In my “real” life I’m a bit of a, well, a huge geek. The kind of geek who, as a young child, was caught with a novel tucked inside of her study book in class. The kind of geek who totally understands things like LARP and Cosplay. The kind of geek who not only attends Renaissance Fairs, but does so dressed as a fairy queen, complete with hand-beaded wings. (There is photographic evidence of this, but don’t even think of asking.) I say all of this so that when I use an example from a cult favorite novel of ultimate geek cred in the next paragraph, you all know that this isn’t the least bit out of character. And I really would have to stretch myself to think of a better example.
Enter the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a truly genious work not only of science fiction theatre, but as a commentary on the human condition. There is a passage that describes the creation of the Ultimate Computer- The Computer that is made to answer the great question of life, the universe, and everything. Crowds gather anxiously to hear the summing up of everything they want to know. And the computer answers, “42.” The crowd is aghast. 42? What kind of answer is that? The computer, Deep Thought, responds, “now that you know the answer, you need to discover the true question.” What is the great question of life, the universe, and everything?
This passage came back to me a few days ago, when I was contemplating a question that I contemplate often. This is the question: When is it ever reasonable to kick someone out of church because of a sin they aren’t leaving behind? See, every time something like homosexuality is brought up and I lay out my fundamental argument in support of embracing gay people, this other question is inevitably thrown back at me.
I say, “if being gay is really a sinful thing (a postulation I have deep issues with in the first place) and a gay person is embraced, discipled, and seeks after God’s hearts- it is unnecessary for us to offer conviction of their sin- God will do it himself.”
People respond, “but at what point is it reasonable to expect someone to cease to be gay? What if it never happens?”
I think that, like in the case of the answer of “42”, is not answerable as such. It’s not the right question, and thus any answer I give won’t be the right answer. What people are really asking is, “when is it okay for me to not like their being gay? To bring it up? To make them stop? To kick them out if they won’t?” And if that isn’t what they are asking, then what they are probably asking is, “what if they never cease being gay and I have to confront my own preconceptions and face the fact that maybe I don’t have faith that God would convict them or that it is even necessarily sin?”
These are huge questions to grapple with. Ultimately earth-shattering questions. And it’s no wonder that instead of asking the questions that their subconscious narrative is screaming, people instead content themselves with asking a question that demands a more succinct answer. The only problem is that I, like Deep Thought, can’t answer the question they are asking. I have to answer the question they aren’t, the question they have yet to realize. Instead of saying, “five years seems like enough, or maybe ten,” I have to respond more honestly, “what happens if they change in all ways aside from being gay? Would you ever be able to accept their faith as genuine if they are still a homosexual?”
The answers to those questions can be heartbreaking.
But yet, they are important questions to ask.