Being a Gay Christian in a Hostile World
by Minister Paul E Jones
Gay spirituality, some might consider it an oxymoron; and who could blame them with the prevailing religious and social attitudes about gays and lesbians. History teaches things a little differently. And modern gays are reclaiming their spiritual heritage within organized religion and alternative faiths.
There is an enlightenment that goes with being gay, an understanding of the real meaning and message of religion. Not all gay people avail themselves of this enlightenment. Some are blinded to it by momentary attractions of the flesh and the glamour of a liberated gay life. Some are blinded by the guilt and confusion instilled in them by a homophobic society. And some are blinded by the misinformation perpetuated by institutionalized religion. Yet this spiritual enlightenment is there for us, if only we open our eyes.
Gay enlightenment comes, in part, from seeing the world from the perspective of an outsider. It comes also from bringing a different, less polarized, set of assumptions to the process of observing the world. And it comes, for most of us, from not being parents and thus not being caught up in rearing offspring and holding expectations for their lives. The various forms of what is called "gay spirituality" arise from--and facilitate--this enlightened stance. From this position, it is possible to understand what religion is really about in the "big picture."
Popular religion does not make sense anymore. The traditional myths described the universe as a small disk, not much bigger than the Mediterranean Basin and only about 4,000 years old, floating at the center of a watery firmament, ruled by personal deities with distinctively human traits. Scientific observation shows us a universe that extends billions of light-years into expanding space-time. There is no watery firmament, and the mythical gods couldn't have begun to fathom the modern cosmos. And we've only been looking at it with sophisticated instruments for a few decades. We have barely begun to see what it really is.
The old myths do not address many of the issues that drive modern consciousness: overpopulation, pollution, ecological dynamics, the well-being of the oceans and the rain forests, weapons of mass destruction, exploration of space, cancer, television, automobiles, biotechnology, computers, globalization, evolution, liberty, democracy, psychological sophistication, racial equality, and, of course, sexual orientation.
Religion is supposed to be the conveyor of wisdom. In its myths are supposed to be descriptions--in metaphor and symbol--of how consciousness operates. But the operations of consciousness have become much too complex to be addressed by old myths. Some things that were once important, like human sacrifice and ritual purity, do not even interest us today.
The way to reclaim the positive aspects of religion--sometimes referred to by contemporary religious revolutionaries as "spirituality"--is to rise to a higher perspective from which to understand the wisdom hidden behind the religious myths.
Gay people have been bashed by believers with Bibles for a long time. Any gay person who grew up in a fundamentalist household (as I did) can quote you the verses used. They, as I, went to church and heard about the wickedness of Sodom, the revulsion of Paul, and the lewdness of homosexuals today.
Since that time, I have read many books which seek to reinterpret those verses and stories: among others, Jospeh Pearson, in "Reconciling being gay and Christian"; Mel White, in Stranger at The Gate. I have been very impressed by their arguments, captivated by their stories, and filled with hope by their fervor to serve God and minister Christ to gay and lesbian people everywhere. But still I had a problem with accepting my homosexuality. Call it latent fundamentalism if you will, but there were parts of my head and gut that just didn't accept what these capable people were saying.
When I studied the Bible as a teenager and young adult, it seemed that the doctrines of the bible fit together as securely as the pieces of a Shaker rocker. That's the gut and head feeling I was searching for, and I just wasn't getting it. Not completely, that is. When I first re-examined the story of Sodom (and I believe it was while reading Rev. Wilson's book) the absurdity of using Sodom against homosexuality was immediately apparent. I could never go back to understanding Sodom as a story against homosexuals. It just isn't there, folks! To condemn homosexuals with the story of Sodom, you have to import the idea that it's wrong in the first place. Otherwise, a true reading of the text misses that idea altogether. That's the kind of doctrine that appealed to my fundamentalist heart: It's not right there in the Bible to see!
So why couldn't the rest of the condemnations of homosexuality in the Bible be so easy to explain away? Why couldn't I just accept the arguments of good, honest people who clearly see that the Bible doesn't condemn homosexuality? The answer was my stubborn Church of Christ heart. Intellectually and emotionally, it just read those books and then hopped back onto the porch to rock. After all, that rocker was very well constructed. So after much time and thought, I decided to state the case against homosexuality in the worse possible way
As rational human beings, we can observe the world and see the way it really is, eventually. For thousands of years, the great majority of us thought that the world was flat. We have, as a species, made some observations since that time, and discovered that this is not so. Also, for a few decades, we have thought that the solar system contained nine planets. A tenth has been discovered recently, and our minds have changed on the matter. Finally, when we were confronted by people who ran screaming around in graveyards naked, cutting themselves and chasing other people, we used to say that they were possessed by demons and pray over them. Now we say that they are paranoid schizophrenics and give them medication. I'm not here to say which of the final two solutions is better. (Who's to say that all that prayer didn't result in someone finally figuring out the necessary chemicals to give to someone afflicted with paranoid schizophrenia?) The important thing is this: while our brains are limited in their power, we can occasionally figure out the way things are. The common effort to figure out the way things are is called science, and it is a legitimate way of studying God and Creation; if God didn't want us to use our brains, why did God let us evolve them? Therefore, scientific information is the bedrock of what I mean by a realistic view of life.
