Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Clay Aiken, the former “American Idol” runner-up and current recording and Broadway artist, has finally come out of the closet, as is so often referred, and acknowledged/admitted/announced that he is gay. Upon this stunning revelation, folks are lining up to congratulate him on his courage and for “setting an example” to so many.

I only have a couple of observations. First, it seems to me that it might require more courage in the show business culture to announce one’s heterosexuality considering that prevailing culture which seems to celebrate anything outside the norm, but then again, exactly what is “the norm” anymore? I don’t mean to take anything away from Mr. Aiken and I am the last man on the face of this planet in a position to pass judgment on anyone, but I am wondering how he has been “freed” or “liberated”? In what way will his life or his religious faith be enhanced by publicly announcing his orientation?

My second thought is more attuned to Mr. Aiken’s sense of religion and faith since he has also publicly acknowledged that he is a “born again” Christian. As a Methodist Christian who is somewhat conservative I have my own thoughts about the whole issue of homosexuality, but I am conflicted between my sense of libertarianism which holds that we are free to do and be as we choose and live by the blessings or consequences of the choices we make and my sense of faith which holds that homosexuality is sinful behavior specifically referred to in Scripture.

While we may blame society for fostering the idea that homosexuality is perfectly natural or normal for those so inclined, I cannot help but to wonder if it is the Church that has done more harm in its awkward and often feeble attempts to speak to this issue as the Body of Christ. Within the United Methodist denomination the issue seems to have split us right down the middle as is evidenced by the narrow voting margins at General Conference in upholding the current language in the Book of Discipline which affirms the practice of homosexuality to be incompatible with Christianity and biblical principles. The difficult and, I believe, proper balance Methodism tries to maintain is also evidenced in our acknowledgment of the sacred worth of every person.

There are other Christian churches, and Topeka KS’s own Westboro Baptist must be included in this category, that seem to promote the fire and brimstone approach to homosexuality in wishing and seemingly praying for the painful death and destruction of homosexual persons, churches that seem to overlook the Gospel According to St. John in which Jesus is quoted as saying that His very presence among us was, and is, intended for our salvation and not our condemnation (John 3:17).

On the other end of the spectrum are those churches such as the Episcopal Church in the US that seems to be falling apart ever since its own election and consecration of a homosexual bishop a few years ago. The conservative elements are seeking to align themselves with more conservative unions while others are feverishly seeking to maintain any sort of union which obviously no longer exists.

I envy those denominations for which homosexuality is a “non-issue”. A Nazarene pastor once told me that the few times it even comes up in their Conferences, it is almost as quickly dismissed. There are no discussions in how to approach the issue or seeking to find compromising words and positions that will satisfy all sides because the Bible seems clear and is affirmed as the final word and authority. Putting such issues aside and refusing to give them serious consideration frees them up to talk about the things that should matter to the Church: worship of the Lord God, making disciples, and being in fellowship with one another. If this pastor’s perspective is accurate, and I have no reason to think otherwise, then these fine brethren truly are “set apart” in Word and Deed against the worldly culture that seems to promote the adage, “If it feels good, do it”.

Jesus did not condemn, nor should we. But being tolerant of a particular practice that is clearly incompatible with biblical teachings does not mean being accepting. Rather, being tolerant only means a willingness to acknowledge a certain reality that a) it exists, and b) we cannot physically stop it. Tolerance does not mean that we have to surrender to it because once we do, we lose our distinction and become assimilated into a world that is clearly hostile to the Kingdom of Heaven. The true sanctuary that should be the Church will cease to exist.

Clay Aiken, like so many others, has made a choice. Whether he considers himself predisposed to such same-gender inclinations is irrelevant to the Church since we should recognize that we are all predisposed to sin, but we are all forced by our knowledge and faith to make certain choices to abide by the biblical principles that have guided the faithful for thousands of years or surrender to a culture that will give in soon enough to another, more attractive choice as it suits itself.

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