|SideB for the "gay agenda"||
for the "gay agenda"
by Ron Belgau [posted February, 1998]
My name is Ron Belgau. This is going to be a long introduction. It seems I have a lot in common with Justin: I'm active in Intervarsity Christian Fellowship and also in the Gay, Bisexual, Lesbian, and Transgender commission on campus here at the University of Washington.
Unlike Justin, however, I am a side B. I believe that God intended sex to be 1) within marriage; and 2) open to the possibility of procreation. I believe marriage to be for life. This places me in a rather interesting position. I believe that homosexual activity goes against God's design for human beings. But then I think the marriage practices of most Christians in the US today (divorce and birth control) also go against God's design. For this reason, I think the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was a piece of rank hypocrisy.
Politically, I am very much in favor of the "gay agenda": you know, subversive things like job protection and the ability to share life with a partner and get medical benefits and stuff like that. If a twice-divorced heterosexual like DOMA sponsor Bob Barr (R-Ga) can get marriage benefits, it seems to me very hypocritical of them to object to gays "defiling God's design for marriage" by also getting marriage benefits.
While I do believe in a fairly strict view of when sex is appropriate, I do not believe that Christ came to die for us so that we can earn our salvation by living up to a law which dictates a series of do nots. We are saved by grace alone. And so neither the heterosexual Christians who divorce or use birth control (this would include my parents) nor Side A gay Christians are under the law; they are all under grace.
It took me years to work out where I stood on homosexuality. Although I believe that sex is only appropriate within marriage and with the possibility of conception, I do not believe that marriage is for everyone. Except for some rather emotional evangelicals, Christ's Church has never thought so, either. Paul himself cautioned (I Cor. 7) that celibacy could be a better way than marriage.
I do not expect to be lonely. Paul never travelled alone on his missionary journeys. The Christian tradition reveres saints (like Sergius and Bacchus) who were deeply committed to each other. I do not think marriage is the only form of deep committment possible. Adam and Eve became "one flesh" (Gen 2:24), but "the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself" (I Sam 18:1).
For this reason, I am not sure that the whole gay-straight continuum is quite the right way to look at things. I think there are those (like the lover and beloved in the Song of Solomon) for whom the sexual passion between a man and a woman is the most important thing in life. I think there are others (like David and Ruth) who marry a woman and also have very, very close friendship with those of their own gender. And I think there are still others (like Jesus with His beloved Disciple and the Apostle Paul) who do not marry and whose closest and most meaningful relationships are with their own gender. I place myself in the last category. This, at least, is how I can identify my feelings in a Scriptural context.
Do I struggle with the desire to have a physical, sexual relationship? Yes, every day. But at least at this point in my life (it has not always been so) my emotions are on the side of celibacy, as well as my mind. I not only think sex would be wrong; I feel that it would be more deeply fulfilling to become deeply one in soul with another man instead of becoming one flesh.
I think the difference between me and the sideA people goes much deeper than our view of sexuality. It goes to our view of the Church. From my perspective, Side A gays are pretty much the same as the vast majority of American Christians: they do not take the traditions of the church seriously. I feel a deep sense of danger in affirming the past: human beings are fallen, and much sin has lived in the church in the past, as much sin lives in the church today. I must be careful not to simply say, "If it was done in the past, it must be ok." I see things like the Crusades or the Inquisition or the mutual persecution of Catholics and Protestants during the Reformation, and I see the same pride, anger, and so forth that I see in America's culture wars today. Yet as sinful as the church of the past was, I do not believe that it is MORE sinful than me. As I see it, in order to accept the Side A position, I would need to decide that I and a few other American and European Christians are better and wiser than the great masses of Christian pastors, teachers, thinkers down through the ages. This is exactly what Protestant churches decided in the case of birth control. But I have a hard time dismissing the view of sex which was held everywhere by all churches for nineteen continuous centuries.
One of the problems I see in both the Inquisition and today's culture wars is Christians misunderstanding Christ's commission: we are to be His witnesses, not His judges. He is the judge. Witnesses do not pass judgment. They tell others what they have seen.
I know that Christ comes into my heart and changes it from a grasping, selfish, jealous cancer to a loving, open, supportive fountain of life. I know that it is possible to find deep, meaningful relationships with other men without having sex with them. I know that it is possible (at least for the few short years that I've done so) to go without sex without exploding or getting warts or anything like that. I know that God is more concerned with my heart's attitude toward Him than He is with my sexuality.
For this reason, I welcome this opportunity. One of the things I don't like about conservative Christians is that they sometimes seem to think that the best way I can be a witness for Christ is to go around telling gays all the time that they need to be celibate. The problem with that is that I would neither be a witness, nor for Christ. I would be a judge for celibacy. It is great that Bridges Across is a forum where all can share their views without judgment. I look forward to learning from you guys. I'm one witness, but I haven't even begun to see all the things that Christ has to reveal about life and about sexuality. I am excited by the challenge that some of you will offer to my views, and I hope I will learn and grow from that and not shut you out or ignore your experiences.
I have to say, in particular, that Justin's material on the web is extremely impressive. I think he does a better job of the defending Side-A view of homosexual activity than James Dobson does of defending his pro-birth control sexual ethics. Justin is clearly a man who honors God in his life, and who thinks clearly and deeply about these subjects. I look forward to hearing more from him.
Anyway, a little more about me. I write for Oasis Magazine (http://www.oasismag.com/), an online magazine for GBLT youth. I attend the University of Washington in Seattle, where I will graduate in June with a comparative literature degree. (Yes, very stereotypical gay liberal arts major) My specialization is classical Greek literature, so I know Greek (after a fashion) and can engage in debates about the meaning of Greek words in the New Testament. I am currently helping to start a church in Capitol Hill, the main gay district of Seattle. In June, I will start work at Microsoft, programming for Windows NT (not at all stereotypical gay occupation). My favorite color is green. I like tennis and hiking, and I spend way too much time on the computer.
I try every day to follow God, and every day I fail. But the central message of the Cross is that we are all more screwed up than we can admit, even to ourselves; but we are more loved by God than we ever dared to imagine.
I look forward to exploring the meaning of this wonderful truth with all of you.
Under the Mercy,
across the Divide - my essay about my friendshipwith Justin