People might object to this, quoting Hebrews 11:1--"Faith is the conviction of things not seen!" If faith must rely on science for its validity, then it is not faith! Not true. There are two components of a message of faith, the message and the sign. In the book of Deuteronomy, a method of evaluating prophetic messages is given. The prophet would speak a message ("Repent of your sins" --unverifiable) and give a sign ("An earthquake will happen tomorrow" --verifiable). If the sign did not come to pass, then the message was to be rejected. When faith makes verifiable statements, then it is our responsibility to verify them through science. A faith in a six-day creation in the face of the scientific evidence to the contrary is blind and senseless. It offends the human mind and He who created that human mind. We must reinterpret the creation stories in the Bible or the human mind will reject the Bible. A faith in things not seen is not a faith against things most clearly seen. When faith makes statements about things we cannot verify (such as spirituality and isolated historical events like Jesus' resurrection), then we must have faith. When faith makes statements about things we can verify (evolution, other historical events like the reign of David), then we must examine the statements for truth. (Indeed, the small number of witnesses to the resurrection of Christ has forever placed this historical event into the realm of university--it will always be a matter of faith.)
But there's more to a realistic view of life than science. For many centuries, women have been considered secondary to men. A relationship of convenience which developed during prehistoric times became deeply enfranchised in human society, to the point of excluding women from owning property and voting. Women were expected to remain homemakers and baby machines. Today such ideas are repugnant. A person cannot be discounted and discriminated against because that person is female. The same is true of skin color. In America, wars have been fought over the rights of human beings who have a different race than the people in power. A person cannot be discounted and discriminated against because that person is black.
Yet the subordination of blacks and females was and still is justified by certain passages from the Bible. In the early chapters of Genesis, it is clear that the highest personal goal for a man was to produce a son, for this allowed him to participate in the image of God (Gen. 5:1-3). In the genealogy of chapter 5, women are excluded because they are only the earth from which the Creator Man forms a man in his own image. Is it any wonder that most feminists have no love for the Bible? Slavery, while not so deeply entrenched in Biblical doctrines, was still condoned and accepted in both the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament. Slaves are told to "not be concerned" about being slaves. "In whatever condition you were called, brothers and sisters, there remain with God." (I Cor 7:21-24) Today, in our society, wiser heads have prevailed. Women are no longer considered inferior to men. Slavery is unacceptable as a societal instrument. Even though the Bible allowed such things, they have been set aside--in part, because many Christians realized that the deeper currents of the Biblical message reject such ideas. "There is no longer slave or free, there is no male or female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28)
Therefore, science is not the only contributor to a realistic view of life. The wisdom of society, when in agreement to the core doctrines of the Bible, is a potent indicator of reality. So where do we stand with the first premise? I'll restate it:
Science has increasingly validated homosexuality as a natural part of being human. After decades of trying to cure homosexuality, the American Psychiatric Association eliminated homosexuality from their categories of mental illnesses. Zoologists have recognized this "unnatural" behavior occurring naturally all throughout the animal kingdom. Biologists have produced evidence that homosexuality is encoded in the genetic material that gives us shape and form. There is not a single bit of biological or psychological evidence that homosexuality is a malfunction or perversion of the natural human being.
How about societal wisdom? Well, it depends on which society you're asking for wisdom. Most religious societies would condemn gay people out of hand. Yet there are other portions of society that recognize the reality of the existence of gays and deals with them. Other portions of society openly embrace gay people and encourage them to grow. Which society should we listen to? This is why I asked you to consider that societal wisdom must be informed by the core doctrines of the Bible.
Now the Bible has long been used to defend racism and slavery, the subjugation of women, wars, and the outright slaughter of anyone who was different. The Ku Klux Klan, the reign of Hitler, the witch hunts, and the Crusades were all purported to be efforts in the name of Jesus Christ! What's more, they were vigorously supported, or even developed by, one or more major church groups. (See my Surprise! page for more about this.)
I am sickened that many churches are now using this same hypocrisy to target, abuse and harass gay people. Enough is enough!. They, and other fundamentalists, repeatedly claim that God hates gay people or expects them to "convert" to heterosexuality. This website was written to answer these claims through testimony, providing information, and inviting you to ask the Holy Spirit, not people, for the answer. It is here to provide resources for anyone struggling with this issue, regardless of your sexual orientation or gender identity.
Just as the Jews in Acts 10:45 were astonished that "even the Gentiles" could receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, there are going to be some pretty surprised fundamentalist Christians when they see gay people in Heaven. Yes, the Gentiles and even the gays can receive the Holy Spirit. Surprise!
We have increasing numbers of churches we can go to where we can celebrate God's love and grace and where we are recognized as God's people. There are open and affirming "mainstream" churches as well as those with outreach ministries especially for gays and lesbians. (See my Church Search section.)
More and more of the "mainstream" churches are starting to realize how hypocritical they've been in dealing with gays. They're realizing that loving, responsible relationships between two adults of the same gender is not a sin.
As for those who are still convinced that it is a sin, many of them are finally realizing another point. If they're going to "stand at the door" and keep the gay people out, why stop there? They'd better go ahead and also screen out all the straight people who have cheated on their spouses, become alcoholics or drug addicts, lied, stolen, gone to church purely for social reasons, had premarital sex, become greedy, treated people badly, or never tithed more than a buck in the collection plate. Nobody's getting in! And the person guarding the door would have to go home, because he is she couldn't get in, either!
The Scriptures in the Bible that are used to condemn homosexuality, when read in full context, refer not to loving, homosexual adult relationships, but to various sins such as male prostitution, pederasty (having sex with young boys), pagan idolatry and orgies, inhospitality, and homosexual rape (to make a man "as a woman" was the ultimate insult, and was used to demonstrate supremacy over the victim). These are all forms of treating God or His creations with something other than love and respect. It is easy to see why He would disapprove of these things.
