Untangled: Wandering Son and Perspectives on LGBT Issues

From the very beginning, I intended this blog to be a place, a destination, a home, rather than simply a source about anime and our unique perspectives on it.  As such, we welcome your thoughts and questions not only through the comments page, but through the Ask the Staff button on the top of the menu.  And we’ve been blessed by some engaging questions submitted through that tab.

Last week, we received the following email (video and image added) from Zoe in regards to a post I wrote a couple of years back entitled, “Hourou Musuko and Loving the Sinner, But Hating the Sin”:

I recently watched ‘Wandering Son’ an anime that truly hit me in a number of ways. I’m a transgender woman so it was very relevant to me.

Wandering Son
Art by めの (Pixiv ID 9047230)

Lauren Orsini recommended that I read Beneath the Tangles posts on it as she found them very interesting. As she mention it less than hour ago I decided to hunt down the posts to read over the next few years. I like reading about different perspectives as it find it both interesting and insightful. I like to know how other people see a topic or issue, so I’m glad you’ve written on the series.

I’m on the “Love the sinner, hate the sin” post. I wanted to suggest watching a very good and interesting youtube video that my dear friend who is a Methodist minister suggested it to her friends on facebook. Just another perspective that while you very well my not agree with it, I think you’ll find the Minister Tony Campolo’s take on it. The video is just over 5 minutes long.

Take care and thank you for these very interesting post that let me see the subject from another perspective. As I mentioned, I so appreciate seeing things from the perspective of others.

Thank you for the generous and kindly worded email, Zoe.  I’m glad that you’re enjoying my writings on the series (and incidentally, thank you to Lauren for recommending Beneath the Tangles).

Campolo talks a little bit about the idea of “loving the sinner but hating the sin” toward the end of the above clip, and what he has to say is very important.  I dislike that well-entrenched phrase (the original posting on Hourou Musuko was written with my discomfort with those words in mind) because I think it’s too simplified and is also perhaps condescending. But more important to consider is what Campolo says when he emphasizes that Jesus instructs us to look first at the sin in our own lives.

Many denominations in the U.S., including the one of which I’m a part, have been obsessed with homosexuality and other sexual orientation/identification issues, as if there’s nothing else more important.  We can’t ignore this topic, nor should we, but the way Christians approach it, I think, needs to change, and it’s deeply seated in what the Rev. Campolo mentioned in the video – we need to be looking inward instead of looking out.

Many Christians no longer believe homosexuality to be a sin – either the state of being or the engaging in homosexual relations.  But even for those that do, a focus needs to shift away from pointing fingers at others and instead toward ourselves.  What sin rules in our life?  What do we need to pray about and ask the Holy Spirit to change within us?  How can we learn to love God and others better?  The message of the gospel is life, but it will seem otherwise coming from someone who isn’t living a grace-filled life him or herself.

I’ll share a quick story to close.  Recently, I met up with a good friend.  Our interests seldom intersect, except when it comes to anime, but when we come together we talk about everything, it seems, but anime.  She also happens to be bisexual.  So do I go off on a tangent and discuss whether scripture forbids same-sex relationships?  Of course not.  Yikes, that could get awkward and awful (not that I don’t have friends who would so)!

We talk about religion some and I’m sure will continue to, and I’ll never disguise or hide my faith, and wouldn’t expect less than that from my friends as well.  Even within the context of a church body, she and I and everyone else have to work out our beliefs personally and develop our faith (or choose not to) ourselves.  And in a strange and awesome paradigm, we’ll see that as we focus on our faith, we’ll love others more, and that as we develop our commitment to God, we’ll find ourselves reaching out to others in love rather than in judgment.  And that’s what I hope to see both from the church here in the U.S. and, on a personal level, within myself.

16 thoughts on “Untangled: Wandering Son and Perspectives on LGBT Issues

  1. A friend of mine were having a conversation about the obesity epidemic in America, and how frustrating it was. In fact, we even continued on to the topic of how obesity is often (with some exception) sinful in that it is a product of gluttony and laziness, and in no way, shape, or form, a reflection of how we are supposed to treat our “temple”: our bodies.

