Tag Archives: Minister

Homosexuality and the Gentiles

I’m a pretty lucky guy.  I have lots of people in my corner who love and support me.  In fact, sometimes my corner gets a little crowded.  I don’t say that to brag or to make anyone feel bad about their situation… I’m just saying that I recognize I’m pretty fortunate.

Among the folks who have loved me through my journey are lots of really solid straight people.  Love ’em.  I mean… when you come out, you know the gay world will rally around you, and that’s great.  But when straight folks stand behind and beside you, it takes support to a whole new level.

Joe Hays has been one of these people for me. He’s a pastor who really lives the grace of God – a man whose support meant a lot to me during a tough time.  Joe has guest written here before, and hopefully will again.

Until then, I’d like to share a post from Joe’s blog titled “Homosexuality and the Gentiles.”  It’s a really provocative thought about why homosexuals should be both welcomed and affirmed in the church and by the Christian community at large.  Basically, Joe says that if the first Christians (who still considered themselves a Jewish sect) didn’t require circumcision from the Gentiles to be welcomed and affirmed by the church, then why should the modern church require heterosexuality as a ticket in?

Ok… he says it better than that, so click here and read the post for yourself….

1 Comment

Filed under Bible, Church, Encouragement, Ministers, Opinions, Supporters & Allies

Andy Stanley, where do you stand?

Busy day.  Not much time to comment… but check out this story about “an illustration by North Point Senior Pastor Andy Stanley in his April 15 sermon that has been raising questions on where the megachurch pastor stands on homosexuality…

Here’s a taste of the article from the Christianity Today article titled “Andy Stanley Sermon Illustration on Homosexuality Prompts Backlash.”

Stanley’s message was from the book of John, and he spoke about how messy and seemingly inconsistent Jesus’ love was. “At times [Jesus] seems to be forgiving, and at other times he seems to be holding everybody accountable,” Stanley said in the sermon. “At times he points out sin and at times it’s like he ignores sin altogether.”

Click here to read the full story.

2 Comments

Filed under Conversation, Ministers, News, Opinions

Gay Christians Have A Calling

I both love it and hate it when I read someone else’s words and think, “*sigh*… I wish I had written that.”

The blog post I just read filled me with both jealousy and delight.  Delight because the writer said what I feel, and jealously because… the writer said what I feel.

As I work (with increasing excitement) through my own issues of “calling,” this post was exactly what I needed this morning.  I think we all need to be reminded that as LGBT Christians we have a responsibility – a calling – to minister to the wounded.  Just because we’ve been hurt doesn’t mean we shouldn’t also be healers.  After all, who better than us to spread the good news of a Savior who said, “blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”

For ours is the Kingdom of Heaven, too…

All too often, we are wounded. We are hurting. Quite frankly, some of us have been so heavily wounded by the Church that we’re barely functioning. The bitterness, anger, resentment, and dejection that we feel toward other Christians is enough to poison our spirit…

That doesn’t mean we have to stay in sour relationships. It doesn’t mean we have to poison our spirit by sitting under ministries that pour bile out with every sermon.

Find the safe places. Find a place to heal. To be Christian. Where there is no expectation of “praying the gay away.” Where we can be whole. Where we can be nurtured and to be fully healed…. not so that we can rest, but so that we can carry the torch of the living risen Lord and Savior to those who truly, desperately need to know that someone genuinely cares.

We have a responsibility — if we are Christian, to BE Christian. Live with integrity. Form healthy relationships, shun promiscuity, and truly follow Christ.

We who have been wounded in the past have the calling — a responsibility even — to find those who have also been wounded and minister healing. We’ll have to continue to dodge those jagged, venomous arrows from both sides — a no man’s land where countless people are only hoping to survive.

We must find the wounded and care for them.

We must find the bullied and help them to stand firm and be proud of who they are.

We must find the tormented and help them find healing.

We must find those in despair and help them find hope.

Read David Shelton’s full blog here.

4 Comments

Filed under Church, Devotions, Encouragement, Partners, Supporters & Allies, Uncategorized

Guilty By Association: Why Christians Stay in the Gay Closet?

According to the Bible, “they” will know we are Christians by our love.

According to research conducted by The Barna Group, however, most “outsiders” under 30 know we are Christians not by our love, but by our politics, judgmental language, and anti-homosexuality.

