“Patrick”

Tony Sig
Before beginning my series on Christians and Homosexuality, I feel it appropriate to tell people about Patrick.

But first, some background.

When I was raised in a small town. I do not ever remember talking about homosexuality when I was younger. It was never an issue because the issue did not present itself. There were likely people of homosexual orientation in my small town, but I did not know them, they did not know me, I was just never exposed to gay people. It is probably because of that that it never really came up in church. Why preach against sinners who are nowhere to be found? My dad has always been attentive to the voice of the Spirit and so the sermons tend to be focused on the relevant, not ranting for no good reason. He has never been the kind to simply go on and on about the culture at large. In fact he recently told me that he does not like to talk politics or religion! I said: “If only more pastors were like you!”

Anyway, the main point I am trying to make is that while of course I never would have approved of homosexuality, it was not really a big deal. It wasn’t something I thought about or talked about. Even when we moved to a slightly larger town, where I knew at least one flute player in my high school band to be a covert homosexual, it was not a presenting issue.

But when I started “street witnessing” in an area of Minneapolis known as “Uptown” – a thoroughly “liberal” and even “gay” area of town – I began to meet and spend a bit of time with some gay people.

I was very uncomfortable.

Eventually I would live in Uptown with my new wife, and I worked as a server at a large seafood restaurant there. For the first time I was working with A LOT of gay people. Well, at least five. In addition, I was probably one of the only actively practicing Christians in the place, it was invigorating.

Patrick was one of the servers there who was gay. He was about my age and incredibly flamboyant. He had tons of energy and spunk, talked fast, and was a dancer. Periodically he would bust a move in the server station. He was a lot shorter than me and his blond hair line was already slightly receding. One night after work we went for a beer nearby. (side note. up till this point I had only had a few glasses of red wine, this was to be my first beer. My first Guinness. Needless to say my life has never been the same…oh, and there was Patrick)

I do not remember if we had yet talked about religion but we ended up on the topic. As it turned out, Patrick had been raised Assemblies of God. He still had pentecostal running in his blood and he told me how much he missed church. You see, he had been very involved at church, and had even been a bible study leader. But he eventually came out and was progressively ostricized out of the church. He told me how much he loves God, and how he particularly loves worship. As he was a trained dancer he told me how he loved to sing and dance before God in passionate praise.

Patrick told me about how hurt he was that nobody stood by him from the church and he felt that he wasn’t just being told he couldn’t come to church, but that he couldn’t be in relationship with God. I asked him why he doesn’t just go to a liberal church and he said he was a pentecostal.

He also recalled the many many nights he had where he pleaded with God to take away his homosexuality.

He would pray for hours and hours begging to be “cured,” crying and crying. But no cure came.

Patrick was still attracted to men. He thus concluded that God had made him that way, because surely God would take away his sinful desires if that is what they were. But he still did not embrace his homosexuality, a bit of him still “knew” it was wrong, even if he did feel that he could not help being gay. And so Patrick was in a state of utter confusion and sadness. On the one hand he so loved God, of this there can be no question. His faith was in Jesus Christ, and he wanted to go to church so badly. But on the other hand, he would never really be accepted, and he would likely not have even be allowed to stay, let alone get involved.

I was still a kid, a mere 21 years old. I had been raised a conservative Pentecostal, and I didn’t know anything about being gay or about gay people. I had no idea what to say. I wanted to comfort him, to tell him that everything was going to be ok. But I still believed homosexuality was wrong, I wasn’t about to tell him to embrace his orientation. I wanted to invite him to my church, but I knew he wouldn’t be accepted there either. I just wanted him to know that I knew that his relationship with God was real, that I loved him and that he should just keep being a Christian. But how can a Christian live a gay life I thought?

I knew deep down that I was a sinner too, and I got to go to church, I got to lead worship and lead Bible studies.

The injustice of it all!

Since that day I have strove in my mind to make an orthodox argument for the creation of space for homosexuals in traditional church. As will become clearer as these posts go along, I have not yet been convinced that the active homosexual life is in keeping with God’s will, but I think that the Lord has helped me to better appreciate my own sinfulness, and so recognize the hypocrisy of holding the gay Christian at arms length.

I haven’t seen Patrick in years, but I would love see him, and thank him for being Jesus to me that night, and many nights since.

