Is Sex Difference Essential to Marriage?

A couple of weeks ago, The Sexual & Gender Identity Institute at Wheaton College presented a public forum titled, “Is Sex Difference Essential to Marriage? A Conversation on Same-Sex Relationships.” I’m excited to see this conversation happening – meeting opposition (the video was actually made unavailable for a few days after the event, presumably because of pushback), but still, happening!

It really was far more a conversation than a debate, thanks not only to the venue offered by Wheaton College but also the friendship between the speakers, Wesley Hill and Karen Keen.

For them and for me, and for many other people, as host Mark Yarhouse pointed out in his intro, the topic is “not just a theological discussion,” but an integral part of our lives. When I was going through my own process of wrestling with the “givens” of my inherited interpretation of Scripture, I pretty much narrowed the whole thing down to this one central issue, so I was very keen to listen to Wesley and Karen talk about it.

Wesley represents the theological framework where I spent many years of my life. Sometimes called “Side B,” it holds that same-sex attraction is not a sin in itself and cannot be changed, and that God, while loving and accepting us, calls us to a self-sacrificial life of either celibacy or heterosexual marriage. Since I came from a much grimmer theology where same-sex attraction *itself* was deemed wicked, shameful and punishable, discovering “Side B” was balm for my soul at the time. Even though I (recently) ended up moving on from this theology, I will always respect and be grateful for the Christians who openly hold it, offering a space of hope and dignity for those of us who come from places of deep pain.

Basing his talk on Augustine’s view of sex and marriage – a dubious position, in my opinion, although I also understand why he would want to do that – Wesley proposed that sex is essentially about procreation, making marriage a necessity during “this age,” (quote: “a feature of our fallen condition”); thus, celibacy is not only the faithful choice for same-sex attracted Christians, but even “a higher calling” in general – the end goal, in fact, for all saints. “Those who voluntarily embrace childlessness,” he said at a high point of his speech, “are in a sense skipping the parable of marriage and going straight for eschatological fulfillment.” I got the sense that he clings to this undeniably negative (and reductionalist) view of sex and marriage because if he permitted himself to think of them in any other terms, he might not be able to face the stark severity of celibacy. In his closing remarks, he did acknowledge that we cannot build our lives around something we’re saying “no” to (“a vocation of no”) – a very wise observation – and that our quest should be to seek what will “draw us deeper into the life of God in Christ.” 

Karen rooted her intervention solidly in Scripture, which I admit I found refreshing after all the Augustine😉 She began by talking about the importance of distinguishing between canonical vision versus rule book hermeneutics, pointing out that just as sanctioning slavery (which can be supported with many Bible texts) missed the canonical vision of liberation, prohibiting all same-sex relationships misses the canonical view of marriage. Her stance is that marriage (“covenanted kinship of mutual support”) is essentially about relationship, not sex difference. The highlight of the Creation story is the deep human need for “ezer kenegdo” companionship, not the sexual binary. And while procreation is a blessing stemming from sex difference, it is not the defining characteristic of marriage (nor, despite Augustine, is it the only “justification” for marital sex), something that should be clear since no one thinks infertile couples have no right to be married! 

What I most appreciated about Karen’s talk was how she unpacked the term “ezer kenegdo.” I had discarded the blatantly sexist translation “helpmeet” years ago while deconstructing concepts around women’s identity and role, but I had not considered it in the context of the conversation about same-sex relationships. “Ezer” is best translated as “strong ally.” That is what a spouse is meant to be: the person who faithfully has your back through life. Gender is not relevant here. A man and a woman can be each other’s ezer; two men can be each other’s ezer; two women can be each other’s ezer. It is all about connection and kinship and covenant. “Kenegdo” means “corresponding to,” which is the whole emphasis of the Creation account (similarity, not difference!), and again, it is all about connection. There is NOTHING like the deep sense of rightness and belonging when you connect with a person “corresponding to” you. There is no moral or ethical reason why same-sex attracted people should be barred from this beautiful, life-giving experience. The heart gives witness to the truth expressed in Scripture: kinship, not sex difference, is the core of marriage.

