To a Church that Dehumanizes Gays


Old Historic Church

“We need to attend church somewhere that is farther along in wrestling with these complex issues, somewhere John and any of his LGBT friends can join us if they wish and hear about God’s grace without having to feel defensive or ‘less than.'”

This is a letter my friend wrote to their church.  It beautifully expresses the need for churches to love LGBTQ. It’s quite long, but worth the read.

Dear Pastor,

Last time we talked with you, we said we needed to take a break from attending Hillcrest over the summer. We want to fill you in on where our journey is taking us. We felt we could articulate it better in a letter than in a conversation, but we don’t mean to be impersonal. We’re happy to talk with you more in person if you want.

Here’s the biggest thing in our journey. We know the people at Hillcrest are loving folks. We see it in so many ways, and you know exactly what we’re talking about: people taking friends to chemo treatments, or helping clean up fallen trees after a storm, or baking gluten-free goodies for our special-diet folks. So many examples come to mind. When people put themselves in another person’s place and walk alongside them, it looks like Jesus.

But when it comes to gay people, what we hear at Hillcrest and from the broader evangelical culture is downright dehumanizing. You might be tempted to dismiss this and assume that we’re overly sensitive and that Hillcrest folks are not saying anything unloving to gay people. Please don’t dismiss what we’re about to say. (Yes, we’re listening differently because our son is gay. But if that disqualifies us from being heard, it’s a far bigger problem than the current conversation.)

We aren’t going to list specific examples of statements that sound unloving, because we don’t “collect ammunition” to use against our friends. And because it’s really the evangelical rhetoric that we take issue with—the way evangelicals frame their response to homosexuality, and the choice of Hillcrest leadership to go along with that rhetoric.

What we hear from the pulpit and from conservative Christians about homosexuality is that there are only two things we need to know: 1) homosexuality is a sin, and 2) same-sex marriage is wrong. That’s it. Never do we hear gay people mentioned in the context of mercy, grace, or even as regular people. It’s ALWAYS in the context of sin. We hear it from the pulpit, and when homosexuality comes up in conversation, that’s what churchgoers parrot. That’s all we need to know. End of discussion.

It’s hard to put ourselves in the place of a teenager who grows up believing what he’s heard and then begins to realize that he is one of “those” people who are inherently sinful in some monstrous way. It’s hard to put ourselves in his place because: 1) we think immediately about gay sex and get grossed out; 2) we’re afraid that if we really get to know a gay person, we might start compromising on the Bible verses that seem quite clear, and who wants to go there?; 3) we are afraid we’ll “endorse his sin” if we treat him like we do other friends; and 4) we’ve been conditioned to think about LGBT people in terms of “us” and “them.”

So we have a huge empathy gap. We have no idea how our words sound to a gay person, or to the brother, sister, mom, or dad of a gay child. We have never even wondered. It’s just not on our radar. The same kind of empathy gap has been a symptom of horrific human rights abuses throughout history. For Christians, the “us” / “them” mentality should be a big fat red flag, not a rallying cry.

Since we know it’s hard to put yourself in a gay teenager’s place, maybe this will help. We’ve been listening to the stories of LGBT kids and adults who have grown up in conservative churches. We hear the same experiences come up again and again, even among those who still attend church and have chosen celibacy:

  • They couldn’t tell their parents or anyone at church for years because they were afraid they’d be rejected.
  • They would give anything to be “normal.”
  • They cried out to God for years to make them straight; for whatever reason, He didn’t.
  • They think God doesn’t love them like He loves other people.
  • Their church led them to believe that God doesn’t want anything to do with gay people.
  • They feel like they are a mistake. Christians are not supposed to be gay.
  • They only way God will accept them is if they steel themselves and pretend they aren’t interested in loving someone or being loved in a relationship like their parents’.
  • They pretend they don’t “need” anyone and isolate themselves.
  • They want to please God, but pretending to be something they’re not is dishonest and emotionally exhausting. It’s a crushing weight.
  • They are terrified of living alone their whole lives.
  • They will be judged no matter what they do.
  • They have no one they can talk to.
  • They are angry at God.
  • They leave their faith behind. Or they hold onto their faith, but are afraid to set foot in church or even talk to Christians.
  • They experience deep depression; engage in cutting; fall into addiction; attempt suicide.

