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.


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.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sexual Sin

One of the biggest hangups for the church for the past 2000 years has been sex. Even secular society's ideas about sex have been permanently defined by religious history. We have so screwed up our thought processes that we cannot rationally discuss the subject within the church and with our own children.

Yet it is a basic biological function while at the same time being a gift from God, perhaps one of his greatest gifts. Yet it comes with much confusion, complexity and manipulation.

First, I don't have all the answers; I probably even have more questions than most.

Second, I don't believe there is as simple a definition for sexual sin (or any sin for that matter) as many profess. Even Bible literalists don't always agree. Some say sex is only available for those who are married while some add the requirement that it must be for procreation and others even would remove any enjoyment of the act from the realm of holy sex.

Somewhere deep in our collective psyche we even have this concept that all sex is bad, a tool of the devil and only barely acceptable when used for procreation. We are not even allowed to lust in our minds. Some believe that children are born from a particularly offensive sinful act for which immediate baptism is the only antidote. Jesus and Paul advocated complete celibacy as a pathway to the ultimate relationship with God, though acknowledging that it's hardly appropriate for everyone.

On the other hand, we have people who believe that pre-marital sex is ok, that extra-marital sex is ok, that same sex activity is ok and that multiple partners is ok. There are many ideas as to what level of sexual activity God condones and many will tell us the others are wrong and condemned.

When it comes to gays, conservatives have built a wonderful catch-22. Sex is not permitted outside of marriage. Gays are not allowed to marry. Therefore if you want to experience this wonderful gift of God's you have to conform to their idea of what is proper. Just be celibate because while God loves you, he abhors that you might find some joy and companionship in your life. Nice.

There seems to be this redefining of Jesus's words that a man shall leave his parents and marry a woman as an 11th commandment. The word is shall, not must.

There are several important foundational concepts that form each of our particular beliefs. Obviously being gay affects my ideas, which offends more people than pre-marital sex it seems. I don't recall the Supreme court ever having to legalize pre-marital sex.

The first foundational idea is that sexuality is a great gift from God. It is one of his primary means of bringing couples together to begin with and of deepening their love and sense of one-ness. One writer described it as nothing less than a foretaste of our union with God in the hereafter.

Sexuality is in my opinion one of the best gifts we have been given. Unlike most animals, sex for humans is not restricted to fertility periods, is most enjoyable, can be misused, can bring us into closer communion with one we love or be the source of much mental anguish.

One almost has to wonder why God gave us such a complex and hugely powerful gift with only the barest of guide on how to use it. It's understandable why people have put so many restrictions on it. We have more social constraints of sex than we any society has ever placed on guns. Yet the most intimate of acts can be harmful, even deadly.

God didn't give us jealousy, STDs and sexual violence to punish us for having sex. He gave us sex knowing the dangers because what we learn from it can far outweigh it's dangers. Just like we don't consider death in an accident a punishment for our children carelessly driving the car we gave them.

Through their restrictive ideas about this one complex gift, many churches have alienated countless numbers of people. More so, these conservative attitudes have created a mystique that is abused by our society to sell products and entertainments. Sex sells.

With a zero tolerance attitude toward sex, dialog is closed. Members of churches are excommunicated. Gossip reigns. People are left with nothing to guide them. They are written off and told it is God's will.

The second foundational element that pertains is one's concept of sin. As I've said before, the definition given to me is that sin is anything in our lives that separates us from God. It's a fairly simple concept really. What aspects of our lives do we proudly show to God? Which ones would we prefer to hide? For it is in the hiding that we miss out on God's grace and love.

Sin is an extremely personal thing and there are really few one-size-fits-all sins. Thou shalt not kill has many meanings. For the conscientious objector, for the soldier, for me. Is stealing wrong if you are feeding your family? Is lying wrong if we build up someone's self-confidence? God even blessed Abraham's adultery and forgave David's.

For my father, alcohol is a sin, yet that is not a standard he implies all should live by. Even my mother is exempt from his standard for himself. For some religions, dancing, movies, even the showing of a female ankle are sins.

Rather than worry about some list where we are measured and require others to live up to, we should worry about the things that obsess us more than God. It's a form of idolatry. And in today's modern society there are many and hidden ways to have god's before God. For some it is wealth, other's power. Some even put the Bible before God worshipping it above all else. And for some, there definitely is the idol of sex, either in their obsession with getting it, their tearing down of those they feel are living in sin or their obsession with denying sex to others.

