I must confess that my readings on the subject of sexuality and particularly that of same-sex orientation has been very limited. The two books I read this week God, Sex, and Gender: An Introduction by Thatcher and Love is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community Marin would be a rather unusual collection in my library; on the other hand, perhaps it will be a reminder to catch up with the rest of the world and face contemporary issues that confront Christians and leaders. Thatcher brought to my attention the complexity of sexual orientation and theological implications that are outside of the framework of my upbringing. Marin on the other hand led me to the need for grace, understanding, compassion and the acceptance of people with different orientations. Indeed a lot to process for me – one who had my first official sex-education class (with diagrams and pictures) in my first year of university. It was a different age and time; so much has changed since.
Interestingly enough, I paused to read the following news article that appeared on the BBC website which I would have normally skipped: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-26254137. It seemed to elevate my sensitivity to the issue.
Discussion on sexuality of any nature from a Christian perspective leads directly to several foundational biblical principles. The heart of Christianity is the value of human life, created to be lived in all its abundance through a vibrant relationship with God and a healthy relationship with fellow humans. The bedrock of such a human value is the biblical understanding and conviction that all humans are created in the image of God. Before any discussion on one’s sexual orientation lies the backdrop of being human, which is a paradox in a sense – being the image of God on the one hand and fallen humanness on the other. This conviction, then extends the grace of God to every human being and curtails everyone’s liberty to dehumanize anyone. Basic to our humanness and human needs lies our sexuality with a particular sexual orientation. Recognizing that we are sexual beings with varying orientations is therefore important.
Equally important is also the fact that we are all sinners on a pilgrimage toward God, facing an unrelenting battle with the world, the flesh and the devil. Depravity touches every facet of humanness, which includes sexuality, weak and vulnerable – constantly cries out for His grace. And then,Christians are people who have embraced the lordship of Jesus Christ, sincerely striving to become and remain subservient to Him. It is their belief that principles for Godly living are laid out in the Scripture and desire understanding on subjects pertaining to every aspect and dimension of life in light of its teaching; and when it is revealed seek the grace of God to follow His will toward the fulfilment of His purpose.
That still leaves the question of my personal stand unanswered. My take away from Marin is this: I can know my brother’s pain only when I have walked a mile in his shoes. I do not fully understand and so I do not judge. I see myself as human, sexual, sinner saved by Grace and as a Christian submitted to the lordship of Christ willing to love, accept, embrace and lead everyone to Christ. The God I believe in is both powerful enough to reveal Himself to everyone and gracious enough to receive everyone who come to Him.
Question: To what extent does contemporary culture influence? Thatcher writes: “ … Sexual desire, a gift of God can be easily intensified into lust and endlessly stimulated by social and cultural pressures on us. Desire is artificially stimulated (Thatcher 2011, 200).”
Marin, Andrew P. Love Is An Orientation: Elevating The Conversation wiht the Gay Community. Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Books, 2009.
Stott, John R.W. New Issues Facing Christians Today. London: Marshall Pickering, 1999.
Thatcher, Adrian. God, Sex and Gender: An Introduction. Oxford, West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.„ 2011.