as equality goes patience is needed. Society won’t change overnight but think how much more understanding it is than twenty years ago. Unfortunatley the world is still heavy with bigoted, right wing nut jobs who preach “freedom” but then refuse to accept the choices and liberties of others.
    Thank you for sharing
    http://wp.me/p3kAVB-1G

  13. I firmly believe, what are they calling it these days? Tolerance. I don’t know if this single word completes my thought. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. Treat others with the same respect you wish to be treated with. We are different, yes, in so many ways. BUT there is clearly a single fine thread that binds us all as one. That is the HUMAN in each of us.This we can not deny. Try as we may to justify supremacy by any stretch of the imagination holds not validity for me.

    EQUALITY is not a new fight. Who knows? Probably since the beginning of human life on the planet. America came into being as a fight for equality.. And has struggled with issues of equality ever since those early days.Not to belittle your voice for equality. You deserve that right. Equally as that Catholic, Christian,Buddhist,Muslim, Atheist, and the list goes on forever. Point being the each have an equal right to worship.Just as a woman should stand equal to a man. That all skin colors all equal, And sexual preference should not be an issue of inequality.

    With this being said I believe with all my heart that golden rule.Loving Other as Myself. And in all honesty say on occasion I have struggled an individual or two.. One bad apple is not the whole bunch.If I have learned any thing it is this: LOVE IS UNCONDITIONAL and LOVE IS A DECISION. I guess that was two things.

    My thought and prayers are that we all decide to Love one and other and stop all the killing..Men, women and children tortured and killed. And for what one feeling greater than another.

  14. Love it. Christians don’t need to wait for the government in order to start treating queer people well. This is what I think Jesus spends the most time teaching. Love everyone even when the earthly powers tell you not to. Great post!
    – Autumn from Searching Sophia’s Pockets

  15. “I do not live or die by laws of the state. My loyalty is to the kin-dom of God– to the world.”

    I’m probably parsing a little too much, but I urge all Christians to be wary of what the world thinks is wise. We are told to love our God and our neighbors. We should not judge others, but the world and all of us will face judgement.

    “I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.” John – 17:14

  16. Thanks all, for reading and commenting. I had no idea I’d get “freshly pressed” when I published the post, so forgive me if it takes a bit of time for me to moderate your comments and/or respond. I’m working on grading papers for a deadline on Friday, after that I should be a little more prompt.

    I’m deeply grateful for your jumping into conversation with me.

    Peace,
    Daniel

  17. Your eloquent words are so moving, I was able to empathize with the situation that many have to deal with in their daily lives. It is true as a woman married to a man I never had to worry about health insurance and death benefits, I shared the taxes by filing jointly. (Not too sure if that is a benefit) To be able to make life and death situations for my love one, Mitch and in the future I can ensure that his wishes are met, all of these things I have taken for granted.

    So it was not until I read your post and taken in the true impact of the recent ruling highest court of the land ruling that I came to this conclusion. So I am proud to say it is about time.
    Now my Aunt Vickie can if she chooses marry her life partner, Jan. My husband’s Uncle Frank can do the same with his life partner Jim. My friends, coworkers and the list goes on.

    As a woman of faith in a Creator(s), loving and accepting this is a day of celebration.
    Thank you so much for letting me share my thoughts and I look forward to browsing your site some more.

    My gratitude is yours, Allie.

  18. I’ve never understood people who use Christianity as an excuse to hate. I support gay marriage but I don’t support Starbucks in the lobby of a church. Kim Kardashian is not some good Christian because she had a heterosexual marraige for 72 days. People’s perception of what is good and “Christian” has gotten so warped. Jesus said love thy neighbor.

  19. The heart knows no laws other than love. You cannot legislate morality. Be who you are and engage others by meeting them where they’re at. Face to face. Don’t wait for any authority to show you what love is. Love it the one thing that can change hearts.

  20. Interesting article man. So do you not think Christians should be pro-traditional marriage? Do you not believe the interpretation of the Bible which basically says if you burn with passion get a heterosexual marriage, and if you don’t burn with passion it is better to remain single? Are you against Christian counselors helping people go from gay to straight? What about when the LGBT, etc asks for the help? If someone is a Christian girl and they are sexually attracted to other girls but have decided to commit to fight that do you consider them gay? Is that person doing something good or bad when they do that?

