framed, pt. 1

This series will be, I desperately hope, one of my only forays into the various theological arguments regarding homosexuality. After observing the semi-renewed interest in Matt Vines’ Youtube video about homosexuality and Scripture as well as countless other posts, articles, reviews, tirades, and comments relating to the topic, I feel compelled to say one thing (which will then lead to many other things!): the conversations surrounding being gay and Christian must begin with a commitment to love, nuance, and solid, careful, biblical exegesis (the art of understanding the meaning of the text).

I’m so tired of reading one-dimensional arguments, from Christians, that simply peddle the same old tired rhetoric that avoids the real questions, namely, What does the whole of the biblical witness say, what does it require of the Church, and how should Christians then interact with those who do not share their convictions? Instead we pick and choose, proof-text, and pretend that we have it all figured out.

“I was born this way!” That’s fine, but let’s talk about the fall and Christian ascesis. “Leviticus says gay people are abominations!” Enjoy your shrimp and polyester graphic-T. “Genesis 2:18 says it isn’t good for man to be alone, so singleness is tragic!” I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you over the banshee-screams of your horrifying exegetical folly. “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and—-” Banshee-screams, I tell you!

Ok, now I’m venting unhelpfully. Basically what I’m trying to say is that, as an Evangelical, I’m thoroughly dissatisfied with the shallow faux-theology that has been framing the popular discussion for the past few years. There have been some serious transgressions on both sides, mistakes that are then propped up by detractors and demolished in a haze of straw, as if something of consequence was actually communicated. It’s an elaborate dance of glancing tangents – sure, there’s contact, but nobody gets to the heart of the thing.

I intend to write a follow-up post on two approaches to the conversation that I find distinctly annoying: uncritical rejection of intense historical-cultural analysis that challenges the traditional status-quo, and uncritical acceptance of a distressingly anemic “gospel of unqualified inclusion.” The former is most commonly found among side-B Christians (though is by no means constitutive of that position), and the latter is most commonly found among side-A Christians (though is by no means constitutive of that position).

I’m quite solidly “side-B,” and it can be dangerously easy to slip into a “go team!” mentality when reading articles of divergent opinions; easy, that is, until I remember that my “team” is ultimately the Church and this Church contains men and women who are sincerely and ardently side-A because of their commitment to the Bible. When I approach material written by other Christians with the singular intent to expose all its weaknesses and deconstruct it, I do ecclesial unity a great disservice.

One of my mentors taught me to set my default question as, “What can I learn from this person?” As an intrinsically constructive inquiry, it encourages me to move past knee-jerk generalizations that only serve to feed the illusion of a simplistic us vs. them reality that fails to do justice to the complexity of the topic at hand (a “topic” that is intimately connected to the lives of beloved men and women) as well as the oneness of Christ’s body.

And I’m pretty sure I just ended up convicting myself. That sucks. I hate it when this happens! This is why it’s so hard being imperfect.

I found this article (consequently by a side-A brother) to be a helpful reminder of how the conversation must be framed: graciously, in terms of the Gospel. His last paragraphs especially gave concrete expression to my vague unhappiness, and I hope to build on his thoughtful clarity in the next post.

Does any of this ring true for other people? That it seems like, at least recently, there has been a small explosion of unreflective articles about homosexuality and the Christian faith? (And you’re like, Yea, I’m reading one. And I’m like, Oh.)

Anyway, more on this later, I need to go do this thing people call “sleep” (which, tonight, is mostly just a veiled pretense to lay in bed and listen to Mika’s new album). I hope you all are well.

Jordan

Correction: I mistakenly identified Steve Holmes as side-A when he is in fact not. My apologies. I think, in a way, that it stands as a testament to the humble grace with which he wrote that particular article.

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9 thoughts on “framed, pt. 1

  1. I agree. I find that Christians are more often concerned about being right than about loving one another and genuinely trying to understand what the other side is trying to say (and the concerns beneath what they are saying). This seems to be true in many areas not just this one (believe me, I went to a conservative Bible college, I know). We are often more concerned about issues than about people. I’m looking forward to reading what you have to say.

  2. Hi Jordan, I’m a new reader of your blog. I’m sure you take a lot of crap from all kinds of people, so I thought I’d just write in to say that I love where you’re coming from and how you write about it. Thanks for your thoughtfulness, vulnerability, and willingness to articulate what I’m sure is very hard-won wisdom.

  3. I was just wondering if you wanted to share your view on legalizing gay marriage, because I am a little confused on the issue. Not to get too political.

  4. Can’t wait to read these. Thank you for saying exactly what needs to be said: this is an argument we as a culture are not actually having, nor do we seem to be capable of having it. As usual, you are among the voices that give me hope.

    (Fun hypothesis: is this whole mess due to the decline of classical education and, with it, the practice of teaching adolescents logic and rhetoric? Read Dorothy Sayers’ “The Lost Tools of Learning”–it’s all there, ha!)

  5. Jordan, great post, as usual.

    Just one point of clarification: I’m somewhat familiar with the writings of Steve Holmes (author of the Queer Hippo article). I had always assumed he was non-affirming or Side B. How did you confirm that he is Side A? Or am I just completely out of the loop?

  6. “The issue for the churches should be what is gospel-shaped, not what is ‘normal’.”

    Yes, Spirit, let it be so! Lead us into the fullness of wisdom in this journey of trust!

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