As the Chinese house church grows, so does its desire and ability to engage with questions of ethics, morality, and identity not only on China’s social landscape, but on the global stage as well. This is the third post in a series by a Chinese house church pastor engaging issues concerning homosexuality and the Christian faith not only in his Chinese context, but also in the light of Western developments. This series was originally published on the pastor’s personal blog in 2007, and updated and republished this past summer. You can read the rest of the series at Part 1 and Part 2.
Pilgrims, when it comes to certain ethical conservatism, this is indeed the common inclination of many religions and traditional cultures. The Old Testament relational boundary of marriage between one man and one woman is a revelation commonly accepted and obeyed by the three major religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. If you can observe Christian ethics from the broader conservative landscape, I think you would more deeply appreciate the public appeal of ethical and cultural conservatism.
In the Bible, the basic boundary of marriage is that “a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Leave, cleave, hold fast, and become one flesh – this is the Bible’s position on marriage and sex. From a biblical standpoint, marriage is designed by God. Union in marriage (including the joy of sex) is blessed and permitted by God. The union between a man and a woman is an ideal arrangement for the created, not the result of human lust. The results of lust are undeniable suffering and bondage. The holiness and beauty of sex, from a Christian perspective, can only be attained within this relational boundary.
Today, whether or not you are a Christian, we face the crisis of an era: does the holiness of marriage still exist, are love and sex still holy? Ethically, only when you completely and coldly deny the yearning and beauty of your most innocent love, only when you coldly reject a love that is loftier than animal instinct and worthy to be cherished, only then is it possible for you to ethically and existentially validate homosexuality and say that it is right and proper.
From my point of view, such validation is in fact a degradation of the meaning of life. In other words, when our discussion is limited to only laws and rights, our argument to not discriminate against a gay person is based on our care and respect for a struggling soul. But when we exaggerate this validation to ethics, we are in actuality discriminating against an individual. When we say homosexuality is a kind of spiritual suffering and moral sin, we are in actuality treating a gay person just as we are, as someone who has a soul, created, loved, and saved by God like us. It also means we believe our love is not decided by biological instincts. For those who are obviously straight, but for reasons of political correctness declare homosexuality as a normal human way of life, they are in fact not treating gay people as themselves, not giving their souls the same type of respect, not seeing them as brothers and sisters. They are expediently separating themselves. Once you classify yourself as “normal” and “right,” but then also say that there is a type of people who are born differently, your type of equality is only a deception. In other words, your so-called tolerance seems politically correct on the surface, but in its core, it is really a type of “sexual racism.”
One time I openly asked a female scholar who claims to support homosexuality, “If you find out today for the first time that your daughter is gay, would you be heart-broken? Would you be sad? Let’s not talk about theory, just use our hearts to measure whether we would be sad.” She was very honest. She thought for a while and admitted that she would feel sad. I said that this is what Mencius meant in saying everyone has a heart of compassion, a heart of right and wrong. When you say you support homosexuality as a justifiable way of life, you actually have not truly loved them; you have not truly cared for their souls like the way you love your daughter. You would naturally grieve for your daughter, but you are also persuaded by a type of ideology not to be sad for them.
As a Christian, I insist that homosexuality is type of sin that denies both God and the meaning of life; it is also a type of individual suffering. Because I believe they and I are in fact the same kind of people. We all feel dejected, we all sin, we are all helpless, unable to save ourselves. Because there is only one type of person in the world – those who are created by God, and for whom Christ died on the cross.
I want to say to my gay friends, the people who unconditionally support you and claim to support your choices do not truly love you, or they do not know how to love you. Perhaps they really want to help you and stand by you, but they probably do not recognize that there is truth in this world, nor do they recognize that we have the same kind of souls. On the other hand, the people who criticize you may not necessarily mean that they do not love you. What they love is your eternal soul, although you may not agree with them.