Going After Straight Christians

When I wrote “I choose not to be straight” I finished with a flourish:

For in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, gay nor straight.

This has led some to wonder whether I am abandoning all other identities other than Christian. If so, then my post proves too much. We shouldn’t identify according to modern categorizations of sexuality but neither should we identify as anything. We’re simply in Christ. In every other sense we’re a blank sheet.

But I’m not saying that. Firstly, Paul is happy to speak to people about their particular identities and responsibilities as Jews/Greeks, as slaves/free and as male/female. What he’s saying is that all are on an equal footing and have full access to God in Christ. That’s the Galatians-3-sense in which there is no “gay or straight” – these labels mean nothing in terms of our ability to come to God in Christ.

But of course there are a thousand ways in which our nationality, our gender, our calling and, yes, even our sexuality shape us. Those identities are not eliminated by being “in Christ”  but they must all be re-thought, re-ordered and re-established as sub-identities by grace and through faith.

As we do that – as we re-think sexuality – we come up against something we don’t find with, for instance, gender. From Genesis 1 onwards, gender is a given fact of our humanity. Only in the last hundred years or so have westerners thought of sexuality the way we have. Therefore, when the re-think comes, gender has infinitely more hold on us than these modern categories.

One Facebook commenter took me as abandoning all sub-identities, gender included. Not at all. And one of my biggest beefs with PoMo-Sexuality is its side-lining of gender in favour of a rather Gnostic love of ‘desires.’ One of the great problems with our modern view of sexuality is its disregard for the given-ness of our physical lives. I am male, I am in a one-flesh union – FACT. Who I am determines what I do with my sexual desires, my sexual desires don’t determine who I am.

So gender has a hugely more massive purchase on my identity than “sexuality.” But in my opinion, the way to challenge our modern categories of “sexuality” is to begin with “heterosexual”. Before we say “You mustn’t be a Gay Christian” I’d rather we said “You mustn’t be a Straight Christian.” There are many reasons for this.

Firstly, leading with repentance is a gospel move.  Secondly, if we’re going to subvert a whole system of thought we need to say disruptive and shocking things. But thirdly – and mainly – I think a side-B “Gay Christian”  can end up being far more subversive of our false perspectives on sexuality than an unthinking “Straight Christian.” The side-B “Gay Christian” has done a lot more work on these identity issues and on the meaning of Scripture than your average, unthinking “Straight Christian.” The “Straight Christian” probably doesn’t even know they are capitulating to unbiblical categories. The side-B “Gay Christian” is at least offering a measure of resistance to them. Therefore celibate “Gay Christians” are worthy of far more respect than those who, by default, buy into an unbiblical framework but simply happen to be on the more acceptable end of the spectrum!

This came home to me when I posted an article called “Is God homophobic?” I upheld the biblical teaching of sex belonging solely within the marriage of a man and a woman. This, however, was not enough to satisfy a commenter called “Independent Voter.” He wrote…

Despite your watering down and deflecting, God’s word on this remains the same as it ever was: That homosexuality is an abomination, that God gave them up to their vile passions to receive in them the results of their chosen lifestyle. yell and scream all you want and call me whatever you want to call me. You nor I can change a word of The Bible. (emphasis mine)

Notice the irony? He doesn’t want to change a word of the Bible – so instead he’s changed several. Where the Bible is interested in behaviour, he’s interested in “homosexuality” and in “lifestyle” – terms from Freudian and Adlerian psychology. He has no idea that he has capitulated to an atheistic world-view. He’s just being “biblical.” That’s why we need to go after the “Straights”!

So… Yes to sub-identities. Yes to the importance of gender. Yes to sex belonging in marriage between a man and a woman. But, please No to an unthinking “Straight” Christianity.

Posted on by Glen in apologetics, culture, sex

About Glen

I’m a preacher in Eastbourne, married to Emma.

