December 12, 2006

Any sympathy for the gay evangelicals?

The NYT has a front-page article today about gay evangelical Christians
[A] as gay men and lesbians grapple with their sexuality and an evangelical upbringing they cherish, some have come to accept both. And like other Christians who are trying to broaden the definition of evangelical to include other, though less charged, concerns like the environment and AIDS, gay evangelicals are trying to expand the understanding of evangelical to include them, too.

“A lot of people are freaked out because their only exposure to evangelicalism was a bad one, and a lot ask, ‘Why would you want to be part of a group that doesn’t like you very much?’ ” [Justin] Lee said. “But it’s not about membership in groups. It’s about what I believe. Just because some people who believe the same things I do aren’t very loving doesn’t mean I stop believing what I do.”....

But even when they accept themselves, gay evangelicals often have difficulty finding a community. They are too Christian for many gay people, with the evangelical rock they listen to and their talk of loving God. [Justin] Lee plans to remain sexually abstinent until he is in a long-term, religiously blessed relationship, which would make him a curiosity in straight and gay circles alike.

Gay evangelicals seldom find churches that fit. Congregations and denominations that are open to gay people are often too liberal theologically for evangelicals. Yet those congregations whose preaching is familiar do not welcome gay members, those evangelicals said.
Meanwhile, over on Firedoglake, TRex has this:
You know, I have been spending my time since the election attempting to hone my knowledge of the Radical Gay Agenda in hopes of infiltrating the Christianist chuch [sic] and bringing it down from within. But it looks like the sad, sick, repressed faggots that run the place are saving me the trouble.
He notes the two evangelical leaders who have recently stepped down after allegations that they had engaged in homosexual behavior. In contrast to the sympathy the NYT showed for gay men who need to find a way to understand themselves in the context of their religious beliefs, TRex has nothing but contempt:
[N]ow we're supposed to sit still without giggling while they unspool their angst and beg us to forgive them.
"I have struggled with homosexuality since I was a 5-year-old boy,"
Funny, you know? So have I. Except I didn't feel the need to lie and lie and lie about it. I didn't marry some poor overweight alto from the church choir and then proceed to run around behind her back with other men. I didn't present myself as any kind of moral arbiter to a bunch of weak-minded, easily duped Christianist Sheeple, either.

In a way, I guess I can sort of understand where these guys are coming from, though. Jesus Christ is the Elemental Boyfriend. Sensitive Jewish guy, big brown eyes, rich dad, and he loves you no matter what you do. He would die for you. And there he is, hanging (*cough*) out naked at the front of the church every week. You are encouraged to fasten your eyes upon his lithe, nude body and think about luuurrrrrve. Big lurrrrve. A lurrrrrrve that transcends time and even the bonds of death itself. It's got to send some pretty confusing messages to those poor men's limbic brains.

I know it caused me no end of cognitive dissonance to sit there in church each Sunday and gaze in rapture at the Holy Hipbones and Inner Thighs of Jesus Christ, My Personal Lord and Savior™. But then, you know, I turned 14, kissed my first boy, and never looked back.
That is sort of funny... if you can tolerate the mockery of religion. As for the "cognitive dissonance" between religion and sex, you don't have to be gay to experience it. There are many ways to struggle with sex and religion, and to turn your back on religion entirely is not necessarily to take the most difficult path. It may be the best choice though, and it certainly is an independent wrong for a man who knows he's gay to marry a woman (unless she's completely informed and means to do it). TRex focuses on the evangelical leaders, caught in their ludicrous hypocrisy, and it is easy to lampoon those guys, but what about the sincere young men in the NYT article, who really are trying to find a way within their own religious tradition? They've chosen a more difficult path. Are they just fools?

ADDED: In a second NYT article, Jason Lee, one of the gay men discussed in the first article, is asked about the resignations of Paul Barnes the Ted Haggard.
Justin Lee, a self-described gay evangelical, said many men had written messages to his Web site, gaychristian.net, telling of anguish similar to what Mr. Barnes described.

“The church has created a double standard that all of us are sinful and have temptations and need to be open about that — unless you’re gay,” Mr. Lee said.
(Hey, the NYT is providing hyperlinks now!)

MORE: For an alternate description of finding a depiction of Jesus sexually attractive, listen to track 11 on disc 2 of the CD version of "God Said Ha!" Julia Sweeney describes her mother's enthusiasm about the "new Jesus" she picked out for her church. (The old one was "so depressing.") I don't think this part is in the movie version (which is also good). [ADDED: A commenter says it is in the movie. There are things on the CD that aren't in the movie. I should say I have both versions and have listened to/watched them many times, so I've lost track.]

71 comments:

bearing said...

Why on earth should it make someone a "curiosity in straight and gay circles alike" that he plans on sexual abstinence until in a long-term, religiously blessed relationship?

I mean, it may not be what most people plan these days, but is it really so outrageously rare as to be called a "curiosity?"