I am very encouraged to see these conversations taking place, and I hope more and more Christians will join them as we move forward, deeper into the love of God.

I Choose

Yasmine Mohammed (ex-Muslim, author, woman of valor, google for more info) tweeted a photo of a woman disfigured by acid this morning, with this comment:

“Please stop equating hijab with a nun choosing a career or a woman choosing to wear a scarf or men choosing to wear a kippah. You sound dumb. People are abused, attacked with acid, imprisoned and killed for not wearing hijab. They are not the same.”

I think she was pushing back at some people on the left side of politics who, in their zeal to battle Islamophobia somehow end up supporting pro-hijab campaigns. But what she said also challenges those within radical religious communities who claim to embrace lifestyles and beliefs out of free choice.

The way to discover whether you have actually CHOSEN a behavior or belief, versus it having been imposed on you, is to ask yourself: if I stopped doing/believing this, what would happen?

Would I

  • Be shunned by my family?
  • Be given the cold shoulder by close friends?
  • Lose my job?
  • Be barred from/asked to step down from ministry?
  • Be publicly shamed in congregation?
  • Be excommunicated?
  • Be told I am going to hell?
  • Be beaten by my father/husband?
  • Be threatened with divorce?
  • Be threatened with the loss of child custody?
  • Be arrested?
  • Get acid thrown in my face?

The thing about choice is that it can only happen WHEN THERE ARE GENUINE OPTIONS and WHEN COERCION IS NOT A FACTOR. And you don’t have to be a member of a radical Muslim community to need to hear this. Let’s bring it right into our own “New Testament church” experience. Let me tell you I have no lack of examples, especially as a woman within the Plymouth Brethren tradition, but I’ll stick to a couple:

I remember being fully convinced that I chose to wear a headcovering. I was equally convinced that I chose homemaking over a career, and I showcased these things, along with others, as personal choices.

But what would have happened if I had chosen NOT to wear a headcovering, or if I had said that what I really wanted was to pursue a career?

The answer, quite simply, is that my father would have cracked down on me and that our community would have stood by him. There was never a flying chance I would have gotten away with sitting through a church meeting without a headcovering, or that I would have been allowed to continue studying after high school.

And yet I believed that these were my choices.

I thought about that when my daughter told me about one of her classmates, who (during sweltering weather) insisted that she loved wearing hijab and did so out of free choice. I think about it when I hear friends toting headcoverings or dress codes as matters of personal conviction. I think about it when I see LGBTQ Christians saying they choose a life of celibacy.

Could they choose not to?

The Opposite of Shame

In the evangelical community the only LGTBQ people’s stories that are shared and celebrated are the ones who claim to have been “healed/delivered” (although those are on the decline as “reparative therapy” has been debunked and people are free to be honest) and the ones who embrace celibacy or heterosexual marriage. I am taking the opportunity Pride* Month offers to share some different stories and thoughts, the ones that don’t get press in mainstream evangelicalism. Today I’m sharing something a friend wrote, with his permission.

(*Pride – not as in “flaunting”, but as in “the opposite of shame”.)

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

‘How do we respond? How do we respond in this time and reality…when people say they are gay? When people say they love Jesus?

Here are my thoughts:

Gay is just a part of who someone is, it is not the definition of who they are. As a Christian you are 100% son or daughter of God through Jesus.

I am gay: I want to say that there is no celebration of free sex here. Lust is wrong. There is no lifestyle being celebrated but a heart of desiring to try to explain a reality of what Jesus’ death and resurrection, power and freedom means. Being gay sexually does not define everything there is about a person. However I believe the New Testament says that when sexual desire is strong in a person they are always told to bind themselves in marriage to one another. And to not stop having sex because of temptations outside the marriage. Marriage and sex are a gift from God to be used to help navigate this broken world. Marriage is temporary between human but marriage is eternal to God. (FYI, there is no verse that says marriage is [exclusively] between and man and woman, that just is a quick hurtful political answer. The Bible talks often about one man with multiple wives more often if you want to follow an example.)

