AnonymousDeleted UserSeptember 25, 2020 at 9:10 am
(Apologies for a very long post ahead)
“Only the fool thinks himself wise” is an aphorism that has bounced around in my brain for a long time that I cannot remember or attribute correctly anywhere. I think the kinder more politically correct /Biblical version of that sentiment is “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom” out of Proverbs, and Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.”
When I think about how I have experienced wisdom in the way of ignorance in my life, I think that it would be around the topic of homosexuality/same sex relationships.
As a younger Christian, it seemed very simple to me, the Bible spoke very clearly. I was going to love the sinner and hate the sin, and someone who was gay and oriented towards the same sex should just abstain from acting on their attractions. Fast forward a few years, I realized that I was attracted to women, and suddenly the really simple directives I had once placed upon others was my own burden, and the issue was so much more complex and nuanced than I realized.
I started spending time with other LGBTQ people (albeit not Christians), and I was ministered to by them in my distress and my neat categories for the us versus them of Christians and non-Christians were getting blurrier (the wise and the foolish, the saved and the lost). The more I studied the Bible, the more I prayed, the more nuance I was discovering, and hand in hand was that learning enough to realize how much I did not know. I learned that I had put my trust and identity and value into my assumptions of my own heterosexuality instead of in Christ to save me. I remember praying to God saying “I don’t know who I am anymore, I’m someone and somewhere I never thought I would be” and God said back to me, “I have always known who you are, even though you did not”.
After many years in what many know as the “side b” camp /pursuing celibacy, my views were evolving, rooted in the same values and fundamental principles of belief that I had, but I was not sure that I was right (perhaps God does call some people to same sex relationships?). I was deeply convicted in prayer, scripture, and the Holy Spirit. I still did not know any same sex Christian couples who could prove that a relationship like this could bare good fruit, but I was starting to think it could be theoretically possible, and I still did not know if it was in the cards for me. I could be right and I could be wrong but I had no way of knowing which I was, but I had to act and stand upon my conviction. During this time I took comfort in the story and words of Martin Luther (from Imperial Diet in Worms 18 April 1521):
“How much more should I, who am but dust and ashes, and so prone to error, desire that every one should bring forward what he can against my doctrine. Therefore, most serene emperor, and you illustrious princes, and all, whether high or low, who hear me, I implore you by the mercies of God to prove to me by the writings of the prophets and apostles that I am in error. As soon as I shall be convinced, I will instantly retract all my errors, and will myself be the first to seize my writings, and commit them to the flames…
Since your most serene majesty and your high mightinesses require of me a simple, clear and direct answer, I will give one, and it is this: I cannot submit my faith either to the pope or to the council, because it is as clear as noonday that they have fallen into error and even into glaring inconsistency with themselves. If, then, I am not convinced by proof from Holy Scripture, or by cogent reasons, if I am not satisfied by the very text I have cited, and if my judgment is not in this way brought into subjection to God’s word, I neither can nor will retract anything; for it cannot be either safe or honest for a Christian to speak against his conscience. Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise; God help me! Amen.”
Since then, God has shown me so much good fruit in so many same sex couples/relationships, and brought me an amazing community that challenges and ministers to me in my faith, but I still cling to that which God worked so hard to teach me: I could be wrong, still, but I will act according to my conviction. Just as I had to live and act accordingly when I felt called to celibacy, I live and act accordingly now, and this is the posture I take towards my theological conflicts with other Christians. When I minister to gay Christians, I never tell them what to do, I point them to the Bible, prayer, and the conviction of the Holy Spirit and tell them to act according to their convictions, because there were so many times that pastors or ministers spiritually gaslit/abused me because they were so sure of their rightness, they could not consider that they could be wrong (and I was right) and I do not want to do the same to others that was done to me. I take that attitude to other issues like predestination or baptism as well, we have to figure out how we are to live according to our limitation ability to know, our ways of ignorance with grace for the possibilities of other’s wisdom and ignorance as well.