dear gay friends, love a christian: an open apology & invitation

(This is written to those who are not in the Church and have homosexual practices. This is not written to those who are in the church who struggle with homosexual tendencies.)

(Updated disclaimer: this is post assumes the conservative view on homosexuality. The point of it is to offer an apology for the extreme emphasis and shame heaped on the LGBTQ community and not to discuss the morality of homosexuality. I don’t want you to be disappointed before you read the material. There is too much to unpack in that conversation for an internet conversation, and if you would like to have that, I would much rather do that on a personal level. Thanks so much!)

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Dear gay, lesbian, and bi friends,

I was tempted to not post this, because it seems that anytime I post anything that touches on touchy subjects, there’s either little or no response because hard subjects aren’t easy. (Imagine that.) I suppose I like no response better than harsh words, but I think sometimes people don’t respond because they don’t want their comfort disturbed. It’s better to avoid hard subjects. I even believe that some or most days. But I know it’s so important that they are engaged. So for my own peace of mind, I almost didn’t want to push any buttons today. I am aware that this post will likely get few comments, few likes, and most definitely few praises. (Update: I was wrong.) People often fear speaking about this subject in my community, and I get why.  As I was typing this out, I thought about forgetting about it and just deleting it. I just wanted to be mellow and non-controversial and comfortable today…

But then I thought of you, dear friend. I thought of how uncomfortable you might have felt around people who adhere to Christian ethics (whether they follow Christ or not), and I decided that I could take the awkward silences and the non-responses for you. Because Christ was lavishly uncomfortable for me, I can be uncomfortable for you. And besides, He didn’t call me to be comfortable or uncontroversial. That’s not the obligation I have– mine is to the gospel. The gospel message has been far too long been misrepresented to you, and it’s urgent that the integrity of Christ’s story for you is reclaimed. So for the integrity and sake of the gospel, I am so, so very honored and happy to touch the touchiest of the touchy subjects, one that affects you deeply.

I’m aware that I have a most humble platform. But I figure that any small encouragement, any small voice of kindness will matter, so I will use what I have.

I want this message to be louder than all the others. I want this message to drown out all of the shame and all of the years of hurtful isolation and misunderstanding you might have felt since you’ve begun to understand that your sexual desire doesn’t align with Biblical teachings (whether you adhered to Biblical teaching yourself or not.) I hope that you know this message doesn’t come from me, it’s from that sweet man who hung on a cross for the both of us. We are on level ground here. I hope you know that He is FOR you (in the same way He’s for me), if you only take a hold of Him.

So here it goes:

I am a religiously-conservative Christian. And I’m not going to explain my stance on the morality of homosexuality, because I already know you know it. I know you’re sick of it being thrown in your face. I know you’ve heard (probably far more than you have ever wanted in far too harsh and hurtful terms than you wanted) that the evangelical Christian faith does not support the sexuality that seems is such a concrete and fundamental part of your identity. Frankly, I’m so sick of it being thrown in your face.

Amidst all of the shame-heaping, the dirty words, the bullying, the misunderstandings, the side-eyes, the rude labels you’ve been given, I want to speak life into your life. I want to be a voice in all this mess of what you hear from people who label themselves as Christians. And I know there are other Christians who do too. I want to, with God’s grace, apologize for the mistruths you’ve been both directly and indirectly fed by the Church and tell you what (I believe) Jesus might want you to hear.

This message is one you might often feed to yourselves, and many heterosexual people do the same. The message the evangelical Church at large has fed to you is that your homosexuality is ultimately who you are. It is the truest you. It is the core of your identity. But I’m here to say you are not your sexuality.

Just like I am not a person who is solely attracted to people of the opposite sex,

you are not solely a person who is attracted to people of your same sex.

That’s not who I am. That’s not who you are.

It’s a piece of you, but not your sum.

If your name is Mark, you are Mark.

If your name is Jaquel, you are Jaquel.

If your name is Asher, you are Asher.

You are simply a person. That is who you are.

Now, with that established, I want to do a sincere apology for all the times that you were made to feel by the Church that you were simply bi/gay/lesbian. As if that was your name.  I apologize that your humanity was limited to that.

I apologize that you have been confined to a piece of who you are, as if that’s all there was to you. I’m sorry that the complexity of your story has not been considered. I would be sincerely upset and feel very misunderstood if someone just labeled me by my sin. “The girl who is prideful.” That would be such an injustice to the comprehensive human God created me to be, the story He is weaving, for though that sin might be part of my story, I have so many other parts of who I am. That would be a half-truth, and disallows others to see me as the full person that I am.

It’s such a tactic of the world, to label someone by their sins or faults or differences… and it’s a shame that many people claiming to be a part of the church have used that tactic, subconsciously or consciously. I’m so sorry that you’ve been subjected to that in such a stark manner. And on a personal level, I’m so sorry for any piece I might have played in that.