Two of the Christian families we know have lost their precious gay children to addiction and suicide.

. . . . .

“But we love gay people,” evangelicals say. As if not holding Westboro picket signs qualifies as love. As a church, as an evangelical culture, we are not loving gay people. If we are mistaken and you can think of tangible ways the church imitates Christ’s love toward LGBT people, please tell us.

Here’s how the church has taught us, as parents, to love our gay child: It hasn’t. In fact, when a Christian mother who lost her gay son to drug overdose urged us to love and embrace our gay son, we felt immensely relieved—like we finally had “permission” to love John unconditionally. It was a shock to realize that we even needed anyone’s validation to love our son, but we did. Many Christian parents have said the same thing. Based on years of conservative rhetoric, Christian parents aren’t sure it’s okay to love their kids unconditionally. One more time: Christian parents of gay kids aren’t sure it’s okay to love their kids unconditionally. What??

The evangelical rhetoric about homosexuality—the way we frame our response–

  • Genuinely tries to honor the passages that address homosexuality.
  • Ignores the commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves.
  • Neglects (or refuses) to correct the misinformation that’s still widely believed in Christian circles. Reference here
  • Perpetuates stereotypes of gay people as “less-than,” as promiscuous, as rebellious against God, as enemies, but not as real people.
  • Is based on fear of gay people, and fear of what will happen if we love them.
  • Is seen as dehumanizing and unChristlike by the secular world and many young Christians.
  • Is seen as the only biblical option by evangelicals.

Please note that we’re not even talking about the conservative-vs-progressive debate about whether homosexual relationships are sinful. We’re talking only about the rhetoric evangelicals use—how they frame the topic—and the unintended consequences of that rhetoric.

. . . . .

Our journey has brought us to the point where we’re not sure the conservative response to homosexuality can be reconciled with the command to love our neighbors as ourselves. Maybe it can. But as long as evangelicals defend the “us” / “them” mindset, it won’t. The empathy gap makes it impossible to walk alongside a gay person and love them the way Jesus does.

Our journey has brought us to the point where we don’t feel we’re equipped to defend either the traditional interpretation of the New Testament “clobber” verses (which says homosexuality is a sin, period) or the progressive interpretation (which says those passages were really about rape and idolatry and don’t help us with the question of committed same-sex relationships). Those arguments hinge on translation nuances and Greco-Roman culture, and we’re not experts on either of those things. The best we can do is side with the Bible scholars who tell us what we want to hear—and that doesn’t seem very honest.

Instead, we are committed to living out what we know to be true: That Jesus hung out with sinners, touched sinners, ate with sinners, died for sinners. That we are the sinners, and there is no “them.” That to sit quietly through a sermon or conversation in which gay people—or any other group of people—are painted as a vague, shameful enemy is to dishonor the God who made them in His image and to distort the gospel; we can’t endorse that.

Here’s why it’s so important that we tell you what’s on our hearts. If we disagree on a theological issue, that’s small potatoes. Christians disagree over that stuff all the time. But if it’s true that the rhetoric we support marginalizes or oppresses any group of people, or pushes people away from the gospel—as we believe it does LGBT folks—we need to be on our knees asking forgiveness.

Gay people often know they’re “different” when they are very young—way before they even relate that difference to sexuality. What they hear as they grow sets them up to question whether God even loves them. Are we causing these “little ones” to stumble? It’s a question we need to be asking.

. . . . .

We don’t have the answers about a theology of sexuality or about how to love our gay neighbors within a conservative biblical framework. But the world is watching. Our Christian teenagers and college-age kids are watching. There’s a lot of disillusionment that what conservatives are “about” is something other than the love of Christ. The church needs to be approaching this topic with humility and love. So far, that’s not what we’ve seen. We have seen the very human cost of unloving rhetoric, and we are grieving.

