I started writing a reply to a comment on the Gay Christian post I did a few weeks ago and it became long enough to turn into a new post. Carolena asked a very good question, is not the only person to have asked it, and is one I was planning to address in that series eventually. (The same commenting rules apply to today’s post as I listed out in my first post) The beginning of the question is this, and you can read it in full by going to the original post’s comment section:
Temptation is not sin. I’m tracking with that.
I cannot however understand why Jim would want to be held captive, confined, or chained to the label of gay Christian. Gay is not who you are! Our identity should be in Christ. All those other labels should fall away. You are a Christian, a child of God. You just so happen to struggle with homosexual temptations. We’re all sinners, so why highlight this sin as if it’s more unique than any other sin?
Noah’s note: The heart of this question arises from 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 …Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men…And that is what some of you were. But you were washed…(read entire text here)
Thanks for the comment Carolena. Good thoughts and good questions. With the “Gay Christian” label, I’ve had to step aside as a heterosexual Christian who has no idea what it’s like to know you’re gay at the age of 7 and listen to those who have had this experience. From the age of 7 and beyond, they now associate themselves as being gay, because “gay” equals so much more than sex (7 year old’s aren’t having sex). Heterosexual Christians define the word gay as meaning the sinful act (and the indulgences in the thought) of sex. That is what gay means to us. But for a gay person, I have found that the word gay means so much more than that. It means same-sex attraction. It also means everything that goes along with being gay, which are the things that permeates all of their life. Tastes, mannerisms, vocal inflections, hobbies, etc. These are obviously going to be vastly different from gay person to gay person, but you hopefully get my point. And Jim or others could elaborate much better than me here, as I am speaking as an observer, not from experience.
So when we say gay is sin, we are saying everything about you and your life is sin.
We are using gay in two very different ways. This is really a fundamental recipe for disaster in any relationship (here the relationship is the Christian community and the GLBT community).
So I think we need to humbly step back and use the GLBT’s definition of “gay” rather than the definition we are used to using. To me, it’s a matter of linguistics and semantics. Some Christians may say, “heck no, gay means what I was always taught it means and we need to use the word that way”, but I think that’s not a mature approach. It’s like a white person telling a black person what it means to be black, or a man telling a woman what it’s like to be a woman. To me, submitting to a gay person’s definition of gay is something I’m fine with because it doesn’t change what the Bible teaches about homosexual sex behavior, which I talked about very separately than I talk about gay. I will talk about homosexual sex behavior as sin and I will say it’s okay to be gay, because I understand you can be celibate and still be gay, using this deeper definition.
So if “gay” is defined as all of who I am and I have to renounce being “gay” in order to be a Christian, then there would be immense shame in this, because I have to hide all of the non-sinful components of who I am. It would feel like you have to renounce your (for example) taste in music, art, and hobbies in order to become a Christian. You would ask, “Why?”, and if you forced yourself to do this, you would walk around with a big sense of shame, and you feel freedom if you didn’t have to do this anymore.
I don’t think it’s in our best use of energy to try to convince Jim or others to not use the word gay to think about who they are, because we’ve been taught to use the word differently. That’s the word gays use to describe all of who they are, we need to respect that. If we’re serious about only the act of sex (and the conscious indulging/movement toward those acts) being a sin, then we have to be okay with this deeper definition of the word gay.
For Jim, I don’t think it’s an “I’m proud of this” statement, it’s simply a “this is who i am” statement and I don’t need to be ashamed of who I am, because who I am in not sinful. A heterosexual single person is still heterosexual if they are celibate, so a gay single person is still gay / homosexual if they are celibate. And I don’t think they are identifying with the temptation, they are identifying with the orientation, which I think are two very different things. (Orientation = “I am not attracted to the opposite sex, I am attracted to the same sex, and I found this out when I was 7”. This is different than the temptation itself. I personally can say “I am attracted to women”, a simple fact, and not sinful. Which is a big difference from being tempted in a specific instance toward lusting over a woman. And even more different from acting on these temptations.)
I think this is the key for the Church to love gays and is the key for gays to be able to receive Christ, submit to God’s commands with their sex lives, but not feel ashamed of who they are and have to deny the non-sinful components of who they are, which only leads to unnecessary shame.