Monday, January 4, 2010

Questioning the Gay Christian Community




For the past few months, I have had a controversial topic on my mind. That being how the church treats the gay community. It started years ago when I read the book I so often quote in this blog, What’s So Amazing About Grace?. In one specific chapter, Yancey talks about his observations on how the church withholds grace from the homosexual community.

With that last line, I am sure that your own opinions rose to the surface. And I guess that is natural. But for the past few weeks, I’ve decided to do the opposite. Rather than make it a point to spread my own opinion, I asked others. Specifically gay Christians. What do they think of the gay community and the church?

I wrote seven questions and contacted a hundred or so on Facebook. Their responses were thorough, thoughtful and always emotional. I had no intention of turning this into a blog. But after my heart was touched by their answers, I understood that I had to talk about this. So this week I share with you only the questions, my reason behind the questions and their answers. This week I withhold my opinion. Next week I will share what I think and what really bothers me.

1. What do you prefer to be known as? Gay? Homosexual? GLBT? Why do you want to be called that?
I asked this question, because I recently read a Christian article that suggested ‘homosexual’ to be an offensive, anti-gay label.

2. Do you think being gay is a choice? Or born that way? Both? Neither?
I asked because I am tired and frustrated with short, easy answers that the Church/Christians give.

3. How would you explain to someone how you can be Gay and Christian without one negating the other?
Those who I interviewed have embraced both the Gay and Christian lifestyle. I found this to be an important and tough question

4. What has been your positive experience with Christians/the Church?
Though hardships, these individuals have decided to embrace Christianity. What positive experiences encouraged this?

5. What has been your negative experience with Christians/the Church?
This is a risky question, because I know that all of these individuals have been hurt in one way or another by the church. But I think it is important to know what these gay christians have experienced, so that we can better understand what non-christian Gays have been through.

6. What are your thoughts on the phrase “Love the sinner, hate the sin,” as a reference Christians use to treat gays?
I know that this phrase is detested in the gay community. It’s another simple, easy answer that we give. But our easy answers don’t always add up.

7. If anything, what would you want to communicate to the Christian community?
Here, especially, we should bend our ear to what they have to say.

So here are some of the responses (abbreviated, obviously).

1. What do you prefer to be known as? Gay? Homosexual? LGBT? Why do you want to be called that?
“I prefer not to be known as anything, a good standby would be ‘gay’. ‘Homosexual’ has become a bit of a derogatory term, most often used condescendingly by Christians.”

“Gay. because that's what i am. that's what my entire struggle has been. accepting myself for what/who i am. if i went by any "politically correct" label, it wouldn't feel as effective. the others you mention seem to tiptoe around the real word in everyone's mind - GAY. i won't tiptoe around what i am. If I'm gonna say it, I'm gonna say it right.”

2. Do you think being gay is a choice? Or born that way? Both? Neither?
“If it was a choice, people wouldn't be killing themselves. Nobody in their right minds would choose to go through the things we do.”

“Seriously, who would choose to be subject to ridicule and inequality? I do believe there is a measure of choice in coming out and living a life of truth, but one's sexuality is not a choice and certainly not a sin, like every other human being I was fearfully and wonderfully made by an almighty and wondrous God.”

“Personally I do believe it is a mix of both (nature and nurture). I do believe that inherently there is something biologically constructed, but I do believe that our environments do shape how we feel, think, and express ourselves.”

3. How would you explain to someone how you can be Gay and Christian without one negating the other?
“Probably by saying I do not believe them to be oil and water, nor do I think that the verses in the Bible used to condemn same sex relationships actually address homosexuality as we know it today. Also, Jesus says nothing about homosexuality, and instead says a number of things about greed and divorce, etc...two things the church seems to ignore. I don't think you can pick and choose what laws from the Bible you are going to use.”

“Being gay is NOT the sin. Promiscuity however is. No where in the bible does it say anything about gay people that life in a committed relationship to one partner. The same rules as for heterosexual people apply, the only thing that changed is that it is a same sex relationship. To me it is important to reconcile these people with God himself and let Him do the changing that needs to take place in their lives.”

“The Bible's verses are taken out of context and used to attack us. Again, it's that simple. If people would stop taking preachers' words for it and do the research themselves, they'd be surprised at what they'd find.”

4. What has been your positive experience with Christians/the Church?
“God does awesome things through the church, but the church often does terrible things and justifies it by twisting the Bible. However, all in all, I’ve spent several awesome years as a part of my church.”

