In a recent CNN article by special columnist LZ Granderson, the issues of Christianity and homosexuality hit center stage. Granderson is gay and a professing Christian -an oxymoron to some believers. But after reading his article, my first reaction is that I agree with him more than I disagree. Allow me to first clarify that I believe that the current issue of homosexuality is a unique one. Sure, we have historical references to the practice (as Granderson notes), and obviously it is a practice addressed in the Bible; but homosexual orientation is a relatively modern concept for Western culture. Orientation makes the debate all the more complicated, because you’re not just looking at practice but rather the spectrum of one’s own identity.
That is why this issue is so polarizing when addressed from the faith perspective. Heterosexual Christians (at least well intended ones) will simply note the practice as their target. “Hate the sin, love the sinner,” they will say. But an oriented homosexual will not likely be on the same page, but instead percieve any attack as an offense on their very identity as a human being. Hence, the issue of love comes into the fray. Granderson gives words that I often hear from the h0mosexual point of view: “…I am bothered by the continual mutilation of my religion’s basic principle of love…” This is understandable from the homosexual viewpoint. If you love me you will accept and embrace who I am, they will think.
The other side is just as understandable.
Central to Christian belief is the premise that the power of Christ transforms us into the likeness of God, to die to the old self and take on a new self. The faith journey from the Christian perspective is not about achieving a list of rights and wrongs, it is about becoming the person God desires us to be. This implies that we’re not born the way God intends. Through spiritual “re-birth” and the journey that ensues thereafter a person is continually transformed into Christ-likeness. From the side of Christianity, being born a certain way (i.e. homosexually oriented) does not conclude that it is ordered by God.
Yet, none of these perspectives help us if we want to draw a line in sand and decide if homosexuality is right or wrong. I agree with Granderson that using Levitical law is a slippery slope. If you’re going take it literally, you need to follow through all the way and not pick and choose which ones to follow. Then there’s the apostle Paul, who makes it clear in Romans that the practice is wrong. But at the very least it is worthy to investigate whether or not Paul is addressing the same issue as we have in Western culture today in terms of practice versus orientation.
As for me, I am not homosexual and therefore will never fully understand or appreciate the complexity of who Granderson is as a person. I will never understand his grieved heart when certain Christians deal out hate in the name of a loving God. On one hand, my ignorance leads me to shy away from making an opinion on the matter. On another hand, everyone is ignorant to some degree….that is why they call them opinions. I believe that the practice of homosexuality is a moral wrong. For those of you who have a hard time with this, please know that with all my heart this is NOT an indictment on the individual and unique identity of homosexual people. This opinion does not change my behavoir in any way; who my friends are or aren’t, who I love and care for, who I respect and cherish. Somehow for me, it just makes sense to separate the practice of homosexuality or homosexual orientation from the identity of the person her/himself. I realize that’s convenient for a heterosexual.
I hope to continue to be confronted with this issue and wrestle with its complexity as a human being and as a Christian, and I challenge everyone to do the same.