Especially when you make the distinction between "plan" and "succeed."

Dave said...

I'm neither religious nor gay so I can't reliably opine on the question of whether they were fools.

But. It certainly seems more efficient to turn your back on religion, as you phrase it.

And I am a fan of efficiency in all things.

SteveR said...

Ann, you are correct to point out that the struggle between religion and sex is not limited to homosexuals. I suppose it adds to the "victum" status and pointing out the hypocrites gives some pleasure, but the reality is all Christians (who are mostly heterosexual duh) deal with this their whole lives...premarital sex, adultry, temptation, pornography, etc, etc.

So I guess it makes TRex feel good to mock the whole thing and for some Chritians to claim moral superiority, but for most of us its not that simple and judging others "sin" is not what I've been taught.

stephenb said...

That is sort of funny... if you can tolerate the mockery of religion.

Could have been a good article, but...

The tone was all wrong. The mockery of religion is not going to be tolerated well by people who don't already share your beliefs.

I'll share this story from my political philosophy class:

A classmate was giving a presentation about torture. From the very start, she was saying things like If you don't have a brain at all... or If, like George Bush, you are completely mindless... or If you wanna be stupid and think that...

She went on like this for a good five minutes before the professor stopped her, saying Okay, I think you've alienated your audience enough. They're not listening to you anymore. You can take your seat now.

As she, red-faced, took her seat, the class started clapping...not for her, for the professor. I think she failed the assignment.

The moral of the story: Don't alienate your audience.

Pogo said...

1. The only sin recognized by the Left is hypocrisy; all other behaviors are permitted. And one can completely avoid ever committing that sin by having no standards of behavior at all, as outlined by TRex. (Minor virtues such as Healthy Living and Earth First don't count.)

If one never attempts to live by a higher standard, one can never fail (as all humans will) and be a hypocrite. Moreover, it permits one the delicious activity of mocking those who do try whenever they sin.

2. The gay evangelical thing? Sounds like a good idea. It will be hard to reconcile the traditional antipathy towards all things gay, to be sure. What would Jesus do, indeed.

Sloanasaurus said...

Althouse, you bore many of us with your continued attention to homosexuality. I wonder if you secretly want to get in on Sullivan's good side after your recent row.

How is it that a group that represents at most only 3% of the population gets so much press.

A Menken Moment said...

I really cannot sympathize with the plaint. The Christian texts are quite clear in their estimation of homosexuality. One logically cannot be a Christian and not appeal to God to help him resist that temptation. On the other hand, this is pluralistic America, where people are free to establish their own religions. Many have done so. They are also free to have no religion whatsoever; no law will punish them.

If the problem should be one of wanting to be accepted by others, that is a childish wish. Nobody has the right to forbid others to disapprove of his behavior. His freedom of conscience does not trump theirs. By extension, he is also puerile even just to yearn so passively for others' uncritical approval. Christians should be the first to put away such childish things. Most Americans will tolerate homosexuals to a certain extent but, for the sake of religion or just cultural health, will never fully approve of their practice.

Simon said...

“The church has created a double standard that all of us are sinful and have temptations and need to be open about that — unless you’re gay,”

Why is that a double standard? It would be a double standard if the church said that all of us are sinful and have temptations and therefore it's okay to give in to temptation and to sin unless your particular temptation is homosexuality. But that isn't what the church says. The church says that sin is everywhere, and we are all tempted, but we must draw on Christ's strength to resist temptation.

Ann Althouse said...

Sloanasaurus said..."Althouse, you bore many of us with your continued attention to homosexuality. I wonder if you secretly want to get in on Sullivan's good side after your recent row."

This is one of the subjects I have followed for the entire 3 years I've been blogging. It has nothing to do with Sullivan. I'm interested in the legal issues involved, and I follow all sorts of scientific and cultural matters that involve sexuality. Religion is also a big topic on this blog, and always has been. I teach a course on Religion and the Constitution, and I'm obviously interested in the subject. Thus, this post is very core Althouse material.

Anonymous said...

I'll side with stever and pogo on this. We're all sinners, seeking grace, regardless of our sexuality.

FYI, I'm Southern Baptist and I've yet to hear or see anything at my church that would lead me to believe we make exceptions to who we should try to bring to Christ.

Anonymous said...

Nobody has the right to forbid others to disapprove of his behavior. His freedom of conscience does not trump theirs.

There are an awful lot of people who believe that they do and that it does.

Anonymous said...

Sloanasaurus, how fortunate we all are that your ennui is not so extensive that you lack the will to announce your boredom to all. It's not our job to entertain you. Run along if you're unhappy here.

