Confession: I love Jesus and “The Gays”

This has been weighing on me for some time and I can no longer remain in the “closet”. You’ve probably seen the signs… had your suspicions… I’m just going to come out and say it…

I’m a heterosexual. I love Jesus. I…GULP… love “the gays” too.

Somehow, these 3 concepts, particularly the latter two, have been labeled opposing ideals. I beg to differ…

The church needs to repent for its exclusion, persecution, and alienation of LGBTQI people. Some would say that day is never coming. I understand their frustration. I feel it as well. Yet, I am always hopeful. Hopeful that people would mature and evolve. Hopeful that Christians would work to actively heal the wounds the church has inflicted. Hopeful that a heart of justice and mercy would take root in the church. Hopeful that people would let go of the party line and form real opinions based on knowledge and logic.

I’m always hopeful for these things. That’s why seeing them fail to happen breaks my heart.

 I will address the scripture in the anti-gay arsenal but it is important to begin by saying that part of my decision to identify as a Christian LGBT Ally is that the alternative (“anti-gay”, “pro-marriage”) does not sit well with my soul.  I don’t use that term lightly.  The concept of rejecting an entire group of people (or their actions as some Christian groups would distinguish) based on who they do/do not love or feel attraction for feels ridiculous and cruel. I will not call myself a loving Christian with one breath and denounce them with the other. That, to me, is truly hypocrisy.

Case in point: I have a beautiful friend who is a Christian woman and attended a Christian university (Ironically named, Grace University). After it was discovered that she was in a monogamous relationship with another woman she was expelled from the school because they did not agree with her “lifestyle choice”. She allowed me to read the expulsion letter. It was anything but full of grace.

This is not a lifestyle choice; it is a sexual identity that is a part of their creation. The concept of aversion therapy or cures is incredibly offensive and treats a healthy person as though they suffer from a mental disease or defect that requires correcting. These types of therapy may result in a change in behavior but not a change in actual attraction. That is why Christians have so cleverly come up with terms like same-sex attraction vs. practicing homosexual.  “You can be gay just don’t ever act on it and we can all pretend it’s no longer true”. Homosexuality is not an affliction to be cured with the right remedy (1-part “holy water”, 1-part “pray the gay away”, and 1-part “shame them back into the closet”?)

The high rates of self-mutilation, suicide, and drug use among homosexuals is not a product of shame, it is a product of shaming. We know that abuse victims, no matter how false abusive statement are, will eventually internalize the vitriolic hate they are subjected too.  Self-mutilation, suicide, and drug use are not indicative of a fault in homosexuals but rather a failing of society.

Why this issue? Why so much passion and attention? The church has a multitude of sins to choose from in scripture.  I would arguably say the most important one being the existence and treatment of those living in poverty. Yet, our politics, our sermons, our debates focus heavily on homosexuality and its “threat” to marriage. Perhaps because this is a “sin” heterosexuals  feel no threat of falling prey to themselves and therefore can judge and condemn without fear of having that condemnation returned?

We love to pick and choose the easy targets. A friend of my once hit on the ridiculousness of the church’s fervent efforts to prevent gay marriage rather than doggedly pursuing reform among other marriage-related issues, “If we are going to make laws that two gay people can’t marry because it isn’t Christian, then why can two atheists or two Muslims marry each other? Why should we permit divorce? Why don’t we punish adulterers? How is any of that any different?”

Now for those bible verses that many love to throw around…

People spout the church rhetoric regarding homosexuality because that is what they have been indoctrinated with for years and therefore they don’t question it or even bother to challenge it. Rather than repeating the party lines of “God made Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve” and even more ridiculous ones I would encourage people to really look at what they are saying. Many Christians throw the “but the scripture says…” line out with such passion but can’t even name a particular verse (I’m leery of people who don’t even know why they say what they say).

For those who can name the scripture: how much time have they spent reading it? Have they looked at the surrounding verses for context, considering the historical relevance, cultural influences, or even the fact that Jesus himself never once addresses the issue of homosexuality? How do they reconcile the church’s abolishing of so many other Levitical laws but its harsh stance on maintaining this one?

Leviticus 18:22, 20:13 are the go-to OT verses that appear to condemn homosexuality.  The church is in agreement that Leviticus was a list of laws given to the Jews by God that focused greatly on ceremonial cleanliness. It’s why we have abolished so many of them.