I believe actually I am part of the church that is the bond for the best marriage to Jesus, a God-man, and we are going to have a huge party! Human to human marriage includes sex as a way of intimacy. Human to God-man Jesus marriage uses other forms of intimacy to bind us together such as worship, feasts, prayer, joy, sealing of the Holy Spirit. But it is the same word. Marriage.

Everything is about Jesus and His resurrected life. There is nothing we do to earn His salvation and enter this epic marriage. LGBTQ+ people are 100% souls that need love and to be shown freedom in Christ. They need to see Jesus’ hands and feet as we all do. I want people to ask themselves if they know people that say they are gay? Do you have gay friends? I mean in your home and loving on them? Listen to their story.

I get and understand why a two man marriage is new for people. Many are still struggling with interracial marriages! Saying they are wrong and sinful using the same Bible. (They say slavery is still allowed in the New Testament and they say that God designed people to be in separate races, there are actually many verses that say this, Deuteronomy 7:3, “You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons.”)

I know I could do better. I wish for all of us Christians that we could do better. That we would consider how it hurts people’s ability to see Jesus when they present the rules as they understand them, instead of presenting hope and love of Jesus and the coming marriage feast.

When I think about the major changes that Jesus brought in…I realize how legalist I am about things. I am offended even when someone forgets to say thank you! (That is against my rules). Another example: I don’t get close to the broken because I am afraid of getting dirty by their sins, which is so wrong if me. Oh I need the Lords grace again. I need to see people like Jesus does.

The Old Testament has filled its purpose. Jesus is presenting the new way. Totally brand new, let go of the past.

Mark 2:21, Jesus says:

No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. 22 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.

Peter struggles with this tendency toward rules. Jesus’ close friend denied Him and then after the resurrection He made him a meal and forgave him. Jesus was also pushing Peter away from legalism. Later even Paul has to push Peter away for legalism. This can be a struggle but it shows that church leaders need each other to lean into grace as legalism is more natural to the fleshly human. Probably because it connects to our pride.

Grace covers all of my sin under the blood of Jesus Christ. Unearned and undeserved.

I will close with this encouragement:

Gay does not equal sex, parties, drugs, drink and lust like so many Christians think it does. Neither does a rainbow flag. Gay is a word the helps people express a specific desire that is built into them just as most humans express themselves when they say they are male, American, or football fans. It helps gives some context for a person and what they probably have gone through.

Next them you see the pride flag or meet a gay person: see a person that has probably suffered a lot of rejection, hurt, pain and have probably hurt themselves trying to find hope and peace.

This hope and freedom from sin can only come from Jesus. When hear the world LGBTQ+ think of how you can sit with them and not stay on the sidelines judging those that do, as the Pharisees did to Jesus. I know I am a sick sinner found by Jesus and He died for me and now sits with me and even has sealed me with the Holy Spirit. I am not healthy without my doctor Jesus. He has made me whole and I am headed towards the biggest marriage feast even. What an epic start to eternity with our Jesus. The best is truly yet to come.

Mark2:15,

While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Extracto de la reseña de Kathy Baldock del libro La iglesia y la atracción hacia el mismo sexo

Los autores bíblicos, desde luego, escribieron negativamente respecto al comportamiento sexual entre personas del mismo sexo, eso está claro. Sin embargo, debemos abandonar esa pereza que nos permite ignorar el contexto basal al leer los seis pasajes que hacen referencia al comportamiento sexual entre personas del mismo sexo. Si seguimos leyendo sin contexto, y negando lo que sabemos hoy sobre la sexualidad humana, acabaremos atrapados como Shaw, creyendo que “en esas páginas [de la Biblia] se dice muy claramente que la práctica homosexual está mal a sus ojos [de Dios]” (p. 21) y que “abrazar un estilo de vida homosexual era claramente una zona prohibida para un cristiano evangélico como yo” (p. 23).

