My Early Teen Years Part 2: Practical Reflections

In my last piece, I discussed my own experience as an early teenager finding myself attracted to the same sex. Now, I would like to offer a few reflections on what this means for today’s kids.

We must always start by thinking about how to actually love sexual minority kids. Loving people does not merely reduce to preaching about sexual ethics. Instead, we need to take into account the entirety of Christian teaching. We should start by examining our own hearts. As I wrote about previously, even though I’m not straight, I’ve had to deal with self-righteousness and other negative attitudes towards sexual minorities. I’m certainly not the only Christian to have heart issues responding to sexual minorities, and we need to keep our own motivations at the forefront. Even when sexual sin (which should not be confused with mere orientation) is involved, we must make sure that doctrine matters to us for the right reasons and that we are not only focusing on the sins of others.

Having framed the discussion this way, I will now turn to discussing some specific reflections from my own experience.

Continue reading

My Early Teen Years Part 1: What I Went Through

Aaron Taylor wrote a recent two-part piece (part 1 and part 2), discussing pastoral responses to same-sex attracted youth.  Eve Tushnet has suggested that several of us continue that discussion by reflecting what it was like to be that teenager ourselves, and I would like to do that here by discussing my life early in my teen years.  In this piece, I will discuss that part of my life, and in a follow-up piece, I will offer some reflections on what would have been helpful.  Before I get to the teen years, though, I want to discuss more about my environment leading up to that time.

I grew up in a Christian home, in a stable family.  Although it’s not like everything was perfect all the time, I had very good and healthy relationships with both of my parents.  I first learned about sex and sexuality from having “the talk” with my dad.  I was given the expectation that as I hit puberty, I’d really start to have a “hunger” for girls, and that the ultimate end for that was to be married to a woman and to have sex within that context.  I was taught that my sexuality would ultimately be a good thing, but that I would face struggles with lust and sexual purity.

Continue reading

Grief and Faithfulness

Copyright 2009 by Gregg WebbOver the last few months I’ve been slowly working through what it looks like to grieve the loss of the “what might have been.”

For me the “what might have been,” is the husband I will never have. As a celibate gay man I will constantly wrestle with the intersection of my desires and my convictions. By following my desire to become like Christ through the life of the Orthodox Church, I must always be willing to give up anything that runs contrary to that life. For me, I’ve experienced this sacrifice most profoundly as I slowly grieve the real cost of my celibacy: saying no to a romantic and sexual relationship with another man.

Continue reading

The Line Dividing Good and Evil

In the midst of all the last minute shopping, holiday parties, Christmas music, Santa Clause, and so forth, it’s easy to forget why Jesus came in the first place: to save us from our sin.

In the Gulag Archipelago, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote:

“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”

If evil were something done by evil people to good people, then God would only need to destroy the evil people. But since “the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being,” God had to use a different plan to save us.

I worry that few far too many American Christians have forgotten that this Christmas. Over at Part of a Plan, Zachary Perkins writes:

About a week ago, Phil Robertson was suspended from his family’s show Duck Dynasty for comments he made regarding homosexuality. The fury poured forth from social media like none other. Many Christian are even now organizing boycotts against A&E.

About two to three days later, Uganda passes a bill through it’s legislative body that is now waiting a signature from the President which would imprison homosexuals for life, give 14 years imprisonment to Ugandan citizens that help gays and potentially put some gays to death. Update: The death penalty provision has been shelved, but the long prison terms remain.

It’s been three days since the news from Uganda broke out. I’ve searched through ChristianityToday.com, ChristianPost.com, and CBN.com, but there is still not one mention of the story that Uganda has passed a bill which could put to death gays and lesbians. I even searched ReligionToday.com and instead of finding stories about Uganda’s growing violence towards gays and lesbian people in their community, I saw one story titled “Ugandan Church’s Remarkable Growth”.  Phil Robertson’s story is still plastered all over the front pages of these outlets.

“For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” In either our loud crusades or in our silent complicity, is that the message the world is hearing from Christians this Christmas?

Fourteen Points

On April 27, 2001, the members of Courage Seattle met with then-Seattle Auxiliary Bishop George Thomas (now the Bishop of Helena, Montana). Before his consecration as Bishop, Fr. Thomas played an instrumental role in encouraging the creation of a chapter of Courage in Seattle. With the Chapter up and running, he graciously consented to meet with us to see how things were going and to encourage the ministry.

In preparation for Bishop Thomas’s visit, we prepared the following Fourteen Point summary of the approach to ministry we had adopted in Courage Seattle. 

† CHRIST THE CENTER We place Christ at the center of our existence, subordinating all other aspects of our lives and pledge fidelity to Him without counting the cost.

Continue reading

Sin and Sexual Minorities Part 7: Of Logs and Specks

In this final post of my series on sin and sexual minorities, I will examine an additional major principle that is useful in determining what sins we should prioritize addressing, and I will conclude with a few related thoughts. This principle comes from Matthew 7:3-5 (ESV):

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

Continue reading

Sin and Sexual Minorities Part 6: How Doctrine Matters

Up until now in this series, I have focused on sins against sexual minority people.  As I alluded to in the introduction, I will now turn to some initial reflections on how to work this into a holistic understanding of sin with respect to sexual minorities.  I am writing from the perspective shared with the other writers of this blog, that “God created human beings male and female, and that all sexual intimacy outside of a faithful, lifelong marital union of a man and woman is contrary to His plan.”  The purpose of this series has not been to argue that this does not matter, but rather that we should not consider only this matter when looking at the topic of sin and sexual minorities, because all other areas of Christian morality also matter greatly.

For the final two posts in this series, I will discuss two important principles that we should always keep in mind while addressing the sexual sins that some sexual minority people commit.  I do not presume to have complete pastoral solutions even if I had the space to write them out, but I think the principles I will point out here are both scriptural and fruitful.

Continue reading

Sin and Sexual Minorities Part 5: Sins of the Heart

Scripture clearly teaches that sin comes from the heart. For example, in Matthew 15:18-20, Jesus teaches that the sins that defile a person come from inside a person’s heart, rather than from outside. In order to truly address our own sins, including the sins described in the previous two posts, we must address the condition of our hearts. The gospel is not really about behavior modification, but about inner transformation. Therefore, in this post, I will discuss some of the attitudes of the heart that contribute to sins against sexual minority people. Despite the fact that I’m not straight, these sins in particular are ones that I have often had to address in my own life, and that I have not completely overcome. However, I believe it will be edifying to bring them to light.

A very common sin, and one that Jesus addressed repeatedly during his earthly ministry, is that of self-righteousness. I think that a lot of straight Christians see themselves as fundamentally better people than most sexual minority people. This is not a truly Christian attitude, because we are all sinners who rely on God for salvation and sanctification. We have done nothing to earn a better place in God’s eyes through our own actions.

Continue reading