Dear Susan: We are Afraid of Church Judgment


I can only imagine the rejection and judgment someone in the LGBTQ community feels – especially gays who happen to also be Christian. The ways they are hurt by the church and those in the church – all in Jesus’ name – breaks my heart.

I, as the parent of a gay child, have experienced a glimpse of that as I – along with so many of you out there like me – have indeed been on the receiving end of being shunned, attacked and judged – simply for loving our child unconditionally.

It is scary to be in that position. Our church is often part of our lives in many ways. I frequently talk with parents who have come out of their own closet – as parents of a gay child – who are fearful of church judgment. As my reader asks… “What do we do?”

I write Dear Susan posts every Friday. Sometimes they will be poignant, sometimes thought-provoking, sometimes tender, sometimes funny… but hopefully always worth the read.  🙂

Dear Susan,

If our Church ever found out about our gay son, we would be questioned and judged on our parenting, and he would be ostracized. We have always maintained a strong distinction between the sexes and have always followed traditional gender roles in our home. We don’t even believe in women wearing pants. What do we do?

Traditionalists in Trouble

 Dear Traditionalists,

I understand the fear of the church’s judgment. The stricter the church, the more they judge. But following rules does not make you more godly – following rules makes you more Pharisaical. And according to Jesus, that’s not a good thing! Jesus’ answer to people’s sin was to follow him. He did not “correct” people’s sin as much as point it out to reveal their heart to them. His solution was always the same: “Follow me!”

You tear your hair out, blaming yourselves for your son’s gayness, trying to find some unknown sin that caused it. But that is not the case. Consider Jesus’ words to those who were certain that the man born blind was because of someone’s sin – it just HAD to be. Their only question was: did the man somehow sin in the womb, or was it his parent’s sin?

Astoundingly, Jesus said, “Neither! It is for the glory of God!” — to reveal the fullness of God… which it did. (We’re still talking about it.) That is a stunning story. I entreat you to stop looking for whose sin “caused” your son’s gayness, and instead ask God how your son’s being gay will reveal God’s glory! How will it reveal the size and shape and color of God! How will people come to know who God is more fully because your son is gay!

Remember that Jesus profoundly broke all the boxes people had about God! Jesus was about helping people continue in the way they sat things but about giving them a whole new paradigm. In my observation, the gay kids coming out in these strict churches are the ones God is using to break open the boxes people like to shove God in!

So here’s the question: “Whose sinned caused my son to be gay — his or ours?”

And the answer: Neither! Your son is perfect as he is. His life is for the glory of God! And God is being shown to be bigger and broader and more wonderful than those who somehow justify excluding and judging gays had any idea of!

I hope your church can see that for themselves.

22 thoughts on “Dear Susan: We are Afraid of Church Judgment

  1. Steve, I am not at all angry. I am sad. I am sad that you feel you have to “divide the Word rightly” and that no one else has that ability. I believe if this was truly a doctrinal issue it would be more basic such as, was Jesus the Son of God or not.
    This is not about doctrine. It is about understanding the language of the bible and also the culture. I suppose that because many people don’t make it a habit of studying the language in a seminary, there is a lot of confusion about what is and is not said in the bible.
    It is a sad and tiring conversation because I have to pick up the pieces of families torn apart after their gay children suicide and also the gay/lesbian clients who have no family to go home to because they are no longer seen as Christians. But their love for God is deep and they pray daily, keep going to church and want desperately for their families to love them without condition.
    It is this kind of righteous sin-proving ideology that drives so many people into my office. I can’t tell you how broken the heart was of a pastor whose son suicided…his gay son…from whom he was estranged…
    So…disagreement is fine Steve. But I was reacting to what I felt was more that disagreement going on. It was a “prove it” contest with Susan. Somehow I can’t even begin to tell you what the black and white perspective you reflect can do to a person. Again…I see the results of that self-righteous, black and white thinking in my office a lot and it is tragic.
    It is also why I say my God has love that knows no bounds!!
    Be well Steve, and I hope you find the discussion from Susan that you seek. Perhaps I am not as kind because I’ve seen too many families torn apart after it was too late and too many LGBTQ folks disowned who loved their families and God…and their families just couldn’t accept them for who they are.
    God bless you Steve, in a way that is real to you!!

  2. Steve and Susan,
    Are we playing God when we judge others sins? Pretty much so.
    Are we playing God when we decide what is sin and what is not sin? Pretty much so.
    Why don’t we all focus on the first greatest commanment so that we can fulfill the second greatest commanment and stop playing God!
    Lord help me cause I can’t do this on my own strength!

