This is the single most important question that those of us who are GLBT should ask ourselves. When I first began this project, it was to determine whether or not a person could be both gay and Christian. Not only am I persuaded that the answer is a resounding ‘yes,’ but that we have a clear and distinct call from God.
As Christians, we are keenly aware of the sheer power of God’s majesty; as GLBT people, we’re equally aware of our own shortcomings. This kind of spiritual- and self-awareness is due to the fact that so many of us have had to deal with intense struggles with our sexuality and our faith. By the time we reach a point in our journey where we have been given a sense of divine peace over our whole lives, we become aware of something else: liberty.
But as we’ve learned through Scripture, history and so many other aspects of our lives, liberty without purpose will only lead to vain wanderings. Liberty in Christ is indeed one of the most wonderful aspects of Christianity that we can explore; but its abuse is all too common. Even more common are the extremes that we must avoid.
Those extremes are simple: a complete disregard for sexual responsibility, and abject self-righteousness that looks down on anyone who does not see our point of view. Sadly, these extremes are seen far too often. To properly illustrate these extremes, I’ll use extreme words to illustrate them: The harlot and the Pharisee. The image behind those words speaks for themselves. Whether chasing pants (or skirts) or splitting hairs, we should realize that these are traps into which we can fall quite easily.
So what are these extremes? In a word, they are distractions. They do little more than to draw us away from the very path that God has called us to follow. To properly describe this path, I’ll present it in the form of a modern parable of four different groups.
No Man’s Land
Imagine a battlefield around a valley. There are two major factions in this battle. The first is a group that calls themselves the “Religious Right.” Before we start going into thoughts of the political, I urge you to read on. It’s very easy for us to judge quickly; especially when we talk of battles and the “Religious Right.”
Imagine with me, if you will, this faction of passionate religious impersonators who have set their eyes on domination. Their goal is not only domination, but they’re obsessed with a singular mindset of their beliefs. That mind is so singular that they’ll view anything that even appears “secular” as an enemy infiltrator.
On the opposing hillside is another faction. I’ll call them the “Secular Left.” This group of the high-brow elite has such great disdain for anything religious that it sees their enemy with great suspicion. No matter if it’s a shadow, a cross, a crescent, or even a moon; such superstitious nonsense should be kept out of public life.
These two factions are drawn with bold and distorted strokes, but the image and the battle they represent is real. The arrows of “faith” and “science” are fired indiscriminately from either side; their defensive walls of “doctrine” and “education” are solidified with bricks and hot oil to keep the other camp away. This war has been waging for countless centuries. Year after year, decade after decade, the arrows and cannonballs fly across the great valley between them.
But there is a third group. This group is a blend of countless people who are caught in the crossfire. They do not fit into either of the two factions, for they’re just either not educated enough or religious enough to want to be a part of them. They have tried to find the middle ground between the two; and it has cost them dearly.
The combatants have seen them. They do not see potential new soldiers; they see enemy targets. The Religious see the Secular, and the Secular see the Religious. And both fire into the valley. As a result, they end up wounding their own sympathizers. In the end, they’ll often shoot their wounded.
It’s a tragic and bloody field, littered with wounded and dying people who are simply caught in the middle of this great war that has gone on and on for generations.
Finally, there is a fourth group. This is a group of people who have found the kind of shielding that is necessary to deflect all of those fiery arrows that are raining on the valley day after day. This new group is a small, committed, and empowered remnant of people who have recovered from their own wounds and will walk into this deadly No Man’s Land to treat the wounds of those who are injured, and bring them to health.
They will not consider their own safety, but look only to find those who are hurting and wounded. They will not have any “religious” or “secular” label; their label will be Christ Himself. They will walk in love, act with compassion, and speak with authority.
Their mission is mercy; their walk is strength, and their greatest enemy is complacency.
That, my friends is our calling.
Those of us who are GLBT Christians or who are in fellowship with GLBT Christians know all too well the kind of pain and suffering that people can endure. God has called us to walk in a kind of prophetic grace that we’ve never seen before. Please note… this is NOT limited to GLBT Christians. I believe this clarion call is for ALL who have been told they’re not welcome at some point in our lives; the single, the divorced, the dating, the different. Whether we’ve got multicolor hair or multicolor flags, this message is for us.
It’s the kind of prophetic grace that empowers us to walk into the rain of fire with great confidence; knowing that we’ll reach the people in need. We’ll then be able to be a fertile ground for real growth. In short, God will empower those He has called. And in case you’re wondering whether or not God has called you… if you’re still reading this, he has.
Jesus said that all who are burdened can come to him and He will give them rest. That’s our calling as well. To give rest to those who are burdened. To provide that place where they can rest and heal.
You’ll notice that this fourth group of people does not have a label. And neither should we. While those of us who are both gay and Christian have come to great strains to embrace both parts of our lives, we must come to realize that the only identifying mark that’s worth living for is the mark of Christ.
Does that mean we can’t be gay? Of course not. It doesn’t mean we can’t be straight either. The simple reality of it is that whenever we take our eyes off Christ Himself, we find ourselves in great danger of either being a combatant or we could find ourselves among the walking wounded in that great valley of despair.
The challenge is to live as Christians, first before anything. This doesn’t mean that we should “fight” anything, it just means that Jesus is first in our lives. So ask yourself the simple question: of those four groups, in which do you most likely fit?
Yes, my friends. This is our calling. We are called by God Himself to minister to those who have been caught in the crossfire of rhetoric and politics. We are called to bring healing to those who have been told they’re not welcome.
I believe we have this calling because we understand what it’s like to be beaten, cut down, belittled, demonized, and criticized. It’s out of those old scars in our lives that God has brought great healing; and through them, He’ll touch the lives of countless others.
That is, if we let Him.
What’s more, we know God’s true love; love without condition. His love is what brings sinners to repentance. His love is what challenges the harshest of the secular and the most bitter of the religious. Those heaping coals of love will infuriate the combatants, and the wounded may not understand them. But they are indeed our call.
So at a time when we’re most tempted to pick up the quiver or load the cannon, perhaps we should ask ourselves whether it’s best to give a hug or even to just listen.
This battle will rage until the end of time, my friends. Our call, our duty, is to empty this great No Man’s Land and ultimately, to squelch the fires of war with the Living Water of the Prince of Peace.
It’s a prophetic call in a very real sense. But if it stirs something in your spirit, I hope that you’ll pray and ask God to give you that sense of calling and the passion to follow through with it. Most importantly, I encourage you to pray for the grace to endure this great time of darkness in the middle of such spiritual warfare.
His grace is, and will be sufficient. And that grace will indeed empower all of us. And that, my friends, is how we should live.
Note: This is the introduction of a special series on The Bible and Homosexuality. The links below are other installments:
- Part 1: Can a person be gay and a Christian?
- Part 2: Exploring Romans 1:26-27
- Part 3: What was Sodom & Gomorrah all about?
- Part 4: All those abominations! Leviticus uncovered
- Part 5: 1 Corinthians 6:9-10…who inherits the Kingdom?
- Part 6: David & Jonathan
- Part 7: Other Biblical stories of note
- Part 8: How then shall we live?