Apologies, I haven't blogged in a while; last weekend was pretty packed! I think speaking is less work than coordinating, being MC, song leading, setting up chairs, etc.!
Our small group has been having some good discussions, both in person and over email, about hard-hitting topics. Below is a snippet from an email I sent in response to a question about homosexuality.
(Oh, and the photo doesn't really relate to anything; it's just my happy little poinsetta, still green even seven months after Christmas!)
Whoo, we're hitting the good topics! :)
I think it is useful to define terms first -- what do we mean by homosexuality, sexuality, sexual orientation, gay marriage.
Since the 1960s our society has, I believe, become overly sexualized, to the point where people's self-identity is excessively defined by sexuality. Those who self-label themselves into "the LBGT community" (lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgendered) are, by so doing, defining themselves in terms of sexuality. Conversely, the conservative church so often brands people according to their sexual sins. Would we do the same with other sins? Would we say, "oh, she's an unrepentant gossiper; we can't let her be a member," or even (in a somewhat patronizing tone), "yeah, one of my coworkers is an Angry Man, so I know a bit about the Angry Man community: here's what the Angry Men are thinking...." My point is that in labeling/stereotyping we are implicitly creating an us-vs.-them divide. But the divide that really matters is not between "heterosexual" vs. "homosexual" (terms which I'll define momentarily), but between saved vs. unsaved, following Christ vs. not following Christ.
Nevertheless, sexuality is an important part of humanity, and I think the traditional church has often viewed sex as a "taboo" subject, and in so doing has irresponsibly abdicated its mandate to teach the Biblical principles to the next generation. God made sex to be a precious, beautiful gift to married couples -- and He defined marriage to be one man and one woman for life. Completely apart from any hermeneutics of Leviticus or Romans, God's stance on sexuality is implicit in the definition of marriage -- and hence the definition of adultery, which is any sexual relationship outside of marriage. The sexual drive which is in all of us is placed there by God; its purpose is for within marriage.
However, like all other gifts from God, sexual drive/desire can be corrupted -- even without any apparent conscious decision on our part -- simply because of our sinful nature, because of the fallenness of all creation, and because of Satan's attacks. We all can be tempted to think lustful thoughts about a member of the same sex; we all can be tempted to think lustful thoughts about a member of the opposite sex. In this sense sexual "orientation" may be defined as a predisposition to be tempted to think lustful thoughts about one sex more than about the other. Lustful thoughts, no matter what orientation, are sin, tantamount to adultery, according to the Sermon on the Mount. Even marriage is not a license to go wild -- lustful thoughts about my own wife are still sin -- I need to honour God foremost in my thoughts, and honour my wife also.
Just because we are predisposed to sin does not mean that we should give in to sin. We don't always have a choice how we are tempted, but we do always have a choice how we respond to the temptation.
There is a further dimension which complicates the issue: love. Another aspect of the over-sexualization of our society is the false equating of love with sex. I've heard people say, "if God is love, then why would He deny me and my [gay, monogamous] partner true love?". The issue is: what is love, and who defines it? In the Bible, David and Jonathan loved each other very deeply, without any sexual connotations. Jesus loved His disciples -- Scripture even highlights the apostle John as "the disciple whom He loved" -- but certainly without any sexual aspect.
Modern masculinity has become so over-sexualized that heterosexual men are often afraid to develop these kinds of intimate friendships with other men, for fear that it would mean they're gay. Conversely, many gay men freely develop intimate same-sex friendships, but mistakenly think that such friendships must become sexual. The need to love and be loved is inherent in all of us; it is a good thing; it can only be satisfied by God, the author of love and the One who defines it.