A few days ago, while perusing the steady stream of stuff on Facebook, my attention was drawn to this article: Can You Be a Gay Christian Rock Star?
I’m not terribly surprised that Christians in the public eye are starting to come out of the closet, as there are some corners of the faith that have openly announced support for LGBTQ individuals (yay!). I even spotted a Mennonite church marching in Calgary Pride a couple of years ago. Here’s the photo to prove it:
I’m excited to see that the world is changing and LGBTQ rights are being recognized as human rights. Instead of pointing out LGBTQ persons as sinners, these people are marching for their rights: not much encourages me more.
This piece though… I’ll admit, it was disappointing to see endorsement for this piece on Facebook. It reveals a broad theology that I wish I knew how to abolish: Straight is God’s default. Anything other is the manifestation of succumbing to sin.
(As an aside, when I was a teenager, I remember relating to the apostle Paul’s struggles with doing what he did not want to do. To me, all things sinful were the devil’s way of luring us away from God and they were universal. I.e., we all tend to have the same temptations: lying, being harsh to others when we’re supposed to love them, caving to our selfish desires before God’s, as a few examples. Then, are same sex desires common to everyone, only some of us suppress them? Or does the devil use that lure on some people but not others?) I digress…
Here’s a quick background, to bring you up to speed on the story the article is about:
Trey Pearson, a member of the Christian band Everyday Sunday, recently came out as gay. He reports that he never wanted to be gay (really, who would choose that road, it’s clearly not an easy one to walk) and tried to live a straight life, marrying and having two children. Now he and the mother of his children are navigating the challenges of co-parenting.
Michael Brown, author of the piece, opens by extending heartfelt sympathy for Trey. Initially, I was heartened; Brown seemed to empathize Trey and the struggles he endured throughout his experience of trying to fit a role that wasn’t his and finally coming to terms with his identity as a gay man. But then Brown reveals what he means by his empathic beginnings,
“The reality is that Trey has made a tragic, destructive choice. He has found his identity in his romantic attractions and sexual desires rather than in his relationship with God, and he has decided that personal fulfillment is more important than obedience to the Savior.”
This grates on me for many reasons. Choice? We’ve hashed over this again and again – do you, Michael Brown, really think that people choose to have people like yourself cast judgment on them and to be recipients of abuse that far overshadows your judgment? This is the last straw for Trey, who has been trying desperately to fit into the identity that you believe God has made him for. He tried. You fail to recognize that he tried his darned hardest, to the point of exhaustion, and came to recognize that God makes gay people, too.
And, speaking of ‘obedience to the Savior’, can ya’ll (not limited to Brown) put things in a little perspective and recognize that the proportion of the Bible that addresses homosexuality pales in comparison to the proportion that addresses loving people? I’m no longer an adherent of The Bible and I don’t subscribe to any religious beliefs and you know what I think is insane? Some people love people of the same sex and some people love an invisible sky-dude. Only one of those relationships strikes me as off the deep end of crazy and it’s not the former.
“I don’t know if he received serious ministry or counseling to help him get to the root of his same-sex attractions…”
Another theme that just doesn’t die: if you have same-sex attractions, there’s something wrong with you. Once we’ve fixed you, you will be cured of your same-sex attractions and you can move on with your life, unencumbered by the burden of sin. Okay, that last part was inferred, but I don’t think I’m far off the mark. No. No. No! The “root of his same-sex attractions” is irrelevant to this discussion. His identity as a gay man is legitimate, irrespective of its origins.
Michael then points to one of his readers, also named Michael, who shared his story:
“I have had same sex attractions since I was a young boy. I started to go to church as a teenager and became a Christian. For years, I have prayed for (and been prayed for) these tendencies to go away, but they have not.”
If I was a god, creating people that I loved and wanted to spend an eternity with, I would not create them with an unquenchable desire to sin. That is just, well, cruel. Recently, I’ve been thinking about designer babies. I consider what it would be like to be able to choose certain traits and suppress others and create the best child you could with the genetics you have to offer. Now, what if you weren’t limited by your genetics and you could create the optimal child? What characteristics would you choose? Almost certainly you would not tick the box ‘inclination to do the opposite of what you’ve told them to do’. That would make your life, and your child’s, very difficult (evidently, the omnipotent God is limited in what he can do after all).
(Note: this isn’t even considering that the repercussion of failing to obey results in eternal damnation! The stakes are even higher for God to create children who have a desire to follow him. But this is a problem that can be generalized to all sin – why in the world is the punishment for doing what you’ve been designed to want to do eternal damnation?)
“In spite of that, I got married many years ago and have children and grandchildren. My wife knows of my struggles, although because I knew it was sin, I have never acted on my feelings. Is it easy all the time? No, although with time it has gotten easier. But I have made a choice that I will be faithful to God and to my family.
Tell you what, if my husband told me that he was more attracted to other men than he was to me, I would first of all be crushed, then I would tell him to follow his heart. I would not want to be responsible for holding him captive. I can’t speak for Trey’s wife, but I would not want to be together with my husband if he was more attracted to men than to women.
Ultimately, though, I struggle with talking about this topic in the company of Christians, progressives and traditionals alike. There’s more that I have to say on this topic and because I’m already struggling with keeping this piece cohesive, I think it best to break down my thoughts in another piece. Stay tuned!