Desiring God: Homophobia Has No Place in the Church

Over at the Desiring God blog, Nick Roen has a post calling out homophobia in the Church:

Christians—of all people on the planet—must operate not out of fear, but love. We recognize that all people are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and are therefore sacred and worthy of love.

Furthermore, we are called to love with the very love of our Father (Matthew 5:48), which calls us to love even our enemies (Matthew 5:44–48). Such love casts out fear because it no longer fears God’s judgment and therefore is freed to love with lavishness (1 John 4:18).

Therefore, our comfort, our convenience, our safety, or our perception of our country’s values are no longer valid reasons to operate in any way that is opposed to genuine biblical love. And we love this way because this is exactly how Jesus first loved us (1 John 4:19). He wasn’t threatened or repelled by us; he wasn’t afraid to enter a relationship with us, sinners that we were (and still are), and to even graciously speak the truth about our sin. Instead, he loved us so lavishly that he died for us to present us clean and whole before his Father (Romans 5:6–8).

When we love in this manner, we expose homophobia for what it really is: pride. It is an attitude that puts beneath us others whose sins and temptations we deem “more depraved” than our own, as we wickedly proclaim with the Pharisee, “Well, at least I don’t struggle with that” (Luke 18:11).

Read the Whole Post.

The Spectator: What conservative gay Christians want

The Spectator has just published an article by Dan Hitchens, a deputy editor at The Catholic Herald, asking what conservative gay Christians want. The essay does a good job of addressing both the gifts that we can bring to the Church, and the ways that the Church could better support gay, bisexual, and lesbian Christians while remaining totally faithful to traditional teachings about love and human sexuality.

‘As a pastor,’ [Ed Shaw] says, ‘I thought being open about my sexuality would be a disqualification for the job, and would mean that people would stop coming to me.’ Instead, they started calling on him more than ever. ‘Because they think, this guy finds life tough, it’s not easy for him, he might be able to help me. I think previously I thought the deal was, try and fake it as a perfect person, and then people will listen to you.’

He also quotes Eve Tushnet:

For Tushnet, the future became clearer when she asked where specifically God was calling her to love — which led to volunteering at a crisis pregnancy centre, and to a deepening of friendship. Tushnet sees this life as an expression of her sexuality, not a denial of it. ‘The desire for same-sex intimacy and love and the recognition of beauty in people of the same sex — these are inherently good things, and in many ways basic human needs.’ Some people find it possible, she says, ‘to take all of that energy and intensity of erotic love and let it flow into a relationship to women or to beauty or to God’. That kind of ‘sublimation’ has always made intuitive sense to her….

Tushnet suggests a couple of things which would make life easier for LGBT Christians. First, for people to recognise and affirm the ‘real power’ of their friendships and leave behind the fear that depending on your friends is ‘clingy’ or ‘weird’. Secondly, she wishes the Church would remember its original role as a family for its members: ‘the people who would take care of them when they’re sick, the people who they could share their secrets and their fears and their hopes with, the people who they could make a life with’.

Check out the whole article at The Spectator.

Eve Tushnet: Being Single Shouldn’t Mean Being Alone

In today’s Washington Post, our own Eve Tushnet has an essay about how modern American culture idolizes romantic love and neglects other forms of community, and gives a shout-out to St. Aelred.

tushnetThis vision that exalts and even idolizes couplehood should feel alien to most cultures and should feel especially wrong for Christians. Jesus died a virgin, so romance and marriage could never be the “one best way” in the Christian tradition. In earlier eras, Christianity saw freedom in unmarried life: The unmarried were set apart for God, undistracted by the needs of dependents. They could risk martyrdom without worrying about their children, devote themselves to those who were hardest to serve and spend hours rapt in prayer rather than knocking off a few harried Hail Marys in between diaper changes.

The fascination with romantic love also forgets forms of love that were once common in society. Devoted friendships that functioned like kinship used to be normal. Friends would share homes and finances, and pledge to care for one another’s children; often godparenthood cemented these bonds. “Spiritual Friendship,” St. Aelred’s beautiful medieval work, depicts friendship as an arena for utter honesty and sacrificial love—a place where we can be known, shepherded, cared for and forgiven. Most people don’t want every friendship to be like this, and it’s certainly fine to just want to socialize. But many single people, married couples and single parents suffer without the kind of friends they can pour their hearts out to and share burdens with.