TRex's little diatribe wasn't funny because he doesn't understand what he's talking about... and he's not all that original in the way he's saying it, either. This screed sounds like something Andrew Sullivan wrote last week, last month, and last year, except that Andrew still loves Jesus so all his preening about Christianist sheeple (to be honest, I don't know if Sullivan ever uses the term "sheeple" but it wouldn't surprise me if he did) comes off just slightly less grating -- Sullivan's rants have that imprimatur of an insider's critique, "I know what I'm talking about here, I'm a member." Of course Sullivan's brand of "Catholicism" is unique and has very little to do with actual Roman Catholic doctrine, but that's another issue altogether.

There are many ways to struggle with sex and religion, and to turn your back on religion entirely is not necessarily to take the most difficult path. It may be the best choice though...

To turn your back on religion is the easiest way to get what you want when you want it, damn the consequences. I have to laugh at "It may be the best choice though". The best choice?! We can trace our biggest societal problems directly back to the sexual revolution and the liberalization of access to birth control. It gave men everything they've ever wanted: all the sex they could get without any of the responsibility, by duping women into thinking that informal, unattached sexual relationships were somehow fulfilling and desirable. Where are we forty years later? Sure, it's great that illegitimate kids aren't stigmatized anymore, but it's not so great that some three-quarters of all black kids are growing up in households with no dads.

When random individuals or small cliques turn their backs on the moral code that formed a society and kept it stable and healthy, that's one thing. When such rejection is mainlined, however good the intentions at the outset, we end up with a cascade of unintended consequences. We're still caught up in that torrent.

Tim said...

Hmmm, how much longer until a certain someone posts how Gay Christian Evangelicals should be stoned, or crushed beneath walls, for being Christian Evangelicals?

Just wondering...

Regardless, the tension between the desires of human nature and what faith compels us to do is immortal. For some this tension is unbearable.

A Menken Moment said...

Internet Ronin said...

Nobody has the right to forbid others to disapprove of his behavior. His freedom of conscience does not trump theirs.

There are an awful lot of people who believe that they do and that it does.


But you and I know they are mistaken, puritan or p.c. though they may be. At its constitutional best, the law defends our freedom of conscience.

Irene Done said...

When TRex writes, "I didn't present myself as any kind of moral arbiter," isn't that exactly what he's doing now? Because they made different choices than he did, he's condemning them isn't he?

Anonymous said...

At its constitutional best, the law defends our freedom of conscience.

True. And I'm sure that we both hope it will continue to do so. I'm not sure about you, but there are days when I wonder if it will.

Gerry said...

"There are many ways to struggle with sex and religion, and to turn your back on religion entirely is not necessarily to take the most difficult path..."

I would argue that to turn one's back is closer to the easiest path, than to the most difficult path. Later you say something that seems to indicate this as well:

"...but what about the sincere young men in the NYT article, who really are trying to find a way within their own religious tradition? They've chosen a more difficult path. Are they just fools?"

Only if one delineates foolishness by the difficulty of the path chosen.

Anonymous said...

When TRex writes, "I didn't present myself as any kind of moral arbiter," isn't that exactly what he's doing now?

Yes.

Gerry said...

"“The church has created a double standard that all of us are sinful and have temptations and need to be open about that — unless you’re gay,” Mr. Lee said."

Close, but not quite. We are all sinners. We are supposed to be open about our sinful nature. And we are supposed to try to change our sinful nature, to the best of our ability.

Leaving aside how successful any of us actually is, the double standard here is not created by the church, but by those who want to accept the 'we are sinners, and we need to openly admit our sinful nature' parts, but change the 'and try to change it' part to 'and celebrate it, or at least keep it the way it is.'

A Menken Moment said...

I have my doubts too, Internet Ronin, but I hope that by asserting the liberty, I can contribute just a little to preserving it. If freedom of conscience must succumb to p.c., let the dire event not occur without protest.

TetonSig said...

I was raised Christian and after some soul searching I became a Christian myself about 8 years ago.

I've been honest with myself since earlier this year about being gay.

I can definitely identify with the tension/struggles mentioned in the article.

At this point I'm definitely more gay than Christian in my day to day life. I'd say I've kind of put the Christianity on the back burner while I figure out and explore the side of me I kept hidden and tried to fix for so long. I definitely don't believe any less in God, Jesus, the inerrancy of the Bible etc. than I did before. I'm just not sure how to integrate all that into my life, (mostly the last).

It is all about those seven passages they mentioned. I've done the research and I'm relatively comfortable with the interpretation that people like those described in the article provide with the etymology and usage not indicating that homosexuality is wrong.

One point about the above that troubles me is that I have been to many Sunday sermons with many preachers and they often like to talk about what the original Greek (or whatever language) word meant and how it was used to help emphasize a point. That's never really done when those seven verses come up in my experience. I think sometimes its because people just "know" that homosexuality is wrong and so there's no need to dig deeper like we do with words like love in other passages.

