Walking Between

Walking Between - FootbridgeChristianity Today posted a two part story last week from a man in a mixed-orientation marriage. I wanted to pass it along to the SF community for a few of reasons:

1. It shows the diversity of stories that fall under the broad categorization of “mixed-orientation marriage.”

Aidyn Sevilla describes himself as a gay Christian in a heterosexual marriage. I generally don’t take any specific label. Some use the label bisexual, others stick with same-sex attracted. Beyond labels, Aidan’s story bears some marked similarities and differences from my own. There were parts of his story I read and thought, “Yes, that’s  exactly how that feels.” There were other parts that didn’t really resonate at all with my own experiences.

2. Aidyn is asking the right question: “What does discipleship look like for me?”

To me this is the central question the church should be asking about its same-sex attracted members. What can we say positively about discipleship for same-sex attracted Christians, especially in the context of providing community and relationships?

3. His post is remarkable in its vulnerability and openness. The church needs to hear these stories of those who “walk between” (as Aidyn puts it) in all their beautiful messiness.

The author’s use of discipleship language finds a lot of conceptual parallels with the language of vocation that has found some traction here at SF. I’ll conclude with a quote from Aidyn on his experience of discipleship:

Discipleship has meant developing a balanced view of my sexuality in the context of my whole self. My sexual orientation is a foundational aspect of who I am … but so are my faith and relationships. It has meant becoming aware of how my life impacts the lives around me—my wife, my son, the younger men I have mentored. Discipleship means living in the foundational tension between wanting what I want so very badly, but recognizing that God might want something different. Discipleship is learning to trust that what God wants is better.

Kyle KeatingKyle Keating is a M.Div. candidate at Covenant Theological Seminary and teacher of Bible and Theology at a small Christian school in St. Louis, Missouri where he lives with his wonderful wife Christy. He can be followed on Twitter: @KyleAKeating.

11 thoughts on “Walking Between

  1. I too really appreciate his honesty. And it makes me so sad that several of the commenters over there only reinforce his point that the church is not a safe place. They just don’t get it. If only these same men would have applauded him for his courage in being so open. If only these same men would have had the strength to share with Aidyn what they struggle with right now and how God is helping them too. But they don’t have the courage Aidyn does.

    I hope Aidyn has more men to come around him as brothers to give him some of the platonic affection he needs. He and his family need that support if they are going to thrive. I am concerned about them.

  2. I really enjoyed the article and he said a lot of things that resonated with me.

    I am, however, very disturbed by the comments that are appearing over there. Recently, it seems, the only answer many Christians have to those who are same sex attracted is, “you should not call yourself ‘gay’ because your identity is not in your sin.” This really bothers me on two levels:

    1) it takes the invitation of the Gospel and turns it into a command. Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 6:11 are written to comfort and support believers. But the way we are constantly ordered not to put our “identity into our sexuality” turns this from an invitation to simply one more demand we can not meet. It becomes a false sanctification, a holiness based on a lie instead of Christ.

    2: It is an end run around the cross. Instead of seeking to apply the forgiveness of Christ and bring people into the fellowship of the Church, it is easier just to pretend the problem doesn’t exist by ordering people “don’t put your identity in your sexuality.”

    Very good article but it seems harder and harder to communicate with other Christians about the experience of same sex attracted people. Every time one wall comes down, a thicker one goes up.

    • Matt,

      It seems to me there are two kinds of people who make the criticism you mention: (1) People who don’t get it, at all, and just want all things pertaining to same-sex attraction to suddenly disappear, and (2) People who are making a theological point that they think is important.

      I have sympathy with the latter group, because I myself am puzzled by the notion of calling oneself “gay”, mostly for the sorts of reasons mentioned in Michael Hannon’s recent First Things article — which, by the way, I would be very interested in SF doing a post about. But anyway, I myself understand that my theological worries are MINE, and it’s wrong for me to personally criticize other Christians for something that is not sin. Whatever else it is, calling oneself “gay” is not sinful.

      I see it as an issue of BOUNDARIES. I would compare it to a Baptist who walks up to a Roman Catholic priest and rebukes him for allowing himself to be called “Father”. As a theological point, I understand that. But as a human interaction, it is grossly rude and uncivil.

      There is something about this issue that makes some Christians believe that they do not need to respect the boundaries of people with same-sex attraction. I don’t know why this is, but it’s clearly the case. We can’t fight back by pushing into their boundaries, however, only by turning the other cheek, admitting that we could be wrong, admitting our own fallibility, but insisting that we do not act without spiritual guidance and discernment.

      And it’s worth saying that a lot of this is just infinitely aggravated by the boundary-crossing environment of the internet.

  3. Thanks for posting this! I always appreciate reading the stories of others who are in mixed orientation marriages. Like you, I didn’t necessarily connect with everything, but I suppose no two people’s experiences and perspectives are going to totally overlap. On the whole though, I could really relate to what he wrote.

    As has been mentioned, it’s a little disheartening to read some of the comments. I do think that Daniel P makes a true and important distinction between the two kinds of people who make statements like that, and I have experience with both. I’ve mentioned in the comments section on another post here at SF that I recently had a coworker angrily tell me that I was using unChristian leftist rhetoric for simply using the term “gay Christian.” I’ve also had someone a lot more level-headed try and “correct” me on that as well, for fear that I was finding my identity in something other than Christ.

    But for the most part, I’m really fortunate to be in an environment where much of the Christian community, while holding to a traditional sex ethic (as do I), is open and willing to listen and try and understand where I’m coming from on this.

    Here’s to hoping the best for Aidyn and his family.

    • Mike,
      I’ve also been really encouraged the Christian community around me. I’ve personally encountered far less hostility and much more of a desire to learn and understand. But as the comments on that post and at other places on the web show, we aren’t there yet with respect to much of the church. Here’s to praying that continues to change.

  4. Thanks indeed for sharing, Kyle! And thanks everyone for not only reading, but really engaging with me. I am moved and inspired by your welcome and your support of me and my family.

    I do recognize that I don’t have all the answers and that my understanding of these things is incomplete. Thus I really appreciate those readers who agree with me on some things, but not on others, and are not afraid to say so. I think I can learn something from all of you.

    All that to say, I’m grateful for the opportunity to participate in this conversation and grateful to everyone who is participating with me. May Christ use our words to work His healing…

  5. Thanks indeed for sharing, Kyle! And thanks everyone for not only reading, but really engaging with me. I am moved and inspired by your welcome and your support of me and my family.
    I do recognize that I don’t have all the answers and that my understanding of these things is incomplete. Thus I really appreciate those readers who agree with me on some things, but not on others, and are not afraid to say so. I think I can learn something from all of you.
    All that to say, I’m grateful for the opportunity to participate in this conversation and grateful to everyone who is participating with me. May Christ use our words to work His healing…

  6. Pingback: Marriage Roundup | Spiritual Friendship

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