Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Position or Process

Anyone can make a good argument for a position. However, trying to prove something true or right could potentially cause a person to lose sight of the bigger picture. There are more important things than simply being right.

Relationship.

People disagree. That's a fact. It's a reality we live with. But sometimes a person can be such an advocate, with an insincere 'I want to help you know the real truth' mask, that they don't even realize that the relationship with their victim - oops, i mean friend - is at jeopardy. I think that a huge problem in the Church today is that it simply doesn't know how to disagree with itself . . . .

Conservative. Liberal. Pro-life. Pro-choice. Peace. War. Gay marriage. Celibacy. We all believe what we believe for what ever reason. The problem is when fellowship is broken with those who disagree with the 'position' and even going so far as disowning the 'brother' or 'sister' from the Body of Christ itself. He believes this so he's not a Christian. She believes that so she's not a Christian. Not a good one at least.

I was listening to a friend the other day talk about his suspicions that an aunt could be a lesbian. He was practically confused because he knows her to be a Christian. They have had spiritual conversations. They've worshipped together. He knows that she is born again. But - she might be gay? Is that possible? What does this mean now? Is she still Christian? Is she a gay Christian? Is she still family? This is the kind of thing that shifts and shapes paradigms - when it's too close to home to stand firmly on a 'position'. It's easy to advocate and/or throw stones when a person is less connected to the opposite position. But when a loved one is gay but also Christian (or on the other side when a loved one is straight but also Christian) - it calls the question, it forces the issue.

Are you going to stick to your position out of righteous truth or will you take a step back for the sake of the relationship and attempt to understand the other side with proper grace?

It takes a process. This process includes a reassessment of one's own beliefs. It includes looking at all sides of an issue - being educated and informed objectively and seeing if one's own beliefs change, are modified, or are strengthened. This process also leads to sensitivity with others who disagree. It's not simply black and white because when a person genuinely examines all the angles, the discovery is made that there are good points to be made on any side. Some points may seem a little shaky but at least the process allows a person to respect how another person can come to a potentially different conclusion from oneself.

We may disagree but we can preserve the relationship. The process changes the way we disagree.

In the past five days, i've spoken to a variety of people with differing positions. One says that it's okay to be gay in a loving and committed context. One says that it's okay to acknowledge being gay but celibacy is required. One says that it is not okay to be gay and that transformation is necessary prior to entry into Heaven. One says that he simply doesn't know but it's better not to do anything just to play it safe. A blog reader commented that i should just get 'laid' already and moving on with life will get easier (- it was too funny to delete). The significant thing about each of them is that they all truly and genuinely love Jesus and worship Him sincerely.

I've asked alot of questions - to God, to friends. Yet, for me it's not about the answers friends give me because I'm not going to conclude my own belief because of what one particular person told me. It's not about the convincing argument. It's about engaging in this process - not just for me - but for their sakes as well. I believe that it's just as important for those in my community to engage this process with me. It's not just me on the journey, it's my community on the journey. In my opinion, the process we engage that stimulates our relationships is more important than the positions that we may disagree on. I'll leave 'Truth' in God's hands to reveal.

Besides, I trust Jesus enough to guide each of our process so that, in the end, we become more God worshipping people who are much more loving towards each other.

11 comments:

David Wiens said...

well said, eric. in light of this post, you might be interested in this post over at badchristian.com

Eric said...

wow, looks like Brandon and I were thinking along the same lines yesterday. Thanks David. I hadn't gotten a chance to read badchristian.com for the past few days. Looks like i've got some catching up to do! He makes an intriguing suggestion though - Jesus as the model questioner...

Mark said...

It isn't new, Eric. We've been disagreeing forever on various theological issues, sometimes coming to blows over them (using differences in our faith positions to create "us" and "them" so as to justify armed conflict -- civil wars in England, conflicts in Europe, current troubles in Ireland, and so on). We've differences in theological position within the last couple of hundred years in America to come to blows over slavery and civil rights, identify those who are proper christians and those who aren't (arminian, calvinist, pre-millenial, amillenial; accomodationist; affirming; pro-life, pro-choice; anti-divorce, pro-no-fault; feminist, pro-traditional gender roles; segregationist, anti-anti-miscenegation and so on and so forth). It never ends. It will never end. We're just the latest hot issue. In 50 years time, people will look back and be astonished at the heat generated just as we look back on segregationists and wonder how in the world people can get so excercised over it.

William said...

“I believe that it's just as important for those in my community to engage this process with me. It's not just me on the journey, it's my community on the journey.”

With all due respect, you have chosen a community guided by religious doctrine. Christianity is your choice. If you are going to adhere to the words of Jesus, which supposedly “guide” your chosen community, you are obligated to follow that path.

