Tuesday, 15 March 2011
There are certain causes/issues we feel more strongly about than others. For some it might be abortion, for others global warming, for others the validity/existence of Barack Obama's birth certificate. Well, for me, something that's been capturing my heart more and more is the issue of homosexuality and the Church. I'm big into Christian music, so I was especially impacted when Christian artists Ray Boltz and Jennifer Knapp came out as homosexuals and decided to pursue gay relationships while still claiming to pursue Christ.
Needless to say, when I heard former View co-host Lisa Ling would be covering homosexuality and faith for an episode of her new show on OWN, I couldn't wait to see it. Her Our America episode, "Pray the Gay Away?" recently went online, and you can watch the full episode here. This post will cover what I took away from the first half of the episode, regarding Christians who deny their same-sex attractions. My second-half review will deal with Christians who embrace their homosexuality; look for that second part to be posted in the coming days here on Revelife.
I admired Ling's curiosity to begin this journalistic undertaking. Her intrigue spanned the entire episode as she interviewed people on both sides of this divisive issue. Her question: can one be both gay and Christian? How is homosexuality reconciled among people of faith? Ling was on a mission to understand the varying beliefs of same-sex attracted Christians.
Ling began her quest with a visit to a conference orchestrated by Exodus International, an organization devoted to ministering "grace and truth to a world impacted by homosexuality." Contrary to what some may think, Exodus doesn't promise to erase unwanted same-sex attractions. Indeed, Exodus president Alan Chambers posed a daunting question and challenge to the conference attendees: "What if your feelings and attractions never change? Will you still serve God?"
An interview with Chambers revealed that he still struggles with same-sex attractions, despite his thirteen-year marriage to his wife. But I loved the point he made about temptation within his marriage: how are his own temptations any different from any other married man's? Sexual temptation is everywhere in today's culture, and it's something we all have to deal with, whether we're single or married. I'm reminded of those sobering lyrics, "Prone to wander, Lord I feel it."
I loved another point Chambers made when Ling asked if he felt he was "living a lie" amid his marriage to a woman. He responded that he was simply denying the minute-by-minute power his attractions once held over him, choosing to live his life through the filter of his faith rather than the filter of his sexuality. And when he did that, he says his sexuality did indeed start to change.
"That's not a lie; that's the truth," Chambers declared. Indeed, who is anyone to tell another his life is a lie? In my next post I'll elaborate on similar thoughts for a man on the flip-side of this issue.
In addition to speaking with Exodus International's president, Ling also interviewed two other Christians determined not to let homosexuality control their lives: a middle-aged black woman named Janet and a young man in his 20s named Christian. Janet boldly told Ling that she no longer wrestled with homosexual attractions; for Christian, this wasn't exactly the case. While he admitted being sexually attracted to women every once in a while, he plainly admitted being way more attracted to men -- creating a conflict equatable to "bleeding out of his eyeballs."
And yet still he chooses to deny his male attractions in pursuit of Christ. I teared up along with him when he described his first encounter with the "passionate presence of God." After seeing his tear-rimmed eyes, I could never be convinced there's not something Special rooted deep inside him, beckoning him to abandon himself for something far greater.
Ling's reaction to Christian fascinated me. While she noted it was hard to watch him repress and seemingly torment himself, she also seemed to admire his resoluteness to walk this path -- making the transition from the drag queen he once was to the man he feels God calling him to be.
I too admire this fellow brother in Christ. We all have our respective "thorn in the flesh," and I have so much admiration for people like Christian who pick up their crosses despite the pull of another path. My heart goes out to him and to the countless many who deal with this particular issue on a daily basis. May we all be more sensitive to this fiery issue and love our fellow man as Christ has loved us.
How aware have you been of Christians wrestling with their sexuality? Do you think the Church at large is aware enough? Do you know somebody of faith impacted by homosexuality? What can we do as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to help those who struggle? What types of things do you struggle with?