Consider that scary word “abomination” being used in these verses. An abomination? How much more horrifying could something be?  You know what other horrible thing God calls an abomination: eagles (Lev. 11:13).

“And these are they which ye shall have in abomination among the fowls; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray…”

Eagles are an abomination – they are unclean. Had much poultry lately?

We, the church, often make a point of stating that dietary laws etc… in Leviticus were meant for a specific people, at a specific time.  It is our explanation for setting aside laws such as Lev. 11:13. The Levitical laws that appear to be addressing homosexuality are directed at the Israelites.  It is a warning to them not to worship false gods such as Molech. The chapters are breaking down the false worship practices; which include sexual acts as a way to gain favor from the gods.

“When read in textual and historical context, the prohibitions in Leviticus 18 and 20 are clearly directed at homosexual temple prostitution, and that is how they should be applied.”

These are just a few things to consider…

But what about the story of Sodom and Gomorrah?  Sodom & Gomorrah is a party-line favorite. “Down with the gays! God destroyed entire cities because of them! He will smite them!”  Sodom and Gomorrah is not some warning tale of the perils of homosexuality. It’s an issue of hospitality and of sexual violence not consensual homosexual acts (man raping angels) – refer to the book of Judges.

As for the New Testament…

Our understanding of NT verses that appear to address homosexuality is so deeply flawed. Strip away years of church rhetoric and it comes down to a poor translation/understanding of Greek language; particularly the words “arsenokoites” and “malakos”. The modern church has translated these words to mean “homosexuality” or “homosexual activity” (Romans, 1 Corinthians, 1 Timothy).  So many members of the church seem to have this issue with questioning church “authority”.

“someone else translated it to mean homosexual therefore I don’t have the right or inclination to look at the evidence that the translation is wrong”

“We’ve always read it to mean that, therefore it must be true.”

Sidenote: The words “arsenokoites” and “malakos,”. didn’t appear until the mid-late 20th century.  Malakos (“soft” or “effeminate”) can be found in other Greek literature. It should be pointed out that it is not always a sexual reference [hetro/ homosexual])

The creation of the word “arsenokoites” is actually attributed to Paul himself. He created this word despite the fact that there were several other words in the Greek language (“erastes,” “eromenos,” “paedika,” “paederastes”) that already reference sex between two men. Could it be he was attempting to make a distinction between homosexuality and something else entirely?

If you look at the verses using “arsenokoites” with a more discerning eye you will note that Paul does not use this term when listing sexual sins, he uses it when listing sins of exploitation or economics – implying a reference more likely to male prostitution.  I find it interesting that the very verses the church uses to fixate on homosexuality as a sin may be drawing us back to that greater and more readily ignored issues: poverty, exploitation, and injustice.  Very interesting indeed.

One would hope this makes the loving Christian who claims to “hate the sin and not the sinner” and even the most staunch anti-gay activist lay down their “God hates fags” sign and pick up a bible. Consider your true motivations and reasons for jumping on the church bandwagon. At the very least.. take pause.

Last August, I had the humbling pleasure of spending a few days on a private retreat with Franciscan Priest Richard Rohr at the Center for Action and Contemplation. Most of my time was simply spent sitting and soaking up his words. I managed to write a few of those words down…

“We are responsible for our unconscious motivations and how they may result in hurt. Our sincerity is not enough.”

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21 thoughts on “Confession: I love Jesus and “The Gays”

    • Somehow your comment got tossed into my spam folder. so glad I found and freed it :)

      Thanks for the welcome. It’s good to be out ~_*

  1. Great post. I’m a huge fan of Richard Rohr… Have listened to many of his sermons and believe he preaches true acceptance to a body that often gets lost.

    • meeting him was one of the greatest experiences ever. Now I can check “discuss theology over mojitos with a Franciscan Priest” off my bucket list.

  2. I love that you posted this blog entry. I truly hope there are others like us who feel the same way. Our generation needs to step up and preach about love, the real message of Jesus. Being a Christian and gay or being a Christian and an ally, should not be mutually exclusive identities.

  3. Thank you. I am a lesbian trans woman. I am a Christian. I am encouraged and my heart is warmed that you take this stand. More and more Christians do. May many more follow your example.

    • Thank you, Clare!

      I am so glad you got some encouragement out of this. I hope you’re surrounded by a Christian community that embraces you.

      Be blessed!