There are six Scriptures that are commonly cited as "proof" that God hates gay people. Notice that, in the above paragraph, women aren't even mentioned. Likewise, lesbianism is only mentioned in one of those six Scriptures. But I will discuss other Scriptures on God's love, the inclusiveness of His family, and about the folly of judging others. My general comment about the six common Scriptures is this:
The Bible has long been used to defend racism and slavery, the subjugation of women, wars, and the outright slaughter of anyone who was different. The Ku Klux Klan1, the reign of Hitler2, the witch hunts3, and the Crusades4 were all purported to be efforts in the name of Jesus Christ! What's more, they were vigorously supported, or even developed by, one or more major church groups.3,5 The last two were backed or developed by the Catholic Church, and many are also convinced it was complicit in the Holocaust - to the extent that at the time of this writing, Israel is urging the Vatican to halt procedures to beatify Pope Pius XII as a saint until scholars are allowed to examine related documents.5 Far from innocent, many other churches lent their support to various atrocities as well (i.e. both Protestants and Catholics to the witch hunts, white churches in the South to the KKK). All it takes is a little web research to see that this is true. Scriptures have been taken out of context and used to promote hatred, abuse, and murder for centuries, supposedly on God's behalf. That's blasphemy of the worst kind!
In addition, the hypocrisy of using the Bible as an excuse to judge anyone should be obvious. No one has room to judge anyone else because we all fall short of the mark. I personally won't stand for it when people condemn me for being who I am based on six Scriptures, taken out of context, while ignoring the entire remainder of the Bible. How dare someone lecture me when he's cheating on his wife? Or when she loves nothing better than viciously tearing people down? Or when they're in the car on their way home from church, plotting how to cheat their employees so they can reap more profits? I won't take it sitting down, and I would encourage you to gently remind any scorners that Jesus is the only one who has room to cast the first stone.
Lastly, and most importantly: No one else knows what you and God have between you; your relationship with the Lord is a personal relationship. So for one person to look at another and say, "He's such a sinner. He can't be a Christian," or, "She's a lesbian, so you know she's going to hell," is to play mind reader and God. People who assume that God thinks the way they do are being presumptuous and egotistical. My prayer is that, through this ministry, less people will allow that kind of hypocrisy to affect their relationships with the Lord.
Rather than approach this subject from the negative side, that is, arguing that the six Scriptures don't prove that gays aren't included in God's family, I prefer to argue why all of the rest of the Scriptures prove that we are! Here are some Scriptures the fundamentalists never bring up.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that He might be the firstborn of many brothers. And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified. ~ Romans 8:28-30
We cannot come to God and love Him unless He has first chosen us. For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will -- to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves. ~ Ephesians 1:4-6 The people who believe in Him were chosen long before they were ever born.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. ~ Romans 8:22-23, and note
But more interestingly, the study note for this Scripture:
-firstfruits of the Spirit. The Christian's possession of the Holy Spirit is not only evidence of his present salvation but also a pledge of his future inheritance - and not only a pledge but also the down payment on that inheritance.
-redemption of our bodies. The resurrection, as the final stage of our adoption. The first stage was God's predestination of our adoption; the second is our present inclusion as children of God.
The following Scripture echoes the concept:
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession -- to the praise of His glory. ~ Ephesians 1:13-14
When we believe the Gospel (and therefore believe in the life, death and resurrection of Christ), we are marked as God's own and a member of His family by being given the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is both evidence and a guarantee of our faith, membership, and inheritance.
Then Peter said, "Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have." ~ Acts 10:47
The voice spoke from Heaven a second time, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean." ~ Acts 11:9
If God has called someone good, we do not have the right to challenge Him. To judge someone else ourselves is to question God's authority and place no faith in His ability to do what is right.
Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. ~ Colossians 3:11-12
We are all united in Christ as believers. This means that our social norms, dogmas and stereotypes must step aside when they disagree with the Lord's will because He is above those things. Instead, recognizing that we are one family in Christ, we are always to behave peaceably and lovingly toward each other.
To put it all together:
We cannot come to God against His will and love Him unless He has first chosen us (Rom. 8:28-30). The people who believe in Him were chosen long before they were ever born (Eph. 1:4-6). When we believe the Gospel (and therefore believe in the life, death and resurrection of Christ), we are marked as God's own and a member of His family by being given the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13-14). The Holy Spirit is both evidence and a guarantee of our faith, membership, and inheritance (Eph. 1:13-14). If God has called someone good in this way, we do not have the right to challenge Him (Acts 10:47, 11:9). We are all united in Christ as believers (Col. 3:11-12). This means that our social norms, dogmas, and stereotypes must step aside when they disagree with the Lord's will because He is above those things. Instead, recognizing that we are one family in Christ, we are always to behave peaceably and lovingly toward each other (Col. 3:11-12).
My argument, reinforced by the above Scriptures, is this: If we were not called, we would not come to Him and believe. The very fact that gay believers exist is proof that God sees fit to call gay people into His family. This is regardless of what opinions any church, official, or average Joe may hold about the matter. We, as Christians, are expected to rise above our perceived differences and see each other through the Lord's eyes!
