I am Gay Affirming

“I go to church. I want to learn about God. I slip quietly into the pews, and listen to the Word of God preached from the pulpit. I don’t talk to others and leave quickly after the service.”

My Taiwanese trans friend tells me this about his desperate hunger for God. The church he attends rallied vehemently against same-sex marriage and GLBTQ rights alongside many other Christian leaders in the country. “I have to close my ears. I don’t talk much to other people.” He repeats.

This is the reality of GLBTQ Christians, or seekers like my friend—they have to glean the life-giving words of the Gospel from the same lips which rally against their orientation and identity. They can’t thrive in a community which doesn’t accept and affirm them, they can only survive, sitting quietly and leaving quickly.

I am a gay affirming Christian because of these heart-breaking stories I hear. Gay affirming, in that I believe GLBTQ Christians can marry and receive the blessing of God and God’s community.

To be honest, I am not certain this is the correct stance to take. Long ago, I repented of an idolatry to certainty. I gave up the need to be sure of anything, because I saw how I had wielded my certainty as a tool to harm others, and I still carry shame from the unrelenting posture I held towards people who deserved better from me. But I think I have grown closer to understanding what it means to live by faith, a life led not by certainty but by the Spirit who gently compels me, not by compulsory doctrinal laws but through persuasive convictions.

The Spirit gave me an empathetic heart and a gift of suffering with those who suffer. When I hear stories of my GLBTQ friends and family, compassion overwhelms my entire being, and I am quick to utter, “You are okay. You are okay to be who you are. You are okay to love God and to long for a family.” One could argue this is an emotional response, not strong enough to stand against orthodoxy, biblical teaching, and historical witness. Perhaps, but if compassion is my worst sin, then I say with beloved fictional character, Huck Finn, when he was confronted with the moral dilemma of civil disobedience in order to help a slave escape,

“All right, then, I’ll go to hell.”

Empathetic listening pushed me into a

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Empathetic listening pushed me into a gay affirming stance. But coming to that conclusion hasn’t stopped me from continuing to listen. This week, in a historic ruling, SCOTUS declared marriage equality in all 50 states, and I rejoiced with all those who rejoiced, crying a few tears of joy myself. But I was also in a hurry to listen beyond the celebrations, because that’s what you do when you learn to be a faithful listener. You are always searching for the quiet sounds, those drowned out by the majority voice. I saw one Facebook commenter say this,

“…many Millennial/Gen Y Christians are perhaps too nervous to speak up about today’s ruling. I myself haven’t posted on my own Facebook page for fear of appearing to be a bigot, and for fear of offending my gay friends who are celebrating today.” (from @lkoturner FB page)

This made me a little sad, reminding me of my own sense of fear and shame when I first began posting gay affirming articles on my social media feed.

It is frustrating and uncomfortable and discouraging to see thoughtful and reasonable Christians disagree so strongly on this; as evidenced by the list of evangelical leaders who signed a statement opposing the SCOTUS ruling and equally thoughtful leaders sign one affirming it. But I have made it my platform that we can disagree and still be in community. In fact, we must continue to sharpen each other with dissenting opinions lest we become homogenous, insulated, an echo chamber of unilateral consensus.

Before we arm ourselves with rhetoric, let’s first listen well to the other side. Like I have said, we must be willing to be evangelized. For a few moments, imagine being on the other side of the debate and feel how the other side feels. I have tried to do this by reading through the minority dissent of the SCOTUS ruling, discerning the struggles of evangelical church’s concerns, seeking out how a Side B gay Christian committed to celibacy is responding, listening to the voice of a celibate, partnered lesbian, and trying to find common ground with those I disagree.

I am gay affirming, but I believe in the sanctity of marriage. I worry gay marrying means gay divorcing, and that Christians have spent far too much time fighting to prevent gays from getting married and not enough resources supporting lifelong commitment in this new civil liberty.

I am gay affirming but I also affirm a strong sexual ethic of lifelong monogamous sexual relationship.

I am gay affirming but I want religious liberty, and freedom for Christians who hold different theological convictions to be able to do so without legal repercussions.

I am gay affirming but I believe in the Triune God, the gospel of Christ’s salvific work on the cross and resurrection, the pursuit of shalom in our world and developing fruits of the Spirit in our moral character. 

I am not the only one calling out for this, but I would like to be one of the ones to issue this urgent plea to my Christian family of believers: we can rise above this deeply divisive contemporary social change with a profound care for one another’s humanity. Please refrain from name-calling, gloating, fear-mongering, and please don’t cast anyone out of the Family of God for expressing their convictions. Despite evidence of comment sections, I am betting a large majority of us are moderate, reasonable Christians genuinely wrestling with how the Holy Spirit is moving in the winds of our culture, our faith community, and in our hearts. So let’s begin creating a kind and civil vocabulary with which we can engage and dialogue. Every respectful exchange is a work of reconciliation. And we desperately need ministers of civility to apply a healing balm to these controversial days.

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  • Love this. So thankful for your voice!

    • you too, you too!!

  • Beautifully spoken truth. Thank you.

    • Thank you for reading!