*sigh*

I spend a lot of time thinking about how to help LGBT folks understand that their sexuality doesn’t separate them from God.  I get frustrated when I hear stories about Christians who somehow think that using hateful, judgmental, hell-centered language effectively communicates the grace of God.

Unfortunately, too many trusted pastors, authors, speakers, and politicians preach that in order to be for Christ you must be against [fill in the blank].  You obviously know that this blank is often filled not only with issues (abortion, homosexuality, etc.), but also with the people these issues represent… homosexuals, pro-choicers, democrats, liberals, etc.  I think it’s safe to say that many of the folks reading this blog have experienced the hurt that comes from being shoved into the “against” column.

I could rant endlessly about how un-Biblical it is to imply that Christianity requires its followers to be against people.  The New Testament paints Jesus as decidedly PRO-people.  The only groups he ever came close to being against were judgmental religious insiders.  Regardless…

What if there’s another side to this story? 

I’m currently reading “unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity… And Why It Matters.”  In it, David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons explain what they learned from interviews with 867 people about their perceptions of Christianity. In the chapter dealing with non-Christian folks’ perception that Christianity is anti-homosexual, they say:

… a young Christian friend we interviewed said she has to be discreet about her attempts to minister to some gay people she has met at work.  ‘If my church friends hear me talk sympathetically about gays, they get bent out of shape about it…’

I’ve been chewing on this idea for several weeks.  I hadn’t really considered the frustration, confusion, and grief of conservative Christians who are led to believe that in order to fully love Jesus, they must disapprove of their gay friends, coworkers, children, uncles, and sisters.  I know how hard it is for a Christian homosexual to come out as gay… but in my self-pity/absorption, I hadn’t really considered how difficult it must be for a conservative “straight” Christian to “come out” as one of our allies.  By showing their loyalty, understanding, and support for a gay friend/family member, many straight Christians apparently have their faith questioned… just as we do when we “come out.”

I’m surprised that I’m surprised. When my friend (and former pastor) Joe contributed this blog entry a few weeks ago, he emailed me to say:

So I posted this link on my facebook page. I’m guessing that more than 90% of my fb friends are conservative and will really react to this. Most don’t know that I stand where I stand, so it should be interesting. It’s time I say what I believe and stand by it…

His Facebook post said, “many of you will un-friend me. many of you will chastise me. many of you will mock me. however, it’s time i come out of the closet.”

I don’t know whether Joe lost friends because of the blog post… but his awareness of the potential fallout speaks volumes.  I guess “coming out” has consequences for everyone.

What do you think?  Does a fear of becoming “guilty by association” discourage our Christian parents, friends, and fellow believers from doing the homework necessary to understand how God and gay can fit together?

PS.  If you’d like to read reflections by a few of our straight allies about why they support our community, check out The Allies Project – a new initiative that tells the stories of the straight folks who have made our journey a little easier!

10 Comments

Filed under Bible, Church, Conversation, Encouragement, Ministers, Partners, Research, Stories, Supporters & Allies

Gay Christians: We’re Not Just In the Pews…

…some of us are in the pulpit, too.

The Huffington Post just published a pretty nifty list of “15 Inspiring LGBT Religious Leaders.

Reflecting and shaping the culture in which it is embedded, religion has historically been hostile to LGBT-identified people and communities. However, over the last three decades more denominations, congregations and individuals have come out in support of honoring the full humanity of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered people. Today, hundreds, if not thousands, of religious communities are truly places of celebration, healing and hope for all people.

This initial list of 15 ground breaking individuals is just a sampling of the many LGBT religious leaders who have reclaimed religious traditions and communities.

The list includes Christians, Muslims, Jews, and spiritualists from across the globe.

Of course, not all of us can be great faith leaders… but being a dedicated follower is as important as being a passionate leader.  I pray that the doubts, fears, and injustice often experienced by our community don’t keep us from being committed people of faith.

Leave a comment

Filed under Church, Encouragement, Ministers, Partners, Role Models, Supporters & Allies

“I listened”: A Straight Pastor Talks About Loving the Gay Community

Like thousands of other southern gay guys, shortly after I “came out” I moved to New York City.  But even though I ran away from home, I didn’t run away from my faith.

