How gay Christians are changing the church

gays_churchEve Tushnet writes at The American Conservative about how the experience of Gay Christians is changing the church. “Coming Out Christian” is worth your time, even if you find yourself not wholly agreeing with it. The article demonstrates how faithful gay Christians are changing the way in which the church thinks about same-sex attraction.

As the gay movement has enjoyed remarkable success, a new kind of coming out is occurring, in which gay or same-sex attracted Christians openly discuss both our sexual orientation and our desire to live according to the historic teaching of the Christian church, which bars sexual activity outside marriage of one man and one woman. As gay Christians—an unavoidably reductive term—come out, our presence is changing the culture of our churches.

Fyodor Dostoevsky famously wrote in The Brothers Karamazov, “I love mankind, he said, “but I find to my amazement that the more I love mankind as a whole, the less I love man in particular.” The Christian community is a concrete, particular reality. And part of the reality that is the church is Christians who are wrestling with desires that lead to sin–avarice, lust, gluttony, you name it. We’re a band of ragamuffins united by the love of a gracious God who sees and loves us as we are and works in us to bring us into healing and wholeness. Coming out is part of the particularity of the church:

In July, Christianity magazine profiled three British “evangelical church leaders who experience same-sex attraction,” all of whom used real names and photos. Over the summer, in an uncoordinated movement that reflects a rapidly changing culture, several bloggers who had used pseudonyms began to use their real names instead. Homosexuality is being transformed from a faceless, shadowy problem “out there” to an umbrella term for a wide range of experiences that affect ordinary people you might pass on the street or pass the peace to in church.

One of our broader cultural problems is the narrow way in which we understand categories of relationship. Marriage is front and central in Christian subculture. As a culture we’ve doubled-down on marriage, asking this God-ordained relationship to bear the entire weight of our human need for relationship. Same sex friendships have become questionable, confused with a gay dalliance. The New Testament offers a way to honor and strengthen marriage by setting it within the broader context of the covenant community of the church:

In order to help answer these urgent questions, some churches and individual Christians are rediscovering a broader understanding of “kinship” that goes against a culture in which marriage is the only chosen form of adult kinship we recognize. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus promises that those who lose their homes or families for His sake will receive new homes and families, “a hundred times more now.”

At the end of the day, we Americans are loathed to admit that we suffer other than in the most superficial of ways. Its common place to whimper and moan about not having enough money for this or that. Less common is the admission that life is tough:

We’re often ashamed to admit that we suffer. It’s humiliating and it makes us feel like we’re not good enough Christians. This is bizarre since there are very few aspects of Jesus’ own internal life that we know as much about as His suffering. Jesus—unmarried, marginalized, misunderstood, a son and a friend but not a father or spouse—is the preeminent model for gay Christians. In this, as in so many things, we are just like everybody else.

Something to consider.

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