Last week I wrote a blog in which I finally fully came out as a gay Christian. Truthfully, it’s still a bit weird to say out loud, but the more I say it, the more I own it, the more at peace I feel about it. Not to mention I feel pretty excited about talking about this more from a first person perspective, and not just an ally or concerned citizen. Before now, it was never truly personal. Now, I can confidently say that LGBT issues are my issues, too.
More than that,
I recognize the reality that I’m now kind of an anomaly as a gay christian.
I mean, within the US, there is estimated to only be around 4% of the population identifies as LGBT, so you can imagine that the population of LGBT and Christian is even smaller, but I know that this is where God has brought me to.
You’ll notice that a good bit of my writing from here on out is going to be focused on talking about intersections of faith and sexuality. It’s an important conversation, and I want to be someone who can write about it every day terms, to put a face on this issue.
For the majority of my life, I’ve run in mostly conservative circles. During the initial part of me coming out to my conservative friends, I’ve gotten pretty ambivalent responses. Things like, “I don’t really know where I land on this issue, I just know that I’m supposed to love people.”
I get it. You want to be welcoming, but you don’t want to say you think being LGBT is okay because, frankly, you probably aren’t quite sure exactly what scripture says about same-sex relationships.
So, in this first blog in a series of many, I want to share with you how I got to where I am now.
So, here we go.
Yes, I’m a gay Christian.
And yes, I’m very sure that I’m gay.
I’ve known since I was 14 years old, freshmen year of high school in Ms. Triantophilous’s art foundations class. I remember the moment vividly because I’ve never felt more ashamed or isolated in my life. I was a Christian, baptized in the church I was born into on July 4, 1999, and Christians simply did not struggle with homosexuality. That was for sinners and I was not a fag. I couldn’t be. Gay people were going to hell.
So if I’m saved by grace, redeemed by the blood, walking in the Spirit, why me? God, why did I have to be stricken with what felt like a curse?
I was told that you couldn’t be a gay Christian because being gay was choosing to sin. But believe me when I say that I never chose to be attracted to men.
And so I tried fix myself. In therapists office, at conferences, I was told that it was possible to change my sexual orientation. I was told that if I prayed hard enough, that if I fasted enough, went through a ton of inner-healing, that God would honor that. That God would make me straight.
I latched on to that rhetoric like a life-preserver in a sea of doubt. God would save me from my perversion. But all that did was poison my own heart against myself. Even after several failed attempts with ex-gay ministry, pseudo-psychology, and ton of well-intentioned, but misguided, advice and counsel, I was still a gay Christian and I hated myself so much.
My emotional baggage was filled with shame, sadness, and suicidal intentions that I carried with me for eleven years. Eleven years I have spent struggling with this question:
Does God love me for who I am, not in spite of who I am?
Like I said, I have tried being straight.
Dated a few girls in high school, and then I was intentionally single for a few years while I tried to sort this out. Even after that period, “convinced” that God had awakened in me a desire that truly never existed, I tried to date two amazing, godly women who I ended up hurting because I was simply not fully attracted to them. (And somehow, despite my deception, I remain friends with both of them.)
I can’t tell you how many times I made late night phone calls to my brother and friends when I was on the verge of ending my life. It was strong people who willed me back to life, who prayed for me day in and day out for God’s love to descend on me. And to a degree, it did. God held on to me. I was preserved. And I had no idea why.
When I returned from the World Race, I was determined to find an answer for this question, and I got my hands on every bit of literature I could on homosexuality and the Bible. I needed to know, for myself, what the heart of God was. I read every blog, article, and book there was on this. I had a handle on progressive/inclusive and affirming theology and also knew the in’s and out’s of conservative/traditional theology. Even armed with all the knowledge in the world, and having beautifully wise people around me who offered their opinions and prayer, I still found myself planted firmly in the middle.
I understood why traditional scripture interpretations existed. In fact, it was the only thing I had ever known. I was told many times that it was the Truth with a capital T, and I had to line up with it (with a proverbial “or else” added in subtext of numerous conversations), but when I looked at my own life and the life of Jesus, something just didn’t settle.
