“People who surrender their unwanted same-sex attractions to the Lord need time and support to fulfill God’s plan for their lives. As with each of us, they need love, acceptance, and accountability to grow. As we stand alongside them and support their growth, however, the very factors that fostered same-sex leanings inside them can blossom and flower into tokens of God’s grace.”
“Affirming a person, while holding to biblical truth, does show the love of God to others, even to those who refuse to listen. Standing for truth is hard, but Jesus has called all of us to do just that (through the guidance of the Holy Spirit).”
“. . . believers in Christ are supposed to know how to find real empathy for those who are going through things we can never understand . . . The GLBT community shouldn’t have to demand that from Christians. We should demand it of ourselves . . . The more skeptical we are, the more we doubt that validity of a gay’s or lesbian’s life, the more shallow and ineffective our relationships become.”
Why are so many people hell-bent on invalidating someone else’s life and experience? Eager to dismiss and denigrate another person’s reality? To be cynical is to mock or sneer at the virtues or good intentions of others. Cynicism keeps too many of us from appreciating the decision people make to live their lives according to a traditional Christian sexual ethic.
Consider same-sex attracted Christians who agree with and believe in the traditional Christian doctrine regarding sexuality and sexual behavior. More than a few of us don’t want to change our beliefs about who God is and what He says about sexual conduct. We are often marginalized by both the evangelical/conservative community and the LGBT/progressive community.
The conservative Christian community tells us that if we don’t seek (or experience) a change in our attractions, we aren’t living faithfully before God. Many presume we have more in common with social and political gay activists than with them. Our motivations and actions are often under suspicion.
The mainstream LGBT community mocks us. They tell us we are spineless, self-hating traitors who are denying our “true nature” and suppressing our sexuality. Even some self-identified progressive, gay Christians are given a hard time.
Can there be validation regarding what gay or same-sex attracted Christians say about themselves?
Can you dignify and legitimize his or her story – their experience – as legitimate to them?
Can those individuals who are attempting to change (or have altered) their orientation/attractions be given the opportunity to exercise their right to self-determination? Let them determine what success (or lack thereof) is for them. If the experience enhanced their personal growth and well-being, can you acknowledge that their odyssey and reality is important to them?
Can you make a genuine effort to hear and to acknowledge their experiences and their lives?
Please note that I am mot using the cultural interpretation of “affirmation” or “validation”. Too many have narrowly defined these terms to mean, “You have to agree with me (be on my team, come over to my side, accept my values and presuppositions) for me to acknowledge you. If you don’t accept me on my terms, you don’t exist. You are the enemy.”
Likewise, I am not advocating postmodern relativism. I don’t believe anecdotal evidence or one’s personal experience should trump science or Scripture. Conversations are good. We should share our different perspectives. But dialogue can be used as a way to get traditionalists to back away from the timeless truths of the Bible.
Although it maybe a struggle for many Christians, we should hold onto our beliefs and values while engaging others in ways that convey mutual respect and a high regard for those with whom we disagree. Just because individuals are same-sex attracted doesn’t mean that they can’t have a meaningful relationship with the Lord.
- To our conservative Christian acquaintances: we know that you mean well but we don’t need overspiritualized, oversimplified niceties and platitudes. Don’t patronize. Don’t be condescending.
- To our progressive gay neighbors: the knee-jerk, angry, sarcastic and vitriolic arrows are juvenile – but deadly. Cease fire. Please.
Whichever side one is on in the progressive vs. conservative discussion, our own arrogance and secret prejudices must be uncovered. A real, honest and personal communion with God and with each other should be the focus. It is the right of every individual to choose their religious beliefs, ideological convictions and manner of living.
I choose to be transparent about my reality and receive support in context of my various struggles. To BOTH sides . . .
- I am a Christian man who experiences homoerotic desires and attractions toward other men. Can you dignify and legitimize MY story and MY journey as legitimate to ME?
- Can you make a genuine effort to hear and acknowledge MY experience and MY life?
- Can you validate what my same-gender attracted siblings in Christ say about THEMSELVES?
- Will you acknowledge OUR existence and OUR unique struggles?
Each and every time we reveal and share our stories – our guarded secrets – it is an intimate and sacred moment of trust.
The Source of True Validation
Who doesn’t want to be validated? It hurts to seek validation from a person or group who can’t or won’t offer it. But the thing is – only God can truly validate and judge anyone or anything. Ultimately it is to His throne of grace where I (we) must look.
And at times His grace and mercy has sharp edges. But as I’ve alluded to in an earlier post, God’s acceptance of us in the future means we can find an optimistic solace with our imperfect lives now (1 Corinthians 4:5; 2 Corinthians 10:18; 1 Peter 1:7). The return of Jesus reminds us of what we (as individuals and as a body of believers) are moving toward. God’s concern is to help us grow into the fulness of our potential (obedience to Him and His claim on our lives).
My experience with homoerotic attractions is only one part of what it means for me to live by faith.
Take action: Ask God to guide you in your relationships with people who contend with same-sex attractions. Ask Him to give you the wisdom, the discernment and the ears to sincerely engage them and actively listen to them.
© Darrell Martin and SameSexAttractions.wordpress.com, 2014.
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