Advertisements

4 Comments

  1. Hello! Thought provoking post.

    A few thoughts and questions. Towards the end you state “I have not yet been convinced that the active homosexual lifestyle is in keeping with God’s will, but I think that the Lord has helped me to better appreciate my own sinfulness, and so recognize the hypocrisy of holding the gay Christian at arms length.”

    Questions as to “holding gay Christians at arms length” immediately begin to flow.

    What do you mean by that? Is that a statement coming from your experience of a situation being handled poorly or your desire to not offend the gay Christian severely? Or maybe something else.

    Matthew 18:17 which is not specifically dealing with sexual sin but sin in general “and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

    Take this question as humble and kind hearted as possible as I still wrestle with it. How would the church have treated a pagan or tax collector?

    Even more forceful (or seemingly forceful) is Paul, 1 Cor 5:11 “But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.” Notice this passage is not only about sexual immorality. Perhaps much of the hypocrisy we find is that sexual immorality has been termed “The Sin.” Maybe the church has ignored the command “Be holy for I am holy.”

    The question here is what does “associate” and “with such a man do not even eat” mean for that culture? What did the relationship look like? And does that translate to having a beer with them today?

    I look forward to see how you take Matthew 18 and 1st Cor 5 in modern context.

    Blessings.

    Reply

  2. Thanks Kevin for your input.

    The point of this particular post is to simply sit in moment of pain and struggle with Patrick, and those like him who put their trust in our Lord and are conflicted about their sexuality. There will be time for reflection and challenge, but there are times to wait and struggle with others. This seems to be at least one consequence of our understanding of the Incarnation. The entering in and taking up of the pains of fallen humanity.

    I will attempt in time to address certain scriptural passages, and Christian doctrines; but I make no claim to having a systematic and coherent case for where I am coming from. That is at least part of the very nature of blogs, their incompleteness and their request for dialogue.

    I would also perhaps have some questions about a hermeneutic which simply quotes small snippits from verses and uses them to imply a doctrine when in fact there are other passages which balance it out. The old datum is that Scripture should interpret Scripture. So while a cursory glance at Matt.18.17 might cause one pause, it should also cause pause that Jesus drank wine and had intimate fellowship with “pagans and tax collectors.” So I don’t think that Matt. 18.17 stands on its own, it needs the whole testimony of scripture. Notice there is no dogma in the Creeds or in Catechisms which says that every sinner should be thrust from fellowship.

    And to follow your logic through in your interpretation of I Cor, it should be a strange thing indeed to say that we are called to reach “sinners” but we can’t spend time with them. Not least when doing just that thing is what got Jesus in a lot of trouble! “He is a glutton and drunkard who hangs out with sinners and tax collectors.” Would Paul have ejected Jesus from fellowship?

    I hope you follow our posts and continue to ask questions. My response too is offered humbly and kind heartedly. Blogs on issues like this can easily degenerate into yelling matches, and I am grateful for your tenor.

    God Bless,

    Tony

    Reply

  3. Hey Tony.

    Texts of Jesus eating with tax collectors, much less calling one to be his disciple, also are in my head. I know I pulled a text out of 1 Cor 5. It was meant to be the point. Verse 10 immediately prior is a fuller view. I guess I took it as a given that we would be in the world, not of it. Next time I’ll just put the whole thing in there. So I agree on all points in having a sound hermeneutic.

    Hopefully you’ll find I’m not that illogical to say that Paul would have kicked Jesus out.

    Those passages were meant to cause pause. I’m curious as to how you understand them to function in the larger context.

    It appears that is in order for another post though so we can save the dialogue until then! I’m quite excited to see them appear.

    I learned of this blog from AGThinkTank back when Reed’s post on “Why The AG Left Me” appeared.

    Reply

  4. Tony,
    I appreciate your tenor and overall heart in this post. As we have covered this topic in personal discussions many times, you know where I stand. That said, I think what you have done here is absolutely spot on. Whichever side of this debate that one falls on, the first step must be for everyone to realize the humanity of the issue. We must all take pause and realize how close we really are to the situation. It is not enough to simply loft rhetorical jabs from the distance. Hopefully this will lead to a unique discussion of this topic that does not find itself mired in anger and resentment.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s