Back when I first started questioning the ex-gay party line - and even, for the most part, when I started this blog last fall - I was looking for definitive answers to the issue of homosexuality (which I had come to realize the ex-gay movement didn't have). What I found instead was even more questions. Why was God actively at work on both sides of the fence? Why does he give different people seemingly contradictory answers? Why are the conservatives who claim to have all the answers so readily willing to propagate outright falsehoods in defense of the "truth"? Are we all just deceived (I'll let readers define "we" for themselves), or is there more to the issue than meets the eye?
The answer I've found, as much as it can be called an answer, is that the questions are ultimately more rewarding than the answers. We race through life so focused on "arriving" that we fail to realize that the journey is our purpose in this life. The day we cease to have questions is the day we leave this life (and the very need for questions) behind. There is so much that our finite minds are incapable of fully comprehending, and yet we arrogantly settle time after time for incomplete answers that we can wrap our minds around, even though the process of labeling those pieces of the truth that we possess as the Whole Truth necessarily renders them untrue. We spend our lives futilely constructing boxes that we label with a stamp marked "God," only to be surprised when God inevitably violates the boundaries we've set for him.
And no, I don't believe that God is unknowable, though we are strictly limited in our ability to know (and define) him. The Bible gives us a solid starting point for getting to know him, but to call any finite work, no matter how divinely inspired, the final word on everything that there is to know about God is to pridefully place him back into a box of human construction.
Faith, then, involves placing our trust in a God we don't always understand, who doesn't play by our rules and whose actions we can't necessarily predict. We trust that he will keep the promises attributed to him in the Bible, but that still leaves far more that's undefined (and therefore beyond our control) than that which is defined.
Given that, why would we ever place our trust in any mortal who claims to have it all figured out? Anyone who thinks they have 'arrived' in this lifetime has settled for a destination inferior to the one that we Christians supposedly strive toward. And yet people fall every day for flashy demagogues who claim to know what God's will is for everybody's lives and how they can achieve it. Life is so much easier when we abdicate responsibility for our own lives to those who claim to know better than us, but how much do we lose when we refuse to grow beyond infancy?
Not that any of us can undertake the journey of life alone, of course. But as valuable as it is to listen to the perspectives and experiences of others as we seek the best possible course for our own lives, no other human being can ever possess the knowledge necessary to chart more than the smallest portion of that course for us.
But I digress. In short, life is a journey; the destination is reached only after we exhale our final breath. When we do discover truth we should treasure it while humbly acknowledging that what we know is only a thread of a much larger tapestry. Why does God give seemingly contradictory answers to different people? Perhaps what appears to us to be the same issue shared by each of those people is merely a superficial resemblance. Perhaps "homosexuality" is not one issue with a single answer but millions of individual issues with less in common than we assume from our limited vantage point.
We may never know for certain in this lifetime. Our role is to engage in relationship with the One who created us, seeking that knowledge that we need for our own journey and trusting him to know better than we ever could what is best for the persons walking beside us.
Or at least that's how it looks from where I type. The journey is far from over. Enjoy it while you can.
I agree totally that the "answer" is unknowable or maybe even impossible to know because there might be an answer for each individual at a specific time and place that may change over time.
I am reminded of Job's questions for God, that God never answered, but seemingly Job didn't care after that dialogue with God. The answers didn't matter because he learned to live with the questions.
In my own work with abuse I have found that there are no answers that work to where was God during the abuse, if he was present why didn't he do anything, does he hate me and on and on the questions go. But I have learned to live with those questions and have learned that having the answers might not be the best thing for me. So instead I keep asking my questions but without the expectation or demand for an answer. I hear the same type of thing in this post.
Another excellent post, Eugene.
How cool that the Christian faith can be ambiguous on many matters and filled with paradox! If it were not so, we'd all be a bunch of mechanical fundamentalists with a prescription-like faith. Where's the adventure in that? However, I will acknowledge that there are those who do not function well if anything is ambiguous, especially in matters of faith, and I bid them peace. Now, if they'd just leave the rest of us alone.
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