Brian McLaren found something out this week that unfortunately, I’ve had the pleasure of learning about as well: you can’t blog about homosexuality and have an actual conversation. I wish it were possible, but it hasn’t seemed possible here on this blog. Brian set out to write about homosexuality from a pastoral perspective (article here) and then got reamed by commenters, especially Mars Hill’s Mark Driscoll, who posted an inflammatory comment that will only set him further and further apart from the emergent sphere. Brian gracefully responded to Mark’s sarcasm here and Driscoll’s comment again shows that he apparently can not get past his black-or-white mentality on this issue and insists on pinning Brian down for a clear answer here: “Brian, as someone who has known you for many years I will, out of sincere and true love for you, ask one simple question and kindly request that you answer it. Do you personally believe that all sexual activity between two persons of the same gender is always a sin?”
As Driscoll shows by his pointed question to Brian, the primary questions that come up over and over again by commenters on posts about homosexuality are questions that deal with absolutes, specifics and black-and-white assumptions. “Is sexual activity between two persons of the same gender always a sin?” “Is homosexuality a sin or not?” “Do you believe gays should be ordained?” Even in a blog-post or article that is focusing on the pastoral perspective (as Brian’s article was) people automatically jump to questions of absolutes, sin and biblical authority.
Why can we not have these conversations on blogs? I’d like to think that it is still possible, but experience has proven otherwise. And I think that primarily the reason we cannot blog about homosexuality (in addition to other sensitive social issues of our time) is because when we sit down in front of our computers, it’s very easy to type out a quick response, something that is witty, “biblical”, and maybe, if we’re lucky, filled with “prophetic sarcasm.” But this is too easy, and this is too separated from how this all plays out. This type of conversation is devoid of human interaction, community and genuine encounters with the other.
In one of my posts, I actually added in the provision that I hoped people would not join in on the conversation unless they actually had friends or acquaintances that were in fact gay. That sounds pretty silly even as I write that, but I think that when you are actually in relationship with people who are struggling with issues of homosexuality, that gives you an incredibly different perspective, and one that I think is often lacking in these types of conversations. Even for those who are in relationship with gay and lesbian friends, and STILL come out believing that practicing homosexuality is a sin, there is a markedly different tone and way in which they go about arguing that, because there is a human face to the “issue.”
It’s definitely been a journey for me to end up in a place where I can welcome, affirm and celebrate my fellow LGBT brothers and sisters, in their lives, relationships and callings to ministry. And I am fully aware that there are many people, many of my close friends and family, who will never end up in that same place in their own journeys. It is important to have these conversations. It is important to have conversations about views on biblical authority. But I think it is important for us to begin, first and foremost, to consider those who this “issue” affects – those who are being denied their humanity and the gift to be able to live and experience the life that Jesus came to give.
Jesus: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10.10