“For every negative story, I come across a positive one too.”

“My current spiritual mom is a heterosexual Christian and counsellor. I have known her for the last 6 years.”

“Coming to the realization that God loves me just as I am, that I am part of the "whosoever" mentioned in John 3:16 and that I can belong and worship in a Christian community (albeit it in a a "gay neo-charismatic" one) without fear or rejection.”

“Learning theology, some good friends.”

“I have actually never had a positive experience with the Church.”

5. What has been your negative experience with Christians/the Church?
“Pretty much everyone I know has had experiences of being excluded and made to feel unwelcome by the Church.”

“There are almost too many to be counted. The recent thing that I saw was a reverend that was quoted in a certain newspaper that he hates gay people. What kind of message does that sent out to gay people? Many gay people have turned away from God because they believe that God doesn't love them anymore.”

“I have stopped counting how many times I had to tell my gay friends to forgive people because they spoke out of ignorance. So much damage have been done.”

“Overwhelmingly, I have had negative experiences with "Christians" even though I enjoy going to actual church. My family is religious and it has made us closer.”

“They asked me never to come back. That's pretty sad. I mean that's really awful. I got over it quick, personally I didn't care much because it was their own ignorance. Things like this cause unstable people in my situation to commit suicide, and the church gets off free by saying "it was their sin, they did not repent, they brought it upon themselves.”

6. What are your thoughts on the phrase “Love the sinner, hate the sin,” as a reference Christians use to treat gays?
“I love that phrase. however, when used to talk about gays, I hate it. It's ridiculous. It's all in their comfort zone. This is how they justify hate with God's blessing. It's that simple and doesn't deserve anymore explanation.”

“A bunch of crap. Everybody has sin in there life known or unknown to others. The word says love covers a multitude of sins. It is only real love (no conditions) that will bridge the gap between straight and gay people.”

“I think it's an over-used phrase that makes Christians feel superior to gays.”

“I despise the phrase, not only is it still placing blame ON the person but biological ideologies come through.”

7. If anything, what would you want to communicate to the Christian community?

“I'd want us all to remember that God calls us to be in relationship, even with people we may not agree with and we may find difficult.”

“Accept the fact that you may not know all the answers to all the questions in life (especially regarding gay people).”

“Life is to short to not act like Christ and show real love to others.”

“That they NEED to sit down, engage, discuss, and have an open communication with VARIOUS (not one type or form of "queer" member).”





These are my questions to you:

1. Are people born gay? Really think about their responses. Would people choose to kill themselves because of their 'choice' to be gay?

2. How do you think gays feel about Christians refusing the idea of being born gay?

3. How do you feel about the negativity concerning 'Love the sinner, hate the sin."?


8 comments:

  1. 1. Are people born gay? Really think about their responses. Would people choose to kill themselves because of their 'choice' to be gay?

    I honestly do not think anyone truly knows whether people are born gay or not.

    Some point to the fact that no one would choose to suffer under all the ridicule and insults that gays suffer. But, the assumption in that argument is that man is a rational being and acts in his best interests. I disagree with that assumption. Looking at the actions of people, the last thing I would call them is rational.

    Secondly, if just one gay person turned straight, then wouldn't it prove that it is possible to change? For example, we know it is not possible for a man to turn into a woman without the aid of science. And, there are not any examples that I know of someone turning into from a male to a female (or vice-versa). But, I do know of people who claim to have turned from gay to straight. If being gay is truly caused solely by nature, then there would be no examples of people switching between straight and gay.

    However, the assumption in that argument is that those who claim to be gay-turned-straight actually were gay. With no test for being gay, there is no conclusive way to prove that.

    Personally, if one believes that homosexuality is a sin, then how can one believe that God made a person gay? Since I believe that homosexuality is a sin, I do believe that no one is born gay.

    2. How do you think gays feel about Christians refusing the idea of being born gay?

    I think they feel that Christians are being close-minded and taking the easy road.

    3. How do you feel about the negativity concerning 'Love the sinner, hate the sin."?

    I detest the saying. I don't seem to understand why homosexuality is considered a worse sin than others. I've never heard this saying about something like lying/stealing.

    I love Grace. And I love Gays. And I love everyone. Gays should not be lumped into a separate category of humans. While I do think that homosexuality is a sin, I think that lust is just as equal of a sin. Think of how many people would get kicked out of the church if people were castigated for that sin. Pretty much the whole human race would be unfit.