Hace quince años, me hubiese sentido impresionada por Shaw y su estricta y  piadosa fidelidad a lo que yo también creía que Dios exigía de las personas gais. Ahora, al leer las palabras de deseo y frustración que escribe Shaw, veo un hombre atrapado por palabras mal traducidas, sacadas de contexto, y que en ningún momento fueron dirigidas a los conceptos modernos de la orientación sexual.

Lee algunas palabras de Shaw:

“A veces tengo momentos a los que yo llamo ‘de suelo de cocina’. Los llamo así porque acabo sentado en el suelo de la cocina. Pero no porque esté haciendo algo útil como fregarlo, aunque eso siempre le vendría bien. Más bien estoy allí llorando. Y la razón de esas lágrimas es la infelicidad que me trae mi experiencia de atracción hacia personas del mismo sexo. El dolor punzante que a veces siento por no tener una pareja, relaciones sexuales, hijos, y todo lo demás.” (p. 55)

“Debería buscar un buen hombre, disfrutar relaciones sexuales estupendas, adoptar niños preciosos y ser feliz.” (p. 55)

“Puede que nunca haya mantenido relaciones sexuales con un hombre, pero me he imaginado manteniéndolas con muchos a lo largo de los años.” (p. 23)

“De corazón, me encantaría quedarme dentro del evangelicalismo y a la vez tener un hermoso hombre a mi lado.” (p. 24)

“Todo esto es muy doloroso para mí y el resto de miles de hombres y mujeres cristianos que, como yo, desearían poder cambiar la esencia del matrimonio. ¿Cómo sobrellevamos este mensaje tan claro de la importancia de la diferencia sexual cuando desearíamos mantener relaciones con alguien de nuestro mismo género?” (p. 83)

Shaw, a pesar de su evidente anhelo de compartir una relación con un hombre, ha escogido la vida célibe y afirma: “El celibato es algo bueno.” (p. 102). Citando a un catedrático católico, Christopher West, Shaw escribe: “El celibato para el reino no es una declaración de que el sexo sea malo. Es una declaración de que, aunque el sexo pueda ser impresionante, hay algo aún mejor, ¡infinitamente mejor! El celibato cristiano es una valiente declaración de que el cielo es real, y de que merece la pena venderlo todo para poseerlo.” (p. 103)

Parece una analogía bastante forzada decir que el celibato sugiere y señala hacia la gloria que nos espera en el cielo a los creyentes. Igualmente extraña es la idea de que el sexo señala a un futuro mejor: “Dios creó dos sexos (y el sexo) en este mundo como un tráiler de cómo será la vida en el mundo venidero; para ayudarnos a entender el poder de su amor por nosotros aquí y ahora, y el placer que  tendremos cuando vivamos con él en su nuevo cielo y su nueva tierra. Igual que los directores de cine ponen escenas románticas en sus tráiler para que queramos ir a ver sus películas, Dios ha puesto el sexo en este planeta para que queramos ir al Cielo.” (p. 79)

Shaw alaba a quienes están dispuestos a sufrir en su celibato, que, aunque no tan terrible como el sufrimiento de los mártires, imita el sufrimiento de Jesús. “En los momentos en que más me cuesta la viabilidad del sufrimiento por Jesús como cristiano con atracción hacia el mismo sexo, miro a los sufrimientos mucho mayores de la iglesia perseguida y veo esa viabilidad proclamada por la sangre de los mártires y la perseverancia de los santos. También me recuerda que los que han estado dispuestos a sufrir por Jesús han sido siempre los más efectivos a la hora de atraer a otras personas hacia él.” (p. 110)

Añade: “Jesús vino para sufrir: él cambió la comodidad del Cielo por una vida terrenal de sufrimiento y una muerte que fue el mayor acto de sufrimiento humano de la historia. El sufrimiento es en lo que consistió su vida en este planeta.” (p. 106) Shaw presenta una analogía entre el sufrimiento del celibato y el sufrimiento del Salvador.

