Being a Gay Christian

Here are my struggles to reconcile my religion & sexual orientation. I used to think that being a Christian and being gay were mutually exclusive. God revealed to me that I am his child, created Just As I Am. God’s awesome gift comes with challenges, yet opportunities to share the good news to many who have rejected religion. Or who have suppressed their sexuality to keep their religion. I welcome this ministry and the unbelievable strength he gives me to do it.

Name:

I'm gay and while that does tell you which gender I want to fall in love with, it tells you nothing about my lifestyle. As you read you'll learn about that.

Friday, March 24, 2006

An Open Letter to Anonymous

An Open Letter to Anonymous


First I want to thank you for your note and I really do feel that you sent it in love and concern. I love you as well and genuinely welcome all dialog as I believe it enriches our lives. I would love to get to know you better. Are you a man or a woman? Have you grown up in the church? Do you have a spouse and/or children? What struggles have you faced in your life?

Second, I want to make it clear to all who read this that my writing is my witness to my relationship with God and Jesus. It reflects my evolution and thoughts as I struggle to be the man God wants me to be. It is not easy and often places me at odds with friends and allies. But it is what God expects from me and it is his strength that keeps me going. I don’t expect my path to apply to anyone but me. But if I plant seeds of thought, I consider my work fulfilled.

I acknowledge how difficult, perhaps even impossible for a straight person to truly understand what a gay person feels. While I convincingly played the part of a straight man for most of my life, it was impossible for me to truly understand the core feelings and thoughts that drive straight people. So I welcome readers who try to understand me and I try to be patient with their struggle to do so.

I also understand the struggles of my fellow Christians to embrace my relationship with Jesus and God. I have found kindred souls in my life, but I more often interact with those who find my thought process askew. It is a constant struggle to maintain ties with the church as a gay man and ties with my gay friends as a Christian. It is easiest to stay closeted – as a gay man and as a Christian.

So back to Anonymous’ note. As I read through your note, I find myself in agreement with you on most points. Yet I sense we differ on definitions and interpretation. So here’s my 2 cents worth. And to those who accuse me of rationalizing, I ask, what are you doing with your rational mind?

While some people who profess to be Christian are definitely not, I feel that most Christians are probably more “beginner’ Christians. I have no way of telling other than by what they say and do and that is not a good measure. From where I stand, they follow what they have been taught without spending much time looking deeper into their faith. Why do we believe what we believe after all? Because the Bible says so, is a common response. Well, there’s enough stuff in the Bible to unsettle anyone’s convictions, which is why people so rarely read it.

I think a life in Christ calls us to constantly look at our thoughts and actions to determine whether we are being as loving as Christ calls us to be. I firmly believe the core of Christianity is love – love for God, love for each other and love for ourselves. And from 42 years of painful experience, I discovered that I could not truly love others until I learned to love myself as God loves me. I thought I loved people, but now I know different. It’s very much a work in progress, but being honest is a fundamental step.

I also believe that following Christ means listening to his still small voice – which can be a very demanding voice at times – and doing what we are asked to do.

Many times in my life, God has called me, quite insistently usually, to do something I don’t want to do, to go places I never thought to go and to talk to people I may not choose to talk to. In one event, I was awake half the night pushing back, not wanting to make waves with the person God wanted me to speak to. I finally agreed to do it if God would show me the right time. At that moment I felt at peace and really practically forgot about it. But a short time later, that time was made clear and I was able to do what God had asked quite easily.

Pastor Steve told me recently that we don’t control our own lives. And based on events like this in my life, I generally agree. God has been most insistent with me at times compelling me to do things. And at times equally compelling me to not take action.

So I firmly believe Christ leads and we follow. I’m not sure what your meaning is when you say a Christian is “someone who resembles Christ.” To me that means being loving, of choosing love above all else, even my own religious convictions. I read Mark’s witness about the religious leaders of Christ’s day challenging him for ‘violating’ the religious rules and I think about those Christians today chastising their siblings in Christ for ‘violating’ current religious convictions.

I hope you aren’t implying we must achieve a sinless perfection only Jesus could accomplish. To me such inward focusing is selfish and counterproductive. Jesus blood has already cleansed us and to say we need to take further action to accomplish that is pride. What I hear Christ saying is to forget worrying about our own salvation and get to work. “If you love me, feed my sheep,” Christ says. Much more productive than sackcloth and gnashing of teeth.