Check out the whole essay over at the Washington Post.

Carl Trueman: Time to Take Marriage Seriously?

One of the biggest news stories this week is the Kim Davis saga in Kentucky. It is sad to see that Davis’s legal advisers have apparently encouraged her to continue defying court orders, with the foreseeable result that she is now in jail. Wiser legal minds—one thinks especially of St. Thomas More—might have counseled her to resign. That she has chosen defiance puts Christians who believe in the traditional Christian definition of marriage in a quandary. On the one hand, it is difficult to say anything critical of an apparently sincere Christian woman who is in jail for standing up for her beliefs. On the other hand, it is difficult to defend her without obscuring the New Testament’s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage.

Wedding Rings

Over at First Things, Carl R. Trueman, a professor of church history at Westminster Theological Seminary weighs in on the controversy in a spirit that is sympathetic to Davis’s stance, while focusing on the timeless truths about marriage which the Church needs to do more to defend:

The controversy surrounding the refusal of a Kentucky county clerk, Kim Davis, to issue marriage licenses so that she can avoid sanctioning same sex unions raises a whole host of issue which will be debated for some years to come. While sympathizing with her position on marriage, I also find Ryan Anderson’s argument, that religious liberty is not in itself absolutely decisive in such a case, to be compelling.

Of course, the situation also highlights another aspect of the struggle over same-sex marriage. The woman concerned is apparently on her fourth husband and thus her critics ask the obvious, and legitimate, question: How high a view of marriage does that indicate? Her response is that she has only been a Christian for a few years and that her broken marriages are part of a life which she has left behind.

I have no reason to doubt her sincerity or the significance of her conversion. But the fact that she has only been a professing Christian for a few years scarcely defuses the power of the question. The politics of sex is the politics of aesthetic and rhetorical plausibility, and a multiple divorcee understandably lacks such plausibility on the matter of the sanctity of marriage. The only way in which her defense could be deemed plausible would be if the church in general had maintained in practice, not just theory, a high view of marriage. Then the move from outside the church to inside the church would perhaps have more rhetorical power. In fact, at least as far as Protestantism goes, the opposite is the case. The supine acceptance by many churches of no fault divorce makes the ‘I have become a Christian so it is all different now’ defense appear implausible, even if it is actually true in specific cases.

Read the whole article at First Things

Wesley Hill Reviews Eve Tushnet’s Amends

Eve Tushnet, Amends

From First Things:

Eve Tushnet’s new self-published novel Amends (available as an e-book or a paperback) is peak Tushnet: there are more quirky one-liners than the best standup you’ve seen, more offbeat metaphors than even Michael Chabon can conjure; there are themes of friendship and sacrifice, themes of recovery and religion; there are gay characters, and there’s even a Christian one (the latter features in an extended scene near the end that moved me as much as anything I’ve read this year). The only favorite Tushnet theme missing from this hugely entertaining romp is figure skating, and she makes up for that absence by including a couple of hockey player characters for good measure.

Read the whole review.

Melinda Selmys: Sadomasochism, Satan and Same-Sex Attraction

Over at Catholic Authenticity, Melinda Selmys has a new post about why there is no one-size-fits-all approach to ministry to same-sex attracted Christians:

Consider the following two men:

The first started to look at heterosexual pornography at a young age, eventually graduating to hiring prostitutes. At some point he realized that if went with male partners he could have more sex, and more extreme sex, for free. He was plunged into what he calls the “gay lifestyle”: he made Nazi porn, almost appeared in a snuff film, and attended Satanic gay orgies. He saw friends get AIDS and die, suffered severe health problems as a result of his sado-masochistic practices, and eventually, after some particularly rough sex that resulted in a near-death experience, he repented and came to Christ.

