Come on, How Many Times Do We Have to Go through This?
1 Thessalonians is anything but notorious for its rhetoric – quite frankly, I recalled nothing of the book even as I perused the pages once again. It discusses a few topics briefly, but it truly does not dwell on anything with any longevity. Life after death gets a brief mention, ensuring believers they will one day be resurrected. The second coming of Christ gets a reference (and it is increasingly more obvious that Paul thinks it will be happening within his lifetime). Paul also spends some of his time discussing sexuality. I do not normally quote large chunks of scripture for you to read (I pride myself in picking out the tid bits that seem most important so that we can get to the actual blog stuff), but I think it would be important for you to take a gander at what exactly he has to say:
It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.
1 Thessalonians 4:3–8 (NIV)
Anyone who is surprised by Paul’s instruction should go back to the first entry and just start this blog over again. None of the specifics here are new – remain pure, avoid sexual immorality, God will punish – however, the language that Paul uses is much more personal. He says, “control your own body” and says that in sin we do not “reject a human being but God.” Also, Paul addresses fellow Christians here, not repudiated souls without a wisp of morality. He is looking all the finest individuals in the eye and saying, “Have a little impulse control – jeez.”
This has nothing to do with homosexuality; this is about normal human beings not touching one another in lust, until the appropriate time (assumed to be marriage, though I have yet to find that “wait ‘til marriage” verse). To many people, these strictures are draconian, leading to unfulfilling sex lives and incompatibility (if you wait ‘til marriage, well then, how do you know you’ll be a good fit sexually?). Dan Savage must hate these verses.
So let’s assume for a second that everyone – man, woman, queer, straight – decided to live by these rules. We all know that the straight couple is honored by God, but what about the gay couple? Does their mutual and honest affection for one another dishonor God, because it is homosexual? If two men disregard lust and fall in love, then are they not living by the standards set out by Paul?
Now, this is all theoretical, because very few gay men engage in sexual activity exclusively in the bounds of “love.” There are a ton of statistics out there about how promiscuous gay men are and how their sexual habits differ from their straight counterparts. The Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry asserts that 28% of gay men have had over 1,000 sexual partners (with a median between 100 – 150) and that only 4.5% of gay men in relationships practice fidelity (compared to 75.5% of straight men). You can accept or deny these numbers as you’d like, but before you go trudging off to the internet, be forewarned that no one really has any definitive numbers on the issue. However, as a very biased participant in the gay community, I will make the anecdotal assertion that gay men tend to be more sexually active than straight men.
Now, we could go on and on about why that may be the case, but I think it will ultimately cloud the point here.
I often hear gay men who are either formerly or never religious taking up arms about the passages in the Bible that condemn their nature. And honestly, I wonder why they care so much about it. After all, if suddenly Christians openly accepted gay people, would they flood back into the church? Would they wait until marriage or would that also be thrown off as an archaic expectation?
I think it comes from insecurity – at least for me. It comes from this idea that I was born in a way that set up an immediate roadblock, one that is far more obvious and shameful than anything else floating around the Christian community. I don’t know – I am so confident and comfortable in my identity now, but still there is that nagging, lagging feeling.
All you can do is just move past it.