It’s almost that time of the year for me to start blogging again. The summer hours at work had me going in earlier and staying longer, (I get an hour and ten minutes for a lunch break!). I apologize for not keeping you informed concerning the circumstances.
I do want to return to Greg Boyd’s stuff on politics eventually. The nature of those will probably be in which they are done sporadically. Because they’ll be sporadic, I’ll keep them categorized for ease of reference. The reason I’m wanting to do things like this is because there are many other issues to talk about and I don’t want to concentrate on one and only one topic for long periods of time.
As for right now, I want to talk about something I’ve noticed in the evangelical Christian community (as this is the primary group I’m attempting to address). I grew up in a rather conservative setting in terms of church. Of course, you get accustomed to some ways of doing things as far as theology and ethics is concerned and over time you think this is what God and faith is all about–that this is what Christianity is all about. In other words, your church teaches something about God, say, God’s immutability and God becomes over time, stoic and it seems as if this picture we have of God who becomes a God who is emotionless (though I do think that God is as aesthetically satisfied within God’s self, thus there is nothing within creation that can cause God to “lose it” like we humans can) is taken for granted as if this is what God is really like. Or, ethically speaking, certain practices that are suppose to flow out of our love relationship, become so routine, that we think that this is “the way it is” and/or we think this or that practice is next to the Gospel itself. That is, we put those practices on par with the Gospel such that they take on a life of their own and we mistake them for the importance we think they are.
Now, though you will find this persistently in conservative circles, it seems that this can occur just about anywhere–in any church or church denomination or branch of Christianity ie., Protestant, Orthodox or Catholic and Liberal traditions. For instance, in the last couple of years, I’ve come across more Christians who run along a more liberal vein of Christianity. I’m not necessarily talking about those more traditional liberal types such as, say, Delwin Brown, rather, I’m speaking of those Christians whom fall somewhere between the traditional liberals and Jim Wallis, Brian McClaren types–these “post-modern” or “younger evangelical” types. They hold, to traditional teachings and formulations of the Church on most things, though this isn’t entirely accurate, but contra to the “liberals” I’m referring to, they are much closer to orthodoxy. Ethically speaking, they fall along liberal lines especially when it comes to abortion and homosexuality or gay marriage. Regardless of where they fall on these issues, they seem to resist change when, for an example, a flaw in an argument(s) can be found on these questions.
Let me give an example. It is a mantra of those on the left side of the political spectrum to say something along the lines that gay people are “born that way.” However it comes across, one is left with the idea that one cannot change their orientation. This is the way it is and that’s that. But let’s think about this for a moment. Let’s put that on the back burner for the time being. It is my belief that there are a myriad of variables that influence who we are and what we will become. For example, there are genetic influences. There are social influences. There are mental influences and there are spiritual influences. And of course, there is free will (I give that credence though some theologians and philosophers don’t. For them, the proof is in the pudding so to speak, a la, rarely does one “rise above” their circumstance and make the needed changes ie., Oprah). Either way, most will agree that even if these don’t shape or exert themselves on homosexuals, they will say that that is the case with everything else about a person. If this is the correct, then what that means, is that there may be any one or any number of influences upon a person shaping the way they will eventually become. If THAT is the case, then it is very hard to say, where one influence begins and ends and where another one begins and ends. If that is the case, then it is hard to say at which point someone chooses courses of action outside of their “center of morally responsible freedom and…influences outside of their control.” (Boyd) And if THAT is the case, then it is also the case that there is ONLY ONE who can know this and that is God.
Now, for me, this is a moderate position between both conservatives, who want to say that God can “repair” (yes, that is in quotes because for conservatives repairing is thought of in terms of a gay/straight paradigm. God can make someone “straight”). But it is also a moderate position for those liberals who say that people are “born that way.” Because there are the numerous influences, NO ONE can say what variable exerts itself more than others–where one starts and where one ends. For both sides then, this will mean there is no, “gay or straight” in Christ. You either look more like Christ or you don’t and that is you ultimately reflect God’s love back to God and to others or you don’t. To the extent that you don’t, you look less like Christ. And this can manifest itself in a number of ways that have everything to do with sexuality. For an example, let’s say I hold a grudge against someone. Now, it is through my sexuality that I am in relationship with that person. I relate to them through feelings, thoughts emotions, and how I identify myself. Even if I don’t have same sex attractions or feelings or thoughts or emotions or identify in this way, my sexuality is still “damaged” when I hold a grudge against them. When someone holds ill feelings towards the opposite sex because they have been hurt by them, even though they are not gay, their sexuality is “damaged.” They are not whole sexually. Someone has addictions towards the opposite sex. They’re not sexually whole. Why? Because ultimately, they are trying to fill something that only God can fill.
At the end of the day, while I don’t want to say that my more moderate position is going to be “the right one,” I do think we should be fluid enough (like children ie., Jamie Smith in “Whose Afraid of Postmodernism?”) such that whatever position we hold, we don’t hold it so tightly that we can’t change.