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DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Sexuality is complex

Written by: on March 7, 2015

SIC

One day I received a call from one of the leaders of a group people comprised of scholars from a conservative evangelical university, a prominent abbot and Buddhist priest and a key activist from the LGBTQI community in Portland Oregon. They asked me to consult with them about their need to respectfully communicate to a group of Ugandans who were pushing the then controversial but now void anti-homosexuality bill in Uganda. Briefly, for those who might not be aware of the past regarding the national debate about homosexuality and sexuality in Uganda; the bill was passed and signed into law, but due to a vigorous law suit led by a group of Ugandan lawyers, the bill was found to be unconstitutional by the Ugandan Supreme Court last year. Knowing the cultural, religious and ideological landscape of Uganda, I was interested in the trajectory of the issue both from the national and global perspective.

That’s why consulting with the group was fascinating. As a participant in the group, I got to learn about different approaches and worldviews about sexuality. It was the Buddhist priest who acknowledged and noted that “sexuality is complex” and people needed to approach the subject with a compassionate attitude. I think this is major point in Andrew Marin’s book titled Love Is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community. Marin narratives the story of John, a Christian who came out to him when he writes:

… what struck me as so significant … was the fact that the man sitting in front of me pouring his tortured heart out was the former student body president of the most well-known evangelical university in the country! At that moment I realized this topic was no long the “battle of all eternal sanctity” as I had always been told it was. This topic, just like John, is about building bridges to those among us whom we let go without a second thought”[1]

Andrew the author, was raised in a conservative Christian background, was taught to have a certain mentality about sexuality until he met John who helped shift his mindset to a loving point of view. This is why I agree with the Buddhist priest who noted that sexuality is complex and compassion can go a long away. How then should people go about conversations about sexuality? I believe people should pay attention to what Andrew writes about “‘the judgmental lifestyle,’ the kind of “take-the-splinter-out-of-your-brother’-eyes” religiosity that Jesus talked about in the Sermon on the Mount”[2] which all human beings are prone to. A persistently judgmental attitude can stand in the way of compassion and meaningful dialogue.

Consider “retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, a conservative evangelical and potential GOP presidential contender’s recent comments. Carson asserted Wednesday morning on CNN’s “New Day” that homosexuality is a choice because people “go into prison straight — and when they come out, they’re gay.”[3] This is not helpful in a time when the discussion about complex matters such as sexuality need bridges builders and not bridge burners.  Carson “apologized for commenting Wednesday that prisoners’ changes after they leave jail proves being gay is a choice, but said that the science is still murky on the issue.”[4]

 

[1] Andrew, Marin, Love Is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2009), 26.

[2] Ibid., 12.

[3] http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/04/politics/ben-carson-prisons-gay-choice/index.html

[4] http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/04/politics/ben-carson-prisons-gay-choice/index.html

About the Author

Michael Badriaki

17 responses to “Sexuality is complex”

  1. Telile Fikru Badecha says:

    Michael, thanks for your thoughtful post. I appreciate the reminder that “sexuality is complex” and we needed to approach this subject with a compassionate attitude. I hope our countries will realize that prison and discrimination are not the solutions to avoid homosexuality. Thank you.

    • Michael says:

      Thank you Telile, for such an important question. I pray for God’s guidance and that His love will always been evidence among believer as we relate with people. Loving people and being loved can some be difficult if we are guidance by self ambitions and not the Holy Spirit.

      Thank you

  2. mm Stefania Tarasut says:

    Michael, Ben Carson’s response was such a blow but also a very good example of where the church stands…. the church doesn’t know how to answer these questions. The struggle remains. How do we communicate the standards of scripture with love and conviction.

  3. Ashley Goad says:

    Michael, I knew your perspective this week would be interesting. When I, too, heard the CNN reporter say his thoughts, I was a little taken aback. Was he just trying to make waves, or was that what he truly believed? Or did he just say what he said because he doesn’t know what to believe? I think that’s what were struggling with now. Balancing the listening and loving our christian neighbors while trying to interpret scripture and practice it in our society. So interesting… And I appreciate all that you bring to the table from your experience in Uganda. Fascinating, to say the least. I wonder what is the most important lesson you’ve learned by being part of all of those discussions?

    • Michael says:

      Thanks Ashley for the comments and question. I think the most powerful feeling during the meeting was when we were all able to affirm our love for one another even though we had varying options. Love is a pace setter for sure.

      Thanks

  4. Liz Linssen says:

    Hi Michael,
    Your discussion with the group of scholars you mentioned must have been an interesting and insightful one indeed.
    I do agree with you – approaching this issue with compassion is certainly needed. I’m sure that’s how Jesus would have approached this difficult and controversial subject.

    • Michael says:

      I agree Liz, Jesus is our guide and teacher on how to apply compassion. I was moved by Andrew’s remarks about “… building bridges to those among us whom we let go without a second thought”

      I learned from the gentle men in the meeting that Compassionate can help us to know people without judgementalism.

      Thanks Liz!

  5. mm Julie Dodge says:

    Oh. My. Goodness. Ben Carson. Can I just roll my eyes and leave it at that? But even that response is judgmental and bridge burning. In all ways, we must promote peace and model Christs love. Thanks for sharing, Michael.

  6. Richard Volzke says:

    Michael,
    Great post and it sounds like you expanded your views about sexuality when you consulted with the group of scholars and religious leaders. We can learn a great deal if we are willing to dialog with others. I do not agree with the law Uganda passed, because it tries to address homosexuality through fear and not love. As I stated in my post, we must show love to all people no matter the sin.
    Richard

  7. Michael…
    The opportunity you had contrast greatly with the statement from Ben Carson. One of the challenges I think we have, one which I think Andrew Marin has walked, is to not see homosexuality first as a sin, but to understand the person who says they are … It completely flips the perception and perspective.

    Appreciative of your good work and your heart for others…

    • Michael says:

      Totally Carol. I believe the willingness to know and understand people is key. This goes with Andrew’s words about ” … building bridges to those among us whom we let go without a second thought”

      Thank you!

  8. Miriam Mendez says:

    Michael, It is these insensitive remarks (Ben Carson) that stops conversation and lacks compassion and love. I appreciated Andrew Marin statement that you posted, “is about building bridges to those among us whom we let go without a second thought.” I’m glad that leaders sought you out to have a conversation. Thanks for your post, Michael.

    • Michael says:

      Miriam, first of all, I was sad to miss the lunch gathering. I hope and continue pray for the transition time.

      Indeed Dr Carson’s remarks were a set back but by the grace of God we can learn from some mishaps.

      Thank you!!!

  9. mm Deve Persad says:

    Michael, your post is a reminder that followers of Jesus we have the opportunity to truly engage these issues in a way that is vastly different from those of other religious views. One of the challenges, that many ‘christians’ don’t like is the capacity to hold people in the tension between their experience and the work of God’s Spirit – we are so quick to jump to conclusions and make summary statements that we often remove the transformative work of the Spirit from the equation of people’s lives – and that is to our shame, as this is exactly the place of difference for us to engage the world in which we live. Thanks for being one who is available and willing to walk in the tension.

    • Michael says:

      Deve, thank you for the comments. You are right. “Walking in the tension” can be quite the test and the empowerment of the Holy, transformation happens as we experienced in our group. We were able to affirm love for one another even amidst varying points of views.

      Again thank you!!!

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