Can you be gay and Christian?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

In a previous post I suggested that we should have a moratorium of arguing about the rightness/wrongness of homosexuality, and instead focus on communicating God's unconditional love to people. A big part of this has to do with getting past all the rhetoric that goes back and forth, and really listening to the personal stories and experiences people have -- hearing their stories, and actually seeing the people behind the issues. With that in mind I wanted to share this video made by employees at Pixar Animation Studios talking about what its is like growing up gay:

In it they share how they faced rejection and even verbal and physical violence. Others speak of struggling with self-loathing. One person shares how she nearly committed suicide. It's pretty heavy stuff, looking into their eyes as they tell these stories one after another. Really what just hits home is that behind all of this are real people--people who were really hurting, people who almost didn't make it. I hope that stops you in your tracks like it did me.

The whole video is made as a message to people who are struggling with their homosexuality to let them know they are not alone, that people care about them, and that it really does get better. I kept thinking as I watched it that this is what the church really needs to be speaking out and saying. When we "take a stand on morality" that is the kind of stand we should be taking. A stand that sees the people who are hurting and cast out and communicates God's unconditional love to them. A stand that rebukes people who are preaching condemnation. That's the kind of thing that Jesus stood up for all the time. We need to be communicating grace to people, communicating to them that they are loved. So I thought I'd just start by saying it here.

There are people who say that the Bible says homosexuality is a sin, and there are people who say the Bible does not say that. There really is not any clear answer, and a really big part of this has to do with the fact that sexuality is a profoundly complex thing that just cannot be reduced to simple categories of yes/no or good/bad. What is healthy and loving for any of us--gay or strait-- is just way too complex to be handled by a blanket one-size-fits-all statement, and it is simply a mistake to read the Bible like that as a source of general moral "rules" we can apply. What we need instead is to be open to the Spirit in our lives, to let the Spirit lovingly grow us into wholeness, working on areas we need to, mending the broken parts, loving us. In other words, we do not need a list of rules, we need a living and transformative relationship with God where the Spirit can show us personally what we need to grow and be whole in the same way a doctor prescribes the medicine a patient needs and does not give everyone the same pill. It's not about some list of do's and don'ts, it's about opening our hearts to that living relationship with God. That relationship begins with God's unconditional embrace of us. It begins with us having the courage to let God love all of who we are--scars and all.

If you are gay, you really should know that God loves you and there is nothing that you could possibly do to make God love you more, and nothing you can do to make God stop loving you. God does not want you to hide who you are because God loves who you are. Now there may be areas in your life that need healing (there certainly are in mine), but that's up to you and the Spirit to work out together in your relationship with God. It is up to the rest of us to be advocates for that amazing unconditional love of God.

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At 9:54 AM, Blogger Journey Girl Talking said...

I love this, I'm so eternally sick of rules, regulations and judgments, most of them coming from those of us who qualify as 'white-washed sepulchers of death' and who have not yet dealt with the huge plank in our own eyes.
The more I see of God's love, the more I see of my own filth, no way could I ever say someone else's stuff is worse than mine.
Here's to allowing Holy Spirit be the change in every individual life and here's to me just loving as He loves me. No judgments, no criticism, no comparisons, no man-made rules.
Thank you for saying it straight, there are those of us who feel/believe the same and are like a lone voice in the wilderness, it's good to find like minds along the way :)

At 10:32 AM, Anonymous D said...

Thanks journey girl. I like what you say about our loving others the way that God has loved us. I really hope everyone could know the overwhelming love of God that caused Isaac Watts to write "amazing grace" because when we have known love like that it removes all our pridefulness and makes us want to love like that too. It makes us want to show the same mercy and compassion to others that we need so much. Let us all remember too that those who are judgmental do not know grace well enough, and so we need to resist the urge to mirror that judgmentalism and instead overcome it with grace shown to them which overcomes judgment.

At 4:43 AM, Blogger Journey Girl Talking said...

Exactly and well said, keep writing, I love good encouragement that's on track with God :). . . . blessings

At 8:25 AM, Anonymous Paolo said...

This is an amazing morning. For most of my life I have wrestled to reconcile the experience of a loving God that I experienced as a boy with an upbringing in the theological context of the legalistic Penal Substitutionary Calvinistic worldview. My image of God became dark. But all of this was compounded by two previous extreme realizations: I absolutely knew that I couldn't help but love God who loved me so unconditionally. Yet I also knew since I was a very young boy that I was gay. So I am now 40 years old and only recently has God mercifully allowed me to go back and question dogma, history, doctrine and ideologies of the Church.