As I lament over the ways that we have got it wrong, I pray that Church will continue to revaluate the way we view the LGBTQ community. I pray for us to be more eager to be convicted about our own sexual sins (pornography, adultery, objectification, etc.) than we are to point out others’ sexual sins who don’t even claim our God. I pray we can begin to mend the pain and hurt of the past and present and, likely, parts of the future.

I hope that’s healing for you to hear. I hope someone shares this message with you that you need to hear it from. I hope you find Christians who are safe places to struggle with what the Bible has to say about homosexuality, if you so choose that. I promise they are out there. I’ve meet so many of them.  I hope that you might find that Jesus actually just has the very best in mind for us humans. I hope you are utterly surprised and flabbergasted that He loves such a wretched, hypocritical people so richly. (For I know I need that undying, committed love.) I even hope you find the gospel of His love scandalous.  I hope you find Christians that are just as quick to weep and repent of their objectification of the other sex as much they believe you should weep and repent of your homosexuality. I pray you are met with grace. I hope you find that Jesus is not in the business of shaming us, but instead He is in loving us into holiness. I hope you look to the Bible and find a Jesus that is restoring and redeeming our mundane days, our career work, our stewarding, our conversations, our attitudes, our families, our ministries, our music, our everything—even our sexuality to its original and perfect intention— to glorify the Creator.

That’s your design, my friend. That’s your truest identity— a human that was created to receive love from a merciful and restorative God.

He is just, He is sinless, and though He does require all of us, we will be most fulfilled when we offer it to Him.

But when we give our everything—even our sexuality to Him— we might find He is gracious, He is compassionate, and abounding with understanding.

You can’t surprise Him with your sin.

You can’t scare Him away.

You can’t run Him off.

He knows all, and He is still calling out.

And if you reach out for Him, He will reach for you.

And when you touch Him, you might be surprised (as I was) that instead of Him becoming sinful and gross, you will eventually find yourself declared clean and justified, and being restored to truest and most restored version of yourself.

As I write this, my heart aches. I so earnestly desire to see you brought in, loved, restored, and cherished in the Body of Christ. Tears swell up as I think of what a sweet union it would be, to have you worshipping in the pews next to me. To have you for coffee, hear your voices laughing, to be in communion with you, to celebrate your story of redemption. I would be so, so honored. I pray that you find the Church to be a safe place from labels, shame-heaping, and silence. I earnestly pray that you find it, instead, to be a place where you can rest in His righteousness and not your own, laugh until your belly hurts, cry because life is hard and sin is a witch, and feel the love of a Savior and not shame. I so pray that you are astonished that Jesus is greater than all sin, even my own. That astonishment has become my song. I pray we can sing it together one day.

Now I call you friend, but I desire, hope, and pray to call you a brother or a sister one day.

But as for now . . .

Your friend,

Mary Madeline

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FOR THE CHRISTIANS READING THIS POST:

If you are a Christian and reading this, I highly encourage you to share it in some form or fashion. That doesn’t even mean literally sharing this post. That’s an option, but it could also mean sharing gracious and truthful conversation with a friend who is in the LGBTQIA community. Though I’d love the share, I think that’s an even stronger message. Let them know their sin doesn’t make them less human (sin is kind of part of humanness and we should expect it), less worthy of love, less worthy of being listened to. Listen to them. Eat dinner with them. Go on a run. Invite them into your life. That doesn’t mean you agree with homosexual choices, but it means that you know their choice is no different than someone who chooses pornography or gluttony or alcoholism, and you will not treat them any differently. If you and I aren’t jumping at the opportunity to show love to our neighbors, then we probably need to take a hard look in the mirror. We’ve probably forgotten our deep, deep depravity that the Lord has brought us out of by sheer grace. Pray that they know the love of a Savior.

May the voice of affection for our neighbors be louder than the voice of shaming them. The roles have been switched for far too long, and it’s time to change.

I love you, sweet Church, but we can no longer be silent or even quiet about this, especially while the world and mistruth are so loud.

We haven’t had a very gracious conversation about this, and precious, eternal souls are suffering because of it.

FURTHER AND VERY HELPFUL RESOURCES:


 

Is God Anti-Gay? by Sam Allberry  (book)

The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert  by Rosaria Butterfield (book)

Is God Anti-Gay? with Sam Allberry (podcast)

Loving LGBT Neighbors with Glenn Stanton (podcast)

Glossary of terms relating to sexuality and gender (So that you and I can be informed. That’s important.)