I agree that Christ came to save us from hell. I think we probably agree that hell represents separation from God. I sense that we disagree on how souls get to hell – does God sentence us to hell or does God resign himself to allowing us to exist in hell? And in this question there is the definition of limits to God’s compassion.

Here I look at the compassion of man. We at times show great compassion, great forgiveness. We let criminals off. We as Americans pride ourselves in preferring to let a guilty person go free than wrongly convict an innocent. And I ask how could God be any less compassionate?

So it seems to me, hell is an isolation and damnation we consign ourselves to more so than God casting down sentencing. Is hell real? Most definitely, and much scarier than we can imagine. But if we allow God to save us, I believe God will.

You wrote “if anyone will repent from ALL their sins... He will save them.” I believe in grace and God’s unconditional love. When Christ tells us he died to forgiven our sins, I believe that the forgiveness is already done for any sin I have or ever will commit. I am forgiven regardless of whether I repent or not. For me, repentance allows me to accept that forgiveness, for if I don’t acknowledge my shortcomings, I cannot forgive myself and allow Christ to show me he’s already forgiven me.

I look at my role as a father. I love my son. Nothing he has done causes me to love him. Nothing he can ever do will cause me to stop loving him. How can God’s love for me be anything less than my love for my son? I have already forgiven my son for any grievance against me, past or future. How can God’s forgiveness be any less than my feeble human form?

I suspect part of our disagreement comes our definition of sin. Paul does a pretty thorough job of making sure no one comes through reading his letters without some realization that we are sinners. If anyone does, they are deluding themselves. But what really is a sin? Is killing a sin? Are our brave young people in Iraq sinning? Is greed a sin? Is not giving as much as we possible can a form of greed? Is living in a bigger house than we need a sin? Is driving a more expensive car a sin? While some would answer ‘yes’ to some or all of these questions, I have to answer ‘it depends.’

My father, a retired pastor defined sin as ANYTHING that separates us from God. I think this is a comprehensive definition. Sin is anything that causes us shame before God. And shame before God is perhaps the most dangerous emotion we can feel as we want to hide from God. Original sin is not sex, or the quest for knowledge or following Satan – it was shame, I believe. And the shovelfuls of shame we heap upon each other is more likely to drive us out of God’s presence than into his arms.

For 42 years of my life, I lived in shame. And while I was a fervent acting church member, my shame drove a wedge between God and me. It came very close to causing me to reject Christianity all together as so many GLBT people have done.

I’m not sure if you are implying that because I am a proud homosexual, I cannot be a Christian. One writer asserted that. First, I don’t believe being a sinner, even an unrepentant one, prevents a person from being a Christian. Christianity is not an exclusive club of the self-perceived sinless. It IS a virtual place where all those struggling to know God better and live in his grace can find kinship and support.

Jesus never demanded perfection. Even among those closest to him, he had to often bring back the stray sheep. I am thankful Christ comes after me when I go astray, but going astray doesn’t make me less his sheep.

There are some basic things that I know about myself. Sexually, I cannot become anything but a gay man. I cannot alter what my soul finds attractive and desirable. I cannot dictate who my soul falls in love with. I accept that God the creator of all, created me this way and I thank him for his creation.

But that brings up the second question I have to ask myself. Does God want me to embrace my homosexuality or deny it? I do believe God expects me to control my sexual urges just like anyone else. I believe God expects me to act out of love for myself and for those I am attracted to.

So then the question is whether I am called to live a celibate life. I believe people are called to celibacy, sometimes for their entire life, sometimes for portions of their lives. Most Catholic priests feel a call from God to be celibate. Paul called on all Christians to refrain from marriage if possible. Many, many lay people as well feel such a call during parts of their lives. But I believe this to be a personal call from God to us as individuals not an across the board dictate based on a specific sentence written by Paul or any other writer of scripture.

You imply that I am a fake Christian because I claim to know Christ. I recently heard a quote that speaks to this...

“The opposite of faith is not doubt; the opposite of faith is certainty.”