    "Pretty much the whole human race would be unfit" - That pretty much sums up the core of Christianity. The whole human race is unfit. Grace covers all sin, not just the ones that I commit. It has to cover homosexuality too.

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  2. 1. I really don't think we'll ever have an answer to this question. I would agree that there is a "nature" side and a "nurture" side. However, we do not ultimately choose what we are tempted by, and so no, I don't think a person is born a homosexual.
    2. Christians (esp. in the pulpit) who say things like "You chose this" come across as sounding intolerant and ignorant. As the above comment said, this is an easy answer - and massively ineffective.
    3. "Love the sinner, hate the sin." I do agree that God hates sin - ALL SIN - and he also does love sinners. But when I use that logic and I tell a person, "Hwy, I love you, but I hate what you do," I sound like a blubbering fool. Granted I won't embrace sin or give it an ok, but what's the point of even having such a policy? After all, Jesus let a sinful woman wash his feet when the religious people of the day wouldn't touch her.
    It is an unfortunate thing the way that Christians have responded to the issue of homosexuality, and it is even worse how we have treated homosexuals as a result. I don't find these surveys surprising, which is a problem. No one, regardless of what they struggle with, is a second-class citizen because of it, and we, the Church, should never treat them as such. God forgive us and save us from ourselves!

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  3. "Anonymous", thanks for your input. i appreciate your feedback. i hope you read what i have to say next week for my opinion.

    charles, thanks man. miss ya.

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  4. Hey congrats on taking the plunge and posting this. Really love the pic!

    OK, here's my second chance at telling you my tuppenceworth - greedy I know!

    1. To me, this question only makes sense if asked alongside whether people are born straight.

    2. For me, I don't mind if Christians think I was born gay or not. I have no idea of the answer, and it makes no difference either way.

    3. Yeah, love the sinner hate the sin - hate it as a phrase! Where did it come from, anyway? Some seem to act like it's straight from Jesus' mouth. Or at least as though it's some sort of Biblical truth.

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  5. 1. Are people born gay? We are all born with things that make up who we are. From the fall in Eden, none of us are not perfect. I struggle with things that make up who I am as someone who is straight. What makes a person being born gay different?

    2. How do you think gays feel about Christians refusing the idea of being born gay? I think it's ignorant on Christians part. From what I can see it makes people who are gay feel inhuman and not really 'one of us' almost alienation. An immigrant in a foreign land who has no right to be there and thus should be eliminated from existence. They feel hurt.

    3. How do you feel about the negativity concerning 'Love the sinner, hate the sin."? It is often over used. But I think it has become more specific in the gay community and not a general statement for all humanity. I don't do the things that I should do, and do the things I hate. My struggle as a human can no more be as hard as a struggle as gays and I hate my sin but I should love myself. But should I pass that same to another?
    I think it's more of a standard issue than a moral one. And, not everyone is at the same standard as you place yourself. So loving people despite their flaws just as you want others to love you despite yours is a Grace and Love I know Jesus express by even being a human Himself.

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  6. 1. I suppose I can't say if i think people are born gay or not. Is it more comparable to having a drug addiction or is it as simple as your race color when you're born? I have no clue.
    As far as someone committing suicide, I believe that is from guilt that others have put on them or made them believe that are not good.
    So ultimately, showing love to people is the most important thing to me, whether or not i think someone is born with something or not. I am not called to hate anyone but to love people despite of my agreeing with them or disagreeing with them. Jesus actively loved those who were hated by society and the religious sect throughout the new testament. If it was a tax collector, or a man born blind turned beggar.
    2. Agreeing with those above me, im sure its a feeling of ignorance. Most people who arent christian, gay or straight, think christians are crazy, looney, and ultimately a joke. Christian gays are most likely disappointed and frustrated. I get it...
    3. I wish this werent a statement that was used more pointedly towards gays.
    Matthew 22:37
    " Jesus said, "'Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.' This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: 'Love others as well as you love yourself.' These two commands are pegs; everything in God's Law and the Prophets hangs from them."
    John 13:34
    "Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other."

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  7. Your best work yet Chris. I look forward to your thoughts next week. And, as always, your blog causes me to want to write even more. Perhaps we can collaborate on the topic: Why do we pray? A look at all religions and the reasons why we pray...

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