  • Suzanna Turner

    You have expressed very well where I am at in regards to Gay rights and loving treatment towards the LGBT community especially within the church. For a year or so I went to Founders Metropolitan Community Church in Hollywood which was the 1st LGBT church in Los Angeles which in turn began the MCC worldwide denomination. While I was there I grew to love them and see their amazing faith in Jesus. The majority of those that go there have had to really emotionally recover from the horrible treatment received by Christians. (religious abuse) These wonderful people have a very strong faith in God because of there persecution they have endured. I have learned so much being with that fellowship since I didn’t really have any gay friends. Although I am straight I recovered myself from my fundamental background. I seriously didn’t feel I qualified to take the Eucharist until I started going there. Also like you mentioned, I am in process of learning that I don’t have to have an answer to spiritual questions. It is OK to understand that God is a mystery.

    • “I seriously didn’t feel I qualified to take the Eucharist…” Oh Suzanna, I’m glad you found a place who convinced you otherwise.

  • Heather Curry

    I believe the Bible condemns the practice of homosexually. I believe that God has something better in mind for those who practice it. However, as I recently told an old friend I reconnected with after many years and found to be living such a lifestyle; I, too, am guilty of not living God’s best for me. The things I do may not be sexual, but at least one of them I use to partially define myself (I am overweight). This aspect to me, at least, is something I find most unfortunate about homosexuality. “How could anyone define themselves by their sexual nature?” These people are so much more than what they do in the privacy of their bedrooms! Then I think, maybe to them, this is the most important aspect of who they are (just as for me being a Christian mother to a child with autism is). But if that’s true it makes me sad. Some people who feel and act on attractions to the same sex are talented musicians, brilliant scientists, or amazing chefs, but that isn’t what they’re known for because they’ve allowed sex to be more important. It makes me very sad and moves me with compassion. I wish they could understand that my disapproval isn’t about a wagging finger, but a broken heart that desires so much more for them, just like my loving savior Jesus Christ does for them (and for me!).

    • junebug

      “These people are so much more than what they do in the privacy of their bedrooms! ”

      See, that’s your problem. Your mind immediately goes to sex when you think of homosexuality. But that’s on you, not on the rest of us.

      • Heather Curry

        So what is different about homosexuals that does not have to do with sex? Go ahead, I’ll wait…

        • SurvivorGirl

          I think the better question is, “How are we the same?” Your question pits us one against the other, and that practice is not of Christ.

          • Heather Curry

            That is definitely NOT a better question, since this group of people are defining themselves as gay Christians. Why use the label at all if there is no difference between us?

          • SurvivorGirl

            Because we’ve forced them to use that label. We cannot simply allow them to be Christians.

          • Heather Curry

            Who has forced a label? Not me. Sin is sin. I would feel the same way toward a person who considered themselves Christian, but continued to live in alcoholism or adultery as I do toward a person who chooses to live a homosexual lifestyle. There are no justifications that make our sin okay to continue in, just as there are none for a Christian who is bitter, hateful, a gossiper, a thief, or a slanderer. There is only repentance and redemption, which is (for most) a continual process. I know it is for me! Love everyone equally? ABSOLUTELY! Refuse to call sin for what it is? NO WAY! It is not love to overlook sin, which puts distance between us and God. Instead, when we see a brother or sister (I do not deny that there are genuine Christians living in the sin of homosexuality any more than the other sins I mentioned) continuing in sin, there are steps to take. A few good Biblical instructions are listed here: http://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-correct-Christian.html , Jude 1:17-23; note the hope in verse 24! 🙂 , and as a final and sad last resort, I Corinthians 5:9-13 (which deals with fornicators [any sexual act outside of God’s plan for humankind: one man and one woman (Genesis 2:24, 5:2, Matthew 19:4-5, Ephesians 5:31)], etc., who glory in their sin and refuse to turn back to the Lord).
            I suppose this is where gay Christians and all other Christians are the same: we all still deal with desires in our flesh that are contrary to God’s best for us. But God has made a way for us each to overcome temptation if we so choose to follow His Holy Spirit instead of our human natures.

          • Heather Curry

            It’s not a matter of allowance. Do you think that God thinks it’s okay for a person to continue in alcohol or drug addiction once they are saved? How about adultery or an abusive relationship? No. God has set standards for His people that are for their own good. Homosexual relationships are harmful to the people that practice them, and God does not want any of us to be harmed, but blessed with health, wholeness, and peace.

          • Meredith Indermaur

            What I think God thinks is not okay is for people to zero in on others’ sins (either real or perceived) when they don’t have their own perfect record. Do you think God is okay with a person continuing to be overweight once they are saved, given that the sin of gluttony is mentioned in 25+ verses? Obesity is harmful to the human body, and God doesn’t want any of us to be obese, then, by your argument. Yet I know quite a few overweight Christians, and I wouldn’t dare say or even think that God is not “okay” with them. The two standards that Jesus (our new hermeneutic) set for His followers – the ones He said that all of the Law and Prophets hang upon – are to love God and love others as we love ourselves.

