Thursday, September 15, 2005

Lighten Up Thou Hypocrite!

A couple weeks ago, I wrote a post called "The Rules Don't Change" where I pretty much ranted about the double standard that I perceived between straight and gay couples in regards to pre-marital (or pre-covenantal) sex. For whatever standard there is, I think that it should be the same for both straight and gay contexts. After writing it, I started to realize that my ideas about pre-marital sex were coming from my previously held beliefs (which were/are in large part pretty conservative). So I decided to challenge those beliefs to see if they'd float.

I began to inquire about people's thoughts in general about pre-marital sex and I discovered a host of Christian people that didn't necessarily hold to that same principle of abstinence. What? There are people that don't believe what I believe?! It wasn't that many of these people don't value the human body as a temple or that they don't value sex as something highly intimate, but that the concepts between relationships and commitment and covenant weren't as clearly defined in "my" nice little package of understanding how things "should" be. It's not that simple.

So here's what I had to own up to: it's way too easy for me to hold principles of having no pre-marital sex when I've never even been in a committed relationship with another guy. So I have to ask myself this question: if i were in a relationship, would i maintain those principles or would i move towards expressing my affection in sexual ways? On this particular issue, i sadly have to say, that given the opportunity (in a committed relationship), my principles would probably sink.

Thou hypocrite!

Does my own weakness mean that I was wrong? Well, I still think that whatever standard there is, it should be the same for both straight and gay contexts. And I still think, in principle, that sex should not be entered into outside of a committed relationship. Recognizing my weakness just means that maybe I don't really believe what I say I believe (about this issue). Or maybe it means I'm not a man of conviction or that I lack faith or that my faith is weak. Whatever. I don't know. But I'm realizing that I can't judge when the right time for a couple to have sex is. It's not my relationship. I would only hope that the couple honor the Lord by honestly seeking Him about it and making sure He's a part of the equation. This may involve sincere prayer, seeking of the Scriptures, and conversation with each other. Whether they call it commitment or covenant or whatever, at least they are looking to Christ and not just doing it haphazardly. I would hope that I would do the same thing when/if I am in a relationship.

Now I know that that probably makes some people feel a bit uncomfortable. It kinda still makes me uncomfortable. But, speaking only for myself, I have determined that I cannot decide for someone else what is right or wrong on this issue. I am not prepared to die for any position on this issue. After wrestling with it, I have concluded that it's not simply black or white. It's only black or white when it's theory. However, once it's personal - once you're dealing with a person you care deeply about, it's not so simple. And I don't have the answers. Not even for myself! Therefore, I can't hold someone else to a standard that I may not even be able to keep (or believe).

Regardless, I don't see this as a bunch of ought-to's and should's or can's and cannot's. It's not about religion or dogma or church doctrine. Rather, I see it as living out our lives in a way that is consistent with our faith. However, I can't judge this for someone else.

Here's the other thing. I need to lighten up! (or as one blog commenter said several weeks ago about a different topic, 'I need to get laid!'). I met with the pastor of The Tab yesterday afternoon and got her perspective on the issue. After talking with her, I realized that I need to apply a lot more grace to this than I had been. I need to gain broader understanding before jumping to judgment.

The non-Christ-centered gay community can be pretty promiscuous - not everyone but a good number of them. When many of these people begin the journey towards Christ, they do so with all the baggage and brokenness of past relationships. As the pastor, she believes that sex should be engaged in while in covenant between partners, but she also realizes that no one is going to go around to police the bedrooms. They can only live their lives according to the growth in their faith up until that moment. If they are in the process of growing, then we can't expect the kind of behavior from someone full grown in faith. So this may mean that they'll continue having sex only to realize later on that maybe they should have waited. But they will come to that conclusion on their own as they grow. They don't need me to condemn them and drive them further away from Christ. As a pastor, she simply wants to encourage them for the positive steps that they have taken - be it small or tiny. For them, even considering God in the context of their relationship is a huge step! So why tear them down for not doing what we think is right? (Here comes my new favorite word....) That's pretty arrogant of us.

So as i thought more about this, i noticed that what got me bothered by this issue in the first place was that I assumed that gay Christians in the Church (including the pastor) were just indiscriminately having sex. Straight people aren't "allowed" to (even though i'm sure they do), so then why should gay people be "allowed" to have sex? Then I realized that I was missing the point. It wasn't about compromising principles, it was about dealing with people where they are at, with grace, and continuing to point people to Christ so that they can grow in faith.