We are also seeing an increasing number of church-going Christians who are facing a deep conflict—just as we did long before John came out to us—and they don’t feel they can talk honestly about it with their pastors. One author describes us as:

“good people who are struggling with their belief that their natural love and compassion is at odds with what the Bible is telling them about LGBT people. On the one hand they have Jesus explicitly commanding them to love their neighbors as they love themselves; on the other hand they have Paul, whom they have been . . . taught to believe is telling them that gay people—just because they’re gay—are an offense to God. So they’re stuck between those two opposing forces.” 

Is God telling us that we must be unloving toward gay people? How do we do that and still believe that God IS love? Because more and more, Christians are getting to know gay people who are really nice, and not very different from “us.” When the church answers our struggle with the same old rhetoric—that homosexuality is sin, and same-sex marriage is wrong, and that’s all you need to know—it’s missing the mark in a big way. It’s not respecting gay people, or their families, or the people whose hearts are being torn in two and are looking for real guidance.

. . . . .

We’re aware how divisive the gay “issue” has been among Christians, and we do not want to add to that. We do feel compelled to challenge you and our Hillcrest family to prayerfully consider the impact conservative rhetoric has on the people God loves, and the impact it has on the way we reflect the gospel in our community.

From our earlier conversation with you, we have the distinct impression that remaining at Hillcrest with our changed perspective would probably be divisive. Correct us if we’re wrong, but we thought it was pretty clear.

So we’re concluding that we need to attend church somewhere that is farther along in wrestling with these complex issues, somewhere John and any of his LGBT friends can join us if they wish and hear about God’s grace without having to feel defensive or “less than.” We will leave the rest up to God. This is hard, because we all, including John, love the people at Hillcrest.

With love,

P.S. There is one article we wish all pastors and Christians would read. It tells you, far better than this letter, where our hearts are. It’s “Gay Marriage and the Posture of the Gospel,” by pastor Thad Norvell. (Don’t worry, it’s not really about gay marriage.) This, to us, is what the whole deal is about.

1Misinformation many Christians still believe:

  • That same-sex orientation is a choice
  • That if you pray hard enough, God will make gay people straight
  • That homosexuality is typically caused by abuse, psychological problems, or dysfunctional relationships with fathers
  • That any other problems a gay person faces in life are a consequence of sin and therefore deserved
  • That if someone accepts their orientation, they’re actively rebelling against God
  • That homosexuals are going to hell
  • That if a gay person experiences emotional tension, it must be the Holy Spirit convicting them (it’s certainly not because we put them in a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t position)
  • That a person cannot be gay and be a Christian
  • That choosing a life of celibacy is a no-brainer for Christians with same-sex attraction.

 

40 thoughts on “To a Church that Dehumanizes Gays

  1. Pingback: Blogging for LGBTQ Families Day: Master List of Posts – Mombian

  2. I have no where else to ask this, so please forgive me if this question seems out of place…

    But um, is it true that homosexuality caused the downfall of major empires, for example, the roman empire? I used to believe that, and I used to think America is next to fall cus of this, but I dunno…that couldn’t possibly be true. I’m about to go and do some reading about this…

    Again, forgive me if the question is offensive…I just really wanna know the truth

    • Well, I don’t see how it could be either. It totally sounds like someone’s agenda to say that. I am NOT a historian, but I’d love to hear from someone who is — or from you after you research this! History, including the Bible, has been so misrepresented that I’m reluctant to even go down that trail.

  3. I love Nathan’s note above – this is where we are too.
    You know, it’s interesting…I’m not sure where our church stands on this issue. I call it an issue just because. I have no other word for it right now. When the pastors talk of sexual sin, it’s very general. No specifics, no name calling, no in your face damnation. I did have a hint on the general feeling. Back when the Boy Scouts opened their organization to gays, many churches closed their doors. Since our church sponsors a troop, I asked about this. Our head pastor said that our church is open to all and since we have this policy, it includes the boy scouts. I was happy to hear this. However, when I asked what would happen if they allow gay leaders, he looked at me and in all honesty said he didn’t know – that they would have to revisit the situation (or something to that effect – I can’t remember the exact words).
    Now, our church is a well known church – we have our Easter service at the local ball park, we do a lot in missions – both here and overseas. It’s a rather large church for our community.
    I’m wondering if maybe my church is really not sure how to handle the gay community. What I mean is, maybe they’re not sure how to approach the whole thing. And could they be afraid to open their doors to gays wholeheartedly, with no regrets and no finger pointing. Is this a subject they would rather not touch with a ten foot pole.
    And have you noticed that there is a lot of we and they in my sentences? 🙂
    Sigh. Just making comments here. Our family loves my daughter and her wife. My oldest teaches her kids that yes they are gay but no different than anyone else. Those kids adore them and we wouldn’t have it/want it any other way.
    Thank you, Susan for what you do.

