Calvin College Chimes

An Open Letter from a Gay Christian

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“This is a gay that the LORD has made,” declared the t-shirt in bold rainbow colors. I pondered my feelings about such a statement. Bold it was, certainly. I knew there were Christians who acknowledged that same-sex attraction is inborn, but to claim that God made someone that way? That was something else entirely. And yet, whether or not I fully agreed with the message proclaimed by the brightly colored tee, there was a part of me that felt proud at reading such a statement. After all, I thought to myself, I know God loves me; the Bible reminds me of that fact over and over. I also know that my attraction to people of the same sex is inborn, not a choice. God doesn’t love people because they are gay; neither does he love them in spite of the fact that they are gay. He simply loves.

Unfortunately, the same cannot necessarily be said for the church. My point in writing this letter is not to provide any sort of deep theological argument; rather, it is to relay the personal sentiments of a man whose faith is the cornerstone of his life, and who just so happens to also be gay. I hope to address some issues regarding the church’s treatment of and interaction with gay individuals and specifically those who are members of the church.

Having grown up in heavily Reformed West Michigan, I have experienced a surprisingly wide range of views from Christians on the subject of homosexuality. Naturally, being gay leads me to have a certain disposition toward how I believe the church should act toward our gay brothers and sisters. However, the fact that I am a Christian and that I desire to live a godly life certainly has an influence as well. This balancing act is one I have witnessed among other Christians both gay and straight, and it has lead to three general means of thinking about and handling this issue.

First, there are Christians who believe that homosexuality in its entirety is wrong; simply identifying as anything other than cisgender and straight is sinful and acting upon it is especially so. Taken to extremes, this view leads to the propagation of hateful ideology, and there are an unfortunate number of hate groups using Christianity as a cover to rationalize their actions. I would argue that most Christians, regardless of their position on homosexuality, would prefer not to have the name “Christian” associated with such groups.

Next, there are the “hate the sin, love the sinner” Christians. Now I know that there are those in the gay community who would beg to differ, but for me personally this view is almost as difficult to face as the first. Often Christians who subscribe to this view will sum up their beliefs along these lines: “I don’t have a problem with gay people. They can’t help it. But they shouldn’t act on their feelings.” To them, being gay in and of itself isn’t sinful, but doing anything to pursue those feelings is. And to them I have this to say:

Imagine you have found the love of your life. You meet, there’s a spark, you start spending time together, which eventually leads to dates. You begin to tell people about this special person, and that’s when you start getting the responses. “We know you want to be with that person, but it’s wrong. The Bible says so. It’ll be alright, though. You just need a loving Christian community to come alongside you and give you the support you need.”

Such words, though spoken with the intention of encouraging gay Christians to live a godly life, point to a complete misunderstanding of the experience of individuals identifying as both Christian and gay.

You see, the main problem with this view is that it completely ignores one of the most basic principles of what it means to be human. It’s widely known and accepted that there are different types of love. There is romantic, sexual love; there is familial love; there is friendship; and, of course, there is the unconditional love of God. In order to live a fulfilling life, humans require each of these types of love to varying degrees. Indeed, I believe God created humans with these needs with the intent that we can fulfill them for one another — accepting, of course, the unconditional love that only he can provide. If, then, these Christians believe that same-sex attraction is inborn, and if they believe that people require different types of love in order to live their lives fully, they contradict themselves with their expectation that people with same-sex attraction simply abandon the pursuit of romantic relationships, no matter how healthy or supportive or loving they may be. Doing so is asking literally millions of people to deprive themselves of the fulfillment of romantic love, a request which I believe is entirely unreasonable and unrealistic.

This leaves the last group of Christians, those who believe that same-sex relationships can be positive and pleasing to God. This group, though relatively new, is growing. In my own personal experience, I have encountered an increasing number of those who choose to see them as valuable members of the body of Christ, rather than focusing on their fellow Christians’ sexual preferences and practices. Seeing this gives me hope that the church may move beyond its unfortunate historical tendency toward condemnation of those it perceived as immorally different or inferior.