I hope I don’t portray that I have God and Christ all figured out, because I don’t. I struggle to understand so many things about God. I don’t understand how God can command us not to kill, but then instruct the Hebrews to slaughter men, women, children and animals. I struggle with Paul instructing women not to teach. I struggle with Jesus’ instructions to the wealthy man.

I struggle with why God made me gay. I struggle with what he expects me to do with my life. I struggle with how I should interact with the gay men in my life. I struggle with how I should interact with fellow Christians. I ask for guidance in how I live my life. I don’t know why God selected me for this burden – life would have been so much easier if I had been in-love with my former wife.

I don’t know if I have things right and this is why I constantly re-examine what I believe and why I believe it. This is why God sends people like you to me, to make me think through it all again and again and again.

We read the same scripture. We ask the same Holy Spirit to guide us. We repent of our respective sins. We pray to the same God for enlightenment. All I witness is my struggle to understand God to figure out and do what he wants me to do.

You say my concept of Christianity is wrong. Is this merely because I discount the literalism of Paul and Leviticus? I beg you to explain how my belief that Christ is loving and forgiving and inclusive is wrong. You seem to think God loves me in spite of my being gay. I contend he loves me in part because I am gay. And when I disappoint him as I have and will continue to do, I’m pretty sure it’s for reasons different than you would propose.

I do have to ask you why this is such an important issue for you? Can you honestly say that you are opposed to homosexuality purely from a scriptural basis? Can you honestly say that a personal disgust does not in any way, shape or form color your interpretation? Can you honestly admit that perhaps there are other interpretations of the scriptures? Can you admit that you agree with some of the things I say?

I can tell you that if you are trying to help save souls, this won’t do it. Daily I deal with gay men and women who, faced with this brand of love, left the church. And most threw God out with the bathwater.

If you sincerely want to reach out to LGBT people, get to know them first. Understand their lives, their problems, their experiences, their dreams. You didn’t ask one question about who I am. You showed no genuine interest in me as a child of God. You didn’t ask me what my life is like, whether I have a church family or what my life experience has been like. To summarize what I heard from your message – “I love you. You’re wrong. Change or go to hell. But Jesus and I love you.”

Imagine yourself on the receiving end of that little statement. Makes you just wanna run right to a church service and publicly repent, eh? There’ll be a time you can discuss salvation, but I recommend avoiding it on the first email. If you prefer a private forum, email me at SLR616 at hotmail.com.

I wholly agree that Jesus came not to condemn the world but to save it and that he seeks those who are lost. I am glad he saved me from a superficial faith and a life of lies. I try every day to make him proud of me and not live in shame. I pray for his courage when I am all too often weak.

You say you love me. Does that mean we might have dinner in each other’s homes? That you’ll watch Brokeback Mountain and share my tears just as I would cry with you watching Left Behind? And would we play cards and laugh together? And later in front of a fire, would we discuss our faith together while sipping a glass of wine?

This is what I do with those who love me. Would we do the same?

3 Comments:

Blogger Boobless Brigade Master said...

Well, I came to visit your blog because I saw that you had stopped by mine.
Don't know that I'll be back again.
Don't take it personally though, I'm not a believer.
My view of religion is best defined by Mary Doria Russell in "The Sparrow":
"I find that I really resent the idea that the only reason someone might be good or moral is because they're religious. I do what I do without hope of reward or fear of punishment. I do not require a heaven or hell to bribe or scare me into acting decently, thank you very much."
Having said that, I dislike when other's attempt to shove their religious beliefs down my throat and I never shove my lack of religious beliefs down other's throats.
I will, however, suggest that you take Anonymous' comments with a grain of salt.
You're gay. Big deal! If you can find someone, be it male or female, that you love and respect and that person chooses to love and respect you in return...more power to you.
You consider yourself Christian. Good deal. You've made peace with your lifestyle and your G-d. (I'm not a believer, but I have the common decency to respect those that do.) Again, more power to you!
My guess is that Anonymous finds it much easier to dissect everyone but his/herself with his/her knife.
Besides, a real Christian...one that was spreading the word of their G-d...would learn proper grammar and how to spell before doing so.

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3:38 PM  
Blogger Bruce said...

You should see what they are saying about gay christians here:
http://seedforthekinggdomofgod.blogspot.com/

2:27 AM  

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