Pride And Prejudice Part 2: Straight Pride
On Sunday 2nd July at our morning service, we started our series Pride and Prejudice with the topic 'Straight Pride'. In this blog you will find a summary of the talk and then some questions and reflections for you to think through on your own or to discuss in your small group.
To listen to the talk on-line, please click here.
To download the talk to listen to off line, please click here.
When we were planning this series we also had sexism as an issue we could focus on but in some ways that’s too easy – being a man or a woman is just a fact and when you think about it nothing to be proud of – you either are a man or are a woman, so we should be neither proud of that or prejudiced towards the opposite sex.
But on the face of it at least, things are a bit knottier when we get onto same sex orientation and transgender issues. Remember, we’re not trying to tackle all the issues around this here – we’re focussing on the matters of pride and prejudice – but even so things are maybe a bit trickier. Pride and prejudice can really come to the fore.
A quick story about a friend of mine, Michael, who in some ways is very much like me but… in one way, is very different and I can’t begin to imagine being like he is. Yes, you guessed it… he is…. a vegetarian!
Or rather, as he explained to me once, not a “vegetarian” but simply someone who doesn’t eat meat – the point being that this does not define him as a person, hence his objection to being labelled “a vegetarian”.
The same applies to sexual orientation– it does not or should not define us.
Moreover, our orientation is not a matter of choice and perhaps therere is some trait, habit or characteristic you have that is simply the way you are. You may or may not like it, other people may or may not like it… you may even have prayed that you would change – and people DO pray for a change to their orientation - but whatever the trait or characteristic or preference… does it, should it, define you?
Have you ever felt singled out on the basis of something about you that wasn’t even your fault?
When it comes to the way we just ARE… should we be proud when we just are one thing and not another?
And when it comes to ways in which we sin… should we be proud that we sin in some ways… even if not in another?
There is no place for pride in this. At EBC our view is that sex is intended to be only between a man and a woman in the context of Christian marriage. We shouldn’t be too quick to talk about the principal of “biblical” marriage, by the way. Which biblical marriage should we emulate? How about the marriage of that great man of God, King David? David who lusted after Bathsheba and saw to it that her husband was killed to cover up his sin? So Christian rather than “biblical” marriage might be a better way to phrase it. Sex is intended to happen only within Christian marriage. Outside of that, the call is to celibacy.
We could at this point get bogged down in some things that church worldwide is still wrestling with, such as:
• Is same sex marriage OK?
• When we read in the bible that homosexual acts are “an abomination” does this apply to people who happen to be gay, or to people who aren’t same-sex oriented but doing it anyway for perverse kicks?
• What about unanswered prayers from people who struggle desperately with their orientation?
We could do a whole series on those things – maybe we should – but that’s not for this series. For now, let’s just say this; we can’t find anything in the bible that teaches us that same-sex orientation is sinful. An inclination or a temptation is not the same thing as a sinful action. As stated earlier, at EBC our view is that sex is intended to be only between a man and a woman in the context of Christian marriage.
With that in mind, we should resist any sexual activity that falls outside of this. Lusting after other people of any type. Porn. Affairs. Fantasies. A host of things that may have nothing to do with orientation. To single out one thing is straight prejudice – singling out a temptation that you may happen not to struggle with.
No-one has all the answers on these difficult issues but things are perhaps clearer on the matters of pride and prejudice we’re considering here. You see, Jesus sets a very high bar for us when it comes to avoiding sexual sin – but he also tells us that we are not to judge each other.
Let’s do the high bar bit first. Guys, we can’t even have a lustful thought without it being sin! Matthew records Jesus teaching this during what we call the sermon on the mount. You can read this here:
I can’t speak for everyone but most blokes I know really struggle with this one. It’s the one where we’d say “Oh come on! Really?!?” I find that a very difficult one to live up to.
So the bar is really, really high – for everyone.
Now let’s look at some crystal clear teaching about judging others by clicking here.
How do measure up to the highest standards? Ought you not to get before God on your own issues – to address the plank in your own eye? Keep in mind there are people who pray for a different orientation – something they can’t control. What about your sin – the temptations and inclinations in the things you CAN control? Things that aren’t a matter of how you just are but things you choose to do? Are you getting before God one these things? Are you praying about them? Don’t despair if you worry that you haven’t instantly been freed from all temptations… often these things take time. But spend some of that time at least with God in prayer – and are you, really?
In all the confusion over these issues, the answer is to think, talk and pray them through – and then to act on your convictions before God.
Are you defining people by one aspect – and one they haven’t even chosen? How about looking behind our pride and our prejudice to admit we’re guilty ourselves and address our own shortcomings with God? How about swapping understanding and love for judgement and condemnation?
We are all sinners. We don’t have all the answers but we should all come before God with our temptations and perversions and abominations – of whatever stripe. We are not to judge. To define and to condemn a person or group of people over things beyond their choice is prejudice. And to insist that we ourselves are without fault is pride - straight pride. And we should confess that too.
Questions and Reflections (for you to think about on your own or to discuss in your Life Group)
1. Can you think of something about yourself that is not a matter of your own choice – perhaps something you wish was different or you could change. How might you feel if you were discrimated against on the basis of this?
2. Are there areas of your own life that you need to get before God about – to repent of and to seek God’s help in addressing?
3. Can you think of a time when you have met someone of a different orientation and remember how you behaved towards them, or avoided them? How might you do things differently in light of Jesus’s teaching?
4. It is a fact that there are people in our church who believe they have been “blanked” (i.e. never spoken to) by others in our church on the basis of discrimination (racial, sexual or disability based). If there are people at EBC to whom YOU have never spoken, how will you respond to this challenging truth – that they may believe you are avoiding them because of your prejudice?
5. None of us would likely want to believe we our prejudiced. However, will we be content to let others believe we might be, on the basis of our choice not to interact with them?
6. Imagine you have a close friend, a hero or a family member and then you discover they are gay or lesbian. Might you think about or treat them differently, and if so how and why?
7. Have you ever reflected on how difficult it might be to lead a celibate life without the possibility – ever – of “getting married and making babies”?