In the end, regardless of one’s stance on homosexuality, this truth remains: We are all sinners, having fallen woefully short of God’s glory. Whether homosexuality or homosexual acts constitute sin or not I cannot say. But that is beside the point. For though we are sinners, we have been saved, redeemed, and called to a new life of community and renewal. When Christians drive away their gay brothers and sisters by one means or another, they are going against the very command Christ gave his followers — to go and make disciples, to draw people in, not to push them away. We will never bring God’s kingdom “on earth as it is in heaven” if our focus is on trying to fix what we perceive to be wrong with people when instead we should be building relationships and loving them as Christ loved. If Jesus could dine with tax collectors and prostitutes, I think we could stand to welcome the gay community into our churches.

3 Comments

3 Responses to “An Open Letter from a Gay Christian”

  1. Ben on December 3rd, 2018 11:52 pm

    I appreciate your sentiment and your commitment. I was born into the church community but I have largely come to see it as a nice community with absolutely no monopoly on truth or even godlliness. I have witnessed my parents drag the church along with them as they open up and away from dogmatic thinking. My own congregation grappled with gay acceptance over a decade ago and moved in the right direction of inclusion. But today there is not a significant gay population there. For myself, I never felt the need to bring the church up to speed. I just can’t identify with the church that still Struggles with accepting homosexuality. What would Jesus say?

  2. Daniel on December 4th, 2018 4:41 pm

    This is a very thoughtfully written article.. I am a gay Christian. When you spoke about all of us being sinners but Christ saved us by his blood. All that is true. However, it appears to have been spoken out of a theology of “once saved, always saved.” That is not my theology and that, we make a decision for Christ, we can fall short of that aneed forgiveness. It is a continual openning ourselves to his grace. Being saved doesn’t mean we can continue doing the same things we always did and expect different results..

  3. Jack on December 7th, 2018 12:28 pm

    I can appreciate the author’s opinions and agree with many of the things he says. God does love you unconditionally as well as millions in the gay community. And it could be that the church has not done a good job of showing God’s love to gays and lesbians. But if a church is to be true to showing God’s unconditional than they need to be true to the Word of God.

    One of the most loving things a church can do is to bring people to the knowledge of God’s love, to show that thru His love He gave us one of the most incredible gifts: the forgiveness of all our sons thru the death and resurrection of His son Jesus Christ. We have only to confess our sins, believe that Christ died for our sins and we shall be saved. But that doesn’t mean we get to go back and continue living in our sins. Our lives should be changed so we no longer want to act in a sinful way going forward.

    What the author seems to want is to be able to claim to be a gay Christian, live the gay lifestyle but deny that there is clear Biblical evidence that having that lifestyle is wrong in the eyes of the Lord. That being born gay means it’s ok to act on ones homosexual need for the same relationships that a heterosexual couple has. And that those that do not accept this as fact are insensitive to what they feel is their God given birthright.

    I have lived an incredibly sinful life. I called myself a Christian while still acting on sinful temptations. I could and did make the argument that a loving God would want me to be happy. I looked for others to endorse these sinful feelings. As I have come to have a closer relationship with my loving God I realize that I was acting on these feelings and ultimately living a sinful life. I also realized there were some very godly, loving people wanting me to see that I was not living according to a path that God has laid out in scripture but I was unwilling to end my sinfulness.

    I believe the Bible is very clear that the gay lifestyle is sinful. I also believe the gay community is demanding that Christians accept the gay lifestyle as somehow God ordained and if called out, the Christian community is labeled as unloving and bigoted. While for some that may be true. But for those that desire to be ambassadors of Christ and show acts of unconditional love they are called to have loving conversations with their Christian brothers and sisters when they stray from walking the narrow path that leads to eternal joy in heaven.

    I pray for you to find a loving church community that will provide you the love of God. I pray that my commentary is perceived in a love for my fellow Christian brother in the hope that he or others may in some way have been blessed. I pray that if in my inability to to be as eloquent and sensitive to this subject as I could be that I am forgiven knowing that my sole purpose is to open a discussion that could be meaningful to those that read it.

    God bless you.

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