Saturday, February 1, 2014

TAKE THE GIFT!

As I felt drawn to post about this topic, I was a little apprehensive. It's hard for me to discuss this without feeling very hurt and angry, and the last thing I want to do is subject any of you to angry blogging. So I decided to work on this in prayer consistently for a week.

That being said, let's talk about celibacy.

Let me point out first of all that ALL Christians are required to abstain from sexual promiscuity and immorality (as it can be very harmful). This, however, is not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the Christians who believe God requires gay people to build their entire lives apart from sexual intimacy and romantic relationships of any kind, forever.

If we look at the history of how the church has dealt with same-sex attraction, we see that AT FIRST most Christians viewed homosexuality as something that is chosen. If it is chosen, obviously it can be fixed. So reparative therapy (from gay to straight) was the norm. Exodus (one of the largest ex-gay ministries) went from trying to "fix" gay people, to eventually helping them lead a life of celibacy, to shutting down all together in 2013. They realized they were doing much more harm than good. To see their apology click here.

Even at their most optimistic time, Exodus said that only 30-50% of homosexuals "changed." Wilson and Rahman, psychologists and authors of Born Gay: The Psychobiology of Sex Orientation did a study in 2005 looking at 200 highly religious gay people who were very motivated to change. Their study showed that only 11% of males and 37% of females experienced "noticeable change" (though this change was never defined). Many more tests show even bleaker results. Please feel free to ask me for more examples.

So regardless of what you think, scholars on both sides of the debate have agreed that sexual orientation is not something that can easily be "fixed." And if it is, that still leaves out over half the gay population. So what do we do with the rest?  The church's answer has been to require celibacy.

Okay, that sounds Biblical. Lets check:

There are a few mentions of celibacy in the Bible, mostly in the New Testament. Jesus Christ himself was celibate, along with Paul and many other religious men. Since Jesus is the big guy we're most concerned with, let's see what he says. His disciples suggest that marriage is not the way to go, and here is what Jesus says in reply:

Matthew 19:11
Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it was given.

And then Paul specifically brings up celibacy many times in 1 Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 7:7
I wish that all were as I myself am (celibate). But each has a particular gift from God, one having one kind and another a different kind.

1 Corinthians 7:17
Let each of you lead the life that the Lord has assigned, to which God called you.

At this point many of my fundamentalist Christian friends would say, "Well being gay in itself is a calling!"

1 Corinthians 7:9
But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

Are my friends suggesting gay people are born without God-given natural desire? Or did something just go wrong and their natural desire got screwed up at some point? I know that many of you don't believe me when I say that I was born gay, but it's hard to ignore the countless evidence from both sides that suggest sexual orientation is something intrinsically present at birth and not easily subject to change.
  
ARE YOU SAYING GOD MADE A MISTAKE?

James V. Brownson makes a KILLER point in his book Bible Gender Sexuality:

"In 1 Corinthians 7 Paul clearly states that those who have not received the calling and gift of celibacy should get married. He thus implicitly recognizes that some Christians are clearly not called and gifted by God for a life of singleness...Paul realizes that asking Christians not called to celibacy to remain unmarried is opening the door to sexual immorality: the use of prostitutes, sex outside of marriage, and other expressions of sexuality...Indeed, one could argue that this is precisely what's happening in American culture. Given the absence of more constructive and stable channels for gays and lesbians to express their sexual lives, we are seeing far too much distorted sexuality in the use of prostitutes, promiscuity, one-night stands, and the like."

It's very hard for me to not feel deeply hurt when people I love have taken it upon themselves to "show me the way" and prove that God is telling me I am not entitled to a family of my own.

I know God can use others to teach us, but I don't hear God when I am talking to someone with this opinion. I hear a prideful human being who has to be right.

Are they also going to tell me what career choice God has in store for me? (Actually, that would be great.)

So when DO I hear God? I hear Him when I'm reading my Bible every morning, or when I'm playing worship songs on my guitar. Or how about all the years I spent trying to prove to God I would do whatever it takes to please Him? I knew all about the position of the church on life-long celibacy for gay people, but I NEVER felt peace about it. Not because it was hard. Please. I can handle hard. Try being gay in a straight, Christian world.

I never felt peace about it because that is not God's calling for my life. 

I spent 3/4 of my life living and breathing articles about how being gay was wrong, and celibacy was the only option. God had to drag me, kicking and screaming, back to His Word to change my mind.