Christ in You The transforming power of Christ
For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. ~ 1 Peter 1:22-23
We all know what it means when we say our lives have been turned upside down. Sometimes events can occur that do it, and other times people in our lives do it. But the Lord does something no human can do alone; He turns our lives right side up! He gives us purpose and direction, a sense of wrong and right, and an all-out new way of living. This is what Paul means when he writes:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! ~ Corinthians 5:17
In plain, modern English, we'd say, "Out with the old, in with the new." He gives us a new life, a new desire to hold ourselves to a higher standard of living. We discard those parts of ourselves that are not wholesome, and we strive to be like Jesus Christ. He teaches us and shows us that there's a better way to live. We don't need to go out and get drunk or high, have sex, or be rich in order to feel fulfilled any more. If money is your god, you'll always need more money in order to feel okay. If sex is your god, you'll always need more sex. If cocaine is your god, you'll always need more cocaine. When does it end? When do you ever get to the point where you have enough drugs, sex, or money to make you happy as a person? Two minutes after the novelty wears off, you'll be out looking for more.
No, what we need is new life. One that is centered around the Lord and His purpose for us. Some people living in the fast lane may think that sounds pretty boring. Unfortunately, this view has become quite commonplace, and it happens when people become addicted to adrenaline rushes in order to feel okay. Loving God doesn't mean sitting in a church all the time reciting "thee's" and "thou's." You can still have excitement in your life, but it's of a more positive nature and it lasts far longer. With the peace God gives you, you are free to, and indeed receive much joy from, helping and ministering to those in greater need than yourself.
Often people make the mistake of saying, "Well, I've got my own problems. If I didn't have so much to worry about myself, maybe I'd be able to help somebody else." But the truth is, if you involve yourself in the Lord's work and have faith in Him, He will quiet your mind and help you iron out or deal with your problems. He pays you back with blessings a thousand times over, for your time and energy spent in ministry. This is not to say that all your problems will miraculously disappear. Sometimes His help just involves helping you to more effectively deal with a situation as it is. Either way, God brings peace of mind and a quietness to your soul that defies description. He may not always do things the way we might want Him to, but He will be there for us, helping us and giving us the strength to get through the rough spots.
When Jesus died for us, He paid the price for our shortcomings and sent the Holy Spirit to us for guidance. Because of His gift, the Holy Spirit lives within us, gently guiding us toward greater good.
As Christians, Christ is a powerful and driving force in our lives. His death provided for the forgiveness of all our faults and evils. The Lord has the power to overturn our lives and make them into something more beautiful than we ever imagined, if we'll only let Him. It is one thing to believe in Him and pray to Him; it is another thing entirely to be born again.
What Does It Mean To Be Born Again?
In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again."
"How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!"
Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit." ~ John 3:3-6
We can understand Nicodemus' confusion in this passage, as he struggles to understand the rebirth Jesus is talking about. As described by Scripture, spiritual rebirth follows certain steps. Even if we aren't aware of the exact process, God knows the way. He leads us gently through them to a new way of life. Because everyone is different, and because God's relationship with us is a personal one, each person will have a somewhat different relationship with Him. He knows the best way to communicate with each of us based on our personalities and experiences. Even so, the path more or less follows a basic course:
We realize that we've been attempting to run our lives all by ourselves, without His help and guidance. We admit that, in doing so, we have been living our lives in ways not pleasing to Him. We humbly ask for the Lord's forgiveness and healing.
We offer ourselves to the Lord as living sacrifices, relinquishing control of our lives to Him. (This is not to say that we stop taking care of things, but that we let Him handle those things we as humans are incapable of doing anything about. We stop worrying about them and trying to control them ourselves, realizing that God is in control.) We ask for His guidance in our lives.
We promise the Lord that we will live a new life, rejecting and reforming those acts and personality traits that are not Christ like. We attempt to be like Jesus in every way, and although we are certain to miss the mark at times, we resolve to do the very best we can. We voluntarily receive a water baptism as a sign of our new birth and commitment to the Lord. Once we have been born again:
We promise the Lord that we will attempt to develop the fruits and gifts of the Spirit, and we ask Him for His help with this. We desire these qualities not out of a fear because we want to grow closer to Him, become more like him, and share the good news with others in ministry. We fall in love with Him! We use those fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit that God has given us to help other people in need, with love and understanding.
As we fulfill the Lord's purpose in our lives, we find greater peace and joy as we grow in love and faith toward Him. We find that He knows the longings of our hearts, and as we work for Him, He fills and nurtures us.
Being "born again" doesn't mean we are given the right to judge anyone else. It doesn't mean we suddenly become perfect. It means we start over in our lives, doing things differently, allowing and inviting the Holy Spirit to bring guidance and help us make changes for the Lord. (And even though we may not realize it, these changes ultimately benefit us anyway, because God wants the best for us!) We know that the Spirit is at work because a person's life style will gradually start to change over time. Addictions, selfishness, greed, and other such things will slowly fall away as God replaces them with His loving-kindness. It may even take years for the changes to take hold, but we can observe that they are a work in progress, being molded like clay by the grandest Artist there ever was! What a blessing! And it's all bought and paid for by our Savior Jesus Christ.
He will transform our lives if we'll only let Him. I am only one of many who have been transformed, who have witnessed the awesome changes our awesome God can make in your life. We as Christians are to be "living letters" of the Bible, able to bring the Scriptures to a personal level by sharing our miraculous stories of growth and change. I am eager to share with anyone who will listen, the joy I have found and the wonderful, healthy changes that He has made in me. I don't need to do the things I used to do any more in order to try to feel complete. Now that my cup is full, as we say, "Pass it on!" Come and live your life "right side up!"
