What about these other gay voices in the Church?

In my Church - that is, The United Methodist Church - our "canon law" (The Book of Discipline) states that "homosexual practice is incompatible with Christian teaching", and goes on to forbid sexually active gay clergy, and same-sex union ceremonies in our churches. Since most UM Christians live in the West (at the moment - that may well change in my lifetime), you can imagine that this policy is often criticized and denounced - sometimes even by bishops (who are in theory the defenders of Church doctrine and discipline). Oftentimes revisionist (I dislike buzz word-labels and realize "revisionist" is one, but it is closer to being neutral than some others) leaders call for "listening to the stories of gay Christians" apparently in the hopes that, if the rest of us listen long enough we will be moved by this emotional experience to change our Church's official position on this issue to conform to their own position.

What has long irritated me about this process is not that these conversations are happening - they probably should be - but rather that gays who are faithful to the universal/catholic and traditional position of Christianity are not often given equal time with the "revisionsists" in such "conversations." So, to do my part to correct this imbalance in the discussion, I commend to all concerned with these issues the powerful testimony of a gay Christian. This voice has often been excluded in the name of being "inclusive" because it does not fit with the revisionist agenda (to change church norms 180 degrees on this issue), but then whole church needs to hear this if biblical, catholic, cross-bearing discipleship really is the life that we are trying to share. Perhaps it can even be the beginning of a (highly counter-cultural) conversation about the place of (gasp!) "self-denial" in the Christian life.

Another personal testimony comes from an African American Woman who left the church after coming to the conviction that she was gay, only to return years later after being powerfully transformed by the Spirit of the Lord. I hope that these stories will add more breadth to what, from my vantage point, appears to be a very narrow "conversation" indeed. Feel free to comment; this issue (while uncomfortable for many) is important for us in the West at this point in our history to really examine.



Blogger Stephen said...

While I don't believe I am an expert by any means in Human Sexuality. I see your point about self-denial. But I wonder about the how sometimes. Let me explain...
We allow heterosexual human beings to have sex within the bounds of marriage. We hold marriage up to be the ideal to strive for. We reject sex outside the bonds of marriage as bad. Yet sex inside the bonds of marriage as good.

So my question of the how is this one...self denial for heterosexual humans is sex in marriage/no sex out of marriage, self denial for homosexual humans is no sex period ever.

I guess my question always comes down to can you be a homosexual in a committed relationship and still be a Christian. One I still wrestle with.

4:44 PM, June 29, 2007  
Blogger Daniel McLain Hixon said...

Actually Stephen, I am more interested in seeing renewed conversation about total celibacy (and other forms of self-denial) among those of both hetero and homosexual orientation. I am not saying that having sex only within the bounds of marriage is a form of self-denial. Many of our spiritual forbears would have laughed at the suggestion. I am saying that not everyone is called to have sex. That statement is counter-cultural to the extreme in our context, but has been a no-brainer for most of the Church's history. Maybe we could do well to ask "what has changed?"

5:02 PM, June 30, 2007  
Blogger Daniel McLain Hixon said...

But to help your wrestling, Stephen, come to a victorious conclusion (the usual object in wrestling matches) - I urgue you to read those personal stories I linked to in this post, since everyone's reading them was my real hope in posting.

4:51 PM, July 01, 2007  
Blogger Nance said...

Thanks for the link Daniel. The writer even comments a bit on the afore-mentioned heterosexual celibacy, albeit indirectly.

8:42 PM, July 01, 2007  
Blogger Stephen said...

I believe one of our new testament writers, Paul, would have agreed wholeheartedly with this celibacy path. In fact, I believe he saw marriage as for those who were weak in a sense. There is a great deal of discussion among younger Christians about the issue of sex and celibacy, some of the new monastic groups such as The Simple Way do not see sexual relations as the most important thing. I guess what I was pondering was both of the stories you linked to were about homosexual persons remaining celibate either through their calling or personal choice. I think that is wonderful for them, and it is important that we see celibacy as a calling for some. I guess my wondering is what about those for whom it is not a calling or a choice? Those of us who must marry as Paul puts it.

As I argued a long time ago on my blog after taking a course in NT ethics from Dr. Clark-Soles we need to develop a better view of Christianity and Human Sexuality.

BTW have you read Rob Bell's new book Sex God: Exploring the Endless Connections Between Sexuality and Spirituality? I have heard lots of good things about this book from others including Dr. Witherington III over at Asbury.

11:07 PM, July 01, 2007  
Blogger Stephen said...

"But to help your wrestling, Stephen, come to a victorious conclusion (the usual object in wrestling matches)"

Didn't help Jacob/Israel much. :)

11:09 PM, July 01, 2007  

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