Now I'll tell you my ideas on sex and sin today, the 26th of January in 2009. Obviously I don't think gay people having sex is inherently sinful. I also don't belief that sex in a marriage for procreation is automatically sinless.

Yes, it's relativism. I freely admit it. And anyone who says they aren't relativistic is deluding themselves. Read the Bible objectively and none of us comes out unscathed. There's not one Christian who doesn't rationalize something that doesn't fit their life. And we are so good at not seeing it that we assume the relativism doesn't exist. We keep so busy pointing out other people's violations that we fail to see our own.

Be still and know. Listen to that still small voice. God doesn't need to boom from a pulpit. God didn't even need to write a book. We humans needed that because we are so poor at listening to the quiet voice.

So back to sex. What is my standard? Where do I draw the line? I think sex should be in the context of a loving relationship. It should be an act of love. It should be something we can lift up to God and celebrate with him. And to me love is what lifts up both people. Sex that demeans another, sex that is selfish - for me that's where sin lies.

Yes it a standard that fits my life. And I, like others use it as a yardstick to judge others which is wrong.

All I can say is it is the yardstick that God and I have come to terms with just as valid as celibacy is for the devoted priest. Hardly universal, though I think it's a good one in today's world.

Have I violated my yardstick. Yes. And not necessarily in the ways you might think. I was physically faithful to my wife during our marriage and even during our separation. Yet that yardstick imposed by others was violated by the lust in my heart. But God kept me safe by making sure I was in a relationship where I was deeply loved until I could learn to love myself. I seriously doubt I would be here today if he hadn't watched out for me. I did not love myself in my youth and that is the most dangerous place to be, especially with the power of my sexual awakening. I know I would have looked for love in all the wrong places as many do.

So sex to me is an aspect of love, the ultimate sharing between two people. But it's not just the love of and for another than makes sex a holy thing. It requires a healthy love of myself.

A Commentary on Comments

I've received several comments recently and I appreciate them. I'm glad my thoughts and my witness is reaching others even when they don't agree.

I'm not sure what Internet magic causes many posts to hit the poem I wrote 3 years ago. I'd like to think it has some emotional impact. But it could be the randomness of the 1's and 0's floating around on servers. Or could it be something more divine?

God and I have what I consider an unconventional relationship. He is the big brother I longed to have, the mentor I lacked, the most dear friend I needed, even the loving parent to fill in the gaps from my family.

He knows my quirky humor and willingness to consider radical ideas. He knows I find him in so many ways. I think he is amused hiding messages around my life and delights in my joy at finding them whether they be in a fortune cookie, a quiet forest, a book I chanced upon or a comment from out of the blue.

Before I met my boyfriend, I asked God to bring me someone exactly like him (I am amazed at how closely he matches the description I gave to God). I also experienced back then a time of desperation also around when I wrote that poem. I wasn't meeting anyone I was interested in romantically. I was extremely anxious.

Suddenly for about 6 weeks I began receiving countless messages about patience. They came in sermons, and scripture but more importantly for me, they came in fortune cookies and other unconventional sources. I know those unconventional words were from God not only because it was what I needed at the time and it was blatantly obvious, but also because I have never received another fortune cookie about patience since that episode 3 years ago.

Six months later, Eugene came into my life and we have been together for nearly 3 years.

But to return to the topic of post comments. I received one recently (I hope the person learns that ALL CAPS ONLINE MEANS SHOUTING) that, along with others, has brought me back to concepts of sin.

First, this commenter was like a former co-worker. That co-worker wanted to compare being gay with being an alcoholic - something that someone is predisposed to - and I finally had to tell him point-blank not to go there. The only thing you can compare homosexuality to is heterosexuality.

This later commenter compared being gay to stealing. Well, obviously this person, like my coworker, has no concept of what being gay is really all about. Being gay is a core element of my soul. It is not an aspect of me, it is the basic foundation of who I am, just as being a male is. Thinking of merely being gay as wrong is like thinking that being male is inherently wrong. People don't choose it, they discover it, then they hopefully accept it.

Some say that homosexual behavior is what is sinful and that we should abhor it. I obviously don't believe that, but I'll leave that to another entry I plan to soon write.

As another commenter aptly stated, "I was knit perfect in the womb for the purpose He wants for me." That is indeed truth and is something that I have learned so well. A Christian friend once told me it's good to carry one's cross, just make sure it's really your cross.