You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. ~ 2 Corinthians 3:2-3
Why is it that people (on both sides) get so bent out of shape about gay Christianity? Why do people battle so heatedly when it is even suggested that someone could be a follower of the Lord and still fall in love with someone of the same gender? For the record, let me just state that the last sentence was carefully worded that way for a reason. As I've mentioned elsewhere in these pages, treating others with anything less than love and respect is wrong. Therefore, so is using others for sex or anything else. So for those who protest because they don't believe someone could be the Lord's follower and then still go around "cruising" or otherwise "picking up" sex partners, I agree wholeheartedly. I completely understand their lack of sympathy! How can a person truly be following Christ, all the while using people as objects for one's own pleasure? That's not how God wants us to treat each other. But watch out; that goes for heterosexuals, too!
That said, I have some qualms about the very existence of ex-gay "ministries." Why are they so stuck on this one subject to begin with? For example, why are there no ex-adulterer, ex-cruiser, ex-wifebatterer, or ex-childmolester ministries? These things are obviously very destructive, complete with victims who may need years or even a lifetime to work through their aftereffects. If they believe being gay is destructive, surely they'd have to agree that these other things are far more harmful.
Don't think some of these things are a big deal?
What about when an adulterer brings AIDS home to an unsuspecting spouse and/or an unborn child? Does the spouse or even the whole family get to suffer and die from AIDS? Does the spouse get to fight gonorrhea or live with herpes for the rest of his/her life? How about when a wife and "the other man," or a husband and "the other woman" conceive? What happens to any "love child" in this situation? Is the baby aborted in order to destroy the evidence? Put up for adoption, to wonder later why its parents abandoned it? Raised with no mommy, or no daddy? Or in a home where one parent is resentful because the child is a constant reminder of the affair? And how does one explain to the child how s/he came into being? No one seems to consider anything other than the adulterer's own "boredom" and pleasure.
What about "cruisers," looking for one-night-stands and flings? Gay, bi, or straight, cruisers can spread AIDS and other STD's like wildfire, because they may have sex with several more people before a disease is discovered. The concept of "safe sex" is a lie. Condoms and latex can slip or break, and they don't protect you against everything. I sure wouldn't want anything that flimsy standing between me and disease or possible death. You never know if a stranger's been having sex with prostitutes or using drugs, maybe even intravenous drugs. Birth control fails more than one would think, mainly because the careful controlled environment of a testing lab doesn't reflect real life results. Again, what happens to any babies in this situation? Here there are even more questions. How do you explain to a child that you don't even know who his or her father is? What happens when drug users conceive? What about the babies who are born with drug withdrawals or diseases? Although people may claim to be concerned about health by practicing "safe" sex, they can't truly be all that concerned. If they were, they would choose the one way to be certain no one will get a disease or have an accidental pregnancy -- abstinence. When people think of cruising, they think of fun and pleasure. Not illness, at least not really. And not crack babies or AIDS-infected babies, to be sure.
The point I am making is this: If one is bent on trying to persuade people not to sin, and is convinced that anything other than heterosexuality is a sin, there are far more destructive things to worry about than sexual orientation. The whole idea of "converting" people to heterosexuality or preaching and/or rallying against those who aren't heterosexual is a just a big load of hype. It's the latest religious fad. It ignores real problems and wastes precious resources and energy on nonexistent ones. There is so much effort and money being wasted on trying to "save" gay people, that could be better dedicated to helping the homeless or battered women's shelters or people dying of cancer! I read an article back in the 1990's, in which Fred Phelps admitted to his organization spending some $250,000 per year in travel expenses for its members to fly out and picket at gay people's funerals! Can you imagine how many people we could feed with that? How much career training for the poor that we could fund? With that kind of money, at that time, we could have bought a new building every year for a battered women's shelter, homeless shelter, or Christian counseling center for families in crisis. Instead, they're using it to make a political statement and a disrespectful public spectacle out of someone's death. That is sick and disgusting.
Before you say, "Oh, but Paul is an extreme case," take a careful look at where the time, energy, and money goes in any organization that actively condemns homosexuality. How much good could be done if they focused all that time, energy, and money on helping the poor and destitute instead? How many urgent problems are being ignored or pushed aside in order to focus on this issue? Resources are always limited, so wherever you concentrate your efforts, it speaks volumes about your character. When you look at it that way, they're not that different from Phelps after all.
Very few of these most vehemently anti-gay proponents seem to actually sit down and carefully research the Scriptures they are so readily throwing at people. (Or employ Scriptural principles to other aspects of their lives, for that matter!) They hear anti-gay statements from their preachers, friends or families, and since there is pressure to conform, they just agree and don't bother to dig deeper. They don't research the Scriptures in depth, they don't try to find out more about gay people, and they don't weigh the gravity of the issue against other issues of far greater significance. Some people conduct their lives in whatever harmful manner they please and with no regard for others; but then when the subject of homosexuality comes up, all of a sudden they are "Christians," whipping out Bibles and thumping on them. (Then when the person they're having an affair with shows up, they spot someone they can take advantage of, or they see someone who could desperately use their help, those Bibles conveniently and magically disappear as quickly as they came out.) The hypocrisy is appalling. It would almost be humorous if there weren't such gross injustices being served. Anyone who pays enough attention to see this in action, will be understandably disinterested in hearing anti-gay Biblical rhetoric from people such as these. It's easy to observe how bigoted and irrational their entire approach is.