      • I am a Quaker. In the UK, we are campaigning to have the right to celebrate gay marriages in our worship, just as we celebrate straight marriages. Over here the United Reformed Church is increasingly welcoming, and I read that the Lutherans in the US specifically go out to proclaim their welcome of LGBT folk. The lights are coming on.

  4. I guess you could call me a new ally. My wife and I attend a United Church of Christ congregation that is mostly gay and lesbian and we have an amazing lesbian pastor (who also edits the Whosover.org online magazine). To be openly gay and openly Christian takes a ton of courage and I’m blown away by it. Being in this loving church and listening to this talented woman has revitalized my Christian journey. Grace and peace to you.

    • Your church sounds like a wonderful place!
      I’m not familiar with whosoever.org so thank you for the reference. I look forward to checking it out :)

  5. I’m glad that you took the time to write this blog entry. We’ve discussed this many times, you and I, but its a conversation that needs to be had over and over, throughout the entire Christian community. I cannot begin to tell you how offensive it is even to hear the phrase “love the sinner but hate the sin” when speaking about the LGBTQI community — I’ve got several friends who are Jewish, yet none of their christian friends have ever said that to me about them… my parents are divorced, yet no one at my church ever said that about them… I could go on and on… somehow, through fear and loathing, this has become the greatest sin… I didn’t see anyone, outside Casey Anthony’s trial holding signs that said “God Hates Murderers” — naturally, the only sinner god hates is a faggot — naturally, they were all tricked by some weird gay agenda that is out there, secretly, led by Ellen and Oprah, Melissa Ethridge, Nathan Lane and Neil Patrick Harris. I think, as a human being (and this is officially the most depressing thing I’ve ever uttered), it is easy to hate someone who is different from you — It must be true — think about the bullies in middle schools and high schools — all the awesome, great, intelligent kids who get picked on, maligned, mistreated — because billy is a faggot, or julie is a virgin, or mike is a vampire… this transforms into adulthood — that pretty girl over there, she’s a whore, her boobs are fake, and she’s after your husband… that guy doesn’t really do a good job, he just sucks up to his boss… that guy, who isn’t as masculine as me, he must be a fag… I won’t say it exists more in the organized churches of the US, and abroad, but it certainly isn’t any more accepting than other groups — you cannot go into a Catholic Church and take holy communion if you’re not catholic — hell, in some churches, just being “a queer” might disqualify you — It isn’t fair — the followers of Christ are supposed to be christlike… I don’t recall reading about Jesus attending rallies to boycott dead soldiers, or shaming someone for being who they are, or openly hating anyone — and of course the excuse is usually “well, we can’t be like Christ, he’s GOD!” — good — so why even try? I hear about people wanting to “spread the good news of the gospel” and then “oh, the good news is, even though you’re attracted to someone I find acceptable, I will help shame you into being in my image and then God will give you your ticket to his kingdom” — why in the world would I want to be a part of that??? If someone told me “you know, its too bad you’re with your wife — if only you could get rid of her — wait, you can! All you have to do is pray it away! For $499.99 we can put you through therapy and cure you of your unnatural urges — God hates Gingers — once you leave her and her children, you’ll be welcomed into his kingdom and life everlasting!” I will say again, like I said earlier today — the tides of change are coming — it isn’t the church that dictates american policy — its the Constitution and the will of the people — and people are opening their eyes — our brothers and sisters, be they gay or straight, regardless of their gender/gender roles — are all welcome at the table — are all of equal value — all deserve the same dignity that you and I (well, I, anyhow, being a middle class, white christian male) take for granted — I tell people a lot, that “God don’t make ugly” — It isn’t that he doesn’t like it — its that there isn’t one creation for God that is any less beautiful and perfect than any other single creation — be it a beetle or a stallion, a sunset or a rain storm, a gay man or Jessica Alba (okay, maybe she’s a little more perfect than most) — we are as God intended us to be — differently abled, gendered or loving — the end.

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  12. I am also a recent “coming out” heterosexual who wishes to support in love my LGBT friends. I just put a rainbow “Ally” sticker at my front door! That was a huge step for me :) Thanks for this post! I agreed with every word. My family and I don’t “go to church” anymore but have very strong faith. Not sure what our future holds for how our faith community will look…Anyway THANKS for this post!

    • Love it! I need to get my hands on a sticker :)

      Church is a great place to get spiritually fed and connect with people who share your heart. But it’s not the only place. I find that stepping outside of the church can do quite a bit of that too ~_*

      I hope you find a community (of any kind) that encourages you and your relationship with God.

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