Some eight years ago I did discover the cross I was bravely bearing was not mine at all but one society, family and church had subtly given me. So I dropped it and picked up the one God intended for me and knew I was finally ready to carry. I learned what was meant by "My yoke is easy and my burden is light." It's much easier to bear the cross God gave me, the honest open life proud of God's work, than the one-size-fits-all version society wants to give me. I learned that if it feels like an unreasonable burden, we need to make sure it's really from God.

And they still want to give me that phony cross. They want me to live my life by their definition of what sin is, of what God wants, of what convoluted lifestyle meets their interpretation of the Bible and of their interpretation of God's judgement.

Well, I've been there and done that and almost died spiritually and physically from their burden. God doesn't ask us to do more than we can handle. But fellow Christians will gladly heap burdens upon us far beyond what God asks. They will live with their cozy family, make love to their spouse, share the toils and intimacy of marriage and the security of knowing that someone will care for them and pick them up when they fall. They will proclaim how indispensable their spouse is and without qualm deny me and other gays of the same necessities of life.

So for those trying to convince me that gay sexuality is universally sinful, save your breath. I have it from a higher authority which has guided me through the valley of death, that closeted existence where my soul was lost while my body performed the sacraments.

Yes, I was once considered an exemplary model of upstanding Christian. Now some of the same people condemn me to damnation. But I know and God knows where my soul really was and is. I learned the painful lesson that the rules of humans are not the rules of God. He asks us to be different, and not just different from the worldly person, but different from the Pharisees and Sadducee's of our day.

God has held my hand my entire life. He has sheltered me and given me patience. He has given me courage and strength and endurance. And he has given me a beautiful companion with whom I can share the intimacy and oneness that many would deny me.

For those who disagree with me, I pray for the vision and the enlightenment that God may reveal. For those that find solace here, I pray for the courage, peace, generosity and love God has given to me. May all find comfort in his loving embrace.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Bishop Gene Robinson's Inauguration Prayer

O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will…

Bless us with tears – for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

Bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort – at the easy, simplistic "answers" we've preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

Bless us with patience – and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be "fixed" anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.

Bless us with humility – open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance – replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.

Bless us with compassion and generosity – remembering that every religion's God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world.

And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.

Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln's reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy's ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for ALL the people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.

Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters’ childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we’re asking FAR too much of this one. We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand – that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Religious Obsession with Sex

I have started reading the book "Rumors of a Another World" by Philip Yancey. While I have not read enough to wholly endorse Yancey's viewpoint, many of the things he talks about ring true. His thesis is that the world around us and its pleasures are truly gifts from God and hints at the paradise to come. Like a ring between lovers, it is a symbol of His love for us and something we are meant to treasure and enjoy, but not idolize. Desires in their proper context are normal and holy.

Yet some religious people would have us completely deny pleasure and our desires. I contend, like the author seems to, that neither extreme is desirable. I don't approve of pure hedonism nor do I believe in complete denial of pleasure including when it comes to sex, the biggest thorn in religion's side for centuries.

Isn't it a bit perverted to be so obsessed with what goes on in people's bedrooms and at the same time so ashamed of God's gift of sexuality that we cannot discuss it openly and honestly with our children? Isn't it odd that many would drive people away from God because of sex while welcoming the greedy and the liars and the hateful with open arms?

I think much of religion is abnormally focused on sexuality and ignores so many other faucets of human behavior that is much more damaging in my mind. Yancey says it well in his book...

I dwell on the church's severe attitude toward sex because I believe we
Christians bear heavy responsibility for the counter-reaction so evident in
modern society. Jesus treated those who had fallen into sexual sins with
compassion and forgiveness and reserved his harshest words for the hidden
sins of hypocrisy, pride, greed and legalism. How is it that we who follow
him use the word "immoral" to signify sexual sins almost exclusively and
reserve church discipline for those who fail sexually.

And this struggle with sexuality consumes churches, robbing their energies and creating an environment so cruel and unsympathetic that the vast majority of this country sees no relevance of religion in their lives. All church work fighting poverty and disease is cast in shadow by the walls built to keep out the sexually "impure."

Meanwhile greed, pride and legalism have destroyed the world's economy and thousands of families with nary a word from religious "authorities". Sexuality has become the defining factor of many churches and religious organizations.