Another point I relate to is that nobody wants you to bring up this particular struggle. You can get nods of knowing and understanding in an accountability group when you bring up dealing with pride, anger, even adulterous thoughts or pornography temptation. But the few times I got the courage up to talk about what I viewed at the time as my struggle, there was a distinct awkwardness.

Having said that, my closest Christian friends, save one, have all been very understanding and unchanging in their friendship with me since finding out. It's even caused them to question whether it's "really wrong" etc.

One last thing about that "really wrong" in this rambling comment. That feeling (or the lack of it) is what really seals it for me that hopefully there's something amiss with how the majority of people are interpreting the scripture. Part of being a Christian is being convicted by the Holy Spirit when you've sinned. You are made more aware of your sinful nature and as such you know when you're sinning and you feel bad about it, moreso than you did before . In the entire time I've been dealing with this, I've never felt bad about being gay from the inside like I do when I've lied or hurt someone verbally, etc. I've tried to internalize what I was taught about it being wrong, etc. but it's never "taken".

Anyway, I felt a real connection to what the article was talking about and just wanted to comment. Sorry if I've bored anyone.

price said...

Just thought I'd pipe up to say that the "handsome Jesus" story is indeed in the film version of "God Said HA". I just watched it a few nights ago, coincidentally. The joke reminded me of when my sister went to Italy and brought back many photographs of all the marble statues that depict Jesus as a torn-shirt steroid user. Romance novel cover type stuff... very bizarre.

Zeb Quinn said...

I know it caused me no end of cognitive dissonance to sit there in church each Sunday and gaze in rapture at the Holy Hipbones and Inner Thighs of Jesus Christ, My Personal Lord and Savior™. But then, you know, I turned 14, kissed my first boy, and never looked back.

Gosh, why am I thinking that TRex never really took Christianity all that seriously to begin with? And why I do I find him just flat-out mean and bereft of compassion in his mocking of those young men like him who did?

In some ways he plays straight into the stereotype of gays as bitches.

A Menken Moment said...

Just as a matter of curiosity, I note that one of the NT passages that is cited as condemning homosexuality, in Romans, ch. 1, speaks of it as being parallel to inordinate heterosexual lust, occurring because men worship the creature rather than the creator; but it is somewhat more ἀσχημοσύνη, which in NT times connoted 'disgraceful.' In Classical times, the word connoted something more like 'bad form,' as when a flute player produced a sour note or 'shameful,' like a coward running away from battle. The context goes on to suggest that there is something particularly maladroit about a man using a man as though he were a woman.

I do not have Hebrew, but my understanding is that the OT is more direfully condemnatory. The passage from Romans does not speak of 'sin' precisely, of 'scandalon' or 'hamartia;' the disapprobation could be viewed to be more aesthetic, social, or cognitive. But that is my impression of that one passage, looking at it not as a Christian but merely as one who has studied Greek.

MadisonMan said...

When these things happen, I usually think of my born-again BrotherInLaw, and I wonder what he thinks of it. But I don't talk religion with him, thus avoiding the whole are you saved proselytizory schtick.

I do have sympathy for these Gays. I imagine it's like being trapped in a horrible job that you can't escape from.

Michael Farris said...

"The context goes on to suggest that there is something particularly maladroit about a man using a man as though he were a woman"

Care to explain "a man using a man as though he were a woman"???

For those who disapprove of homosexuality it seems to be a major insult against women.

For those who don't disapprove, it just makes no sense.

Fatmouse said...

Sheeple?

SHEEPLE?

I am agog that someone besides a retarded 13-year-old who just saw his first Michael Moore movie is able to use "sheeple" in a non-ironic fashion.

Ann Althouse said...

"Sheeple" is a ridiculous word to use against Christians. They already call themselves sheep!

Pogo said...

I thought "sheeple" was what happens when a drunken uncle tries to impress a child with his little pantomime,
Here'sh the chursh, here's the sheeple, Oopennnn the do-hic-oor annnn-zzzzzzzzz.

And then you're never invited back.
Not that I'd know.

Elizabeth said...

Pogo says, "1. The only sin recognized by the Left is hypocrisy; all other behaviors are permitted." Come on, Pogo; you know better than that.

I'm adding another one from over here on the left: mindless sloganizing. I've seen that "the only sin..." comment all over the rightwing blogosphere the past few months. It's catchy, but it's just a silly little meme meant to preemptively shut down any discussion of actual hypocrisy on the part of conservatives.

Anyway...

I have plenty of sympathy for the men and women in the NYT article. They're doing the really hard work of staying true to their faith and not falling into a pathological hatred of themselves. I can't feel much at all for the others who cheat on their wives and lie to their friends and congregations and despise themselves for being gay.

TRex's lusty imagery confuses me, though. I acknowledge there are some evangelical Catholics, but for the most part that term describes protestants--and not the damn-near Catholic protestants, like Lutherans and Episcopalians. Protestant churches don't display crucifixes, but plain crosses proclaiming the point that Christ is risen. It's Catholics who focus on the Passion of Christ. I have never seen a crucified Christ in a protestant church of the type we'd call "evangelical" and was taught growing up Baptist that such images, along with statues of Mary and the saints, were pagan. Yep, pagan!