  3. Steve…tell me exactly how I would be drawn to the Jesus you represent? I have never had a relationship with that kind of god.

    My God, my Jesus, the Christ, has shown me love beyond measure.

    I don’t think think I would ever learn that from you…straight or gay, black or white, from this country or another. The way you speak makes me wonder how you treat people of color, people who are old and frail, folks on food stamps or homeless (except vets of course), and kids with special needs.

    If with pity or with pride….you have missed the boat. Go ahead and be angry…
    Go ahead and point your fingers and try to do a Scripture fight (which is so like a 10 yr old). You only embarrass yourself and the God you say you represent. Jesus was so much smarter.

    Steve…just go quiet down and pray about becoming more loving and compassionate. God may be teaching you a lesson about tolerance and learning to find peace beyond your own limitations. Allow yourself to be molded by God’sllove which is far greater than any of us can ever begin to imagine.

    I am so sorry you don’t know what great love God has for all of us in his son, Jesus. If you really knew, you would not be so angry and self-righteous.

    • Kay, It seems you’re making baseless accusations against me for the way I treat people because of a doctrinal discussion, and even reduce yourself to name calling. I never claim to be righteous on my own merit, but through Christ alone, and for that I love Him and try to follow him to the best of my ability, including rightly dividing the Word as he commands through Paul.

      Im sorry Kay, it really sounds like you’re the angry one…with me and are here doing the judging, but I forgive you, and ask that you would have the same patience with me while exchanging ideas in conversation as you think I lack. Your attempt to shame me into submission and “quietness” in an open forum is quite surprising. In fact a little embarrassing.

      God bless you, and I do pray for you to understand God’s great love for us and the patience he can give us to be able to discuss things with people that we don’t agree with. Though Susan vehemently disagrees with me, she does a great job keeping the conversation peaceable and mature, and for that I applaud her continually. You could learn from her. Best Regards-

  4. Susan, the water is very muddy where you are. Can you answer a few questions for me and your hearers? Just yes or no will do, let’s get down to brass tacks.
    1. Does Jesus consider homosexuality sin?
    2. Does Jesus require repentance from sin for salvation? (1Jn 1:9)
    3. If Jesus saves you, does He say He will CHANGE you and give you power over sin to stop PRACTICING it?
    4. If you don’t stop practicing homosexuality but willfully and deliberately continue in it, are you saved?

    Thank you in advance for your honest and direct answers.

    • 1. No. It’s not in there. 2. Yes. He requires it; it’s not our job to require it. 3. Jesus will give us power over sin. What is sin? Anything that does not proceed from faith. Sin is not a list of rules we must keep. Remember, the Pharisees brought this rules-based mindset about sin to Jesus, and he dismantled them. So to “practice sin” means to resist what God wants to show you, to choose your will over God’s will, to resist relationship. 4. Of course! I do not believe homosexuality is a sin, but even if I did, of course it would not prevent someone from being saved. Pick any sin you have struggled with for many years. (Don’t tell me you don’t have one! We all do.) Does that make you not a Christian? No! To say it does is to teach a sin-based doctrine of fear; I teach a Christ-based doctrine of faith, hope and love — and the greatest of these is love.

    • 1. Darby 1890: 1 Cor 6:9 nor those who make women of themselves, nor who abuse themselves with men, 1 Tim 1:10 fornicators, sodomites, kidnappers, liars, perjurers; and if any other thing is opposed to sound teaching. Rom 1:26-27 For this reason God gave them up to vile lusts; for both their females changed the natural use into that contrary to nature; 27 and in like manner the males also, leaving the natural use of the female, were inflamed in their lust towards one another; males with males working shame, and receiving in themselves the recompense of their error which was fit.

      To your other post about 1946, modern English versions attempt to use the vernacular to reflect the original meanings of the Greek and Hebrew. In common language. Since “homosexuality” was not in the vernacular in 1890, Darby (and others) used different language. Can you decipher the above verses and tell me they don’t refer to “homosexuality”?

      What is contrary to nature? What was the sin of the Sodomites? What is males with males making shame?

      Of course we ALL struggle with sin, until “that day”. But until then we must call sin that God calls sin, repent of it at each instance and seek God’s power to overcome it, and not “practice it” as a lifestyle.

      And to “Random’s” post, to follow your logic, is “fornication” ok because it “doesn’t harm anyone”? It seems that with your doctrine I can “practice” any sin and be saved. I’m pretty sure the bible is exactly opposite of that doctrine.

      • Yes, I can make sense of those verses, and many already have. I invite you to read this treatment of the troubling verses. Because this sounds like an important issue to you — and it should be because people are dying because of it — you owe it to yourself to read up on this helpful insight. Best to you, and I hope this helps.

      • “And to “Random’s” post, to follow your logic, is “fornication” ok because it “doesn’t harm anyone”? It seems that with your doctrine I can “practice” any sin and be saved. I’m pretty sure the bible is exactly opposite of that doctrine.”

        If it isn’t harmful, it isn’t sin. You can’t “practice” sin without harming yourself or others. And the Bible is full of examples of actions taken that do harm to self or others. I fail to see how sin=harm opposes what the Bible says.

  5. Well Susan, I’ve read through several of your posts, and similarly to many false teachers you throw out much of the entire counsel of God and use a text out of context as a pretext to a proof text. I don’t understand how this movement simply ignores the teaching of the Old AND NEW Testaments regarding homosexuality, including the words of Jesus himself at the culmination of the age in Rev 21:8. Is not homosexuality immoral sexual behavior as defined in the whole of scripture? If I’m a married man and practice adultery without repentance and say I’m saved and going to heaven, am I not deceiving myself? And if I tell others that they are good with God if they do it too, am I not deceiving them? God tells us to TEACH others what His Word says. That is what you are doing here on this blog, attempting to teach about homosexuality (you can lump any sin in this, I’m not picking on homosexuality alone).

    Command and teach these things… Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. (‭1 Timothy‬ ‭4‬:‭11, 16‬ ESV)

    You are not keeping a close watch on your doctrine, you are teaching wildly errant and heretical doctrine, and seemingly have abandoned the faith on your own behalf and that of your hearers. You need correction, reproof, and a stern rebuke.

    There is a poignant verse for what is going on here, I pray you will renounce your course and return to the Truth, the whole counsel of His Word:

    I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their , and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (‭2 Timothy‬ ‭4‬:‭1-4‬ ESV)

    Again, I am NOT picking on homosexuality, we can look at the list in many passages of “those who practice sin”. If I do not repent, I am not saved, period. Again I ask, would you tell adulterers these same things you are telling homosexuals? If you’re married would you tell your husband “it’s OK, you’re good with God so I’m good with you”? Would you tell a child abuser “it’s all good, God loves you just the way you are”? “All you have to do is love those little children and you’re all good”?

    I applaud you willingness to hear and respond to the apposing comments on this blog. And I pray again that you return to sound doctrine, and thereby maybe save your hearers…

    • Adultery is a sin because it causes harm. Child abuse is a sin because it causes harm. How is a committed, monogamous same-sex romantic relationship harmful?

    • Well, Steve, the word “homosexuality” is not actually in the Bible — it was added in 1946. So it’s pretty easy to step over. In fact, far be it from me to teach “homosexuality” as part of the original when when we are told, “Do not add to God’s word.” I am striving to teach the whole counsel of scripture which only by great distortion can be used to harm the homosexual community as it has been. This sound doctrine you site in 2 Tim 4:1-4: what is sound about doctrine that judges people, condemns people, puts unbearable weights on people? Christian teachers have taken off way more than they can chew by telling gay people to surrender and God will change their orientation. You might not know this, but Exodus International tried to “help people change” for 37 years and finally had to close its door because it was not true. Orientation did not change, despite ongoing, committed effort, and it only hurt people terribly. I appreciate your heart here, but there is no fruit in trying to do what you’re suggesting — it leads to death and a million other problems. Here’s what I think itching ears want to hear: that we get to be judge over others, that we are discerning enough to judge others, that we are right and they are wrong. Jesus spoke against this (Matthew 23) and Paul spoke against it (throughout Galatians). This usurps God’s role as we attempt to be judge, rather than letting God speak to people directly, according to 1 John 3:21. God knows how to say what needs to be said. God told us through Jesus that when we love God and love others, everything else fits into that. I appreciate your heart here to do the right thing, and I know that I’m saying something very hard for people who have learned this all a different way. But if you really want to see how it’s going down, watch some youtubes about kids who have committed suicide over this issue, because of the bullying and vitriol coming at them, endorsed by the churches. Look at the countless LGBTQ youth who are homeless because their parents have kicked them out. How in the world can this line up with loving God and loving others, our main command? Please, Steve, I implore you: ask God if this is what he had in mind for his children — even if you think homosexuality is wrong — is this how he wants his followers to respond to this segment of the population? I would be interested in the answer. Best to you, my friend.

    • Dear, Steve, if you would take a course in Biblical Hebrew, including idioms and euphemisms, you would find a Bible that is very different from your English translation, any translation. You would find that nowhere in the Bible does God call homosexuality an abomination. You would also find that the Biblical label for homosexuals was sarisim yeleed, born eunuchs, and the only time it appears in the entire New Testament, is in Matthew when Jesus mentioned it. If you wish to discuss it further I would be most delighted to help you. But just to get you started, look up Deut 23: 17, 1 Kings 14:24, 1 Kings 15: 12, 1 Kings 22: 46, and 2 Kings 23: 7. Cross out the words “Sodomite”, and write in the original word, “kodesh.” What is the Hebrew word kodesh? Holy, sacred, set apart, priest. Confused? I’ll be happy to explain.

  6. Very well put Susan! Who are we to play God? It’s all God’s business! My goodness, I’m not gay but I was the wildest, craziest woman most of my life and when I asked Jesus into it, it was a very slow turning. He’s still turning me. But by the love and grace of Jesus, I am changing. Let me make something very clear, I became a Christian 25 years ago and I was just as saved and sanctified as I am today. Thank you Jesus!
    Also, I too have a 27 years old gay son. It has been a hard journey with some of his life choices but I love him even more and keep praying for him and giving him over to his Heavenly Father.

  7. One very large omission in your doctrine…Jesus tells us he doesn’t judge us if we accept His sacrifice for our sin on the cross, but then He goes on to say “sin no more”. Jn 5:14, Jn 8:11. Jesus often says “follow me” as you pointed out, but that following is CONDITIONAL. Jesus never said you are my follower because you say you are. He said you are my follower if you OBEY my commands, Jn 14:15, Jn 15:10. His command (along with every other Holy Spirit inspired author), is to repent of our sins (call sin the sin that it is, including homosexuality), turn away from it, and not practice it any longer. “Sin no more”. To stay in a sinful lifestyle is to deny Christ and His sacrifice, and be left dead in our sins. Heb 10:26, 1 Jn 3:6,9, 1 Jn 5:18. True love for the LGBTQ community would be to share the TRUE Gospel with them. To repent of their sins and put their trust in Christ for salvation and power over their sin. To tell anyone that Jesus loves them just the way they are without requiring repentance and obedience would mean EVERYONE goes to Heaven, and in that your are terribly wrong. You are leaving them dead in their sins, “and no sacrifice is left for them” (Heb 10:26). Please renounce this false doctrine and give your child, and those thousands of others who may read you book a chance by “rightly dividing the Word of God”.

    • Steve, I’m glad you brought this us: “We are followers if we keep Christ’s commands.” So what are his commands? 1 John 3:21 and following: “23And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.” That is his command, Steve, that we believe in Jesus whom God sent, and love one another. And this love “sums up the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:36-40). Also in that previous passage: “21Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God.” That’s an incredibly bold thing to say! Many of the LGBTQ I know do NOT feel condemned in their heart, though they have sought God’s guidance. You want them to feel convicted but they don’t. You can’t feel convicted for someone else, can you? Jesus never tells you to convict others either. I’ve dealt with the “go and sin no more” thing already. Yes, Jesus changes us as we follow him — of course! But he is the one doing it, not others who don’t know our hearts, cannot divide scripture the way Jesus can, does not have the pure motives Jesus has toward us. That’s why Jesus is basically telling us that we’ve got enough on our plates just to love each other. That was his directive to us.

    • “but then He goes on to say “sin no more”. Jn 5:14, Jn 8:11.” Steve, regarding the woman taken in adultery: “As it turns out, it was not originally in the Gospel of John….the story is not found in our oldest and best manuscripts of the Gospel of John; its writing style is very different from what we find in the rest of John (including the stories immediately before and after); and it includes a large number of words and phrases that are otherwise alien to the Gospel.” “Misquoting Jesus”, Bart D. Ehrman. My understanding of Jesus is that He knew we could not be good on our own, “sin no more”. Else, if we could, He would not have to come and die for our sins. So judging others (sin), and telling them to “sin no more”, (error) in my opinion is blasphemy.

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