The second was raised in a hard-line Protestant community, and became aware that he was emotionally and sexually attracted to men sometime in his late teens. He was briefy tempted to reject the Biblical teaching on homosexuality, especially after developing a crush on a male friend, but in prayer he discerned that this was not God’s intention for his life. He converted to the Catholic Church and studied theology with a specialization in natural law. He’s never had sex, has never been in a homosexual relationship, and does not struggle with porn—but he has been the victim of anti-gay bullying and discrimination, including discrimination based on his sexual orientation within a Catholic institution.

These are both real people. I offer their stories in order to highlight one of the crucial difficulties in providing pastoral care to homosexual persons: that two people who are both same-sex attracted converts to Catholicism may have literally almost nothing in common. In this case the only point of commonality – and it’s ultimately a superficial one – is that both have been, in some sense, attracted by the idea of having sexual relations with other men.

Read the whole post.

Thomas Aquinas: Is the Fellowship of Friends Necessary for Happiness?

From Summa Theologiae, Ia-IIae, question 4, article 8:

School of Athens

Objection 1. It would seem that friends are necessary for Happiness. For future Happiness is frequently designated by Scripture under the name of “glory.” But glory consists in man’s good being brought to the notice of many. Therefore the fellowship of friends is necessary for Happiness.

Objection 2. Further, Boethius [Seneca, Ep. 6] says that “there is no delight in possessing any good whatever, without someone to share it with us.” But delight is necessary for Happiness. Therefore fellowship of friends is also necessary.

Objection 3. Further, charity is perfected in Happiness. But charity includes the love of God and of our neighbor. Therefore it seems that fellowship of friends is necessary for Happiness.

On the contrary, It is written (Wisdom 7:11): “All good things came to me together with her,” i.e. with divine wisdom, which consists in contemplating God. Consequently nothing else is necessary for Happiness.

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Interview: LGBT Youth and Homelessness

The best available research suggests that between 20 and 40 percent of homeless youth identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. When youth come out (or their sexuality is discovered against their will), some families reject them, pushing them onto the streets, where they are often even more vulnerable to prejudice and abuse than other homeless youth. They will also encounter a legal system which can be more focused on punishing and imprisoning the homeless than on helping them to get off the streets. And as rising social and peer acceptance has emboldened teens to come out at a younger age, more youth are over-estimating their parents’ readiness to deal with revelations about their sexuality, with tragic—even life-threatening—consequences.

This is a problem which Christian parents and pastors need to understand and take much more seriously, since it is, in part, an unintended consequence of Christian activism for traditional marriage. Moreover, since Christian ministries often provide food, clothing, and shelter to the homeless, how they approach homeless LGBT persons will have a big effect on whether their ministry draws people toward Christ, or pushes them away.

In order to provide better perspective on these pressing issues, we recently spoke with Kelley Cutler, a Catholic social worker and advocate on homelessness who has worked in San Francisco for over a decade. She shared some of her insights about homelessness, how it affects LGBT youth, and how Christians can respond.

Kelley-Cutler
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Theologues Podcast: Melinda Selmys and Mark Yarhouse on Gender Dysphoria

Theologues recently hosted a podcast to discuss gender dysphoria with Melinda Selmys and Mark Yarhouse.

Yarhouse-Selmys

In spring of 2015, Bruce Jenner announced to the world that he would become Caitlyn Jenner and the conversation about gender and transgender issues exploded into our culture. How do we approach these issues? When real biology and psychology are involved, how do we approach it?

Zach spoke with Melinda Selmys (writer and author of Sexual Authenticity: An Intimate Reflection on Homosexuality and Catholicism and blogs at Catholic Authenticity) and Mark Yarhouse (psychologist and author of Understanding Gender Dysphoria: Navigating Transgender Issues in a Changing Culture) about approaching gender dysphoria, sexual reassignment, gender expression in children and how Christians can approach these issues in a changing culture.

We highly recommend this episode to anyone who wants to know more about transgender issues and the pastoral way to approach this issue while keeping a consistent Christian ethic which upholds God’s created order while loving people where they are.

Melinda also recommends her second book “Sexual Authenticity: More Thoughts” and we recommend her Theologues article, Is There a Place for Transgender in the Church?

Go over to Theologues to listen to the full podcast.