Some people claim that homosexuality is an "attack on families," "tears apart the fabric of American families," or causes the "breakdown of the family." I beg to differ. While for some it might be nice if they could find a gay scapegoat, the truth is that the problems in straight families are caused by their own straight family members. It's heterosexual adultery, cruising, wife-battering, and child-molestation that are an "attack on families," and that "tear apart the moral fabric of American families." They blame us for the divorce rates, single-parent homes, AIDS, child molestation, and many other maladies. But truly, just to pick one issue, what do we do to influence the divorce rates so? Lure people out of their marriages and break up homes? Doubtful. Divorces mainly happen when people refuse to work things out, are abusive, commit adultery, or molest children. How do gay people cause those things? We weren't even there!
Some of the outrageous claims these people make also extend to the subject of gay marriage, stating that it "undermines traditional marriage," thus warranting such anti-gay measures as the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act." But in all seriousness, how does the denial of my right to marry the woman I love strengthen the marriage of the couple next door? Are they seriously implying that gay people "ruin the sanctity of marriage," but things like "Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire," "Two Strangers and a Wedding," and Britney Spears' 55-hour just-for-fun marriage do not? Heterosexuals have done a fine job of trivializing, perverting, and ruining the sanctity of marriage all by themselves, without our help, thank you very much.
For those who contend that we have some big part in child molestation, studies have proven that an overwhelming majority of child molesters are heterosexual men. If I remember correctly, that figure rests at 97%. Can we say, then, that heterosexual men are the cause of the "breakdown of the American family?" Of course not. What I am illustrating here is the frequent tendency of the media and others to use outlandish examples by which to measure the gay community. They will take the most outrageous actions in the gay/lesbian community (or even just the most outrageous things they imagine might happen in our community) and present it as if it were commonplace amongst all of us. How ridiculous we would sound, were we to be fair by applying this method across the board!
If we were going to be consistent, we would frighten, indeed terrorize people, with appalling examples to represent heterosexual groups as well. For example, we would cite people such as Ted Bundy, Charles Manson, and the Night Stalker to represent the "depraved nature" of all heterosexual men. We would warn heterosexual women about the dangers of their heterosexuality, using philanderers, wife-batterers, and child molesters to typify the everyday activities of all heterosexual men. Lorena Bobbitt, Evelyn Dick, and Susan Smith would be used to represent the "evils of heterosexual women." We'd warn heterosexual men against the dangers of all heterosexual women, including gold-diggers who marry and then murder their husbands, players of vicious child-custody games (such as false accusations of child molestation or abuse in order to obtain sole custody), and prostitutes, as typical examples of everyday heterosexual female activity. Furthermore, we would look at Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker as examples, and claim that typical Christians all preach against adultery while cheating on their wives in seedy hotels with prostitutes. Anyone can see these examples are not fair!
Discussing extreme examples as if they were the norm, and coining frightening phrases like "attack on families," are merely scare tactics. One could use the same type of arguments to say that since the great majority of gang members are teenagers, we should all stop having children. It's not that ridiculous! After all, we know that the overwhelming majority of those children will go on to become teenagers, and we know teenagers are the segment of the population most involved in the "gang wars" that "tear apart the fabric of American families" by accidentally shooting 3-year-olds all the time. Therefore, we can prevent the "mass slaughter" first by not having any teenagers to shoot each other, and second by not having any 3-year-olds around any more to be hanging around getting shot. This makes the same amount of sense as the idea that gay people's existence or desire to marry rips apart straight families. Or the notion that we can save straight families by denying gays the same rights that straights enjoy and "converting" them to heterosexuality.
Mind you, I don't mean to sound callous here by throwing terms around in such a way. I only wish to call attention to the broken logic people try to use to construct their arguments against gay people and our treatment as equals, both in society and as Christians. People are killing themselves every day because these hypocrites have been so successful in convincing them that they aren't worthy of God's love. A good number of them are teenagers. Gay teens must endure all of the difficulties adolescence typically brings, and then some. Often they must also contend with the fact that they've been told by their family, friends, and church that they are unworthy, perverted and evil; that they stand for everything being American or being Christian is against. And oftentimes their loved ones aren't even aware of the damage they are inflicting because the teen is afraid to tell anyone. Then they are shocked when those teenagers go and quietly commit suicide. God's children are killing themselves because they're being taught they're not worthy of His love! Isn't that enough reason in itself to stop this madness? Is this what the Lord wants from His followers? I can't imagine Him being pleased with it. Can you?
Let's face it. Sex sells. You see it in advertisements for anything from perfumes to pagers, cars to cottage cheese! You'd be hard pressed to name a movie that wasn't put out by Disney, in which the main characters aren't doing it within 5 minutes (or a couple of days, at best) of first seeing each other! And the common tragic consequences such as deeply hurt feelings from being used, a loss of any kind of special meaning for sex, sexually transmitted diseases including AIDS, and unwanted pregnancies (often leading to a heartbreaking decision between abortion of the baby, adoption, or a child with no mother or no father around), somehow never surface anywhere in these films. Everyone in this entertainment industry's fantasy world is shown getting "free love," with no price to pay, ever. Why? Not because it's the truth. It's because that's what sells! The fact that there is high demand for quick, meaningless gratification is evidenced in all the "hot chat" rooms and 1-900 numbers, porn websites/magazines/movies, swingers' groups and bath houses that exist to cater to the public's desires.
