Identity & Sexuality: Born this way??

Is our sexuality just one of the characteristics we are born with and can’t do anything about?

Lady Gaga’s latest song makes some very interesting claims about wo we are, including our sexuality. And while she isn’t a source of theologically genius, she probably is a good barometer of culture.

WHETHER YOU’RE BROKE OR EVERGREEN
YOU’RE BLACK, WHITE, BEIGE, CHOLA DESCENT
YOU’RE LEBANESE, YOU’RE ORIENT
WHETHER LIFE’S DISABILITIES
LEFT YOU OUTCAST, BULLIED, OR TEASED
REJOICE AND LOVE YOURSELF TODAY
‘CAUSE BABY YOU WERE BORN THIS WAY
 
NO MATTER GAY, STRAIGHT, OR BI,
LESBIAN, TRANSGENDERED LIFE
I’M ON THE RIGHT TRACK BABY
I WAS BORN TO SURVIVE
NO MATTER BLACK, WHITE OR BEIGE
CHOLA OR ORIENT MADE
I’M ON THE RIGHT TRACK BABY
I WAS BORN TO BE BRAVE   
full lyrics here

What do you think she’s saying??

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Identity & Sexuality: Part 1

Issues of human sexuality and how it relates to our identity are more and more becoming crucial and much talked about issues in our culture. It’s hard, if not impossible, for Christians to shy away from these discussions. And while they are complex issues, shying away from them is one of the worst things we can do. We need to be prepared to engage at some level.

It makes sense that if we what to start to answer the question of who we are we should look at where we started. The beginning of humanity – the 6th day of creation.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” [Genesis 1:26]

Humanity stands out here as the only thing to have been created in the image of its creator. We bear the image of a trinitarian God, who is eternally in relationship with himself. So to be human is to be relational.

It’s this that differentiates us from the animals that we are to rule over. But that’s not all that is different between Adam and Eve and the animals. Here’s what we’re told about the animals

And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so.  God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. [Genesis 1:24-25]

The animals are produced and arranged according to kind. And there are many kinds. Humans are their own kind – there’s a reason we call it called humankind. But what we do see, which we don’t for the animals, is gender. Part of being made in God’s image is being made male and female. We are different, and yet of one kind and together image bearers of God.

In the last few weeks, as part of some sermon prep. I’ve been reading some writing of several Queer Theorists who would like to convince us that gender is fluid. It’s not set in stone and it can be changed easily because it’s not based on our physiology but on some transitory feeling within us. But Genesis shows us a very different picture than the one they are trying to sell us. Gender is there in the very first description of humanity. Before we’ve heard a word from either of them, we’re told they are created male and female. Their gender isn’t fluid because their male and femaleness isn’t based on how they feel. They are male and female simply because God made them that way.

You’ll also note that they are described as male and female rather than man and woman. This is because the Hebrew words for male and female are intended to express sexuality. To be human is to be a sexual person. So gender has played a role in the first introduction to both humanity and sexuality.  The sexual bond of the man and the woman are part of God’s good creation and integral in his purpose for them to fill and subdue the earth.

Genesis doesn’t leave room for the confusion of gender or sexuality. Being male and female is fundamental to both our identity and our sexuality. And it’s part of the creation that God declared was very good.

Are Christians our own worst enemy??

Today I had the privilege of being a part of a Q & A session at a high school Christian lunch time group. On any given week the group is usually about 30 kids. Today it was 45. It’s an unusual group because about half of the 30 regulars are not Christians. Obviously the Christian were out numbered today.

A few months ago the group set up a board in the school asking students to complete the following – “My biggest problem with Christianity is…”

Over the last few months the leader of the lunch time group has set out to address the issues people have. Today’s challenge was to answer the question of what Christianity has to say about homosexuality. It was a tough gig but very worth while I think.

Something that really hit me as I was listening to their objections, was the way they were very quick to attack what the Bible says, without actually knowing what the Bible says. Of course Leviticus was mentioned more times than I could count, but there was a complete ignorance to anything else the Bible has to say about homosexuality, or in fact, any kind of sexuality. There were some genuinely shocked faces when I said the Bible has lots to say about sex.

But I don’t really blame them. I suspect they are repeating the only info they’ve ever heard about the Bible and homosexuality. A week ago I meet with a teenaged Christian girl to think about these same issues. When I asked her “why does the Bible say homosexuality is wrong” she had a hard time answering. Eventually she said “I don’t know, all I know is that the Bible says its wrong”.

I’ll admit I’m kinda thinking out loud, but I feel like this is our fault, for having the wrong conversation for so many years. We need to not talk about the fact that the Bible says its wrong (cause everyone knows that anyway) and instead talk about the presuppositions that sit behind the conversation. For example, some things I noticed that all the students today assumed are – all desire is good, sex is a right for every person, and sexuality is integral to identity. The Bible has a lot to say about these 3 assumptions and without addressing them, anything the Bible says about homosexuality makes no sense.

I think unless we start moving the conversation we are our own worst enemy. What do you think?