Cuán libertador podría ser que Shaw, junto con una mejor comprensión de los textos antiguos en su contexto antiguo, se centrara también en el amor de Jesús. Jesús no solo vino para sufrir, también vino para amar.

Shaw escribe: “Todos los cristianos que más admiro se han hecho más semejantes a Cristo a través del sufrimiento.” (p. 112) Sufrir a través del celibato no es un estilo de entrada dorada mágica que te lleva unos escalones más arriba en la escala de “parecerse a Jesús”. Las personas casadas que tienen relaciones sexuales no están exentas tampoco del sufrimiento ni de crecer en parecerse a Jesús.

Aunque Shaw claramente quisiera estar casado con un hombre, mantiene una lectura literal de la historia de la creación en Génesis 1 como el plano para la sexualidad humana y el matrimonio para todos los tiempos.

Necesito reiterar: ¡hay que leer los textos antiguos en su contexto antiguo!

Ningún autor bíblico escribió acerca de las relaciones de amor entre personas del mismo sexo. Tales relaciones eran imposibles en las culturas antiguas. Cada ejemplo de interacción entre personas del mismo sexo en la Biblia presenta una situación de subyugación a través de la violación o la violencia, o de comportamiento abusivo o lujurioso en total desacato de las normas sexuales y sociales aceptables. No podemos esperar encontrar ningún ejemplo positivo o favorable de una relación sexual entre dos hombres de igual condición social en la literatura cultural, y desde luego no en textos antiguos como la Biblia, en ningún momento antes de finales de los 1800.

Aun así, Shaw piensa que el matrimonio bueno y piadoso ha de ser entre un hombre y una mujer: “No ser de un género diferente a tu cónyuge quita algo de la tensión sana necesaria para un buen matrimonio. Las similitudes de género (a pesar de otras diferencias humanas) minan la unidad en diferencia que debe ser el matrimonio.” (p. 84) Le aseguro al Sr. Shaw, que nunca ha estado casado, y a otros que piensan como  él, que tener genitales parecidos no quita la “tensión sana” que traen dos personas únicas a una relación. Todos somos diferentes como personas [independientemente de nuestro género].

Después de investigar lo viable, su propio celibato, y de recetarlo a los demás, Shaw termina [el libro] examinando “la inviabilidad de las nuevas interpretaciones de la Escritura” (p. 143), donde propone que las obras de autores recientes (que afirman la homosexualidad) no son tan “viables” como su propia propuesta del celibato de por vida para los cristianos LGTBI.

Shaw dice que la claridad teológica a menudo ha llegado a través de controversias teológicas divisivas que desafiaron a la iglesia, desde Martín Lutero y la Reforma hasta Martin Luther King, Jr. y la lucha por los derechos civiles. Continúa: “Así que las actuales controversias en cuanto a la sexualidad deberían animarnos más que desanimarnos: a menudo ha sido en momentos de profundo desacuerdo cuando nuestro Dios soberano ha  traído un regreso a una claridad bíblica radical en la teología y la práctica de la iglesia. Y el debate acerca de la sexualidad es especialmente emocionante, ya que toca muchas áreas de la teología y de la práctica en las que hemos perdido nuestras raíces bíblicas. Muchos hemos soñado con una fórmula milagrosa que resolvería todos los males de la iglesia.” (p. 123) Mientras que Shaw parece pensar que el celibato podría ser la controversia que empuja a la iglesia hacia “la claridad bíblica radical”, yo creo que la invitación a revisitar los antiguos textos en sus contextos antiguos podría ser lo que lleva a la iglesia a esa “claridad bíblica radical”.

