A Christian Response to Homosexuality

So like many of my peers, I’ve been shocked by the recent explosion of Harding University in the news. Anytime the topic of how Jesus followers treat homosexuals is a public conversation, I cringe. I love my Alma Mater and because I’m not privileged to know the conversations going on behind the scenes. I’m trusting that they are asking questions about the students who are there who don’t fit into the easy categories that are being created.

The truth is that this could happen at any Christian university in the country. It just happened to occur in Searcy.

I also need to say up front, that I affirm the orthodox position on what the Scriptures say on homosexuality. Because I know quite a few people who deal with this I wish I knew another way to interpret this, but I don’t. But I don’t think the way we’ve historically responded is Biblical either.

I wanted to ask a friend with a closer perspective on this to weigh in. I hoped that he could give us a creative third way to talk about what is going on.  A couple of ground rules for comments on this post:

1. It’s okay to disagree with me, or what my friend wrote, but if you attack him personally I will not allow your comment to be posted.

2. Remember where this post is coming from. It’s not a slam on Harding University, or an invitation to do so. This is applicable to all the places that Christian gather. I’ve posted this because I know there are a lot of people who are out there who wrestle with their sexuality…and the one thing I took away from this is that there are a lot of students who don’t feel like they can talk about it. That’s got to stop. We’ve got to make our churches and religious institutions places where people can share their struggles safely and without fear of being rejected. If the church honestly believes that our sexuality isn’t our identity, than that should come out with our behavior. From what I heard my friend say, this isn’t just something for an administration to fix. This is something that happens on the student level just as much, if not more.

3. The person writing this is doing so from a good place. They aren’t bitter, God is healing their wounds, and he has great community that he is able to be honest and open with. You’d like him if you knew him, maybe you already do.

So with all that said, meet my friend:

Being gay is not easy.  Being gay at Harding is hell.  I don’t think it’s Harding’s intention that anyone on their campus feel miserable or disenfranchised.  Being dedicated to the teachings of Jesus and the New Testament, it’s just long been accepted that homosexuality is wrong.  For the longest time, the church at large and even the world were primarily in agreement.  Homosexuality was a closed case – sinful, forbidden, wrong.  However, from time immemorial homosexuality has existed and I dare say that since Harding University has been in existence that there have been homosexuals (admittedly primarily closeted ones until now) in attendance and likely as supporters, donors, faculty, and staff.

My story could have fit right in with some of the ones included in the HUQP zine, somewhere between Every Young Man’s Battle and Swings for a Cure.  Being gay at Harding was one of the worst experiences of my life.  I was in the proverbial closet almost the entire time, at least I never told anyone until just before graduation when I told my two best friends.  I waited to the end to tell my two best friends because I feared that even these beloved friends might not accept me.  Suffice it to say that if I worried that the two best friends of my life might not accept me, that I was convinced that the student body and the faculty, staff, and school leadership would not.  My friends handled the news with surprising grace, though neither of them advocated for me to tell anyone else.   As straights they both feared what coming out at Harding would look like for me.  It might have been somewhat that they didn’t want their friends to know that they had a gay friend, but more than that I think they both feared what the response would be.  

These were unchartered waters and the best advice they had was that they’d love and support me, but for me to keep a lid on it.

I heard rumors about myself, received awkward glances from peers frequently, was picked on by straight guys who primarily thought they were being good-natured about it, and felt my skin turn red when I heard the issue of homosexuality discussed in Bible classes and in peer discussions.

I wanted so desperately to fit in, to be normal, to be straight.  There had been no more consistent prayer in my whole life than for God to heal or deliver me from homosexuality.  I was scared to death in junior high and high school, having had a few very discrete same-sex experiences.  I vowed that I would get healed at Harding.  I had prayed, no, I had BEGGED God to make me straight.  I bargained with him.  I did good works for him.  I gave up things for him.  I went to Harding’s counseling center to two very different counselors with two very different approaches.