Joseph Hovsep said...

From the article: "The church has created a double standard that all of us are sinful and have temptations and need to be open about that — unless you’re gay."

tetonsig: "Another point I relate to is that nobody wants you to bring up this particular struggle. You can get nods of knowing and understanding in an accountability group when you bring up dealing with pride, anger, even adulterous thoughts or pornography temptation. But the few times I got the courage up to talk about what I viewed at the time as my struggle, there was a distinct awkwardness."

Skeptical comments above notwithstanding, demoninations of Christianity that condemn homosexuality DO treat homosexuality different than other sins in practice if not in principle because on some level those Christians know that homosexuality is not a mere temptation to overcome like adultery or pornography. Its WAY deeper ingrained in our biology, psychology, chemistry in the same way that heterosexuality is so deeply ingrained in others.

It seems to me that anti-homosexuality sects of Christianity are very awkward in dealing with it because they are faced with three options, none of which really seems right to them: (1) reject people who express homosexual desire as incompatible with their religion at all (e.g., the way the Catholic Church now treats would-be homosexual priests) or (2) accept people who express homosexual desire but encourage them to abstain from intimate relationships with people of the opposite sex because that would be dishonest (seemingly where Prof. Althouse would end up if she were committed to one of these religions), or (3) embrace people who struggle to overcome homosexuality and encourage them to partake in all the sacraments (would you really want a guy who admits he's struggled with homosexual desire since he was five" to marry your daughter or sister?). So, its hard to find a message that they really, truly support on all levels, hence the awkwardness.

Elizabeth said...

Two really funny comments get my appreciation:

Joan's "your ennui is not so extensive that you lack the will to announce your boredom to all" -- shook me from my morning ennui with laughter.

Pogo's drunken uncle followed shortly after and I'm ready to face the day.

Mark said...

Sweeney also discusses this in her excellent (and newly-released) Letting Go of God, which is available from Audible.

Brian O'Connell said...

Care to explain "a man using a man as though he were a woman"???

For those who disapprove of homosexuality it seems to be a major insult against women.


Around half of gay-hating comes from woman-hating. That's why in many cultures, there's much more hatred towards men who take the "female role" in gay sex than for the men who are dominant.

Women, poor things, are born to their lowly role, but men who choose it are worthy of contempt. This attitude is prevalent in language, for example. To say that something sucks is to condemn it.

Pogo said...

Elizabeth,

First ...Hi! Good to hear from you again. I agree with your synopsis of the crucifix differences.

I do mean only leftists like TRex (why can't there be another name? Progressives?). I don't mean classical liberals or Democrats in general. But TRex strikes me as just who I was intending.

It's not just political counting coup. TRex and the like take inordinate glee in the moral transgressions of the Right as examples of hypocrisy. But I cannot find a similar event towards the left's moral problems (not any decrying their hypocrisy, that is). Why is that?

If there are in fact set behavioral standards of the far left for which violation is termed hypocrisy, I will stand corrected (Bill Clinton is a good example of their absence).

The folks on the right (and left) have and will always fail. The difference is in the effort to avoid error, not in perfection. That's my argument. What can someone cal TRex a hypocrite for?

Pogo said...

Of course, I might just be a bombastic self-righteous bigot, but how's a guy supposed to know?

Joseph Hovsep said...

I'm struck by commenters who think that abandoning the religious tradition in which you were raised is an "easier" path than sticking with a religion that condemns your sexuality. I don't think its at all clear that one is easier or more difficult that the other. Leaving your religion could be an easy, lazy choice if you don't have a strong religious connection to begin with, but it often means losing a connection with your family and friends and going through the difficult process of finding a new and foreign source of sprituality or living without. Reconciling yourself with a religion that teaches your sexuality is shameful and sinful can certainly also demand great personal willpower, but it also may reflect another kind of laziness and lack of curiosity.

What confuses me about these recent stories is not the desire of gay people to stick with or leave a religioun with anti-gay tenets, but the aspiration of gay men to lead those churches and while hiding their abberant sexual desire and behavior.

SteveR said...

"because on some level those Christians know that homosexuality is not a mere temptation to overcome like adultery or pornography. Its WAY deeper ingrained in our biology, psychology, chemistry in the same way that heterosexuality is so deeply ingrained in others."

Joseph: being a "mere temptation" doesn't make it any less of a problem for me. As a married man, finding a 14 year old girl sexually attractive is WAY deeply ingrained.

knoxgirl said...

I see TRex's attitude as typical of the left, especially regarding Identity Politics. Stay in your little box: if you're a gay Christian, you are a self-hating fool. Nevermind the various and myriad ways individuals approach morality and spirituality. It's like TRex wants all gays to assimilate into some sort of borg where everyone makes all the same choices he has made.

