I recently listened to a podcast titled “Two Views on Sexual Ethics with Dave Kuta & Jon Morgan.” The conversation was hosted on Devoted for Ministry Leaders, the podcast of LOVEboldly, an organization which “exists to empower Christians (straight, cisgender, and LGBTQIA+) to create more spaces where LGBTQIA+ people can flourish in the church.” Since LOVEboldly is committed to bringing together a diverse range of voices, “Rather than promoting a certain theological viewpoint” as their website states, they were careful to inform the listener that the program would reflect the “varying viewpoints” included in the organization about topics such as same-sex marriage.
Ordinarily, I would refrain from listening to a program which does not affirm the God-given right of a Queer person to choose celibacy or not, depending on their circumstances and personal convictions. However, I respect Dr. Ben Huelskamp, their executive director, and I believe that LOVEboldly is doing necessary work for LGBTQIA+ inclusion that simply cannot be accomplished by folks such as myself who have decided to unequivocally affirm the potential goodness and Godliness of Queer sexual expression.
Nevertheless, I did have to brace myself when I realized that the two speakers represented two sides of an overly familiar debate (to me at least) over the inherent goodness of Queer sexuality nicknamed “Side A” and “Side B.” Although both speakers expressed discomfort with the adversarial connotations of being on “sides,” they, nevertheless, differed on whether same-sex marriage (they never did talk about same-sex sexual expression) could be blessed by the Church as part of God’s best design for humanity.
Dave Kuta, a Licensed Professional Counselor and Ministry Assistant at Vineyard Columbus (OH), held the view that Christian communities should not bless same-sex marriages (again, he never talked about same-sex sexual expression on its own terms). Nevertheless, he argued for the full inclusion of LGBTQIA+ persons in fellowship and certain “levels” of ministry.
Jon Morgan, the founding pastor of Hope Collective Church, a new and affirming congregation in Dayton, Ohio, took the position that the Church could bless same-sex marriages as part of the full welcome and inclusion of LGBTQIA+ persons in the visible body of Christ.
Representing “Side B”
Kuta opened his remarks with “Biblical” arguments, turning to the well-known “clobber passages” to explain how he came to a Side B position. Ironically, he begged the crowd not to use these verses to clobber others, even though he bases his conviction on his interpretation of porneia as meaning “sexual sin” (rather than the more likely translation, “prostitution”) in one of the clobber passages. Kuta uses another, newer, clobber passage, Genesis 1-2, to argue that Jesus had an opportunity to “redefine” marriage as inclusive of “two people who are committed and love each other,” but doesn’t. Although he did express some fear of being on the wrong side of history (as with slavery and the treatment of women), he claims that Jesus chose to not be more lenient on the issue of homosexuality. He recognizes that a Side B position asks a lot of the person required to be celibate but promises a great reward in heaven.
Representing “Side A”
Morgan talks about having held Side B beliefs before the Holy Spirit told him “specifically” that his theology was wrong, confirmed by a gay couple who showed up at his doorstep, asking if they would be welcome in his congregation. He gently countered a scripture-only approach to the issue, gently insisting that tradition, reason, and experience needed to be part of the discernment process. For him, Paul’s culturally-bound use of the word phusis (natural) for timeless truths (such as Paul’s counsel that men should not have long hair), countered Jesus’ constant upending of culturally-bound truths. Morgan spoke of the progression in Scripture of how people see God, and how the Spirit. Morgan also talked about how Jesus made a choice for love over law.
The Need to Welcome LGBTQIA+ People in the Church
Overall, both men expressed a need to offer an embrace to LGBTQIA+ people in the church, which I found heartening. Towards the end, however, Kuta (I believe) mentioned hearing a statistic that LGBTQIA+ people are more likely to commit suicide after reaching out to a clergy member than LGBTQIA+ people who didn’t reach out to anybody at all. Kuta cited this statistic as a call to action for people and communities espousing a Side B philosophy to wrap their arms around and embrace and support the LGBTQIA+ people in their midst. Nevertheless, Kuta says that it is his practice to be honest with people that they do not bless same-sex unions.
And this is where I feel the problem lies for many people. When I was a young, same-sex attracted man trying to negotiate my way as being true to Christ and true to myself in community, I was encouraged by people who promised to provide the extra love and support I would be missing in my life as a single person in the Church. But as the realization dawned that, for me, I was consigned to a life of celibacy I didn’t want, that was when I really started to feel suicidal. I figured that if I were going to suffer the intense loneliness I was feeling for the rest of my life, I would rather that God take me out of this life than live with that pain.
Which is why I feel that Side B philosophy is more dangerous than people realize.
But What About Sexual Ethics?
I was deeply disappointed by the lack of discussion in the conversation between Kuta and Morgan, not because it was a bad discussion, but because there seemed to be no positive, affirming, life-giving sexual ethic offered the LGBTQIA+ person. The discussion seemed to begin and end with the rightness of same-sex marriage, but a discussion that ends with whether or not people of the same gender can marry falls fall short of a discussion of actual sex or even relating.
I believe it is time to move past the question of “whether” God blesses same-sex marriage and relating to “how” can our sexuality best work as a positive force to connect us (as it was designed) to each other, ourselves, and even to God. I’d love to know what your thoughts are on what that might look like. Please comment, below, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Two Views on Sexual Ethics with Dave Kuta & Jon Morgan”. LOVEboldly, 08 Jun 2022. loveboldly.net/podcast-1/episode/79676bbe/two-views-on-sexual-ethics-with-dave-kuta-and-jon-morgan, accessed 09 Jun 2022.