Story Session 8: Wesley Hill

Wesley Hill graduated from Wheaton College and has an MA in Theology and Religion from Durham University in the UK. He is currently working toward a PhD in New Testament at Durham and has written for Books & Culture and Ransom Fellowship’s magazine Critique.

Living in The Tension

  • Frame our conversation with some words from the Apostle Paul,
  • That love of God is manifest in a world that is broken.
  • Waiting is the word that Paul uses for us as Christians to tell our story.
  • Even thought life has come, it is being worked out in an age that is still fallen.
  • Groaning, waiting, hoping, are the words that Paul uses. This is what it looks like to be a Christian. A time to of waiting.
  • We’ve been part of churches that have talked about struggle and then move to redemption. But I think Paul is trying to say that the victory of grace is woven along that struggle and pain.
  • We need to learn to narrate our story that way.
  • Romans 8:22-24
  • When I got to puberty I realized that what was happening was different from the rest of my friends. I found guys attractive. This is happening to me. I didn’t tell anyone about it until college. I was growing as a Christian, but I realized if I wanted to grow in my narrative with God I needed to talk to people about it. I talked to one of my professors about it. “I’m gay and I’m a Christian, I don’t know what to do.”
  • I started talking with other people in my church. What it looks like to live with this tension.
  • During this time I realized that I was finding the Christian story about sexuality, was God’s blessing and design was marriage between man and a woman. I found that story compelling and true, I believed it. The question became, How do I live out my reality while still believing this traditional Christian story.
  • Paul’s image of waiting and hoping took a real power for me. I came to see that he was writing about my life. I wanted to follow Christ, but the tension didn’t seem to go away.
  • How do you hold onto the promise and grace in life, when it doesn’t seem to have the effect?
  • I’ve learned that this is not just a gay christian story. This can be made sense in many stories in the church. Waiting, and hoping.
  • A friend took his life a couple years ago, and I’ve walked with his parents through grief. They tell me that they take deep comfort with this image that Paul gives. They’re hoping to be reunited with their son.
  • Remember Paul, he had a thorn in the flesh, he said he prayed 3 times to take away the thorn, and the answer finally came, I won’t take it away because my power is made perfect in weakness. Not out of weakness, but in weakness. It is the paradox, the power of Christ, the grace of Christ, is made perfect in struggle.
  • Romans 8:23
  • I’m groaning, I wish things were different with my sexuality. I’m waiting for the redemption of my bod.
  • “Anyone who does not recognize this as a description as authentic Christian has never struggled with the imperatives of the gospel, that challenge our impulses in natural ways.”
  • If you find yourself struggling, I think Paul is saying that is a normal Christian life. If that is your story, take comfort. Paul said that is the Christian story.

Conversation

  • What does it look like to live in this struggle, in this tension? What are you learning about this?
  • Look at life honestly. Don’t try to escape from the dark places.
  • It is powerful for me when a Christian artist is willing to face the shadows as well as the bright places.
  • Go to the painful places and find light in the broken places.
  • How do we as artists speak into this tension?
  • Be willing to have our presuppositions challenged by engaging with real stories, with real lives. Become friends with gay people.
  • Don’t try to fix their gayness.
  • You might know people who are gay, but do you know them at a deep level?

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