Jesus talked about equality a lot; it made the powerful quite uncomfortable.
Written by Kathy, and originally published on canyonwalkerconnections.com
6. ASKING GAY PEOPLE TO DENY THEIR NATURAL SEXUAL ORIENTATION IS DESTRUCTIVE. Recall, homosexual orientation is no more a “behavior” than is heterosexual attraction. Both are orientations, innate attractions. Reparative therapy (Exodus-type programs that offer results that take away “unwanted sexual attractions” or allude to a gay-to-straight conversion) treats homosexuality as if it were a “behavior” akin to other life choices like drug and alcohol usage, adultery, cheating and lying.
You would expect that the elimination of bad behaviors would result in life benefits. However, if you force a gay person to “not be gay,” loneliness, depression, isolation and shame can result.
Some gay people do make a choice to live celibate lives. This is called “Side B” for gay Christians; they come to a personal conviction that God is calling them to be celibate. This is not the same as the imposition of celibacy by an outsider for acceptance before God. Celibacy does not take away attraction; it only means a person is not engaging in sex. A celibate straight person is not “no longer straight” simply because they are not being sexual. Likewise, a celibate gay person is not “no longer gay” simply because they are not being sexual.
The rejection or insistence on change is destructive. Statistics on gay youth prove this. Gay youth, unaccepted by family, are:
- Eight times more apt to attempt suicide than those who are accepted
- Six times more susceptible to depression than those who are accepted
- Three times more likely to get involved in drug and alcohol abuse than gay youth that are accepted
- Three times more likely to contract HIV/AIDS and STD than gay youth that are accepted?
If a person is indeed gay, then no amount of a-wishin’ and a-hopin’ and a-prayin’ will make them straight. Of course, you will hear of “success stories” of people who are “no longer gay”. I have hundreds of friends who tried to play the “I am not gay anymore” game. I know dozens of former leaders and founders of Exodus type programs, and all say they do not know one person who was strictly gay and is now straight. I have never met one such person either. I did register for an Exodus Conference and was uninvited. I was and am willing to be wrong and see the other side of the reparative therapy issue and meet some “success stories”. Of course people can “live as heterosexuals”, they’ve been doing it for millennia. Some of those success stories are actually bisexual people.
7. BISEXUAL PEOPLE ARE ATTRACTED TO BOTH SEXES IN VARYING DEGREES. It would be wrong to say bisexuals are equally attracted to both sexes. The Kinsey Scale, for which there is no definitive “test,” classifies sexual orientation on a spectrum from zero (strictly heterosexual) to six (strictly homosexual). Bisexuals might be mostly attracted to the opposite sex and somewhat attracted to the same sex and be a two or a three on the Kinsey Scale. Conversely, bisexuals might be mostly attracted to the same sex and somewhat to the opposite sex making them maybe a four or five on the Kinsey Scale.
Perhaps you believe that people who identify as bisexual just “want to have sex with anything that moves.” I actually hear that too often because it appears that way to us zeros, and even some sixes. That is a patently wrong and hurtful assessment. Simply, bisexuals are somewhere on the continuum of one to five on the Kinsey, and they are about 5% of the population. Bisexuals can be satisfied emotionally, relationally and sexually with either a man or a woman. They are not hard-wired for only a man or only a woman. Oh my, this is not at all comfortable for those of us who live in a construct of pink and blue. Some of the “no longer gays” are indeed bisexual who have chosen to be in relationship with the opposite sex.
An illogical, fear-based statement I often hear is: “If we accept bisexuals then we have to redefine marriage and let them have two spouses.” Nooooo. Marriage is a contract between two people, not three people; two people. Two adult people. Bisexuals would, and currently do, marry only one person.
8. THERE IS NO “RADICAL GAY AGENDA” AND NO DEMAND FOR “SPECIAL RIGHTS.” The ‘gay agenda’ said to threaten America with “complete elimination of God and Christianity” was created in the 1990’s by Christians and political conservatives. I have read many “histories” of this fabricated agenda and they all are birthed in a few small groups creating negative buzz about gay people in the 80’s and 90’s. The term “gay agenda” is a joke in the gay community.
Gay people do not want to destroy marriage; they want to participate in it. Gay people do not want to destroy churches and religion, they want access. There is no “recruitment” of children. My goodness, where do we think gay children come from? They are not recruited, heterosexual couples keep having them!
What gay people want is equality. They do not want “special rights,” just equal rights. They do not want “gay marriage”; they just want marriage. The only agenda of gay people is equality. Jesus talked about equality a lot; it made the powerful quite uncomfortable.
As a side note, Gay Pride is not about “pride”; it is a celebration to commemorate the Stonewall Riots in 1969 when the gay and transgender community decided to stop hiding in society-imposed shame. So when we heterosexuals say silly things like “well, there are no Heterosexual Pride parades. Why do we need gay pride?” it really is that – Silly. Heterosexuals have never been forced to hide in shame for being heterosexual; we don’t need to celebrate our freedom to be who we are. We get to live it daily.
9. THE LOSS OF GAY BELIEVERS TO THE CHURCH HAS BEEN TRAGIC. Eighty-four percent of gay people were raised in some kind of faith community. Sixty percent of gay adults describe their faith and a relationship with God as “very important” in their lives. Fifty-eight percent of gay adults have made a “personal commitment to Jesus Christ.” Twenty-seven percent describe themselves as “born again.”