Instant pleasure, no commitments. It is widespread in the straight community, but it unfortunately seems to be even more so sometimes in the GLBT community. We have been demonized and taught for so long that we are perverts, maybe some part of us begins to believe it and act the part. Granted, we are each responsible for our own decisions. But it certainly doesn't help that most of us grow up with our churches, families, friends and neighbors talking and preaching about "those people," depicted as "faggots," "dykes," "sick perverts," "predators," "abominations," "child molesters" and "a waste," and somewhere along the way silently realize that we are in fact whom they're talking about! Of course they assume that we are heterosexual also, never dreaming that the person they're talking to might happen to be one of those people, never knowing the brutal spiritual and emotional beating they've just inflicted upon us. At this point we certainly aren't about to enlighten them, either, since we already know the type of response that would elicit.
In addition to this, some apparently well-meaning "Christians" expend large amounts of energy preaching that "the Bible condemns homosexuality as a sin," and dedicating their time to "converting" gay people to heterosexuality. We may be tempted to reject not only their homophobic statements (as we certainly should), but also any other message Christianity represents, thus throwing the baby out with the bath water.
Whatever the reasons, I am here to say that seeking this "free love" kind of sex is just flat out wrong. Treating anyone like an object for one's own gratification is wrong. This applies to sex as well as other forms of using people, such as milking them for freebies or sponging off of them instead of working a job or doing our part when we are perfectly capable of doing so. It's one thing if we are confined to a hospital bed and really do need others' help, or have been laid off work and just need some assistance until we find another job, for instance. And it's a beautiful thing when people who care about each other help each other out when they're in a jam. But we have no excuse for just using other people for their time, effort, money, skills, or any other thing they can give us. This includes sex. Furthermore, it doesn't matter whether it happens to be heterosexual or homosexual sex. Using people, regardless of gender, is still using people.
Sex is a relatively small part of the human experience compared to our relationship to our God; spiritual, mental and emotional growth; witnessing and ministry; learning to consistently treat ourselves and others with respect and love; as well as more earthly things such as building a career, fixing meals, or paying the bills on time. Sex is not something to be pursued in and of itself. It is not something we should expend time and energy to attain. To do this is to commit idolatry, since we are making sex our god!
Idolatry is not just creating graven images or a golden calf. It includes anything that we put our trust, hope, and joy in instead of God. Our god can be career, our lover, money, drugs, our physical fitness, our parents, or sex. What happens if we are laid off, our lover leaves us, we go bankrupt, we can't get our fix, we are injured and can't work out any more, our family rejects us, and no one wants to have sex with us? If we are rooted in the real God, we aren't stuck on these things. We don't need them so badly that to lose them is to lose our will to live. We may really want them, and it may seem very difficult for us to do without them, but our faith in God keeps us going because we know God is a waymaker. We know that even if the door slams shut in our faces, He will open another one we didn't even know existed.
If God is our god, we know that He will never lay us off; He'll never leave us; we can never go bankrupt of His love; our fix is His loving presence in our lives which is never out of reach; stretching ourselves to always get closer to Him is the only truly important workout; He is the perfect loving family Who never rejects us; and that He pours blessings down on his followers until our cups overflow, far outweighing the short-lived pleasures of "getting our rocks off."
Seem lofty? It is, and with good reason. It may even sound like I'm not in touch with "the real world." It's true; I'm not. I've tried living life in "the real world," living by worldly "reality." I've made plenty of mistakes trying to make it make some kind of sense. It doesn't. But I am more in touch with reality now that I've come to the Lord than I've ever been, by a long shot. Reality is, if you don't have God, you don't have squat. No one else will save you. Nothing else in the world will make you happy for long. Worldly pleasures won't satisfy the hunger in your soul. There will always be something missing. Worldly things are hit-and-miss at best; disaster can strike at any time, and it's all gone. If you've been relying on them instead of God, what do you do when it all slips through your fingers? You have to look higher than that for true fulfillment. It's this type of thinking that makes all the difference in the world. It's the difference between Heavenly thinking and worldly thinking. That is why Jesus said:
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. ~ Matthew 6:19-21
Sex is meant to be part of a loving relationship between two people who have a lifelong commitment to each other. It is meant to be set aside only for the person we commit to for life. In this way it becomes precious and sacred, a special part of ourselves that we share with only one person in the whole world, the one we love enough to spend an entire lifetime with. Any animal can have sex. Dogs hunt for other dogs, mount each other, and then as soon as they are done they go looking for more. We are so much better than that! What makes us unique as humans is that we have the ability to elevate it to a loving act of sharing, baring the deepest part of our hearts, our selves to the one we love. It is no longer a desperate, depraved quest to satisfy animalistic urges with anyone who will cooperate, but something to be celebrated as a healthy, caring, and lasting expression of love. Sexual desire, if expressed properly, is a joy and a blessing to the heart, soul, spirit, and mind. This is what God intended for us. It's such a shame that we have often elevated it to a level above the One who created it in the first place.
Loveless, no-strings sex leaves a trail of emotional turmoil, pain, disease, spiritual and even physical death. Sex without love and commitment is like an apple pie without the apples: an empty shell that may seem pretty good when you try it, but it's very much missing the most important ingredients.
Some final words to grow in
1.Rest in the Lord. Relax and have faith that Jesus loves you. Right where you are. "Just As I Am" is a hymn that captures this thought perfectly. You don't need to do a thing to earn His love, and none of us can ever deserve His love. Remember the Roman centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant; Jesus didn't ask him to repent. What impressed Jesus was the man's faith. Despite being wholly undeserving, incredibly, amazingly, we still have His love - never forget that, and He will always bring you Home to Himself.
