Sunday, July 31, 2005

Love Your Neighbor As Yourself

It's been so long since I really liked going to church. I've been checking out this gay friendly church, The Tab, and so far its been so refreshing for me. Set aside the issue of being gay - this church is full of life. The people are so friendly; the teaching is evangelical; the worship is genuine - and i like myself more when I'm around them. I don't say that out of conceit or vanity - it's just that for so long, the guilt and shame of my struggle always left me with a disgust for myself. I never really loved myself and so I always found it difficult to fully connect with others at a typical church. But here it's different.

The message this morning was about the second most important purpose of our lives which is to love our neighbors as ourselves (the first and primary purpose of our lives being to love God with all our heart, soul, and strength). I've heard the core message in this plenty times but the way the pastor articulated her understanding of it was awesome. I know that God loves me which frees me to love Him back. But I also know that I am a conduit to display and facilitate God's love for others through me. I often block this flow of love from God to others when I get stuck in my own self-loathe. I can't possibly love others fully when i'm not loving myself properly and in a healthy way. When i'm in that mode, the love that i exude towards others is less than the kind that God intended to transmit to them.

Exploring this journey of trying to figure out if being gay is a sin or not and trying to figure out how my same sex attractions effects how my faith is lived out can lead to being overly self-focussed. The introspection and research is necessary but through it all, am i humbling myself before God and really loving people around me? I find myself going through the motions of life and work and even church sometimes. In what ways can I really show God's love towards people I see every day and perhaps take for granted? The question of whether or not its okay for me to love another man can actually cloud the broader but more important issue - how will I love all?

If I will contend that being gay and Christian isn't primarily about sexuality, then i ought to show love outside the context or consideration of gayness or straightness. All are deserving of God's love - including me! If i can't love a guy in a non-"gay" way, then maybe i don't deserve to love the same guy in a romantic way. Let's see if I can actually live this out!


Mark said...

trying to figure out if being gay is a sin or not and trying to figure out how my same sex attractions effects how my faith is lived out

Eric, do you genuinely believe that "being" gay (i.e., experiencing same-sex attractions) is, in and of itself, sinful?

I can understand why some view being physically intimate with another who is not your opposite gender spouse as sinful, but just experiencing the desire?

I don't deny that living with the desire unfilled has its own challenges but I was curious and wondered if you can offer clarification here.

Eric said...

i've got alot of 'i don't knows' thus the reason why i started the journal my process through sorting it all out.

i've owned up on the fact that i formerly believed that any kind of homosexuality is a sin because that is the only thing that i was taught. i decided to take a step back, do some investigating of my own on all sides of the issue, and form my own conclusions so that i can at least fully own what i believe. i'm doing this with the lens that i desire God's truth not my own. i'm discovering that the trouble with this is that people have different interpretations of God's truth.

i've not yet formed concrete conclusions thus far, however, i'm inclined to believe that simply having the attractions are not sinful. but that raises the question as to my "being". did He create me like this or not?

when i say that i'm trying to figure out if 'being gay' is a sin or not....part of that figuring out includes exploring the definition of being gay - same sex attractions alone...physical sex...then attaching that to the other question of whether or not its a sin.

I suppose the real question is: what exactly is the sin? i don't know yet.

Anonymous said...

I suppose the real question is: what exactly is the sin? i don't know yet.

Pretty scary realization, isn't it? I would go futher and point out that you will never know. I think that one of the scariest things about being human is that we have to be responsible for our actions without ever being able to know absolutely what constitutes right action. I think that this is one of the chief roots of human sinfulness, and that this is why believing in God's grace and forgiveness is so absolutely essential to living.

In addition to faith in God's grace and forgiveness, I find that faith in God's goodness is also indispensible. One aspect of faith in God's goodness is faith that God has equiped us to deal with the moral and ethical dilemmas that God requires us to face. I believe that it is possible (although by no means easy) to develop a reasonable sense of ethical behaviour, and I believe that the rightness of our ethics improves (very slowly) over time. This is part of moving closer to God. The key to this is as you say: "doing this with the lens that i desire God's truth not my own." Given that you can never truly know God, it means that you can never be sure that you know God's truth, and so you must always be questioning - never certain that you are right. Also, I think that God is most clearly manifested in our relationships with each other. A search for God's truth is necessarily a quest that must be undertaken in community with others: "we" is more important than "I".

Still, one can't question everything all the time. So for me the Christian life becomes a balance between trying to love God with all my heart and all my soul, which compels me to continue searching for God's truth (knowing that I can never fully find it) and living in the most right way that I know how (and can manage) now, knowing that I am making mistakes, am sinning constantly, but with faith in God's forgiveness. It's maybe not the way that I would have set up the universe, but it seems to be the way that God did.