People who condemn me to a life of celibacy should entertain the idea that I'm more inclined to listen to God rather than humans. Like Paul and Jesus say, it is not everyone's calling. And if it is, that's no one's place to intervene. No Exceptions. 

I love what my mom had to say on the topic:

"Here are my thoughts: I am very happy to let individual LGBT people come to their own conclusions on how God wants them to live out their sexuality. It's their lives and their convictions. What concerns me is straight people telling them what God wants them to do. That's what is keeping my daughter from serving in our church. They insist she be side B (celibate for life). I can leave it at that. Every church has their way of looking at scripture and that's why we have so many denominations. We can find another place to worship. But this view, held by straight people in the church, is alienating church kids and fueling bullying. I am not at all saying I am opposed to people having a Side B opinion, I just wish it wasn't straight people in the church saying Side B is for every gay person and is the only way to please God. Let the individuals discern that for themselves. I realize this would be a big leap for a lot of churches, but it is my prayer that someday all LGBT Christians will be free to choose to be celibate or not, just like straight people have the choice, and that choice will not be the litmus test for their spirituality."
 
Didn't I raise her right?  (That's us on the left)

Linda Robertson's son Ryan died as a result of the trauma brought on by traditional Christian thinking that he should/can change his orientation. Here's what she recently said:

"I do have to say I loudly AMENED Jena Borah's comment...when she said that it bothers her when straight people tell gay people to be celibate. When I finished reading Wesley Hill's book, "Washed and Waiting," (great book by a side B gay man), I was overwhelmed with the conviction that I, who can sleep with my husband any time I want, and that I, who am married to my best friend in the world, could NEVER tell another person to live in isolation and loneliness for their entire lives. JESUS can do that, but I don't feel that I have that right, especially since I am not living that way! We have VERY, VERY close friends who are side B and who are flourishing...and we support their call 100%, since it is a call from JESUS. If Jesus speaks differently to them, we'll support that, too."

See the Robertson family story here. 

This post was not to change your views on celibacy. It was simply to get you thinking about whether or not God's plan for your life is really to tell someone God's plan for THEIR life.
 
1 Corinthians 7:17
Let each of you lead the life that the Lord has assigned, to which God called you.

11 comments:

  1. Missa - Again, your commitment to Christ, to His word, to prayer and to seeking HIM for direction in your life is such an excellent example to ALL of us, gay or straight. I am humbled by your honesty and commitment to wait on the Lord in prayer before speaking out...Thank you for continually pointing me to the Cross, my friend.

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    1. Thank you Linda! If there's one thing this whole experience has taught me, it's to just shut up and let my anger fade away so God can try to do something. Thank you for constantly encouraging me :)

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  2. Beautifully said, Missa. I am so struck by your grace, wisdom, and light. Please keep writing!

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  3. Meredith IndermaurFebruary 1, 2014 at 2:02 PM

    Missa, you are wise far, far beyond your years. What a thoughtful, insightful, intelligent post!

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  4. People who condemn me to a life of celibacy should entertain the idea that I'm more inclined to listen to God rather than humans. Like Paul and Jesus say, it is not everyone's calling. And if it is, that's no one's place to intervene. No Exceptions.

    I cannot like that statement enough! You are an amazing young woman! You give me hope for our world :))) Marianne Walker

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  5. So much truth here! It really is amazing to me how people in the church are so ready to tell others what God's plan for their lives is. I wonder how they would respond if the tables were turned...

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    1. Marlene,

      That is an interesting question. It's so easy for us to ignore topics that make us uncomfortable, but I hope the church will realize this issue is not going to go away. Thank you for your encouragement!

      Missa

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  6. Hi Missa,

    I'm not sure if you remember me but I was one of the dad's your mom introduced you to at GCN (Or some remember me as the Southern Baptist Pastor who became gay affirming). Anyway, I just want to say I'm so thankful that you had the courage to start this blog. I want you to know that us pastors need to learn from people like you. And you have definitely taught me some things from the few posts that you've written. You're blog is such a blessing. So please keep writing!

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    1. I do remember you and your wife! Thank you for the encouragement. Your story really inspires me and I'm keeping you in my prayers.

      Missa

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  7. Well said and beautifully put together, nice work Missa! ~Lori Wise

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