Do you agree with gay marriage? (substitute ‘equal’ or ‘same sex’ etc for ‘gay’ if you prefer). Hot on the heals of that question is ‘is it OK to be gay?’ closely followed by ‘are they gay?’. These questions have been flying around my world quite a bit lately and I have no intention of answering any of them in a blog. My reason for this is that I strongly believe none of them to be the question we need to be asking.
These questions and others like them, in my view, expose a basic human need to judge and claim the higher moral ground against another. In doing so these particular questions distract us all from the real, life changing issues facing our generation in the area of sexuality.
As you know I recently helped to run a ‘Foundations for Life and Ministry’ course in South Africa with 6 church leaders, 3 young adults and 9 teenagers all participating. In three units we look at sexuality, identification, temptation and guilt. As the course progressed both adults and teenagers confided in me that this was the first they had heard about the different options for managing erotic feelings… that there were different, viable choices available other than ‘if it feels good in the moment, do it’. We all could identify in our lives, the pain and brokenness that comes when eros and not agape sets the agenda. Now there was hope, things made more sense, there was another way.
There is nothing wrong with that intense, confusing, exciting experience of ‘falling in love’ – eros in and of itself is not wrong; however it makes a foolish, heartless, tyrannical, fickle, self absorbed master if we let it rule us. I believe that we as humans were created to exist in the context of agape love – that love that is unconditional and seeks the good of the other above my own; the love that God himself, in who’s image we were made, expresses. I believe that we are called to create that context by exercising agape, with God’s help, and letting it determine the way we relate to one another; specifically in this conversation, by letting it determine how I choose to manage and express this incredible gift and life force – my sexuality.
‘Is it OK to be gay?’ in my view, sets up a dynamic whereby regardless of how I answer that question, the task remains to justify myself and claim the higher moral ground. It places us in different camps and calls us to focus on comparing ourselves to each other rather than focusing on Jesus. It’s an effective way to keep us dull to the reality that actually none of us can claim any moral high ground before God, even our most devout beliefs are as pure and acceptable as a soiled sanitary towel when it comes to standing tall in his presence. (All this despite the fact that we will often call God and his word as our witness to strengthen ‘our stand’ whichever camp we choose to set up in.)
‘Am I managing my sexuality in a way that is bringing life and healing to others? Or am I really just out to get my needs met?’ in my view these questions create a level playing field, they bore right to the heart of each one of us, wherever we are on the journey of working out our sexuality. They remind us that we are the masters of our sexuality, erotica is not the aim and height of human experience and most importantly they remind us that there’s work to be done! As my mentor used to say, we were put here on earth to make a difference, to make this world a better place, not just to take up space.
Our sexuality is a formidable force, and if channeled, expressed, managed and invested appropriately, can positively change the course of society. The first Easter signaled the start of new creation, the commencement of God making all things new again and bringing his Kingdom to earth. Ever since then the call has been to join him, aligning ourselves and partnering with him in the bringing of his rule. One day there will be no more pain or sickness or sorrow, I believe some of that change will happen in an instant, but some will happen gradually as God’s people work with him to bring wholeness and healing, food and protection, justice and mercy – his kingdom – to our world. There IS work to be done, so let’s not shrink back to the bidding of our small self-focused drives, but rather with all of who we are – including our sexuality – lets seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness. Now, that’s worth giving my life for.
(last year my church did a three part series called a celebration of sex, i was there for two and found them really insightful. if you are interested, here’s the link: