When God is Not Enough

How dare anyone utter the thought that God could possibly be insufficient for every single desire that we as human beings want. "Jesus is the answer," so conservative evangelicals remind me, but what is the question? Jesus is the answer to what question? As soon as evangelicals cease their superficial, bumper-sticker answers to my deep-seated questions, the sooner I will take them seriously. Don't tell me to "look to Christ" without explaining what on earth that means. Don't tell me to pray about it so that you can feel better about yourself, as though you helped me, so that you can dismiss me. I need you to see me -- as I am and in my own pain. In light of this, I want to offer some thoughts for your consideration, thoughts you may have never confronted.

If you don't have any helpful suggestions, or you just don't know how to help, then, please, just say so. Being a willing ear or a shoulder to cry on is far better than offering shallow words without meaning. Telling me that God will not "give me" beyond what I can bear is not only unhelpful but also terrible theology practically. I've seen God allegedly "give" someone a load that broke them, causing them to lose trust in Christ. How was that a load less than what they could bear? I've watched a mother, whose son went to prison for a heinous crime that he actually committed, become a despondent alcoholic, who now distrusts people, and especially Christians; and she is still one of the most sweet-natured and loving individuals anyone could encounter.

A therapist friend helped me work through an issue recently; and one comment he wrote led me to think deeper about the role of God in relationships. His question concerned me feeling emotional in my relationship with God, in Christ, but wanting more: wanting a physical relationship with a guy. Yes, I do want a full-orbed relationship with a guy that includes the physical, not just sex but holding, touching, kissing.

This is true for straight Christian men as well. The spiritual relationship that straight Christian men have with God, in Christ, is not enough: they also want an emotional and physical relationship with a woman. They want not just sex but also holding, touching, kissing. Their relationship with God is not enough to keep them single and celibate. Yet, God, so believers argue, created us in this fashion, to want to share our lives with people -- family members, friends, and someone special. One might suggest that we are hard-wired for relationships. We maintain the capability of relating to God, on a spiritual and a limited emotional and cognitive plane, and we also maintain the desire and ability of relating to people on similar a plane. 

What is meant, then, by God not being enough? Our relationship to God is somewhat limited. We do not think of God in romantic or on erotic/sexual terms. We need someone other than God to experience romance and sex. The good news is that God established our limitations appropriately. God does not desire a romantic or erotic relationship with us. Nor does God desire that anyone view the Trinity in such fashion. Is there bad news? That depends upon the one granting the answer and for whom the answer is intended.

You may not want to think about this but I must write it just the same: homosexual men and women have the same longing within them as do heterosexual men and women; they want to love and be loved; they long to want and be wanted; they desire the same type of physical relationships of holding, touching, and kissing as do heterosexuals. Too many have focused on the sexual aspect of the homosexual without, conveniently, focusing on the sexual aspect of heterosexuality. But the homosexual is not merely a sexual object.

The homosexual longs to love and be loved, to want and to be wanted, to hold and to be held, to touch and to be touched, to kiss and to be kissed. You cannot assume that homosexual believers in Christ all have "the gift of celibacy." They are forced into celibacy by conservative evangelicals who consider homosexuality as an abomination to God. This is why evangelical Christianity is such a hard sell to the LGBTQ community. They have been taught most of their lives that God hates them, that they are an abomination themselves, but that they can find forgiveness by running to Jesus. This translates into the following notion: God the Father hates them but God the Son will save them from the Father's wrath if they will trust in Him and never love another member of their own gender for the rest of their days. God is not enough to keep heterosexuals celibate but God must be enough to keep the homosexual believer celibate or else they will go to hell for all eternity.

That's a hard reality for LGBTQ people -- too hard, too cruel, too heart-wrenching for most of them to embrace. To the LGBTQ person, God is not merely forbidding same-sex sex, but is demanding the individual never love someone to whom he or she is drawn romantically. I wonder how many LGBTQ people would embrace Christ were they treated as equals, permitted to love monogamously, and blessed by God and the church? (Here I will not even entertain the junk-science of gay conversion therapy, that the homosexual could be converted to heterosexual and enjoy love with a member of the opposite sex, because that notion has lost all credibility among most credible scholars today. I realize the subjective nature of credibility.)

What is significant here is that conservatives understand the seeming double standard unwittingly promoted by their interpreted conclusion: God is not enough to keep heterosexuals celibate but God must be enough to keep homosexual believers celibate on pain of an eternal hell. I'm just offering people some thoughts for their consideration. While I do not suggest that this is a proper hermeneutic for studying the seven biblical passages related to the subject of homosexuality, I do pray that this helps some conservatives understand the weight of the traditionalist view, and why many LGBTQ persons find the view nearly impossible to adopt.


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My name is William Birch and I grew up in the Southern Baptist tradition but converted, if you will, to Anglicanism in 2012. I am gay, affirming, and take very seriously matters of social justice, religion and politics in the church and the state.