Monday, January 31, 2011

The Affliction of the Gospel

Wesley Hill is a celibate gay Christian.  And his new book, Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality, is absolutely breaking me.  Take this quote as an example:

..Far from being a tolerant grandfather rocking in his chair somewhere far away in the sky, God most often seems dangerous, demanding, and ruthless as he makes clear that he is taking our homoerotic feelings and actions with the utmost seriousness…We experience him both as an unwanted presence reminding us that our thoughts, emotions, and choices have lasting consequences, as well as radiant light transforming us gradually, painfully, into the creatures he wants us to be.

British theologian John Webster speaks of “the church facing the resistance of the gospel,” meaning that if the gospel brings comfort, it also necessarily brings affliction.  The gospel resists the fallen inclinations of Christian believers.  When we engage with God in Christ and take seriously the commands for purity that flow from the gospel, we always find our sinful dreams and desires challenged and confronted.  When we homosexual Christians bring our sexuality before God, we begin or continue a long, costly process of having it transformed.  From God’s perspective, our homoerotic inclinations are like “the craving for salt of a person who is dying of thirst” (to borrow Fredric Buechner’s phrase).  Yet when God begins to try to change the craving and give us the living water that will ultimately quench our thirst, we scream in pain, protesting that we were made for salt.  The change hurts.

Be sure you read what Wesley says here a couple of times.  Chew on it.  It’s wonderful.  But it’s also painful. 

My struggle is not the same as Wesley’s.  In fact my struggle is not as intense either.  And that is to my shame. Because his struggle is homoerotic desire and THAT is an abomination, Wesley has to battle.  But my struggle is different.  My struggle is with respectable stuff. So I don’t have to struggle with the same vigor as Wesley. I can fit in with my sin. 

But even though you may be fooled into thinking I have it all together, God is not.  And just as God is intensely afflicting Wesley with holiness—he is relentlessly, doggedly, pursuing me by afflicting my respectable sins with just as much fervor. 

I am thankful that God isn’t that tolerant grandfather.  I’m thankful that he loves me enough to afflict me with a painful gospel that rips my respectable life to shreds.  I am also thankful that he gives me water when I’m screaming for salt. 

You need to read Wesley’s book…Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality

1 comment:

  1. Mike, great post...and a book I probably wouldn't have picked up. Great post.



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