I’m needing to free up some space in my mind. This might be the wrong forum for me to explore this subject but I hope you’ll be kind and allow me space to think…to be unsure…to ask questions…maybe even to be wrong. This is not in any way a statement of position but rather a question of condition…condition of the heart. My heart. I hope to be thoughtful and articulate as I write but because there are so many ideas, opinions, attitudes and even absolutes here I imagine it will be impossible for me to present this exploration very clearly. Be patient with me.
This tornado of thoughts began while we were at the beach several weeks ago trying to have an adult evening while the kids were asleep. Someone (I think Jeremy or Joe) asked if we had heard that Jennifer Knapp had come out regarding her sexuality. I hadn’t heard that she was a lesbian but I was not at all surprised. Not really even sad. I was more curious how she would reconcile her homosexuality and her faith…assuming she still claimed to be following Jesus. So I read her interview with Christianity Today. I was completely unmoved. Actually, that’s not entirely true…I was a bit annoyed. It was so weak. It lacked passion of any type. Not at all like her music. I love her music. Maybe she just had great producers. Confused and apathetic, I moved on.
So yesterday my homepage (CNN) came up with her story as the main headline (I’m not a reader so I only notice the headlines because they are the ones with the big pictures). Again, I was far more surprised that this was a national headline than I was that she was gay. I clicked on the link to read the article on the CNN Belief Blog and noticed that she had done an interview with Larry King. I think he’s sort of weird but when he interviews someone it’s kind of a big deal. Joe & I intended to watch it but it got late and sleep was more appealing.
We finally pulled it up on YouTube tonight (I started this post a few days ago). It was so uncomfortable to watch. She really struggled to express herself. I felt really sorry for her because as she stumbled over this word and that I knew how she felt. Here she is on national television and she sounded so incredibly unintelligent. I don’t know what was up. I wondered if she really didn’t know what she was talking about. Maybe that’s just how she is. Not exactly what I expected from such a gifted performer. I imagine there were a number of factors that played into her incoherent presentation…her nerves…the subject…the audience…but I really had the sense that she felt attacked and while she wanted to put forward a confident facade she was clearly on the defensive without a leg to stand on. To make things worse the pastor “challenging” her (who didn’t even know her) had a statement to make, and while he was probably right, he wasn’t the most articulate guy when put on the spot. He’s probably not a jerk at all but he was hell-bent on referencing as many scriptures as possible so Jennifer and Larry chimed in with some Levitical laws that aren’t even in place under the New Covenant. Ted Hagard was then brought on the scene and his goal seemed to be to not make a statement but rather to dodge every question he was asked. I seriously felt like I was watching a three-ring circus. It was so absurd. They all had an agenda and no one said anything. As far as I’m concerned there was no conversation but rather a deafening cacophony of hurt, frustration and insecurity. So weird. I really wanted someone to say something that I agreed with because I didn’t want to have to have to think through this on my own. I wanted it to be easy but it wasn’t.
I tried to go to sleep. No luck. It was 1 am. I should have been exhausted but questions flooded my heart and my mind. What if we moved into conversations without agendas? Is that even possible? Did Jesus ever have a hidden agenda? He definitely had many methods but His message was always consistent and never a secret. He often spoke in parables but the motive behind all he did and said was love not conversion.
So then I began to wonder how much of my heart attitude regarding homosexuality is biblical and how much is cultural? I like to think that I base my conclusions on the truth of the Gospel but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t take cues from the culture in which I live. I’ve recently been wrestling with the question of community and what it looks like to live as a body of believers. We are such an individualistic society and I truly believe we have no idea how to do this. Every so often when tragedy strikes we get a taste of it but in day-to-day living we are so removed from the model the Bible gives us. So, how much more sinful is homosexuality and the rejection of God’s great plan for our sexuality than living a life of independence and the rejection of God’s great plan for community life? Both are lifestyles that are in rebellion to God but would we ever think twice about rejecting someone just because they chose not to engage in community? I’m not trying to present an argument and I’m not saying that struggling with something is the same as choosing a lifestyle…just trying to see differently. What if the cultural glasses we are given to wear in our Christian microcosm are so distorted that we see upside down? What if John Eldridge is wrong about masculinity, what if Gary Ezzo is wrong about parenting, and what about the swarms of people who choose James Dobson’s teachings over Jesus’?
I wish the church’s priorities were not so misplaced when it came to social issues. How did that happen? Jesus was a hero of the social rejects. Why the polarization now? Why am I so much more offended by the sexual brokeness of a homosexual than I am of the sexual brokeness of a heterosexual? Are they not both perversions of God’s most beautiful gift to us?
So not even for a minute do I pretend to have some earth shattering solution to the problem but I do have to wonder if prayerfully guided conversation in the context of relationship would not be a good place to start. I say that in theory because I don’t really even interact with many homosexuals now that I live in the suburban bubble (you know, the one surrounded by the pretty white fence). I wish that was a separate problem but if I claim to be a Christian I have to choose to spin just one plate and forgo the worldly pleasure of compartmentalization.
The other thing that I’m sure is key is humility. When pride is present there is no way we can really step outside of ourselves and love one another. If redemption is what we hope for we have to give up being right. When we are humble we are more keenly aware of our own sin than we are of others and thus more willing to offer grace. I believe it is pride that has set in place this horrible relationship between church and culture and the only hope for remedy is a stance rooted in humility.
Now I will be completely honest and admit that I would rather Bradley have a sweet divorced lady over a gay man for a kindergarten teacher. It would not be a biblical dilemma but rather a situational preference. I think that is ok. I wish that I was more free to trust God with things like that. I am asking Him to help me step into that sort of dependance but I am not there yet. In the meantime I will push through the daily struggles I have where my culture and my faith conflict and pray that we as a community will have humility, wisdom and vision.