Film of this now available
Post Gay - A Lecture at St John's Nottingham, 6 Nov 2008 from Peter Ould on Vimeo.
Peter Ould (referred to as PO for quickness)
PO is assuming that we understand the theological arguments against homosexuality. He assumes that we are traditionalists.
He grew up in posh part of Sheffield, he felt different from other teenage boys and not part of the crowd. A year or two after becoming Christian in a Vineyard Church in 1994,he was watching a boy band on TV and thought 'Damn it – I could snog him'.
What do we mean by gay? he asks. To PO it had been off the radar and he realised in a flash what this word meant and he became theologically convicted that the Bible forbade homosexual practice. Someone from Living Waters recommended he could change – he felt that this was something that he could do, but in 1998 he was seeing no change in his sexuality and was feeling very upset about his orientation. He prayed and God said 'If I want you to stay like this, then who are you to argue with me?' and so PO responded with 'I'll stay celibate' and it was 'bloody hard'.
In a prayer ministry team on a church holiday someone had asked 'What do we do with someone who says that they are gay? ' The vicar of the parish: a 'wise chap' said 'of course no one is really gay' and for PO it was as if the 'chains fell off me'. He thought I've spent the last few years defining myself as gay when I need to just say I'm a man and that girl who had asked that question – PO described how he thought 'she has a nice smile' and he felt radically changed.
You're either gay or straight or according to society you get larger options and you are bi-sexual.At PO's Bap he had been asked where he was on a scale of gay to straight.
If you look at the ex-gay movement on the net you will hear testimonies of God healing people of their sexual orientation. They present Gay as bad and Straight as good – this is a load 'of rubbish' 'dog's dingle dangles' . We can not make anthropologies based on Biblical premises that are not there....yes, I see your point...
What is chaste? What is the biblical model of sex? It is not having sex or it is having sex within a marriage:
Peter drew the following diagram:
What's best: to be chaste and attracted to people of the same sex or to be chaste and attracted to the opposite sex? The ex-gay community says the best space is to be chaste and attracted to people of the opposite sex. We can't build a pastoral framework on this. We need a Christian anthropology for understanding sex.
So what does a model of sexual discipleship look like? We need to align ourselves with God – you can't be chaste if you don't understand who Jesus is.He now drew this cross:
Do we understand the theology of the Bible on sex? We teach our teens that God doesn't want them to have sex but we need to give explanations as to why they should not have sex. As evangelicals what do we do about the compromises on homosexual behaviour?
...it would be painful for my gay cousin, who is a Christian, to consider himself far from God...
Why are we supposed to be chaste? Peter references Paul and his words in Eph 5:
He draws a diagram of the trinity with Church underneath and explains how Paul, in Eph 5,l picks up the Genesis motif of husband and wife and compares them to Christ and the church. PO says Christ's death on the cross unites me to him. I am connected to the life of God – incorporated into the life of God.
Marriage symbolises that connection
Christs union with us is permanent – Christ is not going to divorce us – think about Hosea: no matter what the wife does he remains married to her. Christ is totally focused on the church, we get 100 per cent, you are not Christ, you can not do what Jesus did.
...yes, encouraging stuff...
The differences in the sexes are absolutely crucial. Why do we do sex in marriage – because if we perform it inside something that is not permanent, we are saying something wrong about Jesus, this is idolatry. You are creating a false Jesus if you are having sex with more than one person, you are saying that Christ's union with you is not 100 per cent.
If we are saying that sex between a man and a man is moral we are saying that there is Christ for Christ, not Christ for the church.
...moral is a word that needs unpacking or expanding upon, I think...
PO makes assumptions (see below -for what these assumptions are based on) (maybe I shouldn't be using the word 'assumptions') about gay men being more promiscuous than lesbians – we are saying then that Christ too has the same kind of self-absorption issues as gay men. Lesbians enter into these relationships because they have co-dependency issues. They are broken.
...I think making assumptions is dangerous stuff...is he overstating the maleness of Christ here and are gay Christians really creating a self-absorbed gay Christ as an idol...we are all to guard against making a Christ in our own image... this isn't a gay problem, per se...
Correction - I've been in communication with Peter, I may have misrepresented him here. Sorry Peter, I apologise. Peter explains...Can I suggest that you take a look at the new "Key Posts on Sexuality" sidebar item that will allow you to read some of the source material for yesterday's offering, just to help you check that you've captured properly what I was saying (or that I expressed myself properly).
Also, just thinking about your notes, I think I said that a statistical argument might be made that gay men are more promiscuous and that that tied in with my pastoral experience. The same goes for co-dependency in lesbianism - people have self-reported to me that they are in co-dependent relationships.
When you read the best pro-gay arguments ie Jefferey John's writings as an example, they pick up on everything but differentiation. They do not distinguish between the sexes. Sexual differentiation has huge things to say about who Jesus is.
...his last sentence here echoes the thinking of Christians who consider this an argument against women in the episcopate...I asked PO about his connection with FIF; he parts company with me on the idea that we should have women in the episcopate...emm...interesting
This theology of sex is how can we talk about these issues because it begins in Jesus and who he is as an affirmation of the truth about him.
So how do we talk about sexual orientation? The Bible doesn't use terms of sexual orientation to describe Christians.
Gal 28 – you are all one in Christ Jesus. This is a soteriological passage; it doesn't mean male and female cease to exist. In God – we're still different.
So it's good to talk about a male theology and a female theology because the Bible teaches that these are distinct things – like the clear racial and cultural distinctions – we don't lose our distinctions in Christ. It is right to talk about black theology and working class theology – these distinctives will be there is heaven 'when we stand before the throne' – there are social distinctions. We talk about these things – cross cultural mission – does Alpha work with the 'underclass' we ask ..emm...underclass?!..just 'cos you had a bidet in your bathroom mate - watch it!.... These are Biblical distinctions.
