At another blog I write for, I made a post today where I bounced off some ideas that were posted by a man who is a homosexual and a Jesus follower. Wesley Hill wrote a beautiful essay about the struggles he encounters as one who finds himself living in both worlds (he is celibate though).
I am drawn to these haunting confessions of Auden’s because I, too, am a homosexual Christian. Since puberty, I’ve been conscious of an exclusive attraction to persons of my own sex. Though I have never been in a gay relationship as Auden was, I have also never experienced the “healing” or transformation of my sexual orientation that some formerly gay Christians profess to have received. But I remain a Christian, a follower of Jesus.
The following paragraphs are the conclusion to the essay I posted across the way.
First, what are we supposed to do as Christians? Can we change people? Is it our job to change people? Can the blind lead the blind? Can the sinner cure the sin? Or can we, or shouldn’t we, love people and let Jesus do the curing and healing? Isn’t it better to recognize that we are all sinners, all in the same boat, all helpless without Jesus? What becomes of me when I think that I can solve the sins of others with the same tactics that were used to solve mine (as if they are solved!)? Do we not all take different paths in Jesus before we are fully healed? Truth of the matter is this: We won’t be like him, no matter how healed we are in this life, until we see him (1 John 3:2).
Second, yes, the Bible says ‘repent’ and ‘leave your life of sin.’ (The Bible even says that ‘that is what some of you were’ with the meaning that ‘that is not what you are now.’) But ironically, or not, these commands are never rescinded. We are called to them over and over again every day. We are called to abandon the flesh every day: take up your cross, deny yourself, follow me. We win. We lose. We succeed. We fail. Jesus is not so naive to think we will not fail. If he was, I suppose there would be no need for grace, would there? If Jesus commands me and you, people who are incapable of forgiving once, to forgive 70*7, do we think he does any less for the person who struggles to live in the paradox that is Romans 7:14-25? We are not Christian perfectionists if we believe in the Bible’s teachings about grace. I don’t believe Jesus expects us to be.
Third, can a person be a homosexual-Christian? Well, ask yourself: Can a person be a (___)-Christian? It’s not a matter of practice, but a matter of identifying our weakness and living by faith that God’s grace is sufficient even when we fail, and continue to fail over and over again, and precisely because we fail. The question is not ‘How much can I sin before I am no longer considered by God to be a Christian?’ The question is, ‘Will I continue to trust in Jesus, put my faith in Jesus, trust that His grace is sufficient even when I fail? Will I trust God to forgive me? Will I continue to seek His face?’ Frankly, I think it takes a great deal of courage to confess our sins and live by faith. It takes a great deal of honesty to come before the Lord day in and day out confessing sins. But you see, this is what Jesus said too, isn’t it? It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick (Mark 2:17). It was the man who hid his face and beat his breast that went home justified before God when he prayed (Luke 18:9-14). It was the blind man who had his eyes opened (John 9:41). I think if we are not hyphenated Christians then perhaps we are not Christians at all.
I don’t happen to believe we will ever escape the duel identity of sinner/saint until the day when Christ comes and renews all things. We will always be hyphenated Christians until we see Christ in his fullness and He changes us. So I don’t think the point is that we need to try to imagine what the other person is like before we try to offer up solutions or ‘fix’ them because I don’t happen to think we have the necessary skill set required (i.e. miraculous powers) to fix anyone in the first place. What we have is love. (Only love?) What we have is grace. So we don’t need to imagine anything at all; we shouldn’t offer up any short or long term fixes. What we must do is consider Christ crucified and what we, each one of us, struggles with on our own sin before the hyphen.
Self-examination goes a long way towards not only being able to love others, but also towards practicing continuously loving others. Jesus didn’t tell us to fix people. He told us to love people. We can point in the right direction, but it seems awfully presumptuous to think that we have the solution to anyone’s problems. Living with a hyphen is the Christian’s way of visibly living in and trusting in God’s all sufficient grace.
Stop by Hill’s post. It is worth the read.