In Brooklyn I found Christ’s Church for Brooklyn, a small community that opened every worship service by saying:

Welcome to all who have no church home, need strength, want to follow Christ, have doubts, or do not believe. Welcome to new visitors and to old friends. Welcome to grandparents, to mothers, fathers, to couples and to single people. Welcome to people of all colors, cultures, economies, abilities, and sexual orientations, to old and young, to believers and questioners – and welcome to questioning believers.

I had found a new home.

Joe, the pastor of our island of misfit toys, became a source of spiritual sanity for me.  He patiently walked with me though several difficult transitions: from being in the closet to being out of the closet… from having a career as a minister to floundering through under-employment… from enjoying a secure southern home to navigating the pressures of life in New York City.

Although our congregation at Christ’s Church for Brooklyn was friendly to boys with boyfriends, our denomination was not — a dynamic that must have been quite difficult for Joe.

Below are a few of Joe’s reflections about how he came to understand and believe that God is for gay people, too.

I listened.

– Joe H.

When my more conservative friends ask me how I got to where I am with homosexuality; when they grill me on How in the world can you support the rights and lifestyles of homosexuals? Why is it that you help them realize that God loves them the way they are? Why do you tell them that to be fully human they must, THEY HAVE TO, embrace their created selves so that they can fully glorify God? I simply reply with, “I listened.”

I started listening while at seminary preparing to be a minister. A dear friend of mine who I knew while we both studied ministry at a conservative Christian college enrolled at the seminary where I was doing graduate work. One day at lunch, my friend sat me down and said, “Joe, I’m gay.” This was news to me but I tried to act cool and collected. So I responded with, “tell me your story.” He graciously did so. I listened and as I did, I’m sure my friend waited for a response but I gave none. I just listened.

His story was intense. I felt for him, for the secret life he lived since he was a boy coming of age but I was confused. I was confused and conflicted. So I didn’t deal with it. I stored his story in the back of my mind not thinking that I would ever need to call upon it again. After all, I was trying to make my way as a minister in the conservative denomination in which I grew up. I figured I wasn’t going to be meeting very many gay men or gay women at the churches that I would serve.

A few years passed and my family moved to New York City. We planted a church and it became evident rather quickly that my friend from college/seminary had a story that many shared. Bill, a guy in our church plant, came to me with his struggle with homosexuality. My response was the same with Bill as it was with my friend from seminary, “tell me your story.” As Bill shared his story, he cried. His pain, the hurt he experienced was excruciating. Once again, I just listened.

This time I couldn’t ignore the story. I wanted to deal with my confusion. I went home and started reading. I read just about everything I could get my hands on. I started with the Bible and found the six verses that explicitly mention homosexuality. It didn’t take long to realize that the verses were often misused and misunderstood. I read pieces of literature from people against homosexuality and from people for homosexuality. I read and read and read. And I prayed. A lot.

I met up with Bill again and listened some more. As he sat in front of me, he told me how hard it was for him to live as a heterosexual. He just ended yet another relationship with a girl. But Bill was convinced that he had to do this; that he had to live as a straight man. As he sat there falling quickly into a state of depression, it hit me: to fully glorify God, to give yourself fully to God, to serve God fully, you need to embrace your orientation and move on with life.

He was stuck and he didn’t have to be. I said these words to him and as I did, as they came out of my mouth, I felt free. I felt liberated. And if I felt free and liberated, I’m guessing my friend felt even more of it. I ended up saying these words to many others and witnessed time and again as people started living life to the fullest.

As I said those words to my friend, I felt a new call in my life. The church in Brooklyn became a safe place for all people to share their stories. It became a place where gay and straight people could worship without fear of retribution or scorn. It became a place where all could fully glorify God, where all could fully serve God.

Of course, I was doing this while still serving in a denomination that condemns homosexuality so you can imagine how the rest of the story goes for me. I’m no longer serving as pastor but I still look for people who might be willing to hear the words: you must embrace your created self so that you can fully glorify God.

7 Comments

Filed under Church, Conversation, Encouragement, Ministers, Opinions, Partners, Stories, Supporters & Allies

Hurt by church? Get a Str8 Apology.

