Pluaralism & Sexual Orientations: A Moral Roller Coaster Ride

bildeThe past week we have been on a post-modern moral roller coaster ride.

World Vision recently embraced new policies that honor same sex relationships within their organization only to reverse their decision days later for the sake of the poor across the globe. My wife and I are regular supporters of the organization and we are happy to learn that the donations will continue coming in for all the good work WV is doing across the globe.

I wish to weigh in on this in such a way that may provoke thought and discussion over the nature of human morality. Obviously in our pluralist culture we may wish to say that we should treat people well no matter what their sexual orientation is. That is culturally, the correct answer. To answer otherwise would make for ones self, many new enemies.

On the other hand are the religiously devout immoral in their imposing religious agendas on others in this pluralist era?

In consideration of the whole World Vision drama people are asking, what is more immoral?

Is it it more immoral to be a homosexual?

or

Is it more immoral to consider homosexuality immoral?

And if we want to be good pluralists, we are forced to say that both are in fact immoral but it would be immoral to pass judgement on the immoral. But my question was which is more immoral. I did not say that those who consider homosexuality to be immoral are to also be passing on judgement. But maybe there is a such thing as using your good judgement to make the case that homosexuality is actually immoral.

People speak of the love of Christ as if it were the only element of the character of Christ Christians were to imitate. Jesus speaks often of this kind of moral judgement. That is not something that we seek because we are left to ourselves in this world to determine our own version of morality. But our judgement is to determine what is right and what is wrong. Many things are permissible but not all things are beneficial.

Maybe then we can say with the Apostle Paul to the present issues of our day, “many things are permissible culturally, or naturally, but not all things are beneficial.” This line comes in reference to consistent biblical concept from Genesis that man in all of his humany-humanity is prone to choices that are not beneficial for his life, his health, the health of others, the future world of the next humanity. Are we to accept our present sickness and not look for a restoration and a completeness. This line from the apostle Paul is part of the answer to these moral challenges.

Is wrong wrong because it offends ‘the conservative right wing” or is it wrong wrong because it is actually not beneficial for the world of tomorrow’s?

The church is learning to accept what is beneficial from post-modern culture. Modern Evangelicals would never give in to the pressure to accept what is being accepted in today’s culture. But post-moderns are learning to be okay with people making choices for themselves even if the church feels they are wrong choices. But that is exactly the point. The church (that can actually call itself the church) will not give in to pressure that says, “these choices people are making are right because they love each other and they love God”. It will still be a wrong non beneficial choice.

So for me, I’m okay with my friends and family making their own choice in their sexual orientation. I will not shun you. I will not quote scripture at you. But I will believe, and if asked, I will say, “the choice your making is not going to be a beneficial one. In other words it wont be healthy. Granite you may find some happiness, you may have companionship, but you will miss the benefits of the life God intended for you to have had you made the tough choice that is right.” That opinion I will not force on you but if you have to ask, that is my belief. Truth be told, I’d rather not have to say any of that. I would like to display what I think would be the most Christ-like thing, that would be to spend more quality time, and share a deeper friendship with you. I love you.

The problem with most Christian theology on the issue is that people would prefer to make their standards clear in order to not be mistaken by other evangelicals as an advocate for homosexuality. So I make a point here not to engage heavily in all the bible verses one might wish to throw at this issue. I’m not interested in that in the least.

I’d rather be a friend, and go have a drink with the ones who’s choices are non-beneficial. The problem with theology on the topic is not that it is wrong. It is that it is theology. Theology does not help people wrestling with choices, passions, temptation, and Love. It helps to have someone who is not pretending to love them from afar. It helps to have a person to share that drink with, and to share their love with, and to speak of passions and temptations and choices.

So I challenge me, and I challenge you, do not love from afar, and don’t love with your theology. I appreciate good theology. But in almost every relevant case, theology is at its finest when it is acted upon. When people are treated as whole people or at least people that might one day be whole.

 

*** I will be monitoring comments for this post. Appropriate comments will be allowed. By rules of general fairness towards humans on both sides of the argument.

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Categories: Bible, Church, Culture, Ethics, Mission, Modern, Philosophy, Post-Modern, Society/Culture, Theology, Worldview | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on “Pluaralism & Sexual Orientations: A Moral Roller Coaster Ride

  1. 1) We should treat people well. 2) We should treat people well no matter what their sexual orientation is…oh wait, see point 1.
    Love takes precedence. It does not condone or approve son, but it is patient, kind etc. We are to judge those in the church, ie those calling themselves Christ’s, not those outside. But both we are to love and call to repentance.

    Right?

  2. Ryan Ast

    This is a good one

  3. Reblogged this on Constant streams… and commented:
    1) We should treat people well. 2) We should treat people well no matter what their sexual orientation is…wait that was number 1.
    Love everyone. Judge those within the church, ie those claiming Christ. Love all and call all to repentance.

    Isn’t that what the Bible teaches?
    Following Jesus’ example, He had much harsher words for the ‘religious folks’ than for ‘sinners,’ if one might put use those terms, and He loved by spending time with those beloved, not with condemnation from afar..

    • Sorry David. Your stuff was in my spam files and I dont know why. Thanks for commenting. Also I agree. Loving people like Jesus did is what we are to be doing. And I think we can do that while knowing, and not losing site of what is right and wrong. Basic.

