What I love about all of the books we are reading, is that we are exposed to and learning about the other sides of conversations that too often homogeneous Christians have only had with themselves, either choosing to ignore or simply being ignorant that there even is another side. It seems that we continue to revert back to book on the scandal of the Evangelical mind. Between Andrew Marin’s book and Adrian Thatcher’s book we are truly getting exposed to the another side of a very controversial subject regarding sexual orientation and the gay community. Allow me to enter into this weighty subject with a story. I love stories and I hope you do also.
I have a wonderful brother in the Lord who has been my mentor and friend for many years. He was a sanity, ministry, and life savior to me as I pastored in Wichita Kansas for 11 ½ years. In fact, I’m looking forward to seeing him and preaching in a church this Sunday where he is currently serving as interim pastor. We will be returning to the artic cold to do some much-needed itinerate and partnership development.
Pastor Joe, as he is affectionately known throughout the community, helped me in my naïve logic of trying to figure out my new role of pastor and even more my role as child of God. I recall many breakfast meetings where he would, from his vantage point of being across the table and 15 years my elder, would ask questions that would challenge me in new ways. One day in particular I was rattling on about a person’s faulty theology. Of course having gone to graduate school and obtaining a Master of Divinity degree from Regent University, I certainly knew what correct theology should be. Pastor Joe allowed me to rattle off my educated yet unwise conclusions as he quietly drank his coffee and ate his oatmeal. Like an experienced fishermen he allowed me to run with the line before he “set the hook.”
Once I was completely assured that I had extrapolated all of the exegetical truths of the theological premise that I was currently defending I concluded and I began to eat my, now cold, omelet. I envisioned Pastor Joe, sitting in amazement at my intellectual prowess and congratulating me on being able to wade through all the delicate intricacies of the argument and coming out on top with truly the best theological explanation of how this person was wrong and I was right.
Pastor Joe, having patiently listened to me, put his cup down, and with that fatherly look that I have come to love so much, he asked me one question that has forever changed my theological perspective. “Mitch, how much wrong theology can a person have and still make it into heaven?” Needless to say my omelet continued cooling.
How much wrong theology can an individual have and still get into heaven? And truly can anyone have the perfect right theology? Can there even be such as thing on this side of the darkened glass. To ask a slightly different question, but one along the same lines, “How much sin can a person have in their lives and yet still get into heaven?” As Marin shares throughout his book, love ought to be our orientation, not just to the gay community but to all people. Perhaps in Jesus’s day it was tax collectors and the general label of “sinners” that were placed upon people, who would be disenfranchised by those who consider themselves to have the right theology. It is through Thatcher’s book that much theology of the quintessential homogeneous Christian argumentation is put under a greater microscope. Though we have been given the mind of Christ we are still bound in this terrestrial nature of our current existence. Yet we work with what we have. Christ came to free us from the curse of the law and do away with the sin that separates us from the God who loves us enough to die in our place. Can God through Christ accept a person who struggles with same sex attraction? Let me ask a perhaps easier question, “Can God accept you who struggle with anger issues, lust issues, and your own private sin issues that only you and God know all to well?” Of course the answer is yes He can, and yes He does.
In this understanding then, God loves the LGTB community just as much as He loves the murder, rapist, and disobedient to parents community. In essence Christ came to save sinners, and if we identify ourselves like Paul did, “of which I am the chief,” we get to the beginning of where our love must emanate from. Yet the struggle is whether the category of same sex sexual relations are to be classified as sin in today’s modern age.
If homosexuality is not a sin then there are still other sins that we must continue to free ourselves from till mortality is swallowed up into immortality and we all grow up into Christ who is the head. As Marin states in his book, if we are straight then “right from the gate, you can’t relate.” We, let me say, I, do not understand, but that does not give me license to judge and excommunicate. Rather it is an opportunity to welcome, embrace, and walk the same journey as we each discover God.
Each of us can relate to being separated from God and coming with all our incorrect theology and messed up lives to a God who loves us just as we are straight, confused, proclaimed, or inflamed. So, I conclude with the acknowledgement that I do not have the final say on the correct theological perspective regarding LGTB, but I am confident in that I have just enough theology that I can love them as I have been loved. It is here I stand on the mercy of my fellow travelers and Christ.
Marin, Andrew. Love Is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2009.
Marin, Andrew, and Ginny Olson. Love Is an Orientation: Practical Ways to Build Bridges with the Gay Community 6 Sessions. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011.
Thatcher, Adrian. God, Sex, and Gender: An Introduction. Chichester, West Sussex England: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.