    • Donna:

      I read your post and began to think about the church and the treatment of gays. No doubt it has not been good nor Christ like. Being a pastor’s son I would remember my father dealing with controversial issues of theology and also issues of the day. Many times we make knee jerk reactions concerning an issue like gays in the church. For many pastors they have a lot to handle and they do not want to handle gays in their church. For better or for worse it is what it is.

      Saying that, I believe that the change will come more from families like us with gay children. Even though my wife and I sometimes feel that we are a pariah because we love and support our gay son we will not back down. Ever since my wife shared our story with her Women’s Group, we have had nothing but support. We look at this as an opportunity to share with one another, especially in the church. I believe too many Christians get stuck in the negative and don’t overcome the controversy.

      I am confident enough as a believer in Christ that we can have disagreements about homosexuality. It is not agreement nor acceptance that I want from those in the church who may disagree with us and our love for our gay son. What I do want is to apply the gospel of Jesus to all and not segregate certain groups of people.

      As for the future, my concern is not the church as much as it is my family. Despite a greater acceptance of homosexuality in our society, there is still hatred and discrimination of gays. It comes from from people from all walks of life and also from all cultures and from all religions. It is my job as my son’s father to prepare him to be wise in this world and never forget that his family is his real support and love.

    • You’re welcome, Donna. Sad pastors are afraid to embrace wholeheartedly, as you said, which is what it would mean to follow Jesus. He purposely broke their rules, healing on the Sabbath and other things, in order to make the point that love trumps law. Every single time. Maybe ask your pastor to read A Letter to my Congregation by Ken Wilson. Very challenging and completely on-target. 🙂

  4. What a very powerful letter full of truth and love, done in a civil manner… Amen… this is why I went from Baptist Preacher to member of ELCA Lutheran Church where my Son is welcomed.

  5. Thank you for a beautiful, and true, letter. As a Christian who happens to be gay, and grew up in a Conservative Christian home, the things I was hearing at home and at church caused me much anguish. Things my parents never knew, and probably still don’t know:
    1) I cried myself to sleep most nights after earnestly praying for God to “fix” me.
    2) As a teenager, I attempted suicide, twice, in their home because I couldn’t get rid of my attractions, and had nobody I could talk about them with.
    3) Endured Exodus reparative therapy which included:
    a) Electra-shock treatment to my genitals
    b) Water-boarding
    c) an Exorcism
    all in an attempt to remove “homosexual demons”.

    The silent suffering many of us went through was excruciating, and the sad thing is that many churches continue to cause this suffering to their youth.

    • That’s horrifying, Tim. I’m so sorry you endured that. (Can anyone imagine Jesus doing this? How in the world does anyone justify it??) I think those practices are on the way to being outlawed, and that’s a good thing. But for “Christians” to convey this as Christianity — condoned by Christ — is the worst type of spiritual abuse. Tragedy. I pray God restores your peace and complete healing. Much love, Tim.

  6. Well. For once… I am speechless. Which is totally bizarre because I have a Flip-Top head. Following you. Loving you. Thank you for posting this.

    Love, A Christian Who Cannot Step Foot In a Church Again

  7. We’ve been sharing our story as a celibate, LGBT Christian couple at aqueercalling.com We’d agree that your church needs a different way to talk about LGBT people…. perhaps a way that considers LGBT people as people rather than as issues.