I am in an extremely rare position to have participated extensively with gay believers in one-on-one settings, conferences and camp meetings; I know thousands of gay Christians. The gifts, the anointing, the worship and the devotion that I see in the gay Christian community are genuine and rich. They want to love and serve God, and for the majority of Christian churches, this is a challenge.
I am immensely thankful for the Holy Spirit filled gay Christians who influence my life. Without doubt, some of the finest preachers and teachers I know are gay. Although this statement will torque some of you, it is one of the most profound observations of the ten years of this journey. The loss of their contribution that we as a church have already suffered is tragic.
I suggest that churches openly discuss gay Christian inclusion with love. Invite gay believers to be full participants in the dialogue and struggle to a conclusion together. If you are not willing to wrestle with this with gay believers, I suggest they leave your church and find somewhere that will allow them to grow spiritually and in an honest relationship with God and others. More and more options are becoming available for fellowship. From my experience, you will deny your church body of some of God’s most anointed people if you do not reassess church policy on this issue. Please do not become part of the “(un)Welcoming Committee”– we have already lost too many gifted gay Christian leaders of our churches.
10. THE LOUDEST MESSAGE THE GAY COMMUNITY HEARS FROM CHRISTIANS IS ONE OF INTOLERANCE AND HATRED. Imagine the sadness when a darling young lesbian pleads with me for an answer to the question: “Why does God hate me?”
What would you say to her? If she really wanted an answer, what would you say? Very few would tell her that God hates her, yet this is the dominant message. Some would tell her she needs to change her sexual orientation for God to have a relationship with her.
The reality is that most of us know something is wrong with both of those messages. Most of us believe that God loves unconditionally and half of us already believe sexual orientation is not changeable. We may not understand the issue well enough to verbalize anything, so we stay silent.
Ten years ago, I too was in that spot, not at all unkind to the gay community, just doing my Christian thing in my Christian heterosexual world. I had ceded my “kinder” voice to those who stand on street corners and in pulpits and passionately preach “homosexuality is an abomination.” This is the minority voice that is heard by the gay community. I go to Gay Pride events often and do not see Christians equally and passionately declaring a “Jesus loves you” message.
So, what would you say to this darling young woman as she pleads with you for an answer? It is time to find your voice in this equation. As the silent majority conveniently avoids the dialogue, people are walking away from Christianity and hating us, thinking we hate them. We get lumped in with the intolerant and hateful. Have you found yourself saying, “Oh, I am not that kind of Christian,” in defense? Well, what kind of Christian are you then? The kind that stands at a comfortable distance while gay people hear select pieces of Scripture and not the message of love? What drew you to God? The condemnation or the love? You may not know where you are on this issue, but silence and indecision occupy a position in this dialogue. By default, your voice is thrown in with the loud “you must change” voice.
In 2001, I considered myself well-educated and strong in Bible knowledge and understanding. I thought it was sufficient to let others tell me what to believe about gay people and what the Bible says about them. That all changed in one relationship, making my place of uninformed comfort no longer reasonable.
I intentionally inserted a time line to show the decade it took to come to these ten insights. On every one of these points, I either did not care or believed the contrary position. Please, take what I offer and challenge yourself. The wrong thing to do is nothing and sadly, the majority of Christians are comfortable right there, doing nothing. I understand that. I was silent and lazy. Come on, we know that is not the Jesus-model; the Jesus model is filled with verbs: love, go, heal, make, do, serve.
While the majority of Christians ignore the issue of faith and orientation, the minority of Christians passionately sends a message of hate or one that demands change. While the majority of Christians ignore the issue of faith and orientation, most of the eighteen million gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the US walk away from the possibility of a God-connection, feeling excluded because the loud minority is telling them they are excluded.
Maybe you are at step one and you do not have gay friends and honestly do not know if sexual orientation is innate. If that is the case, then purposefully engage in relationship with gay people. Start with coffee if dinner is too intimidating. Just be humans together, find commonality, break down some walls.
The next step might be visiting an affirming congregation. If that scares you, “visit” one online. (There are some suggestions at the end.) If your child is gay or lesbian, reach out to others for answers at a local PFLAG, come to the annual Gay Christian Network Conference with your son or daughter, or go to the forums online and engage other Christian parents.
Intentionally spend some time with a Bible and concordance and read, in context and original language, the sections of the Bible that refer to same sex activities. Most of you have probably never done this.
While you navigate the authenticity and implications of these insights with your faith and life:
Being gay is not a choice
There are gay Christians
Gay couples do enter into long term, committed, monogamous relationships
Every word translated as “homosexual” in the Bible is in an extreme circumstance
The church is not offering a model of being gay and Christian and leading a virtuous life
Asking people to deny their natural sexual orientations is destructive
Bisexual people are attracted to both sexes in varying degrees
There is no radical gay agenda
The loss of gay believers to the church has been tragic
This last point needs to be held in the forefront of every step: The loudest message the gay community hears from Christians is one of intolerance and hatred.
Is this the message in you?
God loves you. I love you
Then say it with passion until you drown out the hatred and intolerance. This is the life-changing message that all of us, including the gay community, need to hear:
God loves you. I love you.
I encourage you to be uncomfortable and to challenge yourselves out of passivity. For God’s sake and the sake of His people, please care, please.
Start with a step. Start with a whisper.