I agree with Elizabeth in that if someone's behavior becomes twisted or harmful to others because of their religious beliefs, then there's a problem. But if a gay person wants to believe in Jesus Christ--regardless of what some other believers might think of him--so what? TREx clearly wants such a person only to be happy on HIS terms.

A Menken Moment said...

Michael Farris said...

"The context goes on to suggest that there is something particularly maladroit about a man using a man as though he were a woman"

Care to explain "a man using a man as though he were a woman"???

For those who disapprove of homosexuality it seems to be a major insult against women.

For those who don't disapprove, it just makes no sense.


The passage is Romans 1:26 and those nearby. It has the phrase τὴν παρὰ φύσιν, 'that which is against nature.' I can only surmise that Paul means that when sex is performed according to the natural function God ordained for it, it is in the service of procreation. To lust after women just for the sake of pleasure is a kind of idolatry, adulating the creature in place of the creator (and his intention in creating, supposedly). To lust after a man is (for a man) to be completely confused about sexuality.

I believe this is the explanation of what the text means. If you disagree that this is what the text is saying, you can examine it yourself. If you agree that this is what the text is saying but you disagree with its truthfulness or authority, you are, of course, free to do so; but hopefully you will realize that yours is just one opinion among many.

Todd said...

Or, as John Donne would have it:

Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy:
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

bearing said...

That's one of my favorite sonnets, Holy Sonnet 14.

It begins, of course,

Batter my heart, three person'd God; for, you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn and make me new.
I, like an usurpt towne, t'another due,
Labor to admit you, but Oh, to no end,
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue....

I have always loved the parallel between "knock, breathe, shine, seek to mend" and "break, blow, burn, and make me new."

Thanks for reminding me.

By the way, I don't think it has anything to do with homoeroticism, any more than "Death, be not proud" has to do with necrophilia.

Michael Farris said...

"I can only surmise that Paul means that when sex is performed according to the natural function God ordained for it, it is in the service of procreation. To lust after women just for the sake of pleasure is a kind of idolatry"

That seems like a reasonable interpretation for someone with a religious background (which doesn't include me as the capacity for religious faith isn't part of my makeup).

What doesn't seem reasonable is the idea that the man is 'using' the woman in sex as god 'ordained'. Ranking homosexual physical expressions of love as worse than heterosexual expressions of lust doesn't make sense either (which seem to maybe have been the points of the person I was quoting though until [if] they clarify I'm just guessing about that).

Revenant said...

homosexuality is not a mere temptation to overcome like adultery or pornography. Its WAY deeper ingrained in our biology, psychology, chemistry in the same way that heterosexuality is so deeply ingrained in others

The problem with that argument is that homosexuality isn't a sin. Homosexual SEX is a sin. And the need to actually have sex with another person who shares your gender is no more ingrained than the need to have sex with a person who is not your spouse, and no more ingrained than the need to masturbate to sexual imagery.

From a Christian perspective, a man may not be able to repress his attraction to other men, but he CAN repress his urge to actually act on it -- just as many married heterosexual men suppress their urge to have sex with women other than their wives.

A Menken Moment said...

"Using" may be an unfortunate choice of words, but 'khrestai,' 'to use' is a common Greek expression for 'to have sexual intercourse.' Unfortunately, classical Greek men probably did think that women existed primarily as instruments of reproduction. The writings of Aristotle and Pythagoras seem to suggest as much.

I would venture to guess that the only ranking the apostle's text is doing is to imply that while intercourse between the sexes always has at least a potential relationship to the ordinance of reproduction (Gen. 1:28), erotic relations between members of the same sex cannot accurately be characterized as sexual and so are 'para physin.'

As 'disgraces,' however, they are not being ranked.

I apologize for any misunderstand I might have fostered.

A Menken Moment said...

... and I apologize even more for the misunderstanding.

Rowena Hullfire said...

I appreciate the struggle of the young faithful gay man.

The church is a hospital for sinners, not a warehouse of the pure. I would rather have GLBTQQ folks in there with me, sitting next to me, seeking God, than feeling like gay or God is an either/or choice.

My church says homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered, however, people who experience homosexual attractions are also children of God with dignity and spirit/soul. They aren't automatically damned to hell for all time starting now. I refuse to go the "God Hates Fags" route of Fred Phelps. That is ugly and if that's what God thinks, it's not a god I would want to worship.

I'm straight, yet I know I have my own planks to work on and don't need to worry my pretty little head about other people's specks.

I am friends with gays and lesbians who have faith/go to church or don't/don't. I think they warm up to me as friends because I treat them with respect--not the minimum libertarian respect as in do what you want as long as you don't do it in my yard, but deep human and spiritual respect, treating them as children of God. I am open to any of their spiritual instincts and desire to know God and encourage that.