Discipleship. It's a process. Being a Christian isn't about the destination of being sinless. All of us, even current Christians are all simply growing.

So what i'm trying to say is i need to give people the grace to grow on their own at their own pace while trusting Jesus enough to be the Teacher, and at the same time, me not feeling the compulsion to have to tell them (as if I were making the decision for them). I make decisions all the time - some good, most bad - but i'm still "on the way" towards Christ - as we all are. But we have to make our own decisions - both good and bad.

Christ is a lot more patient with His kids than I am. Maybe I should be too.

5 comments:

Angel said...

I think you're a little too hard on yourself sometimes ;) But I understand what you're saying.

Sex is a difficult issue, no matter your orientation or religious affiliation.

I don't see you as being a hypocrite. Rather, it's a situation you haven't found yourself in. There's nothing wrong with having a conviction about how you would want to respond in a committed relationship.

Being a hypocrite would be judging others for something you have already done (at least IMO).

As always, I feel like reading your blog expands my brain a bit--thanks ;)

wysguy said...

Eric,

I have really enjoyed learning along with you on your journey. God is using you to stretch me and force me lean more heavily on Him than on my worldview.

That said, I agree with Angel that you are inaccurate in calling yourself a hypocrite. What’s more I wonder if we are neglecting some teachings of the Bible when we say “we cannot decide for someone else what is right or wrong on this issue”.

In 1 Corinthians 5-7 Paul writes to brothers and sisters in Christ extensively on sexual immorality and it’s proper place in marriage. First in chapter 5, he implores them to be on guard against “sexual immorality among you”. He mentions the specific type of sexual immorality that was going on…“a man has his father’s wife.” He goes on to tell the church there that they should be filled with grief and put the person out of the fellowship. “I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present.” Paul says, and “hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.” “Don’t even associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral…” “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you NOT to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. Expel the wicked person from among you.”

He goes on to talk more about fleeing from sexual immorality. He says that because he knows the kind of power the sexual drive of a person can be, even for “religious” believers. He goes on to talk about sex in marriage, THE God-honoring context for sexual intercourse.

That said, I feel we are moving to an inaccurate understanding of God if we say we cannot tell brothers and sisters that they are living in sin or being disobedient to God. The human sin nature is too powerful for us to be silent with one another. Trusting each individual to determine the scope of God’s rule on his/her life leads to polytheism, we each worship our own god made in our own image.

Please don’t read this as a call to rally the “Bedroom Brigade” and begin policing people’s lives. It is a call though to deeper accountability with regards to sexual behavior among fellow believers. We must give due respect and regard to the power of sexuality by intentionally asking one another about God’s reign in this area of our lives. If we do not we risk facing the wrath of a Holy God for our lack of corporate discipleship.

Eric said...

Refer to the blog post following this one for my response to these comments.

Anonymous said...

It is written, "let he who is without sin cast the first stone." We as the followers of Christ are not called to condemn but to show the light of the Master we follow. We are called to be like Christ. He didnt stone the adulteress and we are not to either. We are called to deliver his message in love and mercy. The Corinthian's were very worldly but Paul said they were on the right path to salvation and were brothers in Christ. I think we as church need to stop judging and leave that to the master. He is the only one qualified for the job. Follow the Golden Rules, "against these their are no commandments." I think when we judge and condemn in our hearts we fullfill the role of the Great Accusser. We are called to protect ourselves from impurity, but God is the only one qualified to decide what is impurity for all. It is written, "not all my vessels are gem encrusted."
JustSid

layingdownmylife said...

Hey eric,
I am writting in response to your post about pre-marital sex. I am dedicated Christian, and yet my beliefs about pre-marital sex have changed.

I personally believe that sex out side a convenant created before GOd is wrong. I question the whole marriage is created by law thing, because we live in new testament faith, and God has no longer writting the commandments on stony tabelets but on our hearts.

I am having a hard time saying everything I want to say.

When I was 17 years old I went to a true love waits conference and made a vow to not have sex before i was married, I prided my self that I never had sex. I came to realize this year that I was using that as a way to justify my self.

anyways i ended up having sex with my best friend (who is of my same sex) I went into it with much prayer and fasting. I mean much. Hours crying out to God that I would lay down my life for her, she did the same also.

I went through a lot of condemnation that wasn't from God, but from the chruch about this. God kept assuring me that he had created the covenant between me and her. And that the covenant is created out of His love not law