Kathy Baldock – a straight woman – has attended the past three San Franscico Pride festivals wearing a homemade t-shirt that reads “Hurt By Church?  Get a Str8 Apology Here.”

I had the pleasure of talking with Kathy earlier this week… hearing her passion… and learning about how she’s walking alongside LGBT folks.  When I hung up the phone, I felt like I had been to church (in that “God, that was sooooo good for my soul” way, not the “sweet lord, that was the most boring hour of my life” way).

Kathy’s good people.

You need, Need, NEED to take 3.31 minutes to watch this video about Kathy’s experiences offering “straight apologies” to LGBT men and women for damage done to them by the church.  Watch this video and hear Kathy’s response to a 70-something year old man who said:

I was kicked out of churches when I was young and I loved God and I completely lost all that… I’ve been waiting for about 60 years for someone to just they they’re sorry — that God never meant that.  Would you just say you’re sorry?

Kathy’s doing incredible work.  Learn more about Kathy Baldock and Canyonwalker Connections here.

4 Comments

Filed under Church, Conversation, Encouragement, Ministers, Partners

Summer Camp for LGBT Christian Kids

I know it’s a little early (or a little late) for my regular Tuesday update, but…

I just read a fantastic article about Rev. Patty Fox, a minister who wanted the LGBT youth at her church to have a summer camp experience designed specifically for them.  Next week she’ll take a group of queer kids into the woods for four days of summer camp fun…

The church’s handful of gay teens wanted to have a summer camp of their own where they could identify with each other and help foster spirituality, Fox said.

“It was the first time I’d ever seen a Christian-based camp program geared to gay and lesbian teens,” the pastor said. “They asked, ‘Why can’t we do this?’ I decided there was not reason not to.”

As someone who’s spent literally thousands of hours playing, speaking, swimming, hiking, laughing, teaching, and worshiping with kids at camp, this makes me incredibly happy.

Pray for Patty and her kids as they get ready for camp next week…

8 Comments

Filed under Church, Encouragement, Ministers, Partners, Role Models

“I Preached Against Homosexuality, But I Was Wrong”

When you’re a gay Christian who has struggled… and studied… and worked to reconcile what he feels with what he believes and you see a link titled I Preached Against Homosexuality, But I Was Wrong… you click it.  (I did.  You should, too.)

After all, isn’t that short sentence – “I was wrong” – one of the biggest hurdles gay people of faith have to jump over?

  • I believed God was ashamed of me… but I was wrong.
  • I believed scripture condemned me… but I was wrong.
  • I believed hiding was my only option… but I was wrong.

(As you know, it takes a lot of faith to believe something new.  It takes a lot of courage to act on those beliefs – to allow yourself to become something different than you were before.)

And isn’t that same sentence – “I was wrong” – an equally high hurdle for many straight preachers and teachers as they redefine their views of how God feels about homosexuals?

  • I preached what I thought was truth… but I was wrong.
  • I believed I was building the church… but I was wrong.
  • I thought I understood so many things… but I was wrong.

(It also takes a lot of faith for these brothers and sisters to believe something new.  It takes a lot of courage for them to act on those beliefs – to allow themselves to become something different than they were before.)

Isn’t “I was wrong” the message of conversion our churches preach every week? (You can be something different than you were before.)  Isn’t this the faith our faith requires?  (Trust me, God says, I love you with an everlasting love.)  Isn’t this the discipleship our ministers demand? (Like a student who moves from addition to algebra, you should always be growing into new ideas.)

Murray Richmond was a Presbyterian minister who preached against homosexuality… until he changed his mind.  This article is the story of his conversion from condemning the gay community to… well, discipleship.

If you’re a Christian and you’re conflicted because you’re attracted to people with genitals like yours, this article is a must read.  “I was wrong” will give you hope.

If you’re a Christian and you’re trying to decide how to relate to gay people, this article is a must read.  “I was wrong” will give you perspective.

If you’re gay and you’re curious (or cynical or skeptical) about Christians and the ridiculous (or hurtful or hateful) things they sometimes say, this article is a must read.  “I was wrong” may help restore your faith.

Click here to read Murray Richmond’s article “I Preached Against Homosexuality, But I Was Wrong” here.

1 Comment

Filed under Encouragement, Ministers, Role Models, Supporters & Allies