In my last post regarding homosexuality and children’s books, I said I’d look at The God Box, by Alex Sanchez. I’ve been procrastinating because it’s such a huge job. He took a whole novel to dismantle historic Christianity’s understanding of certain passages of scripture. How do I disagree with the man in a couple of short blog posts? And how do I do that with grace and without resorting to inflammatory arguments?
But as much as I loved Alex’s gay boy characters, and I really did love them, I have to disagree with the man’s conclusions.
First I’d like to give the disclaimer. I’m a Christian who holds to the traditional understanding of the passages in scripture that deal with sexual sin. I believe that all sex outside of marriage between one man and one woman is sinful.
I also have gay and lesbian friends who would say I’m no bigot. I don’t think I’m better than others. I don’t have a problem eating with, working with, or laughing with homosexuals. I believe homosexuals are like everyone else. They are not sub-human. Abuse of gays, be it verbal or physical, is never justified. I also believe the same about pedophiles and people into bestiality, though. I don’t see homosexuality, heterosexual shacking-up, pedophilia, or zoophilia as different sins. I lump them all into the category of sexual sin. When I’ve told homosexuals this in the past, they have often reacted in anger. Men having sex with other men is nothing like men having sex with children or animals, they say. Many of the homosexuals I’ve spoken with have seen homosexuals and heterosexuals as saints and have seen pedophiles and zoophiles as sinners.
I have spent time interacting on discussion boards with young men who are sexually attracted to boys. I have read up on zoophiles and listened to them speak. I can’t hate them. I can’t say they should be dragged behind a truck until dead. I can’t say they are sub-human sickos. I can’t see that they are any different than the rest of us—sinners in need of salvation.
What I could never understand is why such statements—one sexual sin is not better than another sexual sin—would make homosexual people defensive and angry while heterosexual sinners blow me off as an idiot. My brother, when he shacked up with his first woman, painted a sign that said “God bless this den of iniquity” and hung it in his living room. He was thumbing his nose at our mother, who had told him he was living in a den of iniquity, and at our mother’s God. He didn’t bother trying to convince Mom that he wasn’t sinning. He just said, “I don’t care what you think and I don’t care what God thinks.”
But in my limited experience with homosexuals, it seems that they do care. They care very much. They want Christians to stop saying that homosexual acts are sinful even as they retain the right to claim that pedophilia and zoophilia are not so much sexual orientations as immoral acts.
My experience is limited, so maybe I’m wrong. I’m just putting this out there to give you a picture of my mindset when I opened The God Box.
So on, now, to my thoughts on the book.
In my last post I said:
I’m seriously trying to understand why the message that gays don’t choose and can’t change would be true and why it seems to be so important to the gay community.
This is how the argument in The God Box unfolds. Your desire for sex with same-sex partners is who you are. You cannot change. Gays who try to change their orientation are unhappy. The people who want you to change are mean. You are feeling bad because you are fighting your natural inclination and trying to please others. When you decide to embrace who you are, instead of fighting it, you will be happy. Be true to yourself.
Yes, be true to yourself is of utmost importance to Mr. Sanchez, and he preaches it with all the zeal of the emergent church folks in search of authenticity in an world full of plastic hypocrites.
On page 171 Paul’s grandmother says to him:
“Pablito, the Bible was meant to be a bridge, not a wedge.” Abuelita nodded her head at me. “It’s the greatest love story ever told, about God’s enduring and unconditional love for his creation—love beyond all reason. To understand it, you have to read it with love as the standard. Love God. Love your neighbor. Love yourself. Always remember that.”
Love yourself is the message of The God Box. Mr. Sanchez tacks it on as a third great commandment every time he mentions the first two, if I remember correctly. The book is not about loving God or loving others. Those are thrown in, but the central message is meant to convince homosexual teens that there is nothing wrong with them. They are not beyond God’s love. They are not monsters in need of rebirth. They are not dirty and in need of cleansing. A loving God made them this way and they are to embrace their homosexuality and love themselves.
I’m so glad I read this book because I did love the boys in the book and my heart ached for them. Mr. Sanchez clearly showed me that there is a great tension and conflict in the breast of the homosexual teen. He feels that he was made this way, and he feels that he has to hide the way he was made, and he feels that as long as he hides he’s playing the hypocrite.
And if there are any homosexuals teens reading I’d like to affirm some of what Mr. Sanchez was, obviously with the best of intentions, trying to get across. You are not different from anyone else. The Bible says, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.” (1 Cor. 1-:13) It also says that Jesus was tempted in every way as we are, and yet was without sin. (Hebrews 4:15) Temptation is not sin. You are not some kind of monster if you want to have sex with same-sex partners (or with animals or with children, for that matter). You are not unlovable and ugly and worthless.
And yet, I don’t believe that Mr. Sanchez is right about why the Bible was written or what it says about homosexuality.
More on that next time.