Shaw piensa que los que sostienen una teología inclusiva no son serios en su interpretación bíblica. Escribe: “Aunque todos ellos [Justin Lee, James Brownson, Matthew Vines] afirman tomarse la Biblia en serio (y todos, aparte de John, comparten una herencia evangélica), ninguno lo hace.” (p. 143)

Shaw emplea la táctica común de minimizar las obras de estos autores, descartándoles directamente por no “tomarse en serio” la Biblia.

Yo puedo hablar personalmente por el carácter y la seriedad de estas personas a las que Shaw desprestigia. Cada uno de ellos son amigos y colaboradores míos en el trabajo de justicia e inclusión.

Justin Lee empezó a escribir un blog sobre sus experiencias como cristiano gay en 2001 y más tarde fundó la comunidad más grande online del mundo para cristianos LGTBI. En los más de diez años que le he conocido, no creo que haya mantenido una conversación con Justin en la que no habla de su fe, o de Jesús. Brilla con el testimonio de Jesús.

James Brownson ha sido catedrático y decano del Western Theological Seminary durante treinta y cinco años. Reevaluó sus creencias sobre la fe y la sexualidad cuando su hijo salió del armario. Por favor, leed su libro de 300 páginas, una obra académica y cuidadosamente documentada, y descubrid por vosotros mismos si “se toma en serio” la Palabra.

He conocido a Matthew Vines durante cinco años y formo parte de su junta directiva para The Reformation Project. Conozco a pocas personas que hayan leído más libros académicos y bíblicos en su investigación y estudio constante que Matthew. The Reformation Project se centra en enseñanza bíblica, interpretación contextual, y justicia interseccional. Lleva cinco años centrado en estas cuestiones, y sin embargo Shaw le descarta, junto a Lee y Brownson, como gente que “no se toma en serio” la Biblia.

Intentando minar el mensaje de Lee, Vines y Brownson, Shaw escribe: “Hay tres armas que creo que los tres utilizan con gran habilidad: La emoción, la polarización y la duda.” (p. 143). Shaw les presenta (sobre todo a Vines y a Lee) como manipuladores que utilizan la emoción para contar sus historias. Sin embargo, cada uno de ellos sencillamente cuenta los detalles de sus propias vidas, sus luchas y su trayectoria. Shaw dice: “Dejar que la experiencia personal triunfe sobre la verdad revelada: este es un hábito contemporáneo, pero no es la forma adecuada de reescribir la ética cristiana.” (p. 144)

Con la mejor y más sincera intención, tanto cristianos heteros como gais, acuden a la Biblia en busca de ayuda para construir éticas sexuales piadosas y sanas. Antes de imponer (o aceptar para ti mismo) una exigencia de celibato de por vida a los cristianos LGTBI, se diligente en esto: la lectura de los textos antiguos en su contexto antiguo, la búsqueda de una mejor comprensión de la orientación sexual, el cultivo de amistades con cristianos LGTBI (aún mejor, quienes estén casados y tengan familia), y una búsqueda de Dios que permita la posibilidad de que los cristianos LGTBI ofrecen “claridad bíblica radical”.

Texto original íntegro aquí.

La iglesia y la atracción hacia el mismo sexo: Reseña

Por recomendación de un amigo, llevo unos días repasando un libro que se titula La iglesia y la atracción hacia el mismo sexo, por Ed Shaw, autor que ya conocía por su involucración en el ministerio Living Out y por su colaboración con Sam Allberry, a quien sigo en las redes sociales hace años.

