On being a gay Christian

A few days ago, the Ask Papabear column featured a letter from an individual with some very good questions, but I didn’t feel he got the best answer he could have. So the following is my attempt to add to the initial answer and correct a few errors in Papabear’s response.

 

Wolfthorne,

I saw your email to Papabear, and you ask some really good questions. I understand the tension between what the scriptures say about this topic, and what your body says and also what our culture today says.

But sadly, Papabear did not provide the best advice and I’d like to offer an alternative answer that better answers your questions.

If you don’t mind, you say you are an apostate. Why is it you have walked away from the faith? Is it because you do not like what you believe it says about your orientation, or is it some other reason? Have you been able to objectively falsify it, or do you believe it to say things about you that you do not like? I realize this is a very personal question, but it’s an important one to know the answer to.

To be clear, I am answering your question from the perspective of a “walking talking duck” Christian. Like your mother, I am very committed to the faith and fervently believe it to be true, and proclaim it as such. I do not keep my faith to myself but am very public about it. You’d also consider me a very theologically conservative type.

And I will tell you the Bible does not say you have to give up “being gay” in order to be a Christian. It simply is not there. What is there, and this is where a few too many people are turned away, is that it does set certain standards of behavior and considers all sexual activity outside the marriage covenant to be wrong. When you strip away all the details, that is what you have left. By all means make of that what you will.

The Bible does not say whether or not “being gay” is a choice. That’s irrelevant from the perspective of Scripture. It has nothing positive or negative to say about being emotionally or romantically attracted to people of the same sex as you. (I would dare to say the authors weren’t quite aware that was a thing.) It does not say this attraction is a choice or something you are born with. What it does say is that you are not to have sex with anyone who is not your marriage partner. And I trust you’ll agree that whether or not you engage in sexual intercourse is a choice you make.

As someone in a similar situation to you, I recognize there is more to life than sex (something I agree with Papabear on) and pursuing sex is not something I want to do. I recommend you pursue a deep, intimate friendship with someone whom you trust, and leave sex out of the equation altogether.

There’s something Papabear touched on but got wrong about that. He’s right that way back when, adelphopoiesis was a thing. But it was not, as he claims and as Boswell claims, an endorsement of a gay relationship with sex expected. Boswell has been rather thoroughly refuted when it comes to this (1). Adelphopoiesis was a formal recognition of kinship, and it had nothing to do with sex. For that matter, quite often the two parties were already married–to women–and might even have had children. For a scriptural example of two men who would have been united in this way, had the ritual been around at the time, look to David and Jonathan. They were very dear friends, they viewed each other as brothers, but they were not lovers.

Papabear also doesn’t seem to know how we got the Bible. It was not edited by committee, and no groups of humans sat down and decided what books were in and what books were out. Development of the canon was a process that did indeed take centuries, but it was a matter of tradition and consensus. For the New Testament it was like this. There were certain books that everyone agreed on right away (the four gospels), some books that were less certain (Hebrews, 2 Peter, Revelation), some books that not everyone agreed was scripture (Shepherd of Hermas), and some books that everyone except the fringe groups who wrote them recognized as fake (all the various gnostic gospels and books). The Old Testament followed a similar path. Over the centuries you had the books everyone recognized (the Torah) and the other books which some accepted and some didn’t. In both instances, after consensus was reached, they held councils acknowledging that they’d reached this consensus. There was no formal decree of what belonged and what didn’t.

There is some disagreement today on what books belong in the Old Testament, and the rejection of apocryphal books is something the Protestant churches get wrong, but it is incorrect to say there are multiple versions of the Bible. By and large, everyone is using the same source documents to translate the Bible from. (It wasn’t a game of telephone or translations of translations. We have accumulated enough manuscripts by now to trace the history of any changes that took place, and we know what the original documents said with a very high degree of certainty.)

In conclusion, Papabear does have some good points, but what he says is incomplete, especially from a Christian perspective, which is your background. You do need to tread carefully, but there is a wholesome, fulfilling answer to your question to be found in friendship. I think you will find all you are seeking in a relationship there.

  1. Why Boswell is wrong. http://www.newoxfordreview.org/reviews.jsp?print=1&did=1294-viscuso

Edit: Fixed the link at the top so you can actually see it exists.

Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling…

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,

How many of you have read this verse before? There’s something profound in it, yet so simple you may overlook it. Read it again.

“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling…”

This is a departure from the lifestyle of modern Christians in the West today. True, most will agree with this verse with their lips and in their minds, but so many qualifiers are hung from this phrase that you can no longer see the truth beneath the clown costume others have put on it.

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling… sometimes.

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling… into habitual sin.

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling… even though you sin every day.

Present you faultless… after death removes our sinful flesh.

Present you faultless… because God sees the sacrifice of Jesus and not our sin.

I don’t really want to go on.

The modern Church has abandoned the truth of God and has substituted a man-pleasing, sin-accepting false gospel in its place. They can read the same words everyone else can, but because they love their sin more than God, and because they know in their hearts they do not meet the expectations of God and probably have a seared conscience, they have to add these qualifiers.

Many in the Church – I would dare to say most in the Church – have never felt godly sorrow leading to repentance. Why do I say this? Because many of them would admit to sinning every day in word, thought, and deed. They are still in the “trying to overcome” stage where if they think they beat themselves up enough and make themselves miserable enough, the temptations they have will go away and they’ll stop falling for the same lies over and over again. A despicable few go so far as to glory in their sins and point to their sin as an example of their humility and right standing before God. (I have met someone like this.)

Allow me to make something clear: if you are still persisting in your sin, then you have not repented of your sin. You are still a slave to your sin, which means you are not a slave of righteousness, which means you have not been born again.

Which means you do not know God.

But rather than fall on their knees in fear of the God who will visit his wrath upon them, instead of repenting of their sin and pleading for pardon, instead of letting the blood of Jesus cleanse them of all unrighteousness, they come up with excuses. They implement regimens intended to prevent them from committing the sin, perhaps, but these are external acts leaving the root cause untreated. Their hearts are never changed. Rather than abandon their pride and place all their trust in the one who is able to keep them from falling, they try to improve their own lives little by little. Many of them will have the gall to accuse of pride all those who do place all their trust in God.

The solution is simple, although for those whose pride has been deeply implanted, difficult to implement. Believe in Jesus and the one who sent him. Repent of your sins. Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. God has the power to save you from sin, and if you love God, you will keep his commandments anyway. You will no longer live day-to-day fretting about whether or not you will sin some way or another, no longer agonize about every decision you make, because you will know that you love God and seek to live for him in all you do.

Believe in the one who is able to keep you from stumbling, and who will present you blameless before God.

New Podcast

If you have not noticed, we have scaled back our release of WagzTail episodes to once a week. The reason for this is twofold: First, we have no full-time editor, so we are currently limited to our spare time. Second, we have launched a new podcast, called ChristianPaws.

We had wanted to reduce the often quite religious nature of WagzTail, portraying it instead only as a family-friendly podcast, but we did not want to abandon deep theological talks, either. To do that, and to tie it in with the forum ChristianPaws (see the forum link at the top of the page), we have moved the religious-themed topics to their own dedicated show, with a slightly different format from the familiar WagzTail.

Today is Sunday, so a new episode will have been released on the forums by the time you see this. This week we are talking about faith. You ought to check it out!

Don’t Forget…

In the weekly Bible study we hold over IRC, we have begun going over Psalm 119 as a study of some of the basics of the Christian faith. This is sort of a spoiler of tomorrow, but almost no one who attends reads my blog, so it’s not like they’ll try to steal any talking points.

If they do, then maybe there will be more opportunity for discussion.

Anyway, I was reading the section again and have been thinking on verse 16.

I shall delight in Your statutes;
I shall not forget Your word (NASB)

There are many things I have heard or learned in my life, which I have already forgotten. I cannot even give an accurate estimate of what all these things may be, because I do not remember what all I have forgotten. Names of classmates whose faces I recall but names I do not serve as examples. So do lessons from my school days, and odds and ends at work. There is so much information out there that it is impossible to retain all of it.

Why is it forgotten? It is forgotten because it is not used. It is pushed aside to make room for other bits of information that my current situation calls for, or after years of disuse it becomes mixed up with other old pieces of information.

What is remembered? It is either the things I keep at the forefront of my mind all the time, or those things I value enough to recall from time to time and, because they interest me, I do not forget.

