Following my post earlier in the week where I share some of our story, I wanted to reflect on a few other aspects of marriage as it relates to same sex attraction.
There are a lot of bad reasons to get married, and there are perhaps even more bad reasons to get married when you experience ongoing attraction to the same sex. Bad reasons might include:
- To convince myself (or anyone else) that I am straight.
- Because it’s what I’m supposed to do.
- Because marriage will change my attractions.
With the quickly changing landscape of discussions surrounding homosexuality in the broader culture has come the advent of new ways of describing the varying situations that same-sex attracted Christians find themselves in. One of these situations is being married to the opposite sex.
These types of marriages have often been pigeon-holed into one of two narratives, depending on who is evaluating them. For many conservative Christians, these marriages have been used as a sort of sign-post declaring that one has “arrived” and has experienced re-orientation, or the change from a homosexual orientation to a heterosexual one. Thus, whole ministries have been geared around the goal of having participants get married to a woman.
Earlier this week I had the opportunity to guest lecture in a counseling class at Covenant Theological Seminary on the topic of homosexuality. In class we had a lively discussion about what would make a church “safe” for gay or lesbian people. Following Wes’s discussion of a similar theme, I thought it might be of some value to share the list we came up with and see what other thoughts the SF community might have about what makes a church “safe.”
What do I mean by safe? Mostly I mean a place where people can be honest without fear of their honesty being used as a weapon against them, either in passing judgment or in marginalizing them. I understand some folks in the LGBT community understand the word “safe” to include assumptions about the morality of homosexual sexual behavior, but I don’t think that this must be the case. We can feel safe with someone with whom we share deep disagreements if we feel both known and loved, and believe that they desire what is best for us.
In a recent post (caution: contains some graphic language) over at his blog on The Gospel Coalition, Thabiti Anyabwile reflects on his participation in a think tank discussion about homosexuality some years ago. He concludes that one of the chief mistakes Christians have made in discussing homosexuality in the public sphere is avoiding the “gag reflex” that some people have when talking about homosexual sexual activity. He contends that instead, Christians ought to play up the “gag reflex” as much as possible.
I don’t know Thabiti. I don’t know how he typically talks about the issue of homosexuality as a pastor in his church. In fact, from what I’ve read from Thabiti, he and I probably agree about most things. But as a member of the same tribe, broadly speaking (conservative, Reformed Protestant, affirming a traditional Christian sexual ethic), I find his post deeply disappointing. The appeal to the “gag reflex” is simply not a good argument—it’s not good reasoning; it’s not good ethics; and it’s not good pastoring.