One counselor, whom I believe was as sincere as he knew how to be, scared me so horribly that I feared that I’d be kicked out of school and that my parents would be notified.  I don’t think that he realized how harsh his words seemed to me.  I don’t want to think that a Christian could knowingly tell a frightened college kid the things this man told me.  My depression worsened and I switched counselors.  My new counselor allowed me to talk about my sexuality, but focused on my depression and offered me hope and encouragement and ensured me that she would take no action to inform anyone of my behaviors – sexual or otherwise.  She didn’t make me straight, but she shared my burden.  To this day I thank God for her wisdom and for her loving-kindness.

Having heard about HUQP and Harding’s response to the zine has caused some old memories and feelings to resurface.

I cannot help but empathize with the contributors of HUQP.  I cannot imagine how their hurts at the hands of what I assume have been well-intentioned people in their lives.  I also cannot help but empathize with Harding University’s precarious position.  Right or wrong, for good or ill, it’s their theology.  It’s rooted in their sincere belief of what the bible requires of them.

No student deserves to be silenced or bullied or threatened or made to feel inferior in anyway.  I think this would be accepted by both Harding and by the HUQP contributors and supporters.  Furthermore, I think both would agree that we are called to not only love God, but love others as well.  This is central and pivotal to the way of Christ.  For the sake of those who identify as homosexual, I hope that meaningful dialogue can occur.  I hope that our churches and universities can realize that this is not an issue that is going away.

We live in a day and age where the church is being asked to address these issues meaningfully.  Had the Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve sermons actually worked there would be no need for this dialogue.  However, those sermons were good entertainment and clever words that were as meaningless as they were silly.  A little better is love the sinner, hate the sin, but this still misses the point.

When I was in college, what I needed was to be loved and accepted for who I was regardless of my sexual preference.  I think every Harding student and every child of God could say the same.  Maybe it’s cliché, but consider this statement nonetheless: No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.

If the kneejerk reaction of our religious institutions is to silence or censor homosexual students or to indoctrinate them with their theology, then it’s highly doubtful that the students will be receptive.  What the homosexual students need even more than being accepted is to be heard and respected.  I am not asking Harding University to change their theology, but I would lovingly encourage my alma mater (students and administration) and the church to change their approach.

Our religious universities and members of the Churches of Christ have a tremendous opportunity before them.  The issue of homosexuality is not a new one and in our society it is not one that is going to be kept hushed any longer.  What an incredible opportunity for Christians to reach out to their own and to those in the world who are homosexuals.  How awesome it would be if Christians could look to their homosexual friends, family, and neighbors and honestly admit that while they do not understand the issue in light of their biblical convictions that they know for certain that they are called to love their neighbor regardless of differences.

What a difference it would make to the homosexual student to realize that even if they are not yet understood by their peers, their professors, or the University leadership that they are on the most loving campus in the world.  What is needed is for the homosexual student to be able to represent themselves completely without fear of expulsion, rejection or repercussion.

I believe that Harding’s theology can see fit to openly and enthusiastically love and accept homosexuals even while disapproving of homosexual behavior.

Consider for a moment the differences between sex and love, then look at this situation from the perspective that God asks us to look at all situations – through love.

Sexuality is not the theme of the New Testament – love is. Despite religious, cultural, and political differences, surely we can all agree that love is the answer. If the leadership in our religious institutions rely on religion and conservativism to defend themselves, they lose. If gay students focus upon their sexuality, they lose.

But regardless of how either group responds, love will win.

About jonathanstorment

My family and I love reading, traveling, daddy/daughter dates, playing hide and seek, good music, and long meals with friends. We still miss LOST, and all four of us have Superman uniforms. We are passionate about bringing Heaven to Earth and want to follow Jesus while repainting discipleship for those around us. We are followers of Jesus and I preach at the Highland Church of Christ. We participate in something called A Restoration Movement, and we've come to realize