Sex in the City; Sex in the Church I.

How do you spell love? How do you spell sex? G-I-V-E? T-A-K-E? L-U-S-T? G-I-F-T? W-H-O-L-E-N-E-S-S? What does it mean to be a whole person, wholly given to God, & wholly given to another person?


Sometimes The Church deliberately or inadvertently requires a false front that everything in life is ok. How then can The Church be a place of spiritual healing? Churches & polite church ladies often try to sweep differences under the rug to avoid conflict, presenting a false cohesion to the community rather than accepting diversity of opinions & experiences, as if differences where inherently a problem. Avoidance benefits no one in the long term. The topic of sexuality, & particularly welcoming GLBT people, cannot be avoided or ignored. The Church should mirror God’s love & welcome, but is instead quite broken.


Sexuality is relational. One’s sexuality impacts how one relates to friends & family. Think of all the scenarios that could include a spouse- parties, social media pictures, legal benefits, family events, weddings, funerals, church, traveling, shopping… When a spouse is a partner, they are a life partner, & included in every part of life- not just the bedroom or home life.


The terms homosexual & heterosexual, when referring to a person, [such as he/she is a homosexual] oversimplify & debase complex human experiences of love, sexuality, & attraction. Sexuality is more than particular intimate behavior. Sexuality is relational & not entirely private. Particular expressions of sexuality are private, but sexuality in a broad sense is very much public. This is a pain of one’s sexuality being silenced- a disconnection from public social life, especially church life  where one should be most free to be authentic.


When discussing “GLBT issues”, as it is sometimes called, there are often statements like “love the sinner & hate the sin”, or “feelings may be there just don’t act on them”. Of course not every feeling will be acted on! Many, may be most, GLBT people in The Church have a high level of self-control because they have needed to be discrete before coming out anyway. There are sexuality ethics & standards – whether heterosexual or homosexual. One’s sexuality is part of one’s identity, so “love the sinner & hate the sin” is often heard as “I don’t understand how important your sexuality is to you, but I think it is wrong. Therefore, your sense of self is wrong”. This separation of selves is antithetical to Christian faith- a call to be wholly God’s.


Attempting to separate a person’s mind, body, spirit, & sexuality is unethical & a justice issue. As if churches are saying, you’re welcome here, but check part of yourself at the door. How does that attitude facilitate authentic faith & community? If God’s relationship to The Church is one of total connection & gift, then shouldn’t people’s relationship in The Church ideally also be one of total connection & gift?


Separating faith & action is dangerous. What some people call “same sex attraction” [SSA] others call “same gender loving” [SGL]. The emphasis of love is important. Love is an action. Separating feelings & behavior essentially separates attraction & love. Ideally love & attraction are inseparable for romantic love, even if the specifics of attraction [hello gray hair & wrinkles!] such as in a long-term marriage change over a lifetime.


Sometimes there are well-intended attempts to reject sexuality as an identity marker because sexuality is only a part of what it means to be human. However, examining motivations here is key. Minimizing sexuality becomes misguided when used as a way to avoid uncomfortable realities and/or conversations, or quiet others with different opinions & experience than one’s own. Sexuality is truly no small part of identity- definitely a part, but not an isolated part.


Sexuality is a stewardship issue. The Greatest Commandment is to love the Lord your God with all of you of your heart mind, soul, & strength. [Mark 12:30] This commandment is meant to be all inclusive- all of one’s self. Sexuality is part of one’s self; a gift to be carefully given & received. Even a celibate person can give & receive sexuality by appreciating the beauty of another & by genuinely loving. Not all love is sexual, but everything sexual should be about love.


“Truly He taught us to love one another;

His law is love and His gospel is peace.

Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;

And in His name all oppression shall cease.

Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,

Let all within us praise His holy name.”

-Adolphe Adam