Sunday, November 27, 2005

Fulfillment and Idolatry

It is not good for man to be alone. So said God shortly after He created Adam - and, since Genesis 1-3 was written not as a narrative to explain where we came from, but as a prescription to tell us exactly what everyone's life must look like (or so some theologians would tell us), far be it from me to say anything positive about singleness or any other state of being other than heterosexual marriage. [/sarcasm]

Not that most of us need a biblical command to drive us to seek out our fellow human beings. Our need for companionship is hard wired into the deepest part of our being; even those who genuinely have no desire to get married still have a need for human interaction, to be known, understood and affirmed.

For the rest of us, that need takes the form of longing to find that one person that we can share our lives with - our soulmate, a companion who will be with us through the good and the bad from now until death. Which creates the ultimate catch-22 for those of us unlucky enough to only be attracted to members of our own gender. We possess this God-given drive to seek out a life companion, only to be told by the church that we can never, ever have one (at least not with someone we're actually drawn to beyond the friendship level).

And who knows, maybe it really is for the best. After all, true fulfillment ultimately comes only from God and not from other human beings. Randy Thomas shares, as part of his testimony, a vision God showed him in which Jesus was weeping over the fact that he (Randy) was seeking fulfillment in the arms of another man. I see no reason to question the veracity of his experience, given how limited human relationships are in their ability to meet our needs.

What I do question, however, is the unspoken implication that Randy could have found the level of fulfillment he was seeking in a heterosexual marriage. As any of my married friends would be quite happy to remind me, it's impossible for any one person to meet all of another person's emotional needs. However inappropriate it may be to seek sexual fulfillment outside of one's marriage, it's entirely appropriate (and important) to have other relationships that are intimate in nonsexual ways.

And yet many in the church, both single and married, have an idolatrous view of marriage as the ultimate state of being, without which one can never be a truly whole individual (which is the logical conclusion of viewing Genesis 1-3 as prescriptive rather than descriptive). Is it any wonder, then, that we have a 50% divorce rate within the church when people enter marriage focused on how it will meet their needs instead of on how God wants to use them through that relationship?

So where does that leave those of us that are same-sex attracted? Most ex-gay groups are so caught up in worshiping at the altar of heterosexual marriage that they offer little beyond false hopes of orientation change, and most churches are too prostrate before that same altar to notice what's wrong with that approach. I'd really like to be married, yes (and I say that without any illusions about marriage being some idyllic state), but I don't want to live a lie - and that's exactly what I'd be doing if I bought into the ex-gay notion that I can grow into my natural heterosexuality and tried to marry a woman. So where does that leave us?

Assuming that all gay unions are unconditionally wrong (and that is an assumption, not a given), the real question becomes whether our churches are willing to be the communities they were intended to be and play caretaker to the millions who are being forced to go through life without ever marrying and building a family that could take care of them in their old age. Of course, that would require a lot of Christians to leave their comfort zones by confronting the reality that we really are here and won't be going away anytime soon, which would in turn require them to open their eyes to a world that doesn't fit neatly into prepackaged little black-and-white boxes, which would forever burst their happy little suburban bubbles -- oops, I guess I need to close that sarcasm tag again...


Mark said...

That's an amazing second paragraph. And yes, I share your pessimism that it will ever occur.

But then, I've challenged the assumption and now have a domestic life with a partner so I've already bought-in and am biased.

Dwight said...

I read an article about the stance from the Vatican about homosexual priests (so we are speaking about celebate people, no life partners or anything) and how that is now being banned sort of (the wording is awkward).

I'm not Catholic though I am a Protestant and view Catholics as brothers and sisters in the faith. If a celebate priest cannot be a priest because of their homosexual feelings what hope does a homosexual church member have, especially if he/she is in a homosexual relationship.

This is a hard issue and one that the church will have to answer (and continue answering for the next 100 years or so). Our answers now will affect our stances toward love and grace and law.

I for one do believe that homosexuality is a sin for some (don't read all) like heterosexuality is a sin for some (also don't read all). I believe that love and mercy should win out over law because I believe that the Holy Spirit is still alive and will direct each individual and community about the sin that is most important to deal with at the time.

I have a huge issue with saying that sexual sins (of any sort, and not saying that all homosexuality is sexually sinful) are worse than any other and hinder people the most. For some that may be true but for others it could be their language or their attitude or drinking.

What would the church look like if we all decided that God was actually in control and helped each other to listen for that still small voice to show us what beam needs removing from our own eyes?

Anonymous said...

hey man, i really admire your struggles of homosexuality, but trying to maintain your christian beliefs. i know what you mean by christians not being able to be taken out of their comfort zones--to be frank, it disgusts me how churches can be so exclusive and preach the gospel at the same time.

be encouraged, brother. i struggle with being attracted to the opposite sex in an ungodly manner =P

i'll be praying for you from now on.