This past year, I had to make a heart-rending decision based on how I believe Jesus would handle the touchy topic of homosexuality. I have studied the relevant Bible passages on homosexuality for years, but it wasn’t until recently that I chose to make that study practical and refuse to draw a line I don’t believe Jesus would draw. I can not refuse gay Christians a place in ministry beside me.
My understanding of homosexuality is based on academic curiosity, not personal identification. I am heterosexual. I do not have any gay friends. (Although, I welcome them!) Does that disqualify me from making a statement about what I believe? I thought so for a long while, so I stayed quiet. I thought, What would it matter what I say about the topic if I don’t have to practice it? I still kinda believe that. But, I also believe there are folks who aren’t the Bible geek that I am who won’t devote hours to understanding their own minds. And these folks just might have gay friends and family, or might even themselves be gay. Lending my little voice just might make all the difference in their lives to finding peace with God and man. So, I come out.
Clarification of ideas
Since there are so many personal definitions and misunderstandings surrounding this politicized topic, let me clarify.
First, “gay” and “Christian” are not mutually exclusive as I understand the term “gay.” I believe “gay” in today’s understanding means that a person is attracted to their same gender. It is often referred to as Same Sex Attraction (SSA). Calling someone “gay” does not mean they are having homosexual sex, only that they have homosexual attractions (SSA).
Second, gay people do not choose to be gay. A lot of Christians who are not personally acquainted with a gay person (That would be me) do not understand them. Simply said, we are very ignorant about the topic and experiences of a person identifying as SSA. So, a few words about being gay. If I were to ask you, “When did you know you were straight?” you’d probably look confused. This is because you never had to think about it. It is completely ingrained in who you are, who your identity is. The same goes for those who identify as SSA. In the same way you were attracted to the other gender and enjoyed the thoughts of building a relationship with them, a gay person does likewise with their own gender. From my reading, I understand that many gay people would, at some point in their journey, give their right arm to be straight. Being gay has caused them emotional angst and in some cases, intense persecution. They would tell you, “You are crazy!” if you think they CHOOSE to be SSA. In fact, thousands have tried to change by attending conferences, having accountability, getting married and having children. The majority of these Christians who are gay (but don’t want to be) will tell you they are not living a homosexual lifestyle, but they are still homosexual. They are gay. It is their identity deep inside.
Have you ever wrestled with the truth of my second point? That being gay is not a choice? I sure have. Let me tell you how I resolved my opinion. Simply put, I believe them. I can’t know from personal experience, so I choose to take their word for it. Jesus asks me to love my neighbor, and a huge way I show love is by believing the collective voice of the gay Christian community (1 Cor. 13:7). So, in summation, I choose to believe gay people when they say they were born as SSA. Like any other human being, they can answer God’s universal call to follow Christ and can identify as Christian.
Now, what I do not want to do is speculate on the sinful reason why some folks are gay. In point of fact, they just are. Because I believe this, I can apply a relevant passage from Jesus’ life. Jesus was asked to speculate on the sinfulness of a blind man’s condition. The pharisees’s opening question reveals the prevalent attitude regarding the physical condition of blindness.
“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2)
You see, the question presupposes a sinful cause. If they had simply asked, “Why was he born blind?” the question would not be relevant to our discussion on homosexuality. They took their query a step farther than seeking a cause for blindness. They wanted Jesus to agree with them that a blind person carries the stain of some sin resulting in his broken eyes. Now do you see the relevance? Jesus knew the cause of blindness, but he didn’t reveal it. Instead, he refused to attribute it to sin. In the same way Jesus did not call out a sin to the Pharisees when they questioned why a man was born blind, I will not point at a sin as the cause of SSA. I believe the same as Jesus.
“It isn’t because this man sinned,” said Jesus. “It isn’t because his parents sinned. (John 9:3)”
Now, we know the causes of blindness, so its hard for us to put ourselves into the Pharisees ignorant shoes. Why did they connect blindness with sin? It could be they wanted a spiritual reason behind all of life’s experiences, which I can identify with. It could be they served the community by presenting judgment in cases like this. We can sympathize with them because we too are ignorant of the cause of SSA. (Research is underway, with some sound theories; but nothing has been concluded scientifically.) Well meaning Christians link what they view as an aberration (SSA) to either personal or parental sin because, like the Pharisees, their worldview supports spiritual reasons for physical experience. Christian leaders also feel a responsibility to present judgment for the good of their community. Either way, Jesus refused to participate. He assures us that even those with congenital issues can be used for God’s glory.
“This happened so that God’s work could be shown in his life. (John 9:3)”
Praise God! Gay people can accomplish God’s work. And I welcome them to serve alongside me in this pursuit. I choose to follow Jesus’ example and refuse to point to sin as the cause of SSA.
(You may ask: Didn’t Jesus heal the blind man? Wasn’t that what he was referring to as God’s work being displayed in him? In this particular instance, for sure! But if we limit the truth of Jesus’ words to this situation only, then we’d have to conclude the rest of the blind people he didn’t heal are sinful and un-glorifying. And that is absurd. There is a universal truth here we can apply to similar situations.
You may wonder how I can compare blindness to SSA? In your current mindset toward homosexuality, you think this is comparing apples to oranges, yes? You must remember my choice to believe the gay community’s assertion that they were born as SSA, just like this man was born blind.)
Conclusion: I won’t judge.
Up to this point, I have been discussing the attraction of a person born gay, not the physical act between gay persons. Is homosexual sex an acceptable behavior for a Christian when enjoyed inside the bounds of marriage? I think all Christians agree extra-marital sex is sinful, so the question becomes can a gay Christian get married and enjoy physical relations with his/her committed partner. Here’s the deal. I am not gay. Imagining a life of celibacy and loneliness stretched out before me, or anyone who did not wish to be single, breaks my heart. That is brutal, but not impossible. As a heterosexual white woman, there are many things I disagree with that I will not condemn. Gay marriage is one of them. I honor the hours of Bible study, historical research and prayer Christians on both sides of the gay marriage debate have devoted to understanding God’s will on this issue. I will not exclude one of my Christian siblings because they embrace gay marriage. God is judge. I AM NOT. I will embrace them and all their various serious and not-so-serious sin, and condemn my own sin.
And everything I left out
What about all the verses in the Bible condemning homosexuality, you may be wondering? You notice, I did not start there? The reason is, I don’t believe they are relevant to the modern topic of same sex attraction and committed relationships. The context the Bible addresses in such harsh language surrounds idolatrous worship, sexual abuse and promiscuous immorality. I agree those practices are immoral and sinful.
Torn by Justin Lee
Lifelong celibacy for gay Christians : This link has study on the homosexual passages in the Bible.
The Gay Christian Network
Matthew Vines: God and the Gay Christian : The Biblical Case in Support of Same Sex Marriages
The Reformation Project
May God have mercy on all our souls.