As Christians, we’re constantly weighing the words of others, searching out what is truth and what is a product of our own opinion or bias (or at least we should be). For a long time, I took what was handed to me at face value because my leaders were obviously more learned than me. They had more life experience.
I was taught that God was still speaking, both through scripture and through the Holy Spirit. I was told that I could go to Him with my questions, seek wisdom, and I would find the Truth. So my question was this:
What’s God Saying about the LGBT Community?
I was under the impression that everything God had to say about the LGBT community was said: being gay was a sin. Period. There was no gray area and this wasn’t one of those non-essential theological things that we could just agree to disagree. For some, I realized, this was a matter of salvation. And so I shut up.
For a while, I was perfectly content to stay single, go to therapy and men’s groups, hoping that at some point God would fix me or bless me with an orientation change or with a wife or something. But nothing ever happened. More and more I sunk into shame and doubt and fear. I would sit in countless sermons where the pastor would say something about how gay people were ripping away at the fabric of our country’s morality.
It reached a tipping point for me though. One day after leading worship, a woman came up to me. She was a lesbian and her and her wife had been attending our church for a while, despite our church’s very clear stance on what was and wasn’t acceptable as far as sexual morality. She came up to me and said, “I feel like God asked me to share this with you: He loves you, as you are, not for what you think you should be.”
Honestly, I think I gave her a less than stellar look. Girl, you obviously don’t know me, and you don’t have the promises that I have because God is gonna bring me a wife. It was prophesied!
That’s a true story: Years before this conversation, someone actually prophesied over me that I he saw a vision of me on my wedding day. He said I was going to have a son that would never have to deal with homoesexuality because I “did my job” as a father.
I held on to that vision tightly. Trusting, fully believing that it was possible, because anything is possible with God. But years went by, and nothing was changing for me. No amount of prayer, no book I read, no deliverance ministry/exorcism (which also happened), no counseling session changed anything. I was still gay.
And then this woman comes along who says exactly what I’ve wanted to hear from God for years, someone who knows nothing about my story? It couldn’t have been coincidence. It was startling to me. She couldn’t have known what those words meant to me, and it was obvious the Holy Spirit was present in her. And her gaze was so loving and kind, full of compassion, like Holy Spirit was saying, baby, why are you doing this to yourself? I wanted so badly for it to be true…
But I rejected it. I put it out of my mind because I wasn’t about to give up the fight.
However, something my spirit started to shift that day, a holy unrest, if you will. A question began to well up within me:
Why is it that I believe what I do? Why is being gay a sin? And how does this other person feel so comfortable embracing that part of her heart, and I feel so guilty about wanting that?
What’s God really saying about the LGBT community?
I tried to put it out of my mind, because I didn’t want to be a ‘backslider.’ I was in a good place with my church, great place with my circle of Christian friends, and enjoying the benefits of community. (And I also served as the perpetual third wheel.)
But the more I pushed the doubt to the back of my mind, the more I felt that unrest grow. It got to a point where I would get angry when a pastor would talk about gay marriage being the absolute worst thing that could possibly happen in our country. I was getting fed up, tired of the injustices flung at LGBT people from straight, white, male pastors who didn’t have a clue about what it was to wake up every day and feel like second class member at a church that preached love and welcoming all into the family. Because ‘all’ always came with ‘if.’
If you were straight or celibate.
If you believe the way we believe.
If you submit to the authority of how we interpret scripture.
You have no idea how much damage you’re doing, do you? I remember saying that to myself every time sexuality or marriage was brought up at the pulpit. My skin would crawl, thinking about the thousands of LGBT people who stay quiet in their churches because they stand to lose their entire world if they come out.
This question was something I was deeply struggling with and was given little to no room to wrestle with. In many ways, I felt like I was the only one willing to struggle with this, and while some people claimed that they wanted to discuss and read over scriptures together, it turned out to be nothing but lip service.
Everyone said that they were willing to wrestle with this issue with me, but no one would get in the damn ring. Not one.
I mean, nothing beyond, “Well you know we hold a traditional view. The Bible says…” blah blah blah. Yes, I’ve heard that before. And I’m reading the same Bible as you, reading the same words, so why is my spirit so unsettled?
It didn’t make sense to me. Why would God allow something like this to happen, especially to me, of people? I was a ‘good Christian.’ And I did all the right things that a good single Christian man was supposed to do, and yet here I was —gay, closeted, and unable to talk about how I was actually feeling.
So I began delving into scriptures, academic texts, listening to presentations and watching videos from people on both sides of the conversation, both affirming and celibate LGBT Christian voices. And as I’ve shared in some of my other blogs (this one specifically) for all I’ve read, I never really read or heard anything that made me change my mind one way or the other.
I was stuck firmly in the middle and I was unable to be convinced by mortal words.
But then Heaven came down and whispered softly in my ear the same words that woman at my church said to me.God said, “I love you, as you are, not for what you think you should be.” Click To Tweet
And that was that. I was convinced. Holy Spirit hit me hard and I wept the freedom I found.
I’m not going to pretend to understand much beyond that. Yes, I can articulate theology and doctrine and historical interpretation of scriptures and all the things that all the voices that have come before me say so eloquently in favor of LGBT inclusion and affirmation, but none of that matters terribly much to me.
I’m not a pastoral individual like Justin Lee. I’m not an academic or one to debate this issue like Matthew Vines. I’m not well versed in the socio-historical view of this issue like Kathy Baldok. I’m not highly scholastic like David Gushee. I don’t have a masters of divinity, nor a history of social justice work.
I fully admit that I don’t know a lot of things. But I am convinced of this:
When I read my Bible, look at Jesus, meditate on the heart of God, and walk in the Holy Spirit, I don’t see the Church as being a body that keeps people out of the House, but one who sets a banquet table, and says, “Come, all who are hungry, come and feast!” That’s what Jesus does for us.
I don’t know much but, I do know this:
I love Jesus. I love Him so much. And for the freedom He has given me, I will be eternally thankful.
We are at a point in history that Holy Spirit is beckoning us to shut up and listen. Listen to the voice of God for a cue as how to move, not to go off of knee jerk reactions to cultural shifts. Not to point the finger, saying who’s in and who’s out. But to stop, meditate, hear, examine, and thoughtfully consider that maybe Grace is a lot more radical than we thought, the Family much bigger than we anticipated, and Love being more important than being right.