Enough of that. The psalmist declared that he delighted in God’s law and made a decision not to forget God’s word. Is this not a noble goal? Not only is it noble, it’s within the reach of anyone who wishes to attain it.

All it takes is the decision that God’s word is important enough to read and know, and to refresh your memory of it often.

Transformation and Christians — Intent to Write

For some time I have wondered about the appropriateness of Christians partaking in transformation art, not just when it becomes the defining characteristic and a time-waster, but transformation art in general. Some have made comments connecting TF-related media to the Christian faith, viewing transformation in a positive manner, so I have considered those as well. Over the next few weeks you will begin seeing some more detailed thoughts on the matter.

Preparing a reading list

I’ve got my paws on a few books, one of which I’ve had sitting around for a few months and has been sitting at the end of the “to-read” list, but now that I have reached the end of that list, it is time to expand it. Recently I finished Paradise Lost by John Milton. It took a few pages to get used to the style, but once I did the reading became natural.

To start, I want to do a little bit of light reading and pick up a Redwall book I purchased back in October, Loamhedge by name. I am not particularly a fan of the books; there are some I like but too many of them follow the same tired plot for my taste, and it teaches a form of awkward absolutes: some animals are always good and others are always bad, with exceedingly rare exceptions. The world does not work that way.

Also on the list is John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion. I have read portions of it in the past but have yet to suffer my way through the entire work. Of all the books on my list, this is probably the one I look forward to the least.

Third is The Natural Ability of Man, by Jesse Morrell. He is an open-air preacher I’ve been watching for the past couple years or so, and he has a number of sound things to say.

Edit: I would also consider various furry novels. Does anyone know of any decent ones? (Please do not recommend Kyell Gold. I have yet to see anything of his that I would deem appropriate.)

Prayer, and thoughts on the past year

God, how is it possible to repair shattered relationships or friendships or, barring that, sweep up what remains? In the past few months, while some friendships have been strengthened and nurtured beyond what I would ever have imagined, there are others that, neglected and starved for so long, are revealing themselves as far more damaged than I would have anticipated. Perhaps it is naivete on my part, as I am much at fault for neglecting them, but the realization is no less painful. But now that they have been so openly displayed, Adonai, where do I go from here? How is it possible to speak to them when the very thought is both exciting and dreadful? But to neglect this would be sin. God, the answer is apparent. Please give me strength and wisdom to carry it out. It must be done.

Adonai, this past year has not been a good one, in retrospect. While yes, some wonderful friendships have been nurtured, what of the broken ones? Especially the tragic way they have developed? Too much has been made manifest, more than I would have wanted to see. “Christian” sites in the furry fandom I would have loved to support show themselves to be tainted by sin, from the leadership to the users. How am I to support or endorse that which promotes what You abhor? How do I speak to the people? Is a schism wise? There may not be another option but, Adonai, I don’t wish it should come to that.

Please make it more clear.

Challenge to Christian Furs

A few weeks ago, a friend posed this question to me: why does it seem that furries go to the furry fandom for comfort instead of to Christ? This is a fair question, and one that I have wondered in the past. The answer is simple, yet it is disheartening.

For those who do not know, the furry fandom sees itself as very accepting. Possibly due to the negative image the outside world has of the fandom, it is willing to accept other outcasts of society: sexual deviants, the irreligious, even anarchists. Put another way, the otherwise-minded. I could discuss the feedback loop this mentality creates – and probably will in another post – but for now we can leave it alone. But let me provide you with some data. According to the State of the Fandom 2008, approximately a quarter of furries are homosexual, a quarter heterosexual, and a third bisexual (the others gave no preference). Fewer than 20% of responders identified themselves as “Christian,” with the majority being agnostic and atheist. There were more pagans than Protestants. And furries tend to be much more open about their sexuality, their (anti)religious beliefs, or other behaviors. This adds another dimension to the analysis. But the overall attitude is one that will allow most any socially-marginalized mindset.

In other words, the fandom gives furries an opportunity to “feel good” about themselves, where they can experience what passes for love.

What does this mean for Christian furs? We find ourselves a minority in the fandom, generally opposed to the filth that makes up no small part of it. We are a sub-class of sorts.

Now, I said the furry fandom came across as accepting. I will maintain this position. However, there is a mindset that they are not as willing to tolerate, and that is evangelical Christianity. Why is this? I offer one primary reason: a perceived lack of love.