Before you commit yourself to a life of sin and suffering, persecution and penance, you may want to consider the alternatives. Being gay is not a sickness anymore than it is a sin. Being gay and being Christian is a problem. It isn’t difficult to recognize the complexity of establishing yourself within such a limited community. I believe Christians stone fags, don’t they?

There are a quite a few ideas of who or what God is, what he intends for humanity and more importantly which “community” he has chosen to save. You have chosen a community that isn’t going to change. You will be tolerated, but never accepted. Remember you haven’t chosen God, you’ve only chosen a religion. You deserve more than dogma and denial.

Your choice will determine whether you wonder and explore throughout your life or simply “keep the faith”.

Brandon said...

You know, there's something about the phrase:

"Christians stone fags, don't they?"

when it's being used to decry Christianity that I really take offense to. I'm not the kind of fellow that is quick to defend the way Christians treat homosexuals. Frankly, (sorry if there are any young ears around) they treat these people shitty. Really shitty.

What William writes, well, it's just not true. It's not true that homosexuals will never be accepted, it's not true that all of us think that homosexuality is a sin, and it's not true that we're never going to change. These are lies.

I'm not really prepared to bear the burden of all the assholes out there that call themselves Christians. Because, frankly, I'm finding it harder and harder to believe that they really are Christians.

So, William, when you ask, "Christians stone fags, don't they?" My answer is no. They don't.

Self-loathing bigots who've got fear in their souls and hate in their hearts throw stones. If they call themselves Christians, they're wrong.

I'd appreciate it it you'd stop broadly applying the label to them (and by proxy to me), as well. Just like it sounds like you've been hurt by their stones, real or figurative, I have, too.

Eric said...

william, i appreciate your comments and point of view. you actually illustrate my point of this post.

the fact that you say "being gay is not a sickness anymore than it is a sin. Being gay and being Christian is a problem" reveals that you have a position. and you communicate your position based on an uninformed perspective.

the point that i'm making in this post is that while people may disagree about the positions we take, we can choose a more Christ-like approach - a process of releasing the pride and arrogance that comes with the assumption that "I" have all answers and all proper understanding of all things, and instead embrace an informed perspective of all positions by hearing not only 'what' others believe but also 'how' they came to that conclusion. this leads to a greater sensitivity for each other.

based on your comment, it sounds like you've had your share of insensitive interaction with uninformed and unloving people.

the end result of such a process may be a strengthening of your own position or a reassessment - but the point is that in that process, you are choosing not to remain in such a limited community that either holds to 'dogma' or rejects God all together.

The reason i appreciate your comment is because you said "You deserve more than dogma and denial." You're right. But you should know that i haven't chosen a religion. I've chosen Christ. and in terms of my community, it's not a limited community that will simply tolerate but not accept me.

My community consists of people who believe in Jesus, people who don't, people who are gay, people who are straight, people who are gay and believe in Jesus, people who are straight and believe in Jesus. The whole point is that i have chosen NOT to have a limited community.

Whatever your position may be, with all due respect, my suggestion is that you are the one with a limited perspective - of the gay community, of the Christian community, and of God Himself. My challenge to you is to embrace a process that would expand your paradigm and the scope of your relationships so that you could possibly discover a new and different kind of freedom regardless of your position.

Brandon said...

Sorry if I came off a bit harsh, above. I do have some strong feelings on the matter, and those strong feelings may have clouded a bit of decorum.

Apologies.

Eric said...

no prob Brandon.

JJ said...

Wow, Eric...I've just discovered your blog, after creating my own blog that is basically about the same thing -- I'm a gay, Christian woman trying to figure out what this means...nice to know I'm not alone.

struggleswith... said...

eric. thank you for the post. i am a Christian in process. having grown up going to a conservative church, it wasn't until i stepped away from the church and into a different community that my process/journey began. a sat with a friend whose sole reason for coming to california was to be "cured" of his homosexuality. he cried as he told me how much he had struggled to be "cured". i cried with him. it was a shattering experience that has made me question why i held the beliefs i had held and what fueled my ignorance. it is a process, but a process that if taken seriously can only lead to good things on both sides: wisdon, understanding, grace, love, peace,... sounds like the fruits of the Spirit to me. what could be more Christ-like? not engaging in the process, and i say this from my own experience, is fueled by fear, ignorance, hate, anger... i would have to agree with Brandon when he says that he has a hard believing someone filled with these things can call themselves a Christian. it is just not possible. it is the worst kind of perversion of our faith.

Eric said...

thanks struggleswith...

that's an interesting point. some people have accused people like me of a perversion of faith but their acting out of fear and hate could be seen as a perversion of our true faith.