  4. Pingback: Pluaralism & Sexual Orientations: A Moral Roller Coaster Ride | CONTEXT & CONSEQUENCE

  5. Jesse… fantastic. I deal with this type of thing on a regular basis working in a homeless shelter. God has called us to love people and to share the wonderful Gospel message. I think most of us believe that God is responsible for their salvation. Funny- he is responsible for changing their behavior as well, but we seem to think changing their behavior is our responsibility.

  6. Hi Jesse, have just come across your blog and am enjoying reading it!
    With regard to this post you make the assumption that sexuality other than heterosexuality is ‘wrong’ I assume based on Biblical text which, if you are writing on morality, is best quoted to establish the ‘wrongness’. More importantly, from my pov, is that you infer that homosexuality is a choice. Current research reveals it to be contrary.
    Christian thinking on this very matter has been the cause of much suffering. Sexuality is not a choice. What if your religion required you to be homosexual or bisexual but you were heterosexual by nature? Would you appreciate all the prejudice and prayer and human punishments for your heterosexuality? Would you practice homo or bi-sexuality despite your hetero-ness?
    Judgement is reserved for your Maker, not you or your church or Christians in general or whatever temporal authority you prescribe. It is good to keep the Law but then does not Jesus require us to go beyond the Law is honouring God’s love? Does not God love us all including those whose sexual orientation is not hetero?
    At the end of the day do you also counsel your divorced friends about their choice over a drink? Do you counsel your friends who work in finance over usury (charging interest on financial transactions)? Do you counsel your rich friends to give their wealth to the poor and take up the cross? Do you counsel the corporations and governments about out modern form slavery allowed in the form of commercial practices and capitalism which makes the dollar our master? (just try living outside the framework of money).
    It has to also be remembered that Scripture was written in a temporal setting; first century Jewish Palestine. Jesus was human and although God’s self-revelation, also a first century Palestinian Jew. Paul saw fit to comment on circumcision and other matters of the Law that is not recorded as being specifically addressed by Jesus. Paul used some common sense and the rules of loving God and your neighbour. Jesus ate and drank with tax-collectors, prostitutes, the ‘unclean’, unwanted and marginalised individuals of his day. The most important message in this was not curing leprosy or providing loners with much-needed company but, rather, meeting people where they were, accepting people as they are and walking beside them on their journey.
    Thanks for an interesting read, Jesse
    regards
    Kath

    • I actually fully appreciate your comment here. Though the are 1) elements I disagree with 2) elements that are just hypothetical 3) elements a really appreciate. My assumptions are not hidden as you have said. But I love my homosexual friends and family. Your assuming I am every other Christian who gets that wrong. But though I believe it is sin or in other words against God’s law, I also believe it is on par with any of the other songs you mention. I believe as you have said all sins committed by Christians should be reproved by other believers. That is part of waking on a journey with people you love. You help them see when their sin is hurting then and others. But again, I appreciate your perspective. I don’t think evil of you for your view. Also I do not believe it is only a choice.

  7. This is a very interesting, considered and balanced article. I greatly appreciate your respect for people in what you say and the resistance to quote large quantities of Biblical passages, because that only ever results in counter-arguments. One of my favourite ministers once shook the Bible at his congregation and said, in orotund tones, this book should have big letters written on it, saying “Handle with care!”

    A quick note on my comment – I’m going to use “gay” and “straight” not homosexual and heterosexual in what I say a) because they’re long words to type and I’m bound to spell them wrong at some point, and b) because the term “homosexual” is seen as scientific and judgemental by many gay people today and I would encourage Christians to avoid using it when talking to gay people.

    Kathryn Day’s thoughtful response (posted 9th April) brings up a lot of elements. The first one she cites is that being gay is not a choice, and backs this up with current research. I am strongly inclined to agree with her in terms of gay orientation. I know this because I have talked to many other lesbian and gay Christians and I am one myself. I know that I had no choice because it is the way I feel, the way I am hard-wired so to speak. However, what is a choice “the unbeneficial choice” is how Jesse puts it, is actually acting on that choice. If you, as a straight man, walk down a street, see a pretty girl and have carnal lustful thoughts for her, then that is a choice, and an unbeneficial one too. It is something you have to overcome. The same choice is open to gay people when I see someone they find attractive of the same gender walk down the street.

    What this boils done to is trying to get straight Christians to respect the small, but crucial difference between being gay as an orientation and being gay as a series of actions. I cannot tell you why being gay as a orientation exists and why it feels the way it does any more than you can tell me why and how you feel straight. We can leave that to the scientists and the theologians to debate, as they do, ad nauseam. In medieval times it was considered sinful and strange to be left handed, and people did everything they could to try to avoid being judged and discriminated against by using their right hands. Even today people are taught to be right handed and – in terms of day to day living – it’s probably useful to try and be right handed as so much is designed to be used by right handed people…but that doesn’t make people’s nature, their orientation so to speak, any less left-handed….and crucially no-one says that being born left-handed is a “choice” any more.

    To conclude, if straight Christians were able to acknowledge that gay orientation is not a choice, but gay actions are a choice – and most likely an “unbeneficial” choice at that – then I think there would be a greater self respect amongst the different communities, and gay Christians would feel so much better about themselves too.

    Oh, and if you’re ever in England I’d love to sit down and have a drink with you too -cheers!

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