Mainstream furries see a crowd that has sacrificed the love of God for traditions of man, erecting an arbitrary standard based not on the Scriptures but on what they feel is acceptable. There is no love here. Instead, there is coldness, a silent look that tells the furry that “their kind” isn’t allowed here. And sometimes it isn’t silent, but a word of condemnation. So furries see a Church that is distant, that openly condemns them without knowing them. I think this is the largest hurdle Christians in the furry community face. And some in the fandom propagate this attitude. Without taking the time to see furries as humans, they instead focus on their sinful behavior and rail at them until the furries return the favor and respond with similar, hateful words. Our reputation has been tarnished by those who speak before they think.

This is not to say that we should ignore the darkness in the fandom. We can’t do that; we’d be abandoning our duty as Christians if we let them wallow in their chains, without declaring freedom. But we also can’t treat them as inhuman filth. God created them. They have value. And we must not forget that we were in darkness too, once.

I want to be like Jesus. He went to the ones who needed Him, speaking truth and love because He IS the truth and love! I do not want to wink at the works of darkness, but neither do I want to place myself on a pedestal, viewing those around me as lower than I am. I want to live my life in full surrender to God, seeing His creation as He sees it and doing as He directs, no matter what.

Anyone else?

Testimony

I’ve never done this before, so bear with me, please. :)

As you may have seen, the idea of whether or not Christians sin is very important to me. But it wasn’t always. For years (at home and in church), I was told that Christians would still sin now and again. It was okay, we all had a sin nature, and we weren’t going to be freed from that until we went to heaven. I believed it, since I hadn’t heard anything different.

Then, what is it, a year ago? Or longer, I can’t remember. Anyway, a man whom I now consider to be my mentor and dear friend began to share his beliefs with me. He said that he hadn’t sinned since he became a Christian, and that he didn’t think Christians sinned. As you can imagine, I was put off by the whole thing. How dare he say I wasn’t a Christian? Sure, he wouldn’t go out and say it, but wasn’t that what he was implying? It angered me, and for a while I dismissed what he said. Then when he brought it up again, I started looking in the Bible for myself, to show him where he was wrong. I knew I was a Christian, and I still sinned! Same with many people I knew!

But the expected didn’t happen. The more I searched the Scriptures, I found in me a small, gentle push to listen to this new, ridiculous (to me) doctrine. As time passed, I found myself thinking it would be nice if what he said were true, then wanting it to be true. Keep in mind I had no idea these changes were happening to me at the time; it wasn’t until I looked back and saw that my mind had indeed changed. Then it came time for the ultimate step: would I accept the sinless Christian doctrine, or would I continue to resist it?

The answer was obvious. That day I fully embraced it and told God that my life was His–crucify this sinful flesh and make me a new creation! I didn’t say it exactly like that, of course, but that’s what I meant.

The next few days, oh! how I wish I could describe them. I felt different. Now, I’m not one to trust feelings, and I fully expected the feeling to pass, which it did eventually. But I knew something had changed in me. Paul said that believers are no longer slaves to sin. Jesus said that those He frees are free indeed. I didn’t have to sin anymore! I was freed from the bondage of sin! What a joyous thought!

And then I started reading the Bible like never before. This isn’t to say I read it more often, but that I read verses in a whole new light.

My views were quickly denounced by my family and friends, and they still don’t agree with me. My parents hope that it’s “just a phase,” that in a few months I’ll be back to normal. I just have to think this through, that’s all. But they don’t understand. God gave me a taste of a sinless life. He showed me that through His power indeed all things were possible. He promised that He would provide a way of escape in every temptation. How can I fall back? Why would I WANT to?

Now, it is not through my own efforts that I no longer sin. It is only God, who is abundant in grace, who saved me from sin! Some misunderstand, thinking that one has to keep his mind so focused on not sinning that he becomes preoccupied and becomes useless, not helping people in need, like we’re supposed to. That is not the case! It does not take the forefront of my mind, it is not a conscious effort. Living right comes naturally! I am truly a new creation in Christ Jesus!

That said, can you not see why I have to talk about it? Too many people don’t know the joy of being free, and I want desperately to show them! I know people will resist me, ridicule me and tell me that I don’t know what I’m talking about. And several of these are pastors! It saddens me to see them like that. :(