    • Thank you, Sarah and Lindsey. One caution I would propose for my readers: celibacy’s a calling, not a default. Many gay Christians know that God blesses their same-sex relationship. (The Holy Spirit does lead us in all truth http://biblehub.com/john/16-13.htm.) As Matthew Vines said in his new book, God and the Gay Christian, “Yes, permanently forgoing marriage is a worthy choice for Christians who are gifted with celibacy. But it must be a choice.” We must either reconsider our view of homosexuality or reconsider our view of celibacy.

      • Hi Susan, thanks for replying to our comment. In our own writing, we spend a lot of time discussing celibacy as a vocation rather than as a mandate or as a default. It would not be our wish that any person see celibacy as a default. However, we find it interesting that we often receive comment replies on our blog and on other blogs where the commenter is quick to assert is a calling or a gift rather than a default. We can’t help but feel that the commenter is implying that we support mandated celibacy. With all due respect, we wonder if you would also caution your readers against seeing marriage as a default if a married, LGBT couple would have commented on your post.

        We appreciate how your post highlights concerns that you’ve experienced in your own church family, and we hope that you would be willing to read a bit more about us, especially as we resonate with your observation that “We hear the same experiences come up again and again, even among those who still attend church and have chosen celibacy.”

        • I appreciate your reply. I agree that if God calls you to be celibate, that is exactly what you should do. Unfortunately, much of the church places celibacy as a requirement or mandate on a gay Christian couple. That is indeed conditional love and acceptance, not in line with God’s truth and God’s heart. The pushback you hear is that so much of the church has damaged the LGBTQ community by placing celibacy on them as a default. If a child has been smacked repeatedly, you cannot blame them for recoiling when you were only going to brush hair back from their face; no one has abused LGBTQ people by requiring same-sex marriage! Also, as I write this blog and the replies, I will necessarily speak from my perspective. Love to both of you.

  8. Susan:

    This is a great letter. Since our 13 year old son came out as gay recently we have had to look at the church differently. We have stepped back and have had good quality family time on Sunday morning. Our family is closer and we keep God in front of us as best as we can. We would desire to have fellowship with other Christian believers with gay teens but it is hard to come by. In fact, we have decided to welcome LGBTQ teens to be welcomed as part of our family. As Christians, we have had Mormons and atheists over for dinner so why not gays?

    We are an open family. Not an in your face family but a family that accepts having a gay son/brother. We don’t shun our son nor do we have the attitude of worrying about what others may think because “he acts gay.” That is their problem. Also, we do the same things today as we did before he came out. The difference is that we are more watchful and supportive and honest with one another. We kinda like that. I have found that having a gay teen son has done more for me and my wife to apply Christ’s love not only with him, but our family and with people that we have come in contact with.

    We still have questions about homosexuality and the bible, but that is ok. This is a learning experience. I don’t want to make a decision based on knee jerk reactions. I see my gay son simply as my son! I see my two other children as my children, not my straight children! Most of all I see us as a family that is still intact and working to instill Christ’s love to one another and our community. This is a command of Christ to “Love thy neighbor….”

    Finally, as a Conservative Christian who was pretty much born in the church, I have come to believe that a church is not a building but people. We are people who are all flawed and who need redemption. I fall short daily. I want my son to know that he is not a second class person nor a freak. I want him to know and learn that he is made in God’s image and he is not junk.

  9. You give yourself away here: “It’s hard to put ourselves in the place of a teenager who grows up believing what he’s heard and then begins to realize that he is one of “those” people who are inherently sinful in some monstrous way.” That’s the entire point of the gospel. Everyone of us is inherently sinful. God doesn’t accept any of us, except through repentance and belief in His Son, Jesus. Whether it’s gays, fornicators, murderers, liars, whatever — we all are born separated from God by our willful decision to sin. Any other “gospel” is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    • Patrick, I appreciate your point. I’d like to distinguish between us being born with a need for God — which we ALL are, and which the astoundingly good news of the gospel answers! — and viewing homosexuality as a sin like those you mentioned. The sins you mentioned are all actions, choices, that hurt other people, that are spoken against in scripture. Homosexuality is different; according to their own experience, it’s inborn, not chosen. Like left-handed, or female, or black — all inborn, all minimized or condemned by Christians at some point in history. (If you are not homosexual yourself, it will be hard for you to speak from experience on whether this is inborn — better to defer to those who can speak from experience.) We ALL need the gospel of Jesus. We don’t all need to “repent” of homosexuality.