8 Responses to Going After Straight Christians

  1. Pingback: I choose not to be straight | Christ the Truth

  2. Brian Midmore

    .Yes, talking of gay and straight Christians creates two clubs to belong to, one unrighteous the other righteous. This lends itself to pharisseeism ‘ I thank you God that I am not like this tax collector’. In the church there are no clubs and individuals are judged according to their deeds and not their identity. Yes this does challenge the security of the Straight identity but the reason that the church is maligned for a conservative stand on sexual behaviour is because the homosexual identity has become sacrosanct. For centuries homosexuals were ashamed of their identity but recently they have become proud of it (gay pride marches etc). The gospel says ‘Loose your cherished identity in Christ’ ‘What was gain to me I count but loss….’. This is not easy if you have taken centuries becoming proud of your identity. What is very wrong and in fact another gospel is when gays are told that they need to adopt the identity of a straight person, they need to join the straight club. They need to become respectable, they need to marry a member of the opposite sex. This is like the Galatians being told that they must become properly Jewish by circumcision. Nonetheless Paul would still appeal to them to live a holy life according to God’s commands.

  3. Glen

    Hi Brian,

    Yes Galatians sprung to my mind too. Just because circumcision means nothing doesn’t mean uncircumcision means anything! Neither identity counts. What counts is faith working through love.

  4. Brian Midmore

    I would go further concerning Galatians and maintain that it not so much about salvation by faith against salvation by works (as Luther thought) and much more about identity and losing this in Christ. (Now once we challenge Luther’s reading we will immediately step on a number of toes). In Phil 3. 4-9 Paul rubbishes his past Jewish identity which was affirmed and confirmed by the works of the law. Instead of this ‘righteousness from the law’ he now had a righteousness that was from faith. His Jewish identity and the works of the Law that affirmed this was no longer the basis for full covenantal membership but now faith in Christ establishes him as a child of God. This is the story told in Galatians: Dont go back to the old ways where the ‘works of the law’ established you as a kosher member of the covenant since now it is faith in Jesus the Messiah that does this. Thus the ‘works of the law’ dont represent some moralistic effort to work our ways into God’s good books (as Luther imagined by analogy with his mediaeval catholic experience) but rather the works that establish and confirm you as a full kosher covenant member. This different and complementary way of reading Galatians (which comes from scholars such as NT Wright) helps us to see beyond the hegemony of ‘legalism’. Paul saw the ‘other gospel’ as an attempt to please men by adopting a kosher identity rather than a moralistic strain to please God. Gal 1.10. This reading then maps well onto the issue of straight and gay Christians.

  5. Howard Nowlan

    Brian – was those who were perverting the Gospel Paul seeking to proselytize Gentiles into Judaism, or were the seeking to conform Gentile Christianity to Jewish requirements (works of the law). Paul’s answer on that (Galatians 2:16) is clear – justification is by faith in Jesus Christ, nothing else – that was the issue (hence Luther’s position, that it was the doctrine by which Christianity stands or falls|). What is central to Paul’s theology here (3:6, Romans 4:3), in regards to redemption, is all that counts, to him, to Luther, to us, but sadly seems to be less important to the theology of N T Wright, and after hearing his view for almost a decade now, I’m still unclear as to why.

  6. Howard Nowlan

    )Without the typos!) Brian – were those who were perverting the Gospel of Paul seeking to proselytize Gentiles into Judaism, or were they seeking to conform Gentile Christianity to Jewish requirements (works of the law)? Paul’s answer on that (Galatians 2:16) is clear – justification (salvation) is by faith in Jesus Christ, nothing else – that was the issue (hence Luther’s position, that it was the doctrine by which Christianity stands or falls). What is central to Paul’s theology here (3:6, Romans 4:3), in regards to redemption, is all that counts, to him (Paul), to Luther, to us, but sadly seems to be less important to the theology of N T Wright, and after hearing his view for almost a decade now, I’m still unclear as to why.

  7. Pingback: Being heterosexual is WEIRD | Christ the Truth

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