2.Never accept that you can lose your salvation. Once you are born again, you cannot be "unborn." Jesus will never let you go once you have given yourself to Him. Anyone who tells you that being gay will cause you to lose your salvation is wrong. Remember the Prodigal Son. He rejected his father, asked for his inheritance before his father was even dead, took the inheritance - and left. Can you turn your back on someone any more than that? Did his father stop loving him? No. Does God ever stop loving you? NO. You may even fall away from your faith. When you come back, God will be there, still accepting you, still loving you.
3.Don't buy into conditional salvation. Are we supposed to repent and turn away from our sins? Absolutely. But must we? No. In fact we cannot be freed from all sin while we are alive. If it were really true that we had to leave all sin behind when we accept Jesus, and never sin again as a condition of salvation, then God's mercy would not need to be infinite. He knew that sin would be a fact of everyone's life, all of our lives. Jesus says that we should not only forgive the first time someone sins against us, but "seventy times seven." That's in Matthew, by the way. How many people would you forgive after they did the same thing to you, not once, not twice, but 490 times? And yet, that's what Jesus commanded. How many of the church people you know could say they would be willing to do that? Not many, if they were honest. Probably not even one could. Yet God will, and does. Even if you accept the idea that being gay is a sin (which many churches do not any longer), remember that it is just a sin - it is the same to God as any other sin (any sin is enough to keep you out of Heaven, if not for Jesus' vicarious atonement). You can take great comfort in knowing that Jesus' sacrifice is sufficient for you - there is nothing you have done, or ever will do that's big enough to keep you away from Him.
4.Stand on the simplicity of Jesus Christ's completed work. As Jesus was dying on the cross, He said, "It is finished." But the Hebrew translation says, "It is completed." Either way you want to say it, it means the same thing - when Jesus gave His life on the cross, He paid the price for everyone's sin, once and for all. No one can add anything or take anything away from this work - it was completed by Jesus alone. No matter what else others may say is necessary for you to achieve salvation, remember that Jesus has already completed this work. Obey the 10 Commandments because it's smart, and because you want to follow the rules God set out for us. But doing that will not get you to Heaven - not without Jesus.
5.Believe. Don't let those who would hang you up on loopholes or technicalities convince you that you aren't really saved. The Bible is very clear (they will tell you this, too, but they will mean something altogether different - don't let them scare you). It doesn't say, "Do good works to your neighbor to be saved." It doesn't say, "First, get right with God." No, it doesn't - read it yourself. Don't listen to others telling you what it says, not even this article. But we can quote a little here: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that BELIEVETH on me hath everlasting life." That's from John 6:43-47 It also says, "…and all our righteousness are as filthy rags." —Isaiah 64:6. This means that you can do all the good things you want, but without Jesus, they don't mean anything to your salvation. Very simply put, you can do nothing to get into Heaven or to save yourself - except to Believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. When it comes right down to it, those people are really saying that what Jesus did was good enough to save them, but not to save you. Let them know that you don't plan to be the one to say that to Jesus Christ and see how they react.
6.Realize that your faith is your faith - nobody has the right to tell you that it isn't real, or that it isn't good enough. Christian faith is a deeply personal and intimate relationship between you and Jesus Christ. Sometimes, church-going people forget this, and instead become fixated on the dogma, or the rules, of their particular church denomination. Don't fall prey to giving too much weight to the opinions of other humans. Instead, rely on God, and remember that only God can put on your heart what He wants from you. As you grow in your relationship with Him, you will know what things He wants you to change or to work on. Again, listen to Him.
7.Accept that you may need to find a new church home. Many Christian religious bodies, unfortunately, seem to feel that excommunication is necessary. First, they may pressure you to renounce your homosexuality. When you are unable to comply, they may inform you that you are no longer welcome to their fellowship. Never mind that Jesus would never do this - He insisted upon spending time with, and cultivating relationships with, people the church despised. You're in good company. Find a new church where you can be welcomed and accepted for who you are.
8.Listen critically and apply logic. Most people are simply resistant to ideas they themselves are not familiar with. Be logical and remain calm - above all, don't buy into any hysterical exchanges about sinfulness, etc.
9.Be the gay person in their lives. Most of these people do know a gay person, but don't realize it. You have an opportunity to show them that gay people aren't contagious or perverted. If you can find it within yourself to help them see you as an individual of faith and value, you may be able to help others like yourself. Even if you are uncomfortable with their bigoted or ignorant questions and assumptions, you may be able to educate them.
10.Remember that this is your Christian Walk. No one can walk your Walk for you. Don't let anyone tell you that you aren't really saved, that your faith isn't good enough, or that "even the devil believes in Jesus." The devil may indeed believe in Jesus, but you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior - the devil has not. This is your Walk. Walk it your way, with a humble heart and your head held high, remembering that it is you who will stand before Jesus one day and answer Him as to whether you owned Him as your Lord and Savior - those people will not be able to answer for you. Have faith that He knows your heart and will know that your answer is true.
11.Maintain your sense of humor and humility. People who don't have a gay person in their lives (or at least, don't realize that they do) may surprise you with their reactions. Try to maintain a sense of humor if they make clueless or homophobic remarks, and remember that you are clueless about other things - try to keep a compassionate perspective.
12.Remain a person of dignity, integrity and faith. Even if your present church refuses to accept you as you are, there will be others who will welcome you. Rather than crying forever over the things you have lost, try instead to focus on the blessings you do have in your life.