Q & R: A third alternative?

A reader offers a thoughtful response on the issue of homosexuality after the jump. My comments follow his.

Let me first say “thanks” and express my appreciation for your courageous stance in favor of our homosexual brothers and sisters. Being such a complicated issue from all aspects, I appreciate you standing to dignify them – in the midst of all the debates and confusion – as common human beings who are loved by God. Since my mother is a lesbian and I have quite a few friends from the GLBT community, your perspective has been galvanizing and invaluable to me.
I have been studying the issue with intensity as of late and I was considering a “third perspective” which transcends the rigid polarization that plagues this issue (thus, I thought of you while I was considering these thoughts). I’m not sure if it is a “new” perspective per se (I haven’t personally heard anyone promulgate it), but it has emerged in light of my studies. Since there is intense debate about what the Bible, science and anthropology says on this issue, here is my still developing consideration (which I think will perhaps upset and joy both conservatives and liberals alike):
I think we ought to allow space for the GLBT community to be as they are, first and foremost. Being the outcasts of the religious elite, it has become clear to me that Jesus would side with our gay brothers and sisters and would tell the church that “the homosexuals and the transvestites go into the kingdom of God before you” (see Matthew 21:31). Some may wish to cite I Corinthians 6:9-11 as making that statement illegitimate, but with all the controversy that surrounds that particular text, I believe that rejoinder is bunk (plus, what would be the difference between “entering” and “inheriting” the kingdom, if there is such a distinction to be made?). There is no need to pit Jesus and Paul against one another, as you have demonstrated.
From that, could we then ask our GLBT friends to “walk by the Spirit, then you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16) and then see what would and could occur? Constructionists would say homosexuality would discontinue; essentialists would assert that such a possibility cannot be entertained. I think both have points to ponder. Perhaps some in the GLBT community are that way because of their upbringing; perhaps some are irrevocably oriented. If we simply loved our GLBT friends and guided them in living in the Spirit, would this not suffice? Maybe some would no longer be sexually driven toward those of the same gender; maybe some still would. Can we trust the Spirit of God in the work of honest individuals seeking to follow Jesus to determine such a thing? I believe we can do this.
Could we encourage our GLBT friends to allow God to guide them on this matter? I’m not sure if we should openly state that all same-sex relations should be acceptable; I’m not sure if we should openly condemn all same-sex relations are condemnable. I think it is only wise at this point in history to remain partly inconclusive on the matter and allow the GLBT community to be led by the Spirit in discerning whether or not God would have them remain in a same-sex relationship. God is not a homophobe, as Bishop Desmond Tutu asserts. I believe if we can allow space for the GLBT community in the church and let them examine themselves while being led by Jesus, they are then more than competent in discerning whether or not they ought to remain in a same-sex relationship.
Of course, some will say that even if homosexuals are oriented as such prior to birth (as essentialists assert) that they still need to “repent,” “convert” and be “cleansed.” I cannot fathom such an idea in light of the biblical texts (not just the ones that address homoeroticism, but the breadth of Scripture in general). I would also like to say that I am not implying that homosexuals who are so because of their upbringing are in the wrong per se; but I am trying to see how they may be able to overcome their past and not be enslaved to it (again, not that they necessarily are because they were “constructed” that way by their upbringing).
Thanks for listening, Brian. Keep “plotting goodness,” my brother! Any thoughts?

Thanks for your thoughts on this. I think lgbt folks who read this will be encouraged to see a heterosexual Christian honestly grappling with the issues, and I think more conservative folks will see that, contrary to common stereotypes, Christians who rethink human sexuality issues aren’t throwing out the Bible, etc., etc. In my work as a pastor, I became convinced that nearly all gay folks I met were “wired” (by genetics? by prenatal hormonal development?) to be gay. There were some cases, though, where traumatic childhood experiences of abuse may have resulted in a heterosexually-oriented person engaging in homosexual behavior. (Perhaps these are the people who are truly helped by so called ex-gay ministries.) The situation is complicated by cases where, say, a boy who was wired to be gay was also molested by an adult. In the end, I think the words of Jesus become our most dependable guide – to treat others as we would want to be treated, which involves responding to each person as a responsible individual with a unique story, not simply a faceless member of a homogenous class.