The chewy thoughts of a queer Christian

On Pride

I love C. S. Lewis’s stance on sexual morality. I would now like to take some of his words out of context, and think about the notion of gay pride. Don’t get me wrong – C. S. Lewis states quite clearly that he believes homosexuality to be a perversion and that the biological purpose of sex is children. I would disagree. But consider this section:

Modern people are always saying, ‘Sex is nothing to be ashamed of.’ They may mean two things. They may mean ‘There is nothing to be ashamed of in the fact that humans reproduce in a certain way, nor in the fact that it gives pleasure.’ If they mean that, they are right. Christianity says the same… But of course, when people say, ‘Sex is nothing to be ashamed of,’ they may mean ‘the state into which the sexual instinct has now got is nothing to be ashamed of’.

If they mean that, I think they are wrong. I think it is everything to be ashamed of. There is nothing to be ashamed of in enjoying your food: there would be everything to be ashamed of if half the world made food the main interest of their lives and spent their time looking at pictures of food and dribbling and smacking their lips.

– Mere Christianity, p. 98-99

I find this is really apt and applies to much of sex culture. It just worries me that many gay people find that having a niche sexual identity gives them all the more license to live it out. This is often presented as a rejection of mainstream culture – but C. S. Lewis was writing in the 1950s and if anything, sexual liberation has just gotten more and more ingrained since then. I think chastity now represents a far greater break from the norm. It takes a lot more courage to be chaste than to be ‘sexually free’ and that, in fact, it probably saves you more pain in the long run (see my comments on Mumford and Sons’ White Blank Page).

The wearing of the badge, the label, of ‘gay’ holds similar problems. What are you really declaring yourself proud of when you come out? I struggle to come out as gay, partly because my sexuality is more complicated than that, but also because telling someone you’re gay usually brings up images of wild parties, lots of sex, vanity, possibly effeminacy, and a certain willingness to display your body.

If you say, ‘Being gay is nothing to be ashamed of’, and by gay you mean a preference to be in a relationship with someone of the same sex, I think you would be right and Christianity would be on your side (many would agree, and I think the number is only increasing). If you say, ‘Being gay is nothing to be ashamed of’, and you mean ‘The behaviour and lifestyle of many gay people is nothing to be ashamed of’ I think you would be wrong for precisely the reasons Lewis outlines above. There is an unhealthy obsession, an improper centring on sexuality in much of gay culture.

This, more than anything else, is what causes the conservative extremes to turn against the LGBT community. And it is in itself an extreme. On that note:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5.43-45

Underwear Hug

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3 thoughts on “On Pride

  1. Nearly every person who acknowledges an aversion to homosexuality does so on the basis of what he or she believes the Bible has to say. In their mind, there is no doubt whatsoever about what the Bible says and what the Bible means. Their general argument goes something like this: Homosexuality is an abomination and the homosexual is a sinner. Homosexuality is condemned in both the Old and New Testaments. Therefore, if we are to be faithful to the clear teachings of Scripture we too must condemn homosexuality. Needless to say, this premise is being widely debated among evangelicals today and seriously challenged by biblical scholars, theologians and religious leaders everywhere.

    It rarely occurs to any of us that our reading of Scripture is profoundly colored by our own cultural context and worldview. In light of the post above and since I happen to speak and write on this topic, I thought you might find some of these posts of particular interest and relevance. I would particularly recommend the following:

    “Genesis 19: What Were the Real Sins of Sodom?”
    “Leviticus 18: What Was the Abomination?”
    “Romans 1: What Was Paul Ranting About?”
    “Romans 2: Paul’s Bait and Switch”
    “Genesis 1: Turning the Creation Story into an Anti-Gay Treatise”
    “Why No One in the Biblical World Had a Word for Homosexuality”
    “Exegesis: Not For the Faint in Heart”

    (Links to these and more posts may be found by simply clicking the link below and then selecting the “Archives” page.)

    -Alex Haiken

  2. Thanks for offering your insight on the Biblical issues at stake here. But my point here is that there are broader ways of thinking about homosexuality that do not concern the main ‘biblical debates’. There is so much more to Christianity for gay people than whether or not the bible condemns them. A Christian approach to sexual morality, especially for gay people, shouldn’t be limited to the same old debates of whether or not they are ‘allowed to be gay’.
    Another key point of my post is that quite often people confuse the condemnation of homosexuality with the condemnation of gay culture. Once again, I don’t think that being stuck in the same biblical debates is helpful here without a deeper change of perspective.

  3. Your point is well taken. There is indeed so much more to Christianity for gay people than whether or not the bible condemns them. But the problem is that if gay people buy into the bad doctrine that the Bible condemns them (and most do since it has been so pervasive), they too often then never get close enough to see all of the other stuff. Hence the importance of finding out the truth on this score.

    -Alex Haiken

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