Rev. Sam Allberry of St. Mary’s Church makes some incredible statements about being a same-sex attracted (SSA) Christian.
The most fully human and complete person who ever lived was Jesus Christ. He never married. He was never in a romantic relationship, and never had sex. If we say these things are intrinsic to human fulfilment, we are calling our Saviour sub-human.
For Christians who find themselves attracted to the same-sex and who hold to a traditional Christian teaching of marriage, they find themselves in a rather peculiar situation. They wish to remain steadfast in their convictions by remaining chaste and committed to a traditional sexual ethic. However, if they have not come public with their struggles, then those close to them will ask the inevitable question, “So, when are you going to hook-up with someone?” This may lead to an awkward conversation that will change with audiences.
It doesn’t matter what side of the political spectrum a person is on because both parties offer the exact same means and end. Sex and happiness. On the left, you will find folks looking at them queer for not dating or for not being sexually active. On the right, depending on if they are out, folks will wonder if they are queer for not having an opposite-sex partner. Both extremes will pressure them into marriage with the end goal being happiness. These SSA Christians are caught in the middle of no-man’s-land, especially in our sex driven/obsessed world. They are caught in between two parties who are not really listening to them. That is why some may dread the inevitable question. It is an attempt to explain a position that is in the very minority of our culture.
Granted, those close to them might have the best interest for them. They want to see them happy with someone they love. Yet, this begs a few questions, first, “what is happiness?” and second, “what is love?”. Western Christians have allowed themselves to think that true happiness and true love in some way or another is sexual. They need to be careful in this regard by recalling that their savior had no romantic or sexual relationships whatsoever. To place too much a focus on sex in regard to humanness, will, in the end, be calling someone sub-human. As same-sex attracted Christians navigate their life and faith their crosses might lie heavier than other crosses. They need and desire the support of a church willing to listen to them. They, however, do not need a church pressuring them to go against their conscience.
This brings me to what Rev. Allberry said next.
If you don’t hear from more of us, it is because it is very hard to stand up and describe ourselves in this way. As someone who uses the language of same-sex attraction, I have to say that my church [(Church of England)] has not become a safe place for me. And by ‘church’ I don’t men my congregation: I mean this synod. Not because of what the report says, but because of what has happened since. I was bullied at school for being gay. I now feel I am being bullied at synod for being same-sex attracted and faithful to the teaching of Jesus on marriage.
One has to understand that these same-sex attracted Christians fall into no-man’s-land in the mist of a theological, ethical, and cultural war. Both sides attempt to offer some sort of “cure.” Just start dating so-and-so, why don’t you talk to so-and-so, or go to such-and-such a ministry. And if the pressure is not related to sex then it is on how they conduct themselves publically. “Don’t use those terms instead use these terms.” “Don’t act this way instead act that way.” “Don’t mention that instead just keep quiet.” And so on.
Folks like Rev. Sam Allberry need to be and should be heard. The Church cannot have representatives speaking on their behalf, who they themselves have never struggled the way SSA Christians do. If one desires to be truly tolerant and accepting, then they need to be open to same-sex attracted Christians who hold to a traditional understanding of marriage and sex. To do otherwise is to be intolerant, unaccepting, and unloving. If one wishes to understand these Christians then they must be willing to let these Christians speak freely and wisely without trying to control what they say and do.
In the end, SSA Christians don’t need to be directed to marriage or celibacy. Instead, they need to be directed to Jesus. Jesus for the SSA Christian is the only one who can provide the most comfort. While Christ was not an SSA person, he nevertheless faced all temptations and did not sin. He lived a full life as a single, unmarried, virgin savior. Jesus is ever virgin. To him, SSA Christians should look. He alone will understand completely. He alone will welcome such Christians with love, truth, and compassion. That is what the Church is called to do – point people to Jesus. Where do we find Jesus? In his Word and sacraments.
The Word tells us what God desires and reminds us of what Jesus did, does, and will do. His sacraments give us Himself. Baptism declares us to be children of God. Holy Communion gives us the true body and blood of Jesus. These sacraments send a powerful message to all Christians, especially the SSA Christian. The message is that Jesus loves all sinners, even those whom society does not fully understand.