    You say government doesn’t grant rights and at best deals with privileges. I agree. So do you think marriage is a right or a privilege? I understand that people can’t discriminate with rights, but can they discriminate with privilege? Is discrimination always bad?

    Anyway you got me thinking! Catch ya later!

    • Gosh, that’s a lot of questions! 🙂

      I’ll guess that most of those answers are in some of my other posts, either directly or between the lines. In short, I think sexuality is complex, that people are dynamic, and that Christianity should be concerned with shaping our desires to enhance our love of God and neighbor. I think that all gets worked out in community with other believers.

      In terms of what are rights and privileges, well, stay tuned, I’ll be posting again over the weekend with some thoughts on that.

      Peace,
      Daniel

  21. Your blog has peaked my interest. you have great thoughts and a very different view than i am used to hearing. thank you for blogging on this.

    Coming alongside a Christian brother with love to tell gods truth. Love one another. Speak out for those who have no voice. Tell gods truth. Stand on the promises of god.

    I understand mostly what your saying. I cannot as a Christian allow you to say gods truth says that sexual sin is okay straight or with the same sex. It is not okay period, says the bible. In my church, Christian church we don’t accept people’s sin but we help understand how to come alongside each other with scripture to help be freed from sin and enjoy gods blessings. By accepting ones sin by allowing them to keep making the same choice to sin is to choose death not life. My experiences with sexual sin can top them all but I never viewed them as okay. As said by God, do not wreck the body of Christ by ways of ______ sin.

    as a Christian I must do what Jesus would do and love on you by way of truth.

    Hope you keep blogging and discussing how you feel. I enjoy the read:)

    • cklersy,

      Thanks for reading and for your response. I appreciate that you have the curiosity to read and engage with me in conversation and the conviction to speak up where you feel that you are compelled to by your understanding of your faith.

      I am grateful for your words and I too, am trying to love you by way of truth. I talked a little bit about how we understand sin in Part 6 of this series. I think that’s a very important issue for us to consider as the church. Primarily because scripture doesn’t address the historic realities of the time that we live in–is it a sin to buy clothes from corporations that lock their workers in dangerous buildings where they are then trapped in a fire? That’s a complex question and it requires us to wrestle with what makes something a sin. So we absolutely must discern and interpret scripture. If you take a look at my earlier posts, I hope you’ll see that I strongly agree with you when you say “sexual sin is not okay.” I believe that God wants to shape our sexual desires in a way that leads us to be more alive, more loving, and more like Jesus. I think that where we disagree is on what is a sexual sin.

      I think that you would probably agree that God doesn’t arbitrarily go around picking behaviors and labeling them as sinful, neutral, or leading to holiness. Instead, there’s got to be some consistency around what is sinful and what is good. So the question for us is, what makes anything sinful or leading to holiness? Only by really wrestling with this can we open ourselves up to listen to where God might be calling us to repent and live in a different way.

      There’s a definition of “cheap grace” that goes something like this: Following Jesus is costly. We don’t receive grace in order to go on sinning, instead we receive grace and we then respond to it by turning away from sin and towards God’s way that leads to life. I do not disagree with this definition. I will add to it by saying that another kind of cheap grace is one that tries to take God’s law (or grace used like a law) and lay it down across our lives like a rule book that fits every scenario–such a move is cheap because it requires no relationship with God; no maturity of growth into the kind of people who can enter new ethical dilemmas and discern a way forward. I think the much more costly thing is to forever be in humble discernment and listening to God’s Spirit with the community of believers, engaging God’s law and the realities of the world in order to discern what path forward leads to flourishing life, and greater love of God and neighbor.

      I don’t really know anything about your own process of how you read the Bible. I don’t know how much you’ve thought about how you know what makes something sinful and what makes something good. I hope that you’ll continue wrestling with these questions in your own faith community and that you’ll ask them about every aspect of your life.

      In my own process of wrestling, my goal is to have compassion and to listen to those who have a different experience of life than I do. While I deeply believe that physically hurting other people is not okay, I know people who are firmly convinced that inflicting physical pain on their own defenseless children by spanking them with belts is a way of helping their children learn and grow into responsible and loving people. I personally find striking your own children (who are depended on their parents to protect them from harm) far more offensive than consenting adults building a loving, committed relationship with each other. –So I’m left to go back and ask, what makes something a sin and what leads to life. It’s a complicated question that I hope we can avoid cheapening by moving to a quick answer.

