For several reasons, this has become an increasingly important issue in my life. Although I no longer experience (for the most part) the frantic, desperate fear of evil that causes such vitriolic reactions both among fundamentalist, evangelical types, and equally among the reactionary atheist postgender types, my concern only increases.
It’s not just that I’m looking out on the world and seeing changes I don’t like. Rather, my experience among my friends and acquaintances, as well as my wide (if not terribly deep) reading, suggests that most millennials experience some level of discomfort – often deep – with sexual identity, energy, and/or archetype.
I believe the concern of the Christian Church should be to gain a unified understanding on these issues as they confront modern people, so that whether or not we are believed by those outside our borders, we at least can speak with one voice and offer a consistent, trustworthy haven from the chaos of a world without spiritual authority, driven by the impulses and spontaneous desires of the mind and the body.
So I simply want to collect here, for everyone’s use, any information I find interesting on the subject. Not all of it will be in agreement with me, with my readers, or with other information on the page, but I suspect that’s healthy. We cannot adequately answer the questions of seekers or strugglers unless we listen to their experience.
For instance, have you ever wondered whether the homosexuals that St. Paul describes experienced their homosexuality differently than today’s burgeoning queer population does? Is it really helpful to read them verses about burning in their lust toward one another, or homosexual gang rape, when they see themselves as seeking a mirror image of heterosexual marriage, only with a person of undifferentiated gender?
On the other hand, who among us, offering our timid yet courageous disagreement with the spirit of the age, wants to be bludgeoned to death with the “committed loving relationship” bat, if that’s not what the homosexual population, by and large, experiences? What about research that indicates most lesbians abuse one another? What about research that indicates most gay men live 20 years younger than heterosexual men? Do these mean nothing?
Does the wholeness of the Christian conscience mean nothing?
What about apparent enemies of the faith who are actually making good points about Christian failures? Should we fight against them? Or should we see them as helping us to correct ourselves? I say, the latter, especially when they have become enemies of the faith because of some failure of Christian love.
On the other hand, we have to consider that an enemy of the faith may use our Christian commitment to kindness as a sort of blackmail against us to make us change our beliefs to something less offensive to them.
Some might wonder why I don’t just say, “The Bibles says women have to obey their husbands and marriage is between a man and a woman. The end.”
I guess my concern is that when we directly apply Bible verses to a situation, we are implying that the situation is exactly the same as the one that prompted the writing of the Bible verse. I can’t assume that.
For instance, in a world where no decent man would ever give a direct order to his wife, what is the point of preachers hammering at women to obey their husbands, as if we still lived in a pagan-created soceity where a household was like a small nation with its own economy, with the husband ruling several classes of society, of which his wife was the highest under him?
On the other hand, if Christian/medieval-authored romantic love has changed the face of marriage to such an extent, can’t it change further? Or does homosexual union change, not just the face, but the fundamental and sacramental nature of marriage? These are not just exegetical questions, to be answered by simple appeal to the scripture. (At least you may comfortably answer them to your own satisfaction that way, but in a larger forum it’s obvious that’s only part of the picture.) These are theological questions – and theology is complex.
As a woman I want my viewpoint to matter to the leaders of the Church. When I read from an Orthodox priest online that women are rebellious creatures who naturally want to usurp authority from men, I realize that this discussion needs to happen. If everything I say in protest to some current situation is dismissed because I am a woman and therefore must necessarily be motivated by a compulsive rebellion against men, then what is the point of my having been created with a mind and a moral sense?
Nor can I assume an evangelical position on the nature of the scriptures, of spiritual authority, and of divine judgment. To put it succinctly, I see the scriptures as profitable, not infallible; I see authority as authenticity, not totalitarianism; and I see divine judgment as being more along the lines of natural consequences, with God being behind nature as its creator, than as a his alleged personal hatred for or intent to torture or cast away the sinner.
How this plays out in gender issues is a long conversation, one that I hope will unfold in the nature of that wisdom which is from above: first pure, then peaceable. Purity in scriptural language is a lot like integrity or wholeness. Division, fragmentation, scattering, brokenness, contradiction, the stain of self-deception, the muddying power of abuse, and the torment of being pulled in opposite directions – these are indications that an infusion of heavenly wisdom is needed. That’s what I seek.
I have ongoing conversations with several people in private about these issues, and from time to time I may report on the information and ideas I am gaining through those conversations, as long as I can do so without injuring anyone’s delicacy or betraying their expectation to privacy.
If you want to submit materials for consideration please leave them in the comment section or email them to me at alanaasbyroberts (at) yahoo (dot) com
I won’t necessarily include everything that is suggested to me. I am looking for honest, joyful, moderate, healthy opinions supported by well-researched sources of information. As such, inclusion does not imply complete or partial endorsment.
Below are a few links that I hope will grow longer as time goes by.
Efforts to Modify Sexual Orientation Throckmorton
Did Jesus Bless Homosexuality? More Throckmorton 🙂
The Animus Blog Post on Jungian Gender Theory
Are Women Human? Blog Review of Sayer’s Famous Essay
What Is Intersex? There’s been some discussion among my friends about what physical intersexuality means (if anything) for our sexuo-theological theories. First one must know what it is and how it is experienced.
Homosexuality and the Orthodox Church Here is a very decent explication of the normal Orthodox view.