  • CrystalDawn0603

    I have honestly been considering my feelings and convictions toward the legalization of gay marriage and I can’t say that I’m anywhere close to an answer. I truly don’t know where I stand and how I feel. I believe that the only thing necessary to be a Christian is the belief that Jesus is the Son of God and was sent here to die for our sins and then rise again to conquer death. For me, anything more is legalism. It is only necessary to confess Jesus as your Savior. That’s it.

    Having said that, I still am unsure how I feel about the LGBTQIA question. Your article helped me see that I didn’t have to have an answer to it. I can question and search for answers. Thank you.

    • I’m a big fan of having no answers! 🙂 I hope you manage to find joy and peace as you search.

  • Drew

    I don’t write this to be combative. I, too, have walked away from many doctrinal ‘certainties.’ The question is how far can we walk away from said certainty without compromising our faith. My answer to this pressing question follows:

    My belief in the “Triune” nature of God prevents me from affirming homosexual behavior. Here’s why:

    That God is one, yet three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), is not an understanding that I derived from science or popular culture. Nor is it an understanding derived merely from the Spirit’s voice within me. The Bible and church history informed my understanding of the Trinity. Belief in the “Triune God” is foundational to the Christian faith, has ample support in the Bible/church history, and therefore cannot be relinquished even if it has diminishing support from scientists, popular culture, etc.

    How exactly is this relevant? Well, if you, like me, primarily rely on the Bible and church history to inform your understanding of the Trinity (and not culture, science, etc.), how can you not likewise trust the Bible and church history to inform your understanding of the issue at hand?

    In my very humble opinion, if believers affirm homosexual behavior, we have no good reason to believe in the Trinity. And if we have no good reason to believe in the Trinity, we have no good reason to be Christians.

    Thanks for your time and consideration.

  • Drew

    Cindy,

    When I happened upon your latest post, I was refreshingly surprised to read, “…let’s begin creating a kind and civil vocabulary with which we can engage and dialogue. Every respectful exchange is a work of reconciliation.”

    Exceedingly rare is it to find individuals willing to have a reasonable discussion on this highly sensitive issue. Assuming that you truly desire to have these invaluable dialogues, why only reply to the comments supporting your thesis? I don’t know Heather, but she, like me, used a “kind and civil vocabulary” in sharing her burden. My guess is that she, like me, was refreshed by your stated ambition and equally confused by your unwillingness to reply.

    Nonetheless, your stated ambition and compassionate heart is exactly what we so “desperately need.” Thanks again for writing.

    • Hi Drew, thank you for commenting and being very “kind and civil.” The realities of dialogue is that it’s a bit simpler to write a quick “I agree!” to people who “support my thesis” as you say, while with people who have fundamental disagreements it takes more energy to engage, and while I am currently on summer vacation with my family with only snippets of time online, I simply am restrained by time.

      To respond to your previous comment, I understand your sentiment, but I don’t think we necessarily need to connect orthodoxy to our stance on marriage. The Bible and church history says relatively little on our sexuality and marriage, while devoting a large portion to advocating for and lifting up the oppressed and marginalised.

      While I agree the Bible and church history thus far is not affirming of the position I take in this blog post, history is continuing to be made. Yesterday is considered church history, and the link in my post shows that there is a growing movement within evangelical church to change in this matter. I maintain there is room and space for the Holy Spirit to be speaking new things into the church, just as the Spirit spoke new things to Paul and the early church. Now is the time to listen to the Spirit speak in testimonies of our GLBTQ brothers and sisters.

      I suggest you google a myriad of Christian GLBTQ voices online and listen to what they are saying: Justin Lee, Matthew Vines, Kimberly Knight, Ben Moberg, Wesley Hill, A Queer Calling, Eliel Cruz, etc.

  • Saying one approves of homosexuality in the Christian community is like saying that one approves of the notion of someone being a Muslim and a Christian at the same time. What blasphemy! Before we know it, every sin in the Bible will be looked as in the same light as homosexuality. So where do you draw the line between sin and righteousness?

  • Drew

    Thanks for replying, Cindy. As a father of four, I can respect your limits on time. Regarding your thoughts, I have and do consistently listen to the voices that you mentioned. I’ve heard their stories and my heart hurts for them. But I’ve also read their biblical arguments and find them lacking the substance to stare down 2000 years of church history. I also find them lacking consistency, which takes me back to my original point.

    If I affirm Vines reading, for example, of the passages on homosexual behavior and then use his interpretative method to read the rest of Scripture, I’m forced to doubt any doctrine that is no more explicit than the teachings on h/s. One of those relatively less explicit doctrines is that of the Trinity. (Though it has far more references, they are almost entirely implicit.) So, even if “church” history is shifting, you are yet left with the task of explaining away the h/s passages without likewise explaining away the foundation of your faith, the Trinity.

    How will you respond if Muslim-sympathizing Christians one day begin discouraging Trinitarian language for fear of offending? Will your level of respect for the authority of Scripture and Church history be enough?

    I believe the issue of homosexuality is far more complex than conservatives or liberals would like to believe, but God’s inspired views on homosexual behavior has always been simply understood. Please reconsider your affirming stance for the sake of your faith.

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