      • Point taken, and I agree, we do all need the gospel of Jesus. In regards to being born homosexual — I personally was born desiring any kind of sexual gratification I could get (once puberty hit, of course) Sex outside of marriage, pornography, you name it – I wanted it. So while I can’t speak to being born gay, I can speak to being born desiring sexual gratification that God has said is sin. People telling me that those actions were sin did not mean they did not love me, or that they hated me; it meant that they actually cared about me, and loved me enough to tell me the truth. I agree that many people born with homosexual desires have been mistreated, and made to feel less than by others. That is wrong, and I’m sorry that has happened. That still doesn’t change the fact sex outside of God’s definition is sin — homosexual, or heterosexual. Affirming me in my love for sexual sin would have been destructive, and the one of the most unloving things someone could do.

        • Patrick, thank you for sharing your own struggle in this. I bet it has been a hard road. Here’s the logical disconnect: homosexuality is not essentially about sex. It is about companionship, partnership, love, with sex only representing all those things… as with straight people. You have mentioned actions, even ones you were strongly predisposed to, but that is not the same as a man who has never in his life been sexually or as a partner to a woman. It’s not about the sex. I more appreciate your second part, which is the mistreatment of LGBTQ people for far too long by those who wear the name of Christ. But to affirm that is not the most unloving thing you can do; alienating, excommunicating, judging a group of people is infinitely more destructive than loving them and letting God lead people in all truth http://biblehub.com/john/16-13.htm. That’s how he set it up; that is the role he’s given us — family , not judge.

          • I agree — truth is what important. And it can’t be both ways. Either it’s true that homosexuality is sin, and separates us from God, OR it is true that homosexuality is not sin, and completely OK with God. In the end, it won’t matter what my opinion was, or how many people agreed with me, or what your opinion was, or how many people agreed with you. It will matter what was true. God help us to open our hearts to see/understand what the truth really is.

          • Patrick, I appreciate this. If the church would just be here — that it’s not up to us to decide what it true or right for others — the world would be a much happier place. But I would like to ratchet your thinking up just one more level. 🙂 That is the idea Paul tells the Romans: “Each person must have their own convictions… But why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you look down on your brother or sister?… (E)ach of us will give an account of ourselves to God… Everything that isn’t based on faith is sin.” http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+14&version=CEB Bless you on your journey!

        • Patrick, I appreciate how you are honestly trying to love those who you see are in sin. I’ve heard the argument many times from conservatives that accepting them as is is unloving and that by showing them their sin, like pointing out a road block, is the loving thing to do. I can see that perspective because I’ve always held it. However I no longer agree. This was after meeting many gay Christians who have a relationship with Christ, feels his love in tremendous amount, but have found rejection from the church. This caused me to realize some things. In their relationship their heart wasn’t rebelling against God and they were receiving no conviction from the Holy Spirit. I was left to decide or judge that either God wasn’t concerned with their gay relationship or they were fooling themselves and they didn’t actually have a relationship with Christ. Where this lead me was to the point where I can no longer say those few verses about gay prostitutes have a direct connect to gay marriage. Likewise I’m not 100% certain they don’t. My resolve is to not play judge on this topic because I’m confident the Holy Spirit will do this if it wants. My other resolve is to stop believing that to truly love them means to tell them they cannot take communion while in a gay relationship. I understand if you have decided on the proper translations of those verses and the proper context. I also do not want you to stop loving them in the best way you know how. I do ask that in conversation with gays you would not say “God says…” but rather make it clear that it is your interpretation and make it known their are other honest Christ-loving Christians who disagree on your interpretation. I think that honesty and openness would go a long way with the person you would be talking to.

