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The Intoxication of Knowing

Updated: Sep 13, 2023


Eight years ago I “knew“ that homosexuality was wrong.


I knew all the reasons from my church.


I knew the compassionate stance that a believer must take — “It’s not unlike any other sin that I might be guilty of,” and “We must love the sinner, and hate the sin.”


I knew the Bible verses to bring up to help people who couldn’t see the light. I knew the arguments “from nature” and God’s “natural order” and “original design.“ I had been trained and was training others in arguing that marriage was between one man and one woman.


And in my knowledge, I grieved when the supreme court held up same-sex marriage. In seminary, I even wrote a paper on homosexuality in society.


I was an expert. I knew.


Except.


Except, as I read the Bible over and over and over again as we Christians are encouraged to do, I couldn’t stop ignoring the themes throughout. As I looked at my position, I noticed how similar I was to the Pharisees. In this matter, I stressed rules instead of relationships, purity instead of love, and words on the page instead of what they meant.


I finally got to the point where I could no longer call myself a Bible-believing Christian AND call same-sex marriage sin. It was the Bible that led me here. I was at a fork in the road. Either, I had to agree with the Biblical writers that the point of it all was to Love God and Love Others, or I had to lean toward a literalist interpretation of God’s special revelation where I must not allow my reason to interfere with interpretation. Some would call this an inerrancy point of view, depending on how it’s defined.


Many have concluded that I changed my views, because my daughter revealed she was gay as a teenager. During the months and years of my shift in thinking, I had no conscious idea that she would later come out. Whether it was because I subconsciously knew, or because God was preparing me to receive her, I’m glad I changed my mind.*


Now, eight years later, I know the arguments and reasons on both sides. I know the Bible verses for both positions. I know the objections and counter arguments. And I have never been more convinced that God is fully inclusive and blesses same-sex relationships, inclusion, and love.


“But, how do you know? How do you know you were wrong then and right now?”


The answer is, I don’t know, know.


I only know by faith, by my reasoning, and by my understanding of the Bible. Which, by the way, is how any of us know anything, or have beliefs, or have convictions.

I also have faith that Jesus died for me.

I also have faith that He rose from the dead, conquering death.

I also have faith in Jesus’s way of love, forgiveness, and redemption.


Call it faith or knowing, when our convictions on debatable issues are held as closely as our convictions of the foundations of Christianity, we’ll probably end up changing our minds and positions on something.


And since none of us “know,” isn’t it better to err on the side of acceptance and love versus exclusivity in the name of purity?


Which has worse consequences when I stand before God?


I’m much more comfortable explaining why I harbored and supported same-sex love and relationships, than why I called good an evil thing. I much more dread the questions of why I kept out my brothers and sisters from the church and became a stumbling block to them, than why I advocated for committed same-sex flourishing relationships.


The illusion of “knowing” can be intoxicating, but it’s also a hallucinogen.

Knowing which political party is on God's side…

Knowing which doctrine or denomination is right…

Knowing that the other side is wrong or evil…

When the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, he downplays the importance of having certainty and knowledge of ALL THINGS, “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”


Knowing and Slavery

There are 1000 tiny reasons to believe that something is true, and it’s much easier to disprove something from the Bible than to prove it. In the mid-19 century, Christians who affirmed slavery in the United States had many verses from both the Old and New Testament. They knew they were right. It’s difficult to put one’s self in another historical context, but to read Philemon (of the New Testament) from their perspective, one would have to do mental gymnastics to believe slavery was not approved by God. I mean, it’s there in black and white. God said it, I believe it, that settles it. But no reasonable Christian today would approve of any kind of slavery, because it contradicts the character of God.


…contradicts the character of God. That’s the test, isn’t it? That’s when we must put our belief to the litmus test of love as written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, Paul, Peter, James, and John.

The best argument the slavery abolitionists ultimately had was looking at the character of God revealed in the Bible. A character of acceptance, of love, and of wanting what is best for his children. Arguments for slavery like, “His ways are higher than our ways,” and “God created them different,” and “God’s natural order,” sound familiar in today’s context against LGBTQ people.


Walking by Fear Instead of Faith

Like the pro-slavery Bible advocates who knew that slavery was Biblical, many Christians today claim they know their positions are Biblical. But they are walking by fear. Their “knowing” is an attempt to tamp down the fear that comes from feeling out of control. And instead of living by faith, they worship at the altar of knowing. When we think everything is knowable, we convince ourselves into thinking we have some sort of control.


The disciples were confused and frightened by Jesus’s words in the upper room the night before his death. His comfort was a call to faith, to trust in Him. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.” – John 14:1 By definition, faith is an admission that it’s out of our control.


So, we owe it to ourselves, to our fellow humans, and to God to consider that some of our firmly held positions should be held a little less firmly, a little more humbly, knowing that we don’t know everything. And thankfully, we don’t have to.


* I received my daughter’s permission to share this.



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