In my last post, I talked a bit about the commonalities in this debate that both those on the affirming side and conservative side share. I also offered up some food for thought for liberals in the debate. This post I want to focus on what conservatives could try to keep in mind while engaging the issue.
While I tried to identify some common ground in the previous post, I think it might be helpful to talk about fundamental differences and why they are important to recognize and understand. For someone arguing from the conservative side of the debate, they making a case for how they believe God has ordered the world we live in, our sexual ethics and, as a result, how we allow Scripture to inform how we live today. As I pointed out in the previous post, these are all very significant and valid issues to wrestle with but they pale in comparison to wrestling with one’s very own identity and how that identity informs their deepest desires and longing to be accepted and loved. While conservatives are struggling to make sense of the world around them, homosexuals are struggling to make sense of a universe within themselves. This is a profound difference and I believe it’s one that conservatives should honor. The pain cause by such a struggle is very unlikely understood by heterosexuals who bypass being unjustly made to feel like human malfunctions who are sexually disordered. It isn’t until I’ve heard the stories of friends who’ve endured this do I begin to understand their experience. It is sad to admit that there is no other institution over the course human history that has more blood on it’s hands in this regard than The Church. It’s something as Christians we must face and understand. Until we do, I don’t believe whatever dialogue take place will matter a whole lot.
The current development with the ELCA brings to light this very problem. Many conservatives in the ELCA are feeling hurt and confused by the ELCA’s decision and are considering leaving the denomination altogether. These feelings are valid and understandable but one must also consider what faithful church-going homosexual Lutherans have absorbed their whole lives while remaining committed to their parishes. If you have a hard time empathizing, I’d encourage you to talk to someone you know who is gay and ask them their perspective. If you don’t know anyone who is gay, then maybe that sort of explains part of the problem. I’ll end this post with a profound quote from Andrew Sullivan explaining why, as a gay man, he remains a devout Catholic:
“I am a Catholic and people often ask me, how can you be openly gay and be a Catholic? And my response is always I’m openly gay, because I’m a Catholic, because God taught me not to bear false witness to who I am and my faith is something that I really have no choice over. I’ve tried. I’ve had a terrible struggle with my own faith, but God wouldn’t let me go and he keeps bringing me back and he keeps saying to me, in the Eucharist and in the church I love you and you belong here. And I want you to have a loving relationship and I feel that my own relationship is a gift from God. I cannot alone in my conscience before God believe otherwise. So I can do no other. I’m here because I have no choice.”