Name the group American Family Association and most people will think of Dobson's crusade against homosexuals. Jerry Falwell will always be remembered for saying that gays contributed to 9/11. Say the name Fred Phelps and most visualize his "God Hates Fags" signs. Talk about the Episcopal church and the number one topic is the divide over gay people.

This crusade against sexuality is fronted by a fatwa on gays. Their decrees that marriage and sex are only for procreation, that abstinence until marriage is the only way to educate youth, that birth control is evil, that God insists gays must be celibate would be laughable if not for the seriousness of their consequences.

One of the hypocrisies that hurts me most is represented by the words of Rick Warren who stated he could not imagine not having the intimacy of his relationship with his wife. He spoke as if it were something deeply and foundationally important in his life, and I truly believe it is. He said he cannot imagine not having it and having to live in the desolation its absence would cause.

Yet, Pastor Warren, like many others, sees no hypocrisy in wanting to deny to gay people the very intimacy they proclaim as indispensable in their own lives.

I was married for 20 years and while I loved and cherished my wife, and I still do, there was no true intimacy in our relationship. The deceit was destroying us both. Now our souls are healing and God has given me some of the glorious intimacy Pastor Warren thinks is indispensable. God has led me to welcoming Christians who focus on Christs love instead of Gos' wrathful judgement. And as a result I have learned about what love really is and how to love God truly.

If we truly love and nurture the person, if we accept them unconditionally as God accepts them, if we are welcoming and inclusive in our churches and our lives, then we open the door for God to worry about the sins. Let us show the world the God's wedding ring - His marvelous creation.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


I was relieved that a recent study on Prop 8 indicated that race was essentially a non-factor in it's passage which debunks earlier studies. The main factors were age, church attendance and party affiliation. What skewed appearances is that African-Americans tend to be more church going.

But what it does indicate is that knowing LGBT people and experiencing discrimination is trumped by proclaimed religious beliefs.

The question then is how do people acquire their religious beliefs. It starts from parents and ministers and church teachers. For many that's where it stops. Few people bother to study the Bible themselves, to meditate on scripture, to seek inspiration. People who believe the Bible strongly supports the one man one woman version of marriage are not very familiar with the Bible.

Anyone who has performed a marriage ceremony knows that the Bible is slim pickings when it comes to marriage liturgy. Anyone who's attended a few marriage ceremonies will soon find the scripture reading familiar. To me it's always seemed a stretch to assume that Jesus's attendance at a wedding feast was the same as blessing marriage. Did his supper with a tax collector bless tax collecting?

The bottom line is that we really choose our religious beliefs. Many people are comfortable with a basic understanding because it doesn't conflict with their other beliefs and life. For the many who choose to dig deeper, the ground quickly becomes less firm. Dogma quickly starts to crumble and requires increasing convoluted rationalization to support it.

But we all find a belief system that suits us. It's erroneous to claim that what suits us is universal or even God's ultimate truth. What we believe is our truth. To claim it equals divine truth elevates us to God's domain. Our truth changes as God works in our lives, as we grow and mature in our faith.

We believe what we want to believe. Belief filters our vision. Scotomas block out the things that make us uncomfortable. Of course the Bible supports our belief because our beliefs don't let conflicting things in. The only way to increase our awareness of truth is to suspend our will and beliefs and let God speak to us. That's why I ask myself constantly - why do I believe this?

Is this from God? Is it from a respected source? Does this contribute to oppression or to peace? How does it conflict with my other beliefs?

Is it loving?

That's the question I challenge others with. Why do you believe the things you do? Why do you practice the sacraments you do? Why do you preach and prophesy the way you do?

The Bible can say what we want it to mean. It can also be simple text on a page simply meaning what the words say. But when we are quiet, God uses the Bible to speak to us. This multiple meaning though means the Bible in and of itself is a poor teacher. Our use of scriptures is a reflection of our beliefs and only rarely God's truth.

Humans are poor vessels for God's truth. Our understanding is so limited. Our seeing is so influenced by our pre-concieved thoughts. We have ears but do not hear. We have eyes but do not see. We have hearts but do not love.

This is why the Bible makes a poor authority figure. Anyone can quote the Bible. But the real Good News comes from our hearts, from love and compassion, from hope and peace.

When someone quotes scripture to me and doesn't speak from their heart, it has less meaning than someone who witnesses from their personal relationship with God.

That's what I try to do here, to witness my own faith journey, my struggles and inspirations, and my personal and personalized relationship with God.