Aunque la tesis que presenta Shaw no me es en absoluto desconocida – de hecho es la que yo misma siempre había abanderado por defecto – la sensación predominante que me ha dejado su lectura es de profunda tristeza. La elección personal de Shaw del celibato (prescriptivo también, según él, para todo cristiano gay o lesbiana), es evidente que le resulta una fuente de terrible sufrimiento, y es que realmente se te parte el alma leyendo sus confesiones (hay unos ejemplos citados en la reseña de Kathy Baldock, así que no voy a repetirlos aquí). Pero él razona que sufrir es bueno, que nos acerca más a Cristo, y así, con un esfuerzo de muchos párrafos (en los que le veo intentando convencerse y reafirmarse a sí mismo a la vez que a sus lectores) consigue entrar en una especie de euforia espiritual donde realmente llega a creer que “lo bueno es malo y lo malo bueno” (sufrir es mejor que ser feliz, “Dios siempre ha usado el sufrimiento para conseguir lo mejor para su pueblo”, “el camino de Jesús es el camino del sufrimiento”, hay más bendición para el cristiano que sufre, mi orientación sexual es una cruz que Jesús me pide que cargue, etc. etc., e incluso esta alucinante afirmación: “Si yo estuviese en el lugar de Dios…yo también me habría permitido experimentar la atracción hacía el mismo sexo por el bien que produciría en mí”) – y esta es literalmente la única forma en la que consigue resignarse al estilo de vida al que se cree obligado. No le culpo porque yo he hecho los mismos malabarismos mentales y emocionales durante casi toda mi vida… pero verlos escritos allí en blanco y negro resulta chocante, y me inunda la tristeza al pensar en toda esa energía mal dirigida y malgastada. No quiero entrar ahora, por no alargarme más, en lo problemático que me parece esa teología del ascetismo (¿masoquismo?), ni en el sobrentendido de que la homosexualidad es una cruz que cargar. Pero ahí queda para otra conversación.

Uno de los párrafos más desgarradores para mí fue este, donde Shaw describe uno de los muchos momentos de honda desesperación ante su continuado “fracaso”:

Como consecuencia, he seguido sintiendo que no estaba haciendo ningún progreso como cristiano al ver que todavía estaba luchando con los mismos malos deseos que cuando tenía dieciséis años. Entonces es cuando me ha parecido menos viable continuar como cristiano.

p. 91

Esta confesión de profunda desesperanza, arrancada del alma en momentos íntimos de cruda franqueza, me resulta muy familiar. Pero ahora la identifico, no como un proceso espiritual sano, sino la angustia provocada por un falso dilema: ser cristiano vs ser homosexual.

La realidad es esta: ningún cristiano gay o lesbiana va a ver jamás “progreso” en su vida respecto a sus “malos deseos”, por un sencillo motivo: la orientación sexual no se puede cambiar (lo mismo que no se puede escoger). Y Dios no te la cambia, ni te capacita para cambiarla, porque no forma parte de su programa de redención el cambiar cosas que no están estropeadas. Si eres un joven creyente gay o lesbiana, lo mejor es que afrontes esta realidad en cuanto antes, porque los estragos físicos, emocionales y espirituales de la enseñanza que propone Ed Shaw son muy duros y solamente empeoran con el tiempo.

Me llena de dolor, y también de rabia, pensar en las lágrimas de agotamiento, desmoralización y pánico espiritual que han vertido tantos cristianos – Ed Shaw entre ellos – gracias a estos terribles malentendidos respecto a la sexualidad, la salvación, y la vida cristiana.

Por supuesto, habría mucho más que comentar del libro, sobre todo entrando en los conceptos que él desarrolla de identidad, sexualidad, familia, sufrimiento, hermenéutica, discipulado cristiano y (en el apéndice) las críticas que hace de las obras de otros cristianos que piensan de manera diferente. Esta es sencillamente mi reacción más visceral.

Fixing Gay

An unusual (unusual for the forum) conversation got started the other day in a Brethren group I follow on Facebook when a member posted a warning for Christians dating same-sex attracted people: marriage doesn’t fix gay.

Quite a few people participated, and not just straight, married Christians, which was good because we got perspectives from people in different situations – gay & celibate, gay & in mixed-orientation marriages, heterosexual & single, and heterosexual & married. Missing, however, was the perspective of straight spouses in a mixed-orientation marriage, and (not surprisingly) the perspective that is most representative of gay spouses in mixed-orientation marriages.