The same passage in the Bible that says homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God also says fornicators won't either. If that's not just Jewish hyperbole or first century hyperstrictness, then given what goes on in this day and age, I don't think we can call America a Christian country any more. (Which I didn't anyway, acknowledging pluralism.)

Was is Shaw or Wilde who said, "Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue"? Without vice or virtue, there is no hypocrisy. I'd rather tolerate hypocrisy and keep vice and virtue around...otherwise the human culture would be rather flat.

None of our sexual issues will matter in Heaven anyway. Hain't none of that there. Jesus said so. The joy of seeing God face to face will be better than the best sex we've ever had. So maybe God is merciful and this stuff just doesn't really amount to a whole hill o' beans in the big eternal picture anyway.

Elizabeth said...

Of course, I might just be a bombastic self-righteous bigot, but how's a guy supposed to know?

Pogo, that's as genuine a cry from the heart as I've ever read, and it could be my question any day of the week. Thanks for making sense.

I think we're differing on language; I was taking "sin" literally. Left and right aren't very good markers for appreciating meaningful differences on morality and sin. So if you mean hypocrisy is the left's favorite faux pas of the day, I can see that. I'll counter that the right has its favorite left targets as well. Let's all enjoy the so-called War on Christmas for example.

No, let's just all enjoy Christmas. I'm full of the cheer.

Sloanasaurus said...

Sloanasaurus, how fortunate we all are that your ennui is not so extensive that you lack the will to announce your boredom to all. It's not our job to entertain you.

Alas, you do have a point. Perhaps my boredom was the anticipation of the discussion degenerating into the same old...discussion.

At lease there were not 150 comments already posted by the time I read the post, which made it bearable to read the comments.

Hope is not lost though for interesting topics...I just saw a headline on CNN that said white people were most all racists - they just don't realize it.

Joseph Hovsep said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Joseph Hovsep said...

Revenant: "a man may not be able to repress his attraction to other men, but he CAN repress his urge to actually act on it -- just as many married heterosexual men suppress their urge to have sex with women other than their wives."

I'd agree with your analogy if it was changed to read:

"a man may not be able to repress his attraction to other men, but he CAN repress his urge to actually act on it -- just as many heterosexual men suppress their urge to ever have sex with any women."

Pogo said...

Re: "No, let's just all enjoy Christmas. I'm full of the cheer."

I second that emotion.

Revenant said...

I'd agree with your analogy if it was changed to read:

"a man may not be able to repress his attraction to other men, but he CAN repress his urge to actually act on it -- just as many heterosexual men suppress their urge to ever have sex with any women."

Feel free to change it to read that way, then -- that's exactly what unmarried men ARE supposed to do, under Christianity.

It isn't like Christians give the thumbs up to unmarried heterosexuals sleeping around. That's a sin, too.

OddD said...

Sloan,

For what it's worth, I often skip the "gay" threads precisely because, as you say, they tend to degenerate into the same old arguments. I'll just read the Althouse's take and move on.

But this has been a good thread, probably one of the best examples of how it is possible to step outside the team-sport mentality of politics to rediscover the human.

Paddy O. said...

Rowena at the end of her post really hits on one of the key issues in this debate. Christianity at its core is primarily a mystical religion. Unfortunately, it has become more popularly conceived as an ethical and moral religion, more akin to a philosophy. This is, of course, in large part due to Christians own historical emphasis on specific moral standards and stands against the so-called vices of the barroom.

But, Christianity isn't primarily about ethics. It's about communion with the Divine. It's about entering into the mystical that transcends space and time. This is the goal, with the hope of this present existence being a transformed life that even now begins to participate in the eternal realities.

Thus the Christian strives to let go of all things that might hinder this pursuit. This might be money and goods, like with the Rich Young Ruler of Luke 18, This may include even our sexuality as Rowenna notes.

This letting go is not because of some random and oppressive ethical law, but because in holding onto this too strong we are unable to become ever more attune to the divine work. The more attune we become to God the more we feel the peace, hope, and joy of participation with his eternal reality.

If someone doesn't have this goal, or doesn't believe in it, then there's just no point to letting go of those seemingly inherent parts of ourselves. Indeed, it's too hard to let go, if not impossible, if one doesn't see life through the lens of an eternal hope.

If Jesus only taught good life principles to follow, then there's little reason to fight our innate sexual desires. However, if he in fact walked out of that tomb then he's exhibiting a whole reality that encourages us to become transformed in all parts of our lives so as to share this reality. We let go of a seeming, palpable good so as to fully embrace the best and perfect.

As to the question of the Romans 1 passage, I always find it curious that no one reads on to Romans 2, where Paul tells his readers that they have no right to judge anyone who does those sorts of things he mentions, because they are doing it all themselves. Of course, then he continues on to say that through the Holy Spirit (and only through) we can break free and rise above those things that hold us down.

SteveR said...

