The Dignity of Homosexuality – Neal Salzman
FEBRUARY 19, 2015
I once knew a man (let’s call him Adam), who wanted to be loved. I mean loved well—held so tight he knew he was someone who mattered. Someone who was worth something. Someone who had what was necessary to be fully himself. A desire so deep it couldn't be ignored. But so deep it was often missed. Not missed by him but by others.
Genesis shares the narrative that our design as image-bearers is to be exposed. Exposure of the deepest, God-given longings for human contact, connection and value, the God-given design to experience love in its most full sense.
In Scripture we also discover the narrative of our broken world and the brokenness each of us finds present at conception in our mother’s womb, the brokenness that will wound us and cause pain far beyond our ability to rest. That brokenness will cause us to hide and find ways to settle for lesser illusions that falsely promise to satisfy.
So what hunger, what ache gnaws in the heart and soul of every human being? Simply the desire to be loved well. For that desire to be tasted, experienced, and known. But to do so each of us has to wade into that deep brokenness found in ourselves and in the world.
In the last ten years as a therapist, I have found within myself and my clients that tension. It’s the tension to expose the dignity while experiencing the fears that only real exposure stirs. Also the tension to expose the depravity while feeling the shame of my own thoughts and behaviors. You see, we find in all things dignity and depravity. In the simple desires of wanting more chocolate or wanting to find relief from addiction. To wanting to provide for my family or just not be alone.
With chocolate it’s the dignity to enjoy the taste of sweet satisfaction my taste buds were made for, yet the depravity in me wants to find relief from stress or over indulge in the taste. In providing for my family I find the dignity to honor God’s call to care well and provide but so close is the depravity felt that I trust in my own abilities or fear what will happen if I lose my job. And the same tension is found in the desire to find relief from my addictions or to simply not be alone. It’s so good to want to be productive and to belong but where I go to find satisfaction is where I often see the depravity. I find myself challenged to honor the dignity, embrace the depravity and rest in the love of a God that sees both.
So where is the dignity in the heart of those who find themselves attracted to those of the same gender? Simple: the same place it is found in the hearts of those who are attracted to the opposite gender. It is found in the desire to be loved well, known, connected, held close, and desired to name a few. The only difference between the two might be in the shades of depravity not in the dignity.
But here is the beautiful part of this ongoing dialogue. In my discussions over the years it has certainly been true that those who are often attracted to the same gender sexually most surely have a better understanding of their own dignity than those who experience attraction to the opposite gender. If you simply listen to the stories of those attracted to the same gender you will hear the deep passions exposed and a sensitivity to what the heart was made to want. It is in these stories I sit with people who are more connected to those desires than those who share a different story. The darker shades of depravity expose the deeper sides of our dignity. It’s in honoring that dignity we all might realize what will truly satisfy.
So how do we honor the dignity, embrace the depravity and rest in a God that sees both? That’s a lifetime journey, with many starts and stops, stumbles and fallings and rising-again’s, and finding rest along the way. The encouragement is to keep finding places to rest but also at times to keep moving forward. As we move forward we will want to listen to stories and see where they expose the dignity. We will also hear similar needs that others have in their own depravity, and we might have the opportunity to lean into those places together. And as the body of Christ we just might bring healing, hope or a true sense of gospel rest.