I couldn’t believe that God would damn me to a life of loneliness and continual ostracization over something I never chose. I would forever be the third wheel, forever be on the prayer list, forever be the poor soul who struggled with his sexual identity.
The dialogue in my head was that if I couldn’t stop my body from sinning, I might as well end it and go see Jesus.
And I tried to kill myself twice. Both times, I failed.
Praise God for his preservation of my life because without it, I wouldn’t be here to tell you about the new life he has given to me. For years, I was waiting on God to speak into this situation. Not a man or woman, or a book. I did not want my own biases to speak into my interpretation of scripture. So I waited and waited.
And then the Holy Spirit finally spoke.
When I moved to Georgia in January 2015, I got a tattoo of an empty birdcage on my right wrist. It’s symbolic of me stepping away from a place where I felt I wasn’t not allowed to wrestle with my faith. I felt caged in my one set of doctrine and theology, one that was said to be pretty much absolute.
But something in me just didn’t settle. I disagreed with the sentiment that there was only one way to look at the scriptures concerning same-sex relationships. There had to be another way. And that church, as much as I loved the family that I had gained there, was not the place to explore my doubt.
I do want to say that whole situation was handled with as much care and with grace as possible. I was never publicly shamed and I wasn’t forced out of my In fact, I’m still friends with those leaders, and we’ve just agreed to disagree. (That is honestly the mark of true friendship, that disagreement doesn’t splinter a relationship.) I left of my own accord for my new position in Gainesville, and was sent with a blessing. It was lovely, and I miss it.
And when I got to Georgia, I wrestled with God. I felt like God was going to perform a miracle, at least that was what I asked for. And where I worked, it was not a far stretch. In an act of faith, I started dating one of those godly women I mentioned before in a last-ditch effort to make something come alive in me that probably didn’t exist in my personhood. After that ended, I sat in my shame.
I needed and answer from God, because nothing was working.
Either He needed to speak clearly and tell me to begin my commitment to celibacy, or He was gonna have to do something new.
And then, kind of like clockwork, a series of events occurred where I could attend The Reformation Project’s regional training conference in Atlanta. TRP is a Christian non-profit that works to equip people to have conversations with their local churches about becoming more inclusive and affirming of LGBT people.
It was the single, most important, most life changing weekend of my life, and I don’t say that hyperbolically.
Walking in the space and worshiping alongside 300ish other LGBT Christians was incredible. I’ve read articles and blogs by straight people who say that it was transformative for them because they never expected the Holy Spirit to show up and then Holy Spirit DOES?! I was in the same boat. I never expected it. But Holy Spirit was there, and present and moving and I felt loved in a way I had never felt loved before.
My entire Christian journey, I felt like I was a second class son.
I felt welcomed, but only so much. I could participate, but only to a degree. But in that moment, I finally felt welcomed into the family of God. I was affirmed in my sonship in its entirety. I never felt more free of shame, more set free from the expectation and approval of man. Jesus met me in the realest way possible.It wasn’t a person, a teaching, or my emotions which convinced me it was possible to be gay and Christian. Click To Tweet
It was Holy Spirit, present, living, breathing, speaking.
And today, I’m walking in the fullness of God. I am unashamed, unrestrained, and fully in love with Jesus. More in love with Him than I’ve ever been. And this is just the beginning of my story.
Let me note something- I totally recognize that this blog is wrapped up with a lot of feelings, and people might say, “Well this isn’t a compelling argument because it’s totally wrapped up in feelings.”
You’re right. But not many people read blogs over 2000 words. SO!
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be writing blogs detailing exactly how I arrived at an affirming theology. I’m going to unpack my thoughts, talk about scripture and doctrine, and I’m going to share with you why I believe what I do. So! You should subscribe, that way you don’t miss anything.
Also, I’d love to know what you’re thinking, what questions this is bringing up, etc. Let’s talk in the comments.
(Just a word, please keep it respectful and in the spirit of dialogue. I’m not looking to put anyone out, and hateful comments will be straight up deleted cause I’m not dealing with your shit.)