      Peace,
      Daniel

      • THank you Daniel for the well thought out and said response. You are a very neat individual with lots of love and compassion. You do have knowledge and understanding of others and it seems that you are seeking God to give you what you need in life and respect that. I definitely have been interested in the marriage laws across the nation and as you I think that it is for God to judge. I believe that it is a very complex issue but like all things there is not a right or wrong in context to the world laws. People think that we are in control of everything when God is the one who has the control. To think we could cause this earth to be unable to support life is selfish. God is the last say in that issue.

        I will say that I also really believe that there is nothing new under the sun. Meaning each generation thinks something is new and improved and wow…never seen before. But the scripture says that all things are old, already been done. It seems as though the same argument gets brought up about Sodom and Gomorrah getting destroyed for the sexual and other sins. What I believe is that even though people may be correlated with a gene for being Homosexual they still have a choice to act on the sexual sin. This isn’t the point for this discussion though. You raise a great question about sin and what defines sin. Sin is anything that pulls your focus from the will of God. Anything that gets between you and God. Anything that you are addicted to, chose to be by/use/love more than God. Sin is described as your choice (free will) to grow apart from God or to cause others to stray from God. Example: causing your brother to sin by bring gifts of alcohol when they have a drinking problem.

        To address God’s Grace. Grace is given by way of the death of Jesus Christ. When you accept Jesus into your heart and chose to follow him. He will work in your life removing and filling all things to be more like him. It’s when we take our focus off him that we tend to sin, i.e. let the devil take root and fill our life with lies and deception. God sent Jesus to bring grace. God knew we all were struggling to follow the rules set in the old testament so he sent his only son to bridge the gap that we were so lost with out. Because we are human God had pity for us and wanted us to be able to have grace and to receive all his promises and truth with out feeling condemned like the devil tries to make us feel.

        I believe that God has a written a whole bible filled with his rules to allow us to live in blessings and have a great fulfilling life. The bible doesn’t pick and chose the behaviors that are okay. The bible states what is okay and what is not. I think that is one large misconception of our society in this day. God lists all the rules so that we have a chance to chose them and grow fruit from our tree. The point of being christian is to spread the good news of Jesus to all and allow each person to experience their own personal relationship with him. To do this you read the bible, fellowship and pray. This provides the holy spirit to guide you in your new love for christ.

        God has woken me up to this issue of confusion in our society about what is right and wrong. Especially on the part of allowing same sex marriage to be accepted in some christian churches. My conviction is strong and God has been allowing my friends, family and colleagues to come to me to talk about all aspects of this topic. All leading us back to the scripture and what it says about coming alongside your brother in love to show the truth.

        I know we don’t know each other and I really do like chatting and reading what your views are. I hope that you hear me when I say that I love every one and I have been in many situations to relate specifically to the same sex love and marriage. That is why I feel so compelled to share all of this with you. I prayed for a very long time, years and when I finally listened and trust what I felt my life got easier and more joyous. God works everyday that we let him. So keep letting him work in your life and enjoy the sun shine:)

        Hope to hear your thoughts,

        MissKlersy

      • MissKlersy,

        Thanks, again, for your response. It’s good to hear a bit of your own journey of prayer and learning to trust the direction that God was leading you.

        It’s truly remarkable how my own experience of God’s grace has led me into more freedom, joy, and life. I hear you there. I’m also always amazed at how God pursues us and brings thriving life and relationship with all of God’s children. We are all so different, all marked by our own stories and experiences in our bodies and God moves towards us all with so much love.

        I really can’t say for sure how redemption and healing will play out for anyone else’s story. I can, like the disciples and the man born blind, only bear witness to what I have seen and heard. I know that I lived for years in the closet, afraid of my own body and desires, believing I was wrong and I was going to hell. Through the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life, through scriptures, through the church community, I came to experience the gospel playing out in my life. I have lived something of the death and resurrection story of Jesus and now I am able to see myself as beloved and welcome in the world, more alive and able to love others than I ever have been before. If that’s not good news, I don’t know what is.

        I don’t expect this to make sense for someone else who hasn’t lived it, but it has taught me to allow for the perplexing mystery that is God’s redemption that springs up in unexpected places. I’m grateful for your experience of how redemption is playing out in your life and I’m grateful for how it’s playing out in mine.

        Peace,
        Daniel

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