..isn't class distinction just something about our worldliness and fallen state? Surely in heaven we won't be socially distinguished?...These things will fall away.
What does the Bible say about sexual orientation? Nothing. Did they understand it back then, some people wonder, when speaking of the Bible, yes, they did, there were permanent gay relationships back then and if we believe in the inerrancy of scripture, then by saying that they didn't know about homosexuality is to say that God was not clever about understanding this.
...yes, good point...
The reason why the Bible does not talk about sexual orientation is because it was not there in God' s plan.
...this reminds me of my own theological reasoning about how in God's original plan male and female were complementary parts of a whole picture of a human and there was no hierarchy...Eve came from Adam's side, not his head to rule over him or his feet to be under him - she was bone of his bone and they were equal until the fall...I digress, sorry!
We've mapped the genome – we know there is no gay gene. There are certain biological factors – PO was the smaller twin in the womb etc
...I suspect we will discover more through science than we know at present...
The Bible is clear, we can't talk about Christians being gay or straight as something that they intrinsically are. This is a nonsense. PO says he is not a gay man – he is Peter and this is why he calls himself post-gay. He's moved beyond gay as being anything that could tell him who he is. He is now predominantly heterosexual – the graph doesn't work for him any longer. He is not describing himself as gay – he is learning what it is to be a man.
...similar arguments could be used for how we might define ourselves socially too...post-middle-class, post-working class etc...
The problem the pro-gay side finds with this is that it completely destroys their anthropology, God calls people to live a chaste life and calls people to step aside thinking of themselves as gay or straight – if someone says they can change, that's fine, the Bible calls us to do things in accordance with God's will.
People say to PO he is repressing his sexuality or they deny that the change ever took place because perhaps he was never fully gay and that's why it has been easy to shake off – this is what people wonder about PO.
...I must 'fess up that I too wondered to what extent, having once thought you might like to 'snog' a male boy-band member can actually constitute you being gay...I see how people could put this down to just a normal stage we go through as we mature... but I believe that Peter believed he was gay...
They can not permit his experience because it denies their anthropology – it has to move beyond gay and straight – it points us towards clear pastoral guidelines.
Thinking about ethics with sexuality - we have to start not with people's experiences but with Christ.
Moral order (he says Christian ethics are based in the resurrection) (The triumph over sin) so you can't argue that people should simply do the best that they can do within the constraints that they are living in – it is like saying that what Jesus Christ did is not sufficient. Part of the mess that we are in is because we do not teach against the people who are teaching these false things – there needs to be censure against the people in synod who say these things – the world is getting contradictory messages from the church....the church is broken too and this is a reflection of the fallen people that are the church, and it is on a journey of sanctification but will only be made glorious at Christ's second coming...how do we live with this brokenness?
When we deal with sexual brokenness – we are putting everything together – we apply the same principles – apply the biblical model to all these people – what has led to homosexual attraction it is the same as someone who is living promiscuously.
...this concerns me that homosexuality is considered alongside peodophilia, rape etc, maybe I am being too wordly about it - aren't we called pastorally to differentaite between people in loving consenting relationships and people who abuse others?...
We need money for this – not a single church funds someone to deal with sexual brokenness....I guess it's because the church isn't yet a trusted voice on these issues for people who bring lots of presuppositions to bear on what the think the Bible says about this aspect of our humanity...
Finally – we need to have a real grappling with whether you been infected by the western world's understanding of sexuality – do we view ourselves in a way that God does not? PO is post gay and post straight – the scriptures call him to be a man.
It is a question about differentiation- husband and wife- a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife – the man produces the semen which goes from himself into the woman: there is something about this which speaks about how Jesus unites to the church We shouldn't be afraid of how God made us – if God had meant us to mean any combination of human unions he would have made it more clear.
...I feel very uncomfortable about the theology of a phallic Christ and a vagina church.. whilst I understand what he is getting at... it would take a lot for newbie Christians to get beyond this and the imagery could work to inhibit the gospel message because we are fallen and the phallus has unfortunately for men, in particular, taken on 'a life of its own', excuse the pun, and can be associated with power and abuse (poor men - I'm beginning to realise what a rough deal they get too - what a learning curve I am on, having been so caught up with the 'women issues'...
Rowan Wiiliams 'The Body of Grace' – read it! It falls apart in the fourth part because scripture shows us sex is about a man and a woman. Peter Ould's journey is a journey towards wholeness.
I asked the following questions:
You say that Living Waters etc group all the sexually broken together and give them guidance. What is your response to Lisa Rowland who infers in her writing that homosexuality is sexual deviance just like polygamy and peodophilia? I can imagine how very offensive gay Christians must feel it is that she should consider homosexuality alongside peodophilia as if they are almost the same thing.
What is your response to Jeremy Marks and the Ministry of Courage and the film shot of public apologies from him and those involved in the Exodus ministry – their tears and their pleas for forgiveness from gay Christians whom they felt they had mistreated some former gay Christians in their ministry who had even committed suicide because of the pressure that they felt that they were under to repent?
I need to try to remember what he said. I will fill in this bit later.I'll post this later after I've spoken to him to recapture the low-down on this one.
Someone asked whether PO considered his change a kind of deliverance. PO said he didn't because this likens it to demonic deliverance. No he wouldn't call it this – used to call it healing but he now says it's about how God showed him the brokenness which had resulted in homosexual attraction and in seeing those wounds he had been able to become whole.
Thank you Peter.