I was going to write and publish another post containing my musings on Justin Lee’s book, “Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays vs. Christians Debate.” However, blogging buddy Matt Stone dropped me a note on Facebook inviting me to offer a critique of Nigel Chapman’s paper, “Gay Sex for Evangelicals: Why gay sex is biblically condemned, and how this understanding solves the Evangelical impasse over same-sex attraction.” It’s basically a paper written by a heterosexual evangelical Christian to other heterosexual evangelical Christians (and possibly gay evangelical Christians who take a view that’s commonly called Side B among gay Christians and those who interact with (or discuss) them. He breaks the paper down into two parts:
- A section in which he describes the current state of affairs of how LGBT Christians generally experience life in their evangelical churches and explains why this should be a great concern for pastors and all evangelical Christians everywhere.
- A section in which he explores places where the Bible condemns same sex sexual activity in an attempt to understand why it does so and how that applies to same sex sexual activity in general and even sexual orientation.
Overall, I really don’t have much to say on the actual content of either of those sections or the arguments he makes. I think they’re pretty spot on, and reflect what has already been said on the subject (I’ll come back to that statement in a bit). However, I do have a few thoughts on the paper, it’s presentation, and the general culture which inspired it. And I will share those thoughts roughly and as-is now.
- Oh look, another heterosexual man has decided that he has something to say about LGBT issues. Am I really supposed to be excited by this? I mean, heterosexual men’s voices aren’t exactly underrepresented in this conversation.
- The above thought is somewhat (but only somewhat) mitigated by the fact that Chapman encourages fellow heterosexual Christians to actually listen to LGBT people and even offers quotes from LGBT youth in the first part of his paper. All the same, just once, I’d like one of these heterosexual men to do exactly that and then stop without adding his own commentary.
- All of his arguments in part two look great to me. Then again, they looked great to me the dozens of other times I’ve read them when they were put forward by other people, often LGBT Christians who struggled with these questions for years.
- I’m deeply bothered by the fact that Chapman doesn’t seem to acknowledge that he’s covering new ground and that his arguments have long been put forth by others, namely LGBT Christians. (See my first point in this list.)
- When those same arguments were put forward for years by LGBT people, they were summarily dismissed by many heterosexual evangelical Christians on the grounds that LGBT Christians were “just trying to rationalize their sin.”
- The fact that Chapman is presenting these arguments and claims that they are (now) “unassailable” is contemptible in my book as a result. The fact that a heterosexual man is now presenting these arguments does not magically make them “objective” whereas they were biased back when LGBT Christians were presenting them. The fact that Chapman doesn’t address this issue and charge his fellow Christians for dismissing “unassailable” arguments simply because they were originally offered up by LGBT Christians is something I believe he needs to repent of.
- I really wish he would have stopped after the first part. Not because I disagree with his conclusions in the second part (in fact, I’m inclined to agree with them), but because it continues to play into the contemptible notion that it’s up to heterosexual evangelical Christians to determine the moral way for LGBT people to live their lives and that it’s the most important question to the whole “Christian theology about LGBT people and the issues they face.” It would be nice if for once, heterosexual evangelical Christians would let LGBT people worry about what the most moral course for their lives would be and instead focus on things they are responsible for and can change: Like the hate or lack of love (because let’s face it, there’s a lot of wiggle room between hating someone and being loving toward them) that LGBT people feel around them and in their churches. That’s something that they should be able to answer without delving into questions about the morality of same-sex sexual activity. And that’s a fact that gets ignored every time someone like Chapman insists on answering questions about the morality of same-sex sexual activity every time he talks about how Christians should treat LGBT people and the issues they face.