In my last semester of full academic work and the last blog posting for the semester, it seems appropriate for another controversial interpretation of sexuality. Frankly, it’s ingenious of Dr. Jason Clark to have the cohort read about the secular age and then back to back readings on how the church interprets human sexuality. Homosexuality is directly related to a moral behavior in oppose to a spiritual behavior, which means it’s possible for the people to change. The challenge is not the possibility of change, rather, it’s how Christians engage sinful, moral behaviors while we wait for people to change.
It’s commonly been Dr. Clark’s practice to have us read books that will challenge us theologically and culturally, in our preparation for our Fall Semester Advance. In February 2016, we read a book by James Hunter titled, To Change the World. He suggested that our dominant ways of thinking about culture change are flawed because of specious science and problematic theology. Hunter continued by offering seven propositions concerning culture, and I’ll use a few of them to help guide the understanding of Andrew Marin’s book, Love is an Orientation.
The reality is that sexual perversion is a sin based on biblical conviction. However, even biblical convictions (and an understanding that culture is resistant change), we need an alternative perspective. Let’s dialogue with Hunter and Marin for a few moments:
- Proposition one: Hunter tells us that while some cultures base their moral values on their beliefs or adages, Christians view their culture as a truth claim and obligation. Sexual perversion is not a product of culture, it’s a product of sin. Marin is convinced about that fact because he calls himself “a straight, white, conservative, Bible-believing, evangelical male” (p.16). He then tells us his stomach churned until his head hurt when he found out his three best friends were part of the GLBT community (p. 18). Even with this churning of the stomach, Marin tells us not to cram people into our behavioral ideas but lovingly help reconnect the GLBT community with God.
- Proposition two: Hunter tells us that history help to shape culture. Marin said, “Three best friends in three consecutive months. I started to ask God why he would give me three friends in the one community that I had purposefully spoken against all these years.” (p.18) This is a clear indication that “Bible-believing” evangelicals are traditionally conditioned to alienate some cultures based on the sin, in oppose to embracing all. The author believes that “The Christian community has only ever known one way to handle same-sex behavior: take a stand and keep a distance” (p. 37).
- Proposition three: Hunter tells us that culture is dialectical and that if we want to move people towards biblical values, our cultural infrastructure should also move towards those values. Marin took a bold approach to “immerse” himself in the GLBT community by going to gay bars (or clubs) and wait for people to strike a conversation as he sat in a corner (p. 19). This is not my recommendation for several reasons, but I like his other thought of using the Sodom and Gomorrah story in Genesis 19 in his “Mind-Frame Shift Principle.” Marin challenges both “straight” and GLBT to shift our mind-frame from human issues so that all can experience a personal relationship with Jesus (p. 121). If the GLBT can embrace the idea of a sinful lifestyle with the need for salvation, I’m willing to be patient with their human process for an eternal transformation.
- Proposition six: Hunter tells us that culture is not clear but rather unique. Marin’s Bible discussion group grew “to over a hundred people who were either gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, and me” (p. 21). When I read that statement, it was challenging to formulate an opinion. At what point do the Bible convicts the heart of the GLBT community to change their sinful behavior? Marin believes his mission is to build bridges “between evangelicals and the GLBT community” and asks us to put ourselves “into the cloudy circumstances and daily life of what it is to live attracted to people of the same sex” (p. 23). I don’t believe the church at large believe the GLBT community is “already condemned to hell for their same-sex feelings” (p. 26). What we believe is that at some point we should see some evidence of life-change because of God’s Word.
“How can Christian pick this one sin and make it greater than all the rest?” (p. 46-47). We have a tendency to make any sexual perversion greater, and I’m not sure I have the correct answer, but sexuality seems like a sin we often try to justify. If someone commits a murder, we automatically judge them without reservation, but we always justify sexual perversion. Marin stated that he “unapologetically focused on how to have a better, more intimate relationship with God apart from GLBT issues… I started to realize that the gay and lesbian community was more than a sexual behavior” (pp. 105-106). The author wants us to see the GLBT people as people with unique stories and not just a “dysfunctional set of sexual attractions.” I believe they will have even a greater story once Christ completes their biblical transformation. This book was a great book that offered some daring perspectives and a challenge for us as Biblical Christians to embrace sexuality in an open dialogue.
I leave you to answer these nine questions that Marin believes the GLBT community is asking the traditional Christian community. One (if not all) of the following questions (pp. 31-32) are inevitable.
- How can I possibly relate to Christians in a church environment?
- Will Christians always look at me as just gay?
- Will I be able to be like everyone else in church activities and groups?
- Do they think that homosexuality is a special sin?
- Do they believe that I chose to be like this?
- Do they think that I’m going to hit on them?
- Do they think I’m going to abuse their children?
- Are they scared that I’m going to infect them with an STD or HIV/AIDS?
- When will I be rejected and kicked out?