“So, You Think Homosexuality is a Sin?” – Christy Responds

Our very own Christy Wade recently started a very personal blog about her journey exploring the tensions between her faith and her sexuality. It may embarrass her a bit for me to write this, but Heidi and I (Justin) think she is incredibly courageous and wise, and her humility, kindness, and honesty amaze us.

The post below is a recent entry she wrote about giving the ‘right’ answer when folks ask:

So, do you think homosexuality is a sin?

After hearing my story, this is the first thing that most people ask me. Not “thank you for sharing” or other things you would normally want to hear after speaking. Instead, he/she wants to immediately know my stance on homosexuality. Forget that I just bore my soul about the personal hell of reconciling my faith and sexual orientation. It’s like one cannot validate my experiences unless our Scriptural interpretations agree with each other.

I often wonder about the motivation behind such a question.

If I say “yes, I believe homosexuality is a sin,” would you be among those who would stop reading my blog posts. Likewise, if I say “no, I believe homosexuality is not sin,” would you automatically dismiss everything else I will say or write?

Each time I’m asked this, I know that more than likely I will offend people if I answer honestly. And I don’t like it when I know someone is mad at me. I tend to be somewhat of a people pleaser. I don’t like this about me, but I’m working on it!

So, it is with trembling hands that I will answer this question as honestly as I can. Trembling because I can be denied job opportunities and lose relationships as a result of this post. Also, I risk being bombarded with people (from both sides) sending me Scripture verses and trying to “help” me find the truth. Although I appreciate the sentiment, please know it isn’t necessary. I know these particular verses forwards, backwards, in context, and in their original languages (Hebrew and Greek). I know all the different arguments from both viewpoints. Trust me…I have spent much time thinking about this!

So, here goes:

Do I believe homosexuality is sin?

At this stage in my Christian faith journey, I can only answer, “I don’t know.”

Once, I thought I knew without a doubt that it isn’t God‘s will to be gay. Eager for answers as a young Christian, I devoured all the “ex-gay” books I could find. Everything I read in them coincided with the things I had been taught in my evangelical upbringing. So, I found it easy to adopt “homosexuality as sin” without even considering other views. In all honesty, I feared questioning these beliefs. I already thought that God was disgusted with me because I wasn’t ‘normal.’ Maybe God would let me enter heaven if he saw that I proclaimed it as sin. (Yes, I really had this thought!)

Today, I’m not in this same place of belief. Because my faith in Jesus Christ is solid, I’m no longer afraid to question long-held convictions.  And no, I am not throwing out the Bible. I love Scripture, and I do my best to meditate on it every day. As I have studied the history of Christianity, I noticed that the Bible has been used repeatedly to justify slavery and the subjugation of women. You may say that these two issues are different from homosexuality; however, I’m not so sure about that! You may say that it is so plain in the Bible what God thinks about homosexuality, but this same argument was used with the slavery and women issues. Godly people from both sides have come up with different interpretations. This is why it isn’t so black and white for me!

So, I am on a journey to answer this question for myself. I wake up every day with the prayer that God will not let me be deceived and that I am open to whichever answer. And you know what? This is ok! I am no longer afraid that God is disappointed in me, and I know He is with me as I walk this journey. I live with more joy than I have ever lived, resting in God’s everlasting love.

If you are someone who is currently on this same journey, please know that you are not alone. My email is christy.wade2012@gmail.com, and I am more than happy to talk with you and encourage you.

Consider This Perspective – Wesley Hill

Welcome to the second installment of our new interview series. Last week we heard from Tripp York about sex and violence. This week we here from Wesley Hill. This interview is bound to be provocative, and likely to strike a nerve with some of you, so please remember to comment with kindness and civility.

Wesley Hill (Ph.D., Durham University, UK) is Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania. He is the author of Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality (Zondervan, 2010), a book exploring what it means to be a celibate gay Christian.

You have chosen celibacy. Why?

The short answer is that I believe Jesus’ reaffirmed what God had established in the beginning — that marriage was created as the place for sexual intimacy, and marriage is for one man and one woman (Matthew 19:4-6, quoting Genesis 2:24). Those of us living outside that marital state are called to abstinence. It’s not because I have amazing willpower or am interested in asceticism for its own sake; I believe, rather, that those whose lives have been transformed by God’s grace in the gospel are enabled and called to walk in a manner worthy of that gospel (Ephesians 4:1).

How has that decision affected your relationships with folks in the church and in the LGBT community?

It has made me much more desirous of and intentional about pursuing friendship. Celibacy isn’t really doable apart from a hospitable, supportive circle of brothers and sisters in Christ, at least in my case. And my choosing celibacy, as a gay man, out of fidelity to the gospel, has attuned me more to the sufferings and struggles of other gay men who aren’t necessarily Christians. It’s led to greater relational sensitivity, I think.

What advice would you give to Christians who experience SSA and are trying to resolve that with their faith?

First, I would encourage them to remember that they’re not alone. Struggling with coming to terms with one’s own same-sex attraction as a Christian can be a very isolating experience. You can fall prey to thoughts that you ought not talk about it or that no one else is going through what you’re going through. But that’s simply false. Second, I would encourage gay Christians to look for practical ways to remind themselves that they aren’t alone — i.e., by talking with their fellow Christians about their experiences. This can be quite a scary thing to do — coming out to one’s fellow believers in a church setting, say — but I think, despite the pain, that it’s the path to truest community. Look for what a counselor friend of mine calls “circles of appropriate transparency.” You don’t have to share the story of your sexuality with your whole congregation or parish, for instance in a formal testimony. But you can probably find a handful of “safe,” trusted friends who will enable you to process your journey and give voice to your doubts and complaints and fears and joys and hopes and victories.

What other projects do you have in the works?

I want to think and write and speak more about what Christians throughout the centuries have called “spiritual friendship.” We hear a lot in the Christian world about what God is asking us not to do (“Don’t have gay sex”). We hear a lot less in the Christian world about what God is asking us to do, positively. We celibate gay Christians shouldn’t have to think of ourselves as consigned to lifelong loneliness on account of our celibacy. Rather, we can pour out love for others in the form of friendship. We can practice hospitality and find intimate communion with others, albeit not getting married or having a family in the traditional American sense. But Jesus is very clear: we can have family in a true spiritual sense, as we befriend one another in the body of Christ (see Mark 10:29-31). That’s what I want to think and write more about.