    However, the conversation then shifted. My friend reminded me that many people suffer more with some particular sins than others. For him, and for me, that sin is lust. With this in mind, he suggested this hypothetical situation: What if the two of us were to gain a pound or two every time we lusted. The obvious result of that would be we would both be hopelessly overweight, and no “better” than those we were just ridiculing.

    Although this doesn’t excuse sins in general, it has enormously helped me to treat people with more grace than I might otherwise. I think the same idea can be applied here.

    1. Isn’t it amazing how we so easily judge others? I’m no different, and maybe in fact worse than most. I judge people all day long without really realizing it, almost like I’m on autopilot, and it takes a specific reframing on my part to remind myself that, who am I to judge?

      That tip from your friend, JP, is EXCELLENT, though. I hope others see that comment – it’s super helpful.

  2. I really liked (and agree with) how you break down how Christians should handle the topic. I agree the same, and I too, have met Christians at my church who will just go off and try to evangelize and tell the person how they are living in sin and how God wants to transform their life and deliver them from a demon of homosexuality. I do agree that yes, God can set anyone free from homosexuality who desires it, but at the same time, you need to build a relationship (a bridge) and be lead by the Holy Spirit in prayer to how to speak to someone about the gospel.

    1. I barely touch on this, but it’s quite a conundrum about how we should witness to all sorts of folks in America in this day and age. We certainly need to be sensitive and empathetic and, as Paul taught, to approach them where they are. But we also can’t forget the gospel message, which is going to be offensive to most!

      Thanks for sharing, as always!

  3. And there are the obsessions in a opposite direction, that is, Christians that are so embracing, so accepting, so enchanted with homosexuality… they don’t want to even have any semblance of “offense” to them.

    “So do I go off on a tangent and discuss whether scripture forbids same-sex relationships?”

    Ah, that would be another interesting topic.

    I think that such relationships would have to be like brother or sister relationships.

    1. Thanks for the comments! It’s true that we have to avoid that slope, too. We’re doing a disservice if we never share the gospel message for being too sensitive. This is certainly a struggle I have.

      And yes, those are interesting topics worthy of further exploration.

      Thanks for the comment!

      1. And the step from being too sensitive to justifying and next glorifying sin is short one.

        I have seen that a lot in the Christian part of the fandom on tumblr and other sites.

        Very dangerous.

        I think that something that contributes to that, is the want of “fitting in” that some people have, and that acceptance of homosexuality is seen by lots of people as a litmus test of the “goodness” of a person.

        1. There’s certainly a thin line, and the more the “culture” informs our opinions and the less the Bible and a biblically-based Christian community does, the more likely we are to find ourselves on the other side of it.

  4. The thing that always struck me about that old shibboleth “Make a friend, be a friend, lead a friend to Christ” is how often we seem to forget the first two steps.

    1. Oh, yes! It seems to me that many of us, myself included, either focus on the first two without the third, or the third without the first two!

  5. I do not see you as a bigot, you are actually thinking about these issues, a true bigot would not do that. I was going to an ELCA-affiliated college at the time the denomination was struggling with this (as it still is) and was very active in the campus GSA. Sometimes within the group there was an “us vs. The Church” mentality, I appreciate the tension of trying to stay true to your faith vs. cultural pressures. On the whole I think the rise in GLBT-friendly churches has been really good for the GLBT communities- there is less revolving around unsafe, anonymous sex, abuse of alcohol/drugs, and churches give people other options of “ways to be gay”.

    I also think churches have trouble in general dealing with socially awkward/misfit people, and hence some of the backlash you see against Christianity among anime fans and other geek subcultures is part of that. I also think another result of that is that a lot of people with differing and creative ideas leave (esp. more conservative) churches behind. Just something to keep in mind when folks complain about lack of media with Christian content..

    1. Thanks for the kind and thoughtful comments. I would definitely agree fully with your assessment in the second paragraph. I think that when “misfits” walk into church, or otherwise becomes somehow involved in the life of a Christian, it makes many congregants uncomfortable, maybe the root being that they are forced to examine their faith and what they really believe instead of continuing in the comfort of their church culture. And that’s precisely the mode that the church needs to get out of.

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