To give these a voice in the conversation, I shared a quote from Kathy Baldock’s book, Walking the Bridgeless Canyon (a must-read if you are concerned about LGTBQ Christians):

“A person with a homosexual orientation decides to enter a mixed-orientation marriage for a variety of reasons. Some believe their ‘homosexual struggles’ are temporary, a curiosity, or a phase they are going through, and that it will not be permanent. Many gays and lesbians in the past, especially during their younger years, lacked the language or understanding to acknowledge their attractions even to themselves, much less to others. This is particularly applicable to people over forty. They believed, and were often directly told by religious and ministry leaders, that their ‘homosexual struggles’ would disappear when they entered into heterosexual marriage. Gay Christians believed these lies by the hundreds of thousands.

Believing they might be able to suppress their natural orientation, gays have married straight people. The overwhelming majority of gays who married straight spouses genuinely did feel sincere love for their spouse when they got married. Because sexual orientation has three components – sexual identity, sexual behavior, and sexual attraction – people can sometimes juggle two of those balls in the air for a time, but not for long. The romantic high early in a relationship and the sexual behavior masquerade can help one turn a blind eye to natural orientation, but it can rarely be sustained.

Most gay people I know who have been, or are, in mixed-orientation marriages care for their spouses deeply. The potential of eventually hurting them can keep gay spouses in the marriage even though the straight spouse suffers in other ways. A spouse in a mixed-orientation marriage rarely gets the appropriate romantic, emotional, and sexual care he or she deserves.

Gay spouses quite often elect to come out when their children are raised and the partners are empty nesters. It is then that the sense of lifelong, profound emptiness and longing to be with a person of the same sex can be overwhelming and even crushing to the gay spouse. Contemplating the life they’ve robbed their spouse of, along with their own loneliness and deception, slowly destroys them from the inside. Most gay spouses eventually experience a life-or-death urgency to come out. Many times, freedom for the gay spouse becomes a gift for his or her straight spouse as well.

Bruce Strine, 62, from Westminster, Maryland, knew he was same-sex attracted from an early age, yet he married a woman when he was twenty-four years old.

‘Before we got married, I shared with my wife that I struggled with same-sex attraction. We both naïvely thought that once we got married, those desires would go away. If anything, it confirmed to me that I was gay. Sexual intimacy with my wife felt awkward and unnatural. During the last twenty of our thirty years of marriage, there was no sexual intimacy.

We are separated now and will eventually divorce. After we separated, I told my wife that my deepest regret is that I was unable to meet her emotional and sexual needs. My question for anyone who is gay and thinking about marriage to someone of the opposite sex is: “Will you be able to meet his or her emotional and sexual needs?” If the answer is “no,” it would be unfair to the other person to pursue marriage.’”

Whoever Has Ears

“Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person they are almost indistinguishable.” (John Augsburg)

The best way to love anyone is to listen to them. Just to be willing to sit down and listen with an open heart. Listening gives understanding, and as Dallas Willard once said, “Understanding is the basis of care.”

When Jesus advised his listeners to use their ears to hear, he was speaking to people who did not want to listen to what he had to say because it challenged their paradigms. Willful deafness, or as Jordan Peterson put it, willful blindness, is “the refusal to know something that could be known. It’s refusal to admit to error while pursuing the plan.”

There are people in our midst that need to be heard. All the virtues – compassion, empathy, mercy, courage, justice, integrity, love – demand that we listen, genuinely listen. I hope some of us at least, and more of us in time, will answer the call to listen to these dear people and dare to care, want to understand, and be bold enough to step outside the camp of those who refuse to know the knowable.

Through My Eyes is a documentary directed by Justin Lee. It presents the testimonies of over two dozen LGBTQ Christians. (Subtitles in Spanish.)