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”

– Ephesians 2: 1-9  (emphasis added)

2 thoughts on “dear gay friends, love a christian: an open apology & invitation

  1. I was hopeful that this post operated under the premise that homosexuality wasn’t a sin. I’ve struggled with the widespread shunning of LGBTQ people by Christians & people of various other religious faiths mainly because I feel it is a very unethical way to be, but also because I feel there’s a possibility that one of my children might turn out to be gay. I’m glad that you’re a proponent of receiving LGTBQ people with open arms which hopefully extends to supporting full civil rights to them, but I can’t help but be saddened by equating it with various sins as though it’s a choice & one which is harmful to oneself or others. We all have one life to live & hopefully that life includes a loving relationship with a life partner. Expecting people to pretend to be attracted to the opposite sex when they’re not & forging a false relationship that is at best disingenuous & at worst possibly doomed to fail at the expense of the spouse & possible children or else be celibate for life seems so unfair in a monumental way. I sought the advice of a Methodist minister I deeply respected years ago on this subject & here is the content of his letter to me:

    The biblical argument against homosexuality is essentially the same conservative argument that prevailed against slavery, women, and black people. They quote one or two passages to back them up and think it is all done and dusted. You can take all kinds of antiquated Old Testament practices and make them say whatever you want them to say. How they justify, for example, quoting Leviticus 18:22 (No man is to have sexual relations with another man; God hates that) and ignore Leviticus 20:18 ( If a man has intercourse with a woman during her monthly period, both of them are to be driven out of the community, because they have broken the regulations about ritual uncleanness.) I have no idea. There are dozens of Leviticus laws we ignore completely but conservatives hang onto this one, as it backs up what they think. It is a bigot mentality! They have elaborate fancy explanations that reduce all the other laws to nothing, except for the ones that suit their agenda.

    Once we accepted slavey (it was justified by the bible), now we don’t.
    Once women were second class citizens (still are in some places) but on the whole churches no longer hold that view.
    Once the bible was used to support the oppression of black people, now we no longer hold that view (though some still do).

    It is the same with homosexuality. In time it will be the norm. Though the conservatives will hold on as long as they can, believing they are right, as they always do.

    The Biblical argument that supports homosexuality believes all people are created equal and normal, and that homosexuality is not a choice, but a way a person is. God was pleased with all he created. No one is left out of God’s creation. To condemn homosexuality is to condemn what God has created. My message to a homosexual person is celebrate the goodness of God’s creation, and live a full life expressing who you are. Homosexual people deserve the same love and relationship that heterosexual people enjoy, in relationship with God and with each other.

    The funny thing is why is the church is so bothered with homosexuality considering the complete shambles of heterosexuality? I think there is a message here. We are very good at pointing the problem in the wrong direction. It is much easier to deride homosexuality than face our own brokenness as heterosexuals.

    Hope this helps.

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    1. Paige,
      First of all let me say that I am so, so very sorry that you’ve had to deal with the wide-spread shaming of the LGBTQ community, and I have no idea what it’s like to experience that when you think your child might be included in that. I can’t imagine the pain that that might induce.
      As for the the idea that the Bible could justify slavery or patriarchy, this is simply a misinterpretation of the Biblical material overall. God often put laws in place to protect the people *within* the cultural contexts. For example, God realizes that women were considered second-class citizens because of the material and physical nature of the ancient world, and women were not physically as strong, and were therefore, considered of less value. That is not His heart for women. Therefore, he puts rules and regulations in place to protect them in the context of a culture that is devaluing them. In the same way with slaves, God is not necessarily endorsing slavery of other human beings, but He is putting rules and regulations to dignify slaves until there is a day where there was no more slavery. In the case of homosexuality, there are no justifications or regulations in place to protect homosexual relations or dignify them– He simply states that they were not His design (and in essence, sinful). (I also would like to say that if you believe that the OT is discreditable simply because it is “outdated,” do you believe that objective truth changes over time? I’m just not sure what you mean by “antiquated” when it comes to the moral law of Leviticus (chapters 18-20, which also include loving your neighbor, punishment for child sacrifice, and address the sinfulness of beastiality and incest). If you believe it changes, then, I suppose truth isn’t objective at all, and I’m not sure why you would consider Christianity as the truth or follow it.)

      Allow me the grace to admit that I actually do not like this law as well. In my sinful flesh, I also wish that this simply weren’t true. I wish that God’s rules were different, but they are made clear in Scripture. I just have to trust that His design is not meant to hurt us humans or shame us, but to love us to the very best versions of who we are. I have to trust that the God who would literally DIE for us really does want the best for us, even when I don’t understand it. I can trust that kind of God, even when I don’t understand why He makes particular rules, because I can trust His character. I hope you can see where I’m coming from here.

      (Lastly, I would like to point out that I directly addressed the “shambles of heterosexual relationships” that you mentioned in my post, including adultery, objectification, and pornography. You have a great point there, and it shouldn’t be over looked!)

      Sending this with all the love and grace I can muster! I am thankful for your comment, your life, and your desire to love God and love people. If you are ever anywhere in my area or I am in yours, I would be happy to meet up and discuss all things life and theology!

      Mary Madeline L.

      Like

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