Paddy O: Well said

reader_iam said...

Rowena and all:

The original was Francois de La Rouchfoucauld:

Hypocrisy is the homage which vice pays to virtue.

When you think on it, "homage," rather than "tribute," is a distinction with a difference.

reader_iam said...

The former has an element of fealty to it, while the latter settles for esteem, to put it one way.

Pogo said...

reader_iam just broke my last two neuronal synapses. So completely on target and exceeding what I am capable of noting independently.

I wonder if beer will help.
Worth a shot.

Matt said...

Soy = Gay?
Anybody read this inane right wing article?
Here's the choice sentence:
Soy is feminizing, and commonly leads to a decrease in the size of the penis, sexual confusion and homosexuality.
Where do they get these nuts?

reader_iam said...

Matt:

Oh, gaak! Careful about stepping into this one! You think Windows vs. Mac debates--or even interbloggle battles-get down and dirty, try seriously getting into the dairy vs. soy debate, veg vs. vegan, etc. (Goodness knows we don't need to bring ANOTHER element in that.) You. Have. Been. Warned.

Seriously, though:

That article is written from an alarmist standpoint and for political reasons. I'd disregard it.

That said, there is some--I said some, only some--evidence to suggest that there may--I said may, only may--be some issues with over-consumption of soy, including with regard to hormonal issues in growing and developing children.

I ended up reading a lot about soy and isoflavones, among other things, when extensively researching how to feed my son, from infancy, once I'd agreed to raise him more along the lines of his veg father, than of his omnivore mother. Obviously, this topic came up. And up. And up.

I feed my son soy. (My husband, too, but that's off-topic anyway because 1) he's a grown man and 2) he didn't become veg until he was grown.) I do not worry that I'm feminizing him. On the other hand, I'm very conscious of balance and don't overdo it.

Here's one non-hysterical piece for you: link--scroll down.As always, take the source in account.

reader_iam said...

By the way "feminizing" effects referred to don't have anything to do with sexual orientation.

That guy's Worldnet column is a classic example of something that bolsters the argument that a lot of anti-gay sentiment is tangled up with women-as-the-lesser attitudes.

John Kindley said...

To the comments of paddy o. and Rowena, I say "Amen." I would also put in a plug for my own fellowship, the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). It has done better than most at recognizing that "Christianity at its core is primarily a mystical religion," while at the same time emphasizing the importance of actually living righteously, and de-emphasizing obeisance to formulaic creeds and codes (and any quasi-sacramental experience of being "saved") as a hindrance to righteous living and communion with God. Quakers historically have recognized that the scriptures are fundamental to Christianity, but also that the very Light which inspired and authored the scriptures centuries ago "informs" and speaks to us immediately, and that therefore we must of necessity have recourse to this Inner Light (by which alone we can recognize whatever authority and divine inspiration the scriptures have in the first place) to faithfully interpret and receive guidance from the scriptures.

Anonymous said...

AA typed ""Sheeple" is a ridiculous word to use against Christians. They already call themselves sheep!"

Actually, I think it is more correct to say that they (we in my case) already call us ALL sheep. You too. The metaphor, clear to herding cultures, is that we are foolish and easily led astray. We can fall and not get up. We need a shepherd. You too. (Plural you.)It goes something like "We are all like sheep, and have been led astray."

I think that is closer to what we believe.

Trey

downtownlad said...

"Leviticus: 20:13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them."

Gay + Evangelical = Moron

I read the article. If these people really think the Bible is not explicit about homosexuality (gays should die), then they don't know how to read. Thus, that is why I am calling them morons.

If they want to take a more nuanced approach to religion, and not take the Bible at face value - then they are not evangelicals and should stop calling themselves that.

Juliet said...

If they want to take a more nuanced approach to religion, and not take the Bible at face value - then they are not evangelicals and should stop calling themselves that.

Even the Bible doesn't take itself at face value. Paul's letters are all about reassessing the Old Testament law in light of Jesus Christ. I guess he wasn't an evangelical, either.

Anonymous said...

Ever read the first chapter of Romans? I have, and it is not all rosey, goodness and light there. I am not so sure about your assessment of the New Testament Juliet.

Trey

Juliet said...

TMink, I think you misunderstood my point, which was about biblical literalism, not about Paul's view of human nature. (Perhaps my idiomatic use of the word "light" was confusing.)

(To answer your question: yes.)

Anonymous said...

Juliet, well, I sure did misunderstand your point! Sorry, and thanks for setting me correct so graciously!

Merry Christmas.

Trey

Juliet said...

No problem. (Though in reality I would be a more truly gracious person if I didn't have to spend so much time rewriting the snark out of my comments before I post them.)

Merry Christmas to you and your family, too.

Anonymous said...

But it is the gracious people such as yourself who take the time to edit them out! I bet Mother Theresa FELT like swearing, although I am not sure she actually VOICED many.

Trey