So what is that guy’s theology anyway?
That’s a good question…that won’t be answered here. 🙂
How has being gay affected my experience of theology and the Bible?
On occasion, I have encountered individuals who are…intensely enthusiastic…about their particular theology. Most of them are extraordinary people with whom I love to share coffee or sushi. But when any of these individuals get together with others who are likewise intensely enthusiastic about their theology, I begin to feel uncomfortable, particularly if the theologies disagree.
I think I’ve finally figured out why this is so.
A theological precept declares, “This is the way it is.” Depending on the person presenting the precept, you get the message, “This is certainly the way it is.” And on occasion, you get the other message of, “This is the only way it is.”
I find myself uncomfortable with proposed theological certainties because I don’t believe they exist. This is why. God is infinite, eternal, and complex beyond imagining, even to the point of fully embodying seemingly contradictory attributes(i.e. wrath and mercy). Salvation is either God’s choice or our choice or both and the salvific sanctification process is either a one time event, recurring event, or process which is either irreversible or not. We either have spiritual gifts or we don’t. Both. Neither.
What I mean to say is, what can we really know for certain about concepts this big and complex? Whatever is true and whatever we think we know, fighting about it doesn’t help anyone. Better to have an open theology and a loose hold on that theology. This is not relativism; this is humility for I recognize that neither I nor anyone else holds an absolute and thorough understanding of God and how He works.
We can understand aspects of God and how God works, but what we understand, we understand incompletely and imperfectly. Therefore, I think a more appropriate way to approach our theological precepts than with certainty is with an open mind. We should say, “This is what I believe and the reasons why…but I recognize that my reasons are shaped by my biases and my conclusions may not be completely accurate.”
But, some may say, is not the Bible clear on this or that issue? And I say, No! The Bible is clear about only a few things. Don’t believe me? I have two words for you. Calvanism and Arminianism. Good God-seeking men have devoted their lives to studying the Scriptures and arrived at opposite conclusions about a topic. To me, that does not suggest clarity.
And this is but one example. I will not here speak of the diversity of opinion concerning how salvation works, spiritual gifts, women in church, how to baptize, how to take communion, stewardship and dominion, church discipline and PLEASE let’s not get stuck on what we think about the End Times!
That being said, I do believe that contradictory things can be true together. Salvation can be achieved through God’s choice and the person’s choice. God can be wrath and mercy. People can be Image-of-God and depraved. People like me can be spiritual humanists.
Life is tension. Blessed are those who are able to live in and embrace the tension. Without tension, we have polarization which puts people on opposite sides. When that happens, the tendency is to adopt an “Us vs Them” mentality. We can fall into the the trap of loving one’s “Side” or one’s theology more than people. And this should not be the case.
Theology is complicated and must be complicated for people are complicated.
I might have reached this conclusion even without being gay, but being gay and a christian has put me right in the middle of the tension. If I am not comfortable with some uncertainty, ambiguity and tension, I will crumble into a shivering ball of anxiety, and that is no way to live.