          • Hi Jon, thanks for your comment. Two points I would make:

            1) I don’t see this as a gray issue. IE I interpret the Scriptures this way, and other Christians interpret it another way. I think there are issues in Christianity that there is lee-way for that to happen. But on this issue, and issues of other sin, I don’t see how there can be a gray area. Either we have been reading/interpreting the Bible incorrectly and not allowing for context and homosexuality is to be celebrated, or homosexuality is sin and separates us from God. It’s one or the other, and certainly can’t be both, as both are exclusive positions.

            2) If I truly believed someone was headed for financial ruin, and I affirmed them in the choices they were making with their money, and they ended up in financial ruin, my affirmation would later not be viewed as love, but hate. My desire for them to like me would have lead me to tell them things that were not true, and they would in the end hate me for it. I view homosexuality in the same way. If I truly believe it’s sin, then the loving thing to do would be to say that. Not berating the person, or being nasty, but simply telling them out of a heart of love for the person.

            We can talk about why I would believe it’s sin, and why that be an uninformed, archaic view that is not in any way true, and I’m fine with having that discussion. But to me, if I love the person, and I really, honestly believe their actions will separate them from God, then I would bear responsibility to not be silent.

    • Patrick,

      Please hear this as spoken with a gentle voice.

      The universalist theology of “we all are born separated from God by our willful decision to sin” is a theology that arose well after Jesus and the Disciples. It is contrary to the original Good News message that Divine love and grace is unrestrained and unconditional and that the Kingdom of God is here and now. The Good News preaches against the merciless wielding of power and wealth for political and economic self-enrichment. The Good News preaches for the people who have lives of debt and daily bread and who need peace, justice, and compassion.

      The view that monogamous loving same-sex relationships are a sin has no biblical basis. The theology of blood, sacrifice, and atonement is abusive and is more about maintaining medieval social structures and protecting a powerful elite than it is about anything remotely approaching salvation.

      Our gay sisters and brothers are not our enemies. Our gay sisters and brothers are not the scapegoats we send into the desert to carry away our sins of bigotry and willful ignorance and unholy exclusion. Our gay sisters and brothers are who they naturally are and they are OK and normal and healthy. They are not just like us, they are us. There is no secular basis or justification and there is no biblical basis or justification for the way we are treating, for the way we are abusing our gay sisters and brothers and it needs to stop now. Why? Because we do not treat people the way we are treating our gay sisters and brothers. We are divinely called to offer justice that is fair and restorative. We are to offer compassion that is generous and hospitable and healthy. Why? Because we are followers of Jesus. Because we worship a God of unrestrained love and unconditional grace.

      Viewing other sexual orientations and other sexual identities as a sin is not a view or attitude than can be held for free – it has a terrible cost and a heinous effect. It hurts people in ways that are needless and unjustifiable. It enables and provokes an environment in which our sisters and brothers are excluded and bullied and murdered. It creates an environment in which our sisters and brothers find self-destructive behaviors, even suicide, preferable to life. We can neither afford nor justify the biblically untenable view of other sexual orientations and other sexual identities as a sin. It is wrong. It was wrong. It has always been wrong.

      • Douglas, it’s clear to me after reading your comment that you and I believe different Gospels, and the Jesus that you follow is not the Jesus that I follow. Now, I could be wrong on who Jesus really was, and what it means to follow Him, which is why I commented earlier about the importance of knowing what is actually true. On the other hand, I would argue that you could be wrong as well. So what is our basis for truth? That is what is important to me.

  10. As a Gay Christian I can say without exception this article is 100% factual based on my experience. It is very difficult for me to reconcile the fact that a group of individuals want so badly to be part of a Christian church community and the Evangelical Christian community is seemingly equally as desperate to keep them out. It is the responsibility and duty of the Christian church to spread the GOOD NEWS of Christ. If you are excluding a person or group of people you are not spreading the good news of Christ. If you are not spreading the good news of Christ are you even a Christian or a Christian organization? Do people not remember where they were before Christ blood redeemed them? IF the evangelical community really does believe homosexuality is a sin … they certainly do not act like it … have they not read that it is the GOODNESS of God that leads mankind to repentance? It sometimes seems to me they not only do not want me or any other member of the gay community in their churches, they do not want us in their heaven either.

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