Till We Have Faces

blank faceThe Fall, 2013 issue of Leadership Journal has an article by Stanton Jones up entitled, “Help, I’m Gay.” It is billed as “A pastoral conversation about same-sex attraction.”

The editors chose to illustrate the article with the picture at left.

This would be a good image to use on a gun range, where shooters can see the outline of a human head with no human features to disturb them as they practice aiming to kill. It is not an appropriate image for preparing Christian leaders to respond like Christ to the plea, “Help, I’m gay.”

Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people have faces. If Christian leaders want to offer pastoral care to us, they need to be able to look us in the face. If they will not show our faces, or are uncomfortable looking at our faces, they are not seeing us as human beings, and are not ready to be Christ to us.

For more images of faceless gay people from Christian publishers:

Faces: A Pet Peeve

Welcoming and Shaming

ron50Ron Belgau is completing a PhD in Philosophy, and teaches medical ethics, philosophy of the human person, ethics, and philosophy of religion. He can be followed on Twitter: @RonBelgau.

5 thoughts on “Till We Have Faces

  1. The lesson ought to have been put into pact before, or in concomitance with, the sexual revolution, because only watching a person in face and discovering in him/her the capacity of living the great gift of chastity, this gift would have resonated as a viable option, and indeed a glorious one not for homosexuals alone, but also for all christians…the Church along with the presentation of moral doctrine has made theology of the stigma for decades, and I have realized that in grasping how eventful was for many bishops, nuns and priests to consider that the aversion therapies could have worked out something good for them…but that good was not the possible recovering of a PERSON from an illness, but a seclusion of a person in a structure in which his/her moral minority was enforced with a medical or psychiatric treatment…that great hope of many church leaders in the late nineties is evanescent now, but they hoped really that homosexuals could have been secluded from society through a cure…but I prefer personally two men making sex in a public square, than an homosexual secluded, set apart…I see the saint perspective proposed by Wesley Hill of a parish celibate life of service as a long long standing issue…it is regretful since Raffalovich has proposed more than a century ago a sort of celibate dedication to arts, service of community, etc. for homosexuals, but his ideas were dismissed since stigma was greater…the issue is winning stigma now, naturally a gay christian cannot condone great and grievous sins, but he cannot reject his brothers who are needful of God. We have faces indeed and many qualities to be put at the service of all the church, but the church is reverent towards a theology of stigma which is reproducing itself from time to time…

  2. The way I approach such an issue as this is that ‘people who are gay (or LGBT) are people first and foremost, not who they !at be within those initials.

    • I’m not Ron, but I did have some thoughts on this response. One caveat: I’m not subscribed to the Leadership Journal, so I haven’t read the original piece in full. The follow-up didn’t require a subscription, so I did read that one.

      Ben’s experience is drastically different than mine has been. It seems that one’s church environment makes a big difference. I have been completely open with basically all the adults at my church, and it has only caused my relationships with others to be deepened. I’ve found that people are appreciative that I’ve shared. The pastor even had me share my story as part of one of his sermons.

      I found Ben’s observations interesting regarding how many Christians didn’t have a good grasp of their own sinfulness and need for God’s grace, and weren’t really educated about what the Bible says. I think my church does a pretty good job teaching on these matters, which may be a big part of it. I’m also in a college town where LGBT issues come up a lot anyway, so a lot of the “Christian” stereotpyes about LGBT people don’t hold water anyway.

      I also think there’s likely a generational factor in a lot of churches. Younger people tend to have a much different view of LGBT people than older people do. My guess is that Ben’s experience was dominated by older people with a different set of stereotypes.

      The wisdom of openness does end up coming down to a person’s individual circumstances. Some churches and communities will be much better than others. Ben’s story is not the first like his I’ve seen, and it is sadly indicative of something that still happens. However, some of us do have a very different experience. I also think it’s going to take gay Christians with traditional views on sexual ethics actually coming out in order to move towards a world where good reactions are the norm, which is a big part of why I’ve been so open.

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