These last few days I have wrestled with trying to find spiritual peace. Having seen some of the flaws of the Penal Substitutionary view, having revisited the Bible honestly regarding sexuality and a series of other issues, I now feel somewhat lost and uncertain. Praying has become difficult. I feel torn between diving into the grace of God as a gay man, rejecting entirely my Fundamentalist past, and then I feel terrified that by rejecting it all I may be on a dangerous path of apostasy.

Anyway, as I woke up this morning, I knew that I had to lay all else aside and spend some time with God, seek him and let him know how much I really long to connect with him in integrity. So I decided to do an online search on the legalistic Gospel of my youth and ran across your material. Little did I know that I'd also read comments by Christians who are compassionate towards those of us in the Body of Christ who have never been able to be straight. I feel almost dizzy by what happened, as if today, right here and right now, God is calling me to spend some time with him as a divine date.

At 8:59 AM, Anonymous Derek said...

Wow, praise God. It really does sound like God is doing something with you Paolo!

I pray that he would continue to show you how fully he embraces you, and that the grace you know from God, that overwhelming love, would continue to lead you into a deep understanding of God's amazing grace that will liberate you, and make you a source of liberation to others as well. With Paul, "I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." (Eph 3:17-19)

At 9:22 AM, Anonymous Paolo said...

Beautiful passage and heart-cry for all people!
I am so happy to have connected here Derek. It's a below-freezing morning here in Arizona, but reading through your essays on Christus Victor really is warming my soul anew.

At 7:31 AM, Blogger Maris Mols said...

To be honest I still struggle with this question. I totaly agree that God loves everyone and that we should do the same. I agree that we don't have to judge others etc. But on the other hand - I also can't say that homosexyality is a best thing for me or somebody else.

Homosexual relationships are obviously unnatural. Physical aspects of it are the most obvious, but if we dig deeper into emotional realms, it doesn't look good either. God didn't create us as homosexuals and somehow I just can't believe that this could be God plan for someone.

Yes people are born with different sexual preferences, and there are different reasons why. But isn't the marriage between a man and a women the best, the most healty and rewarding type of marriage?

At 10:57 AM, Anonymous Derek said...

This is something I dealt with more directly in the previous post on homosexuality (see the link above), but I think the issue is not really whether or not it is wrong, but how we should deal with the situation as it is. There I think it is quite clear that gays deal with a profound amount of hurt and rejection which results in an alarmingly high rate of self-harm (from substance abuse to suicide). So I'm saying that regardless of whether we think that it's right or wrong, what we really need to care about much more is communicating to people that NO MATER WHAT they are loved by God and by us. That's what grace is about. I'm a big mess, and God loves me. Being loved like that is life-changing. So what we need to care about before anything else is making sure that nothing stands in the way of them entering into that love of God. My experience is that once a person is in a place where they feel safe and accepted, then they can be honest and real, and they can deal with whatever issues God wants then to grow in. But the other way around people just close up and put up walls.

So I do think we all need to work towards healing (although I don't think I can tell you or anyone else what God wants you to work on in your life), but I think the main task we have is to communicate grace to everyone--especially those who have been marginalized by society and religion.

At 6:28 PM, Blogger joel in ga said...

It seems to me that moral clarity is linked to the other forms of clarity that are provided by Divine revelation. The Bible's attitude toward homosexuality is no more ambiguous than its teaching on the universality of God's love. Sometimes the truth hurts, but it's a hurt that heals. The fact that no one is fit to cast the first stone does not mean we cannot discern right from wrong. Knowing our sin is the first step toward knowing our sins forgiven in Christ.

At 5:17 PM, Anonymous Bundesbedenkenträger said...

Thank you so much Paolo for your testimony, made me cry.

I'm with you when you speak about telling right from wrong. On the other hand, the more I study scripture about homosexuality, the less I find it saying anything about it. Now I am curious to read the linked article...

At 2:41 PM, Blogger Cathy said...

I am so glad and joyed to see this post. Thank you for sharing!

At 10:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Leviticus 20:13 and Deuteronomy 22:5 Both speak on Homosexuality and Cross Dressing. Just because it's old testament doesn't mean God has changed his views on it. Scripture tells us the God in the same then now and forever. He never changes. But I think we should tell homosexuals how they are damned and in need of God's forgiveness despite their perversion. As we all are because we all fall short of the glory of God and are in need of a Savior! But we need to recognize our sins and repent (turn away from them).

At 7:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We really have to be very careful with the topic of homosexuality. If we are promoting homosexuality as okay behavior, and a former homosexual sees that, they will more than likely turn back into that lifestyle. We must be careful how we word things, Derek Fraud, because all I have seen in your posts and other things is that you are subtracting things from the Bible and adding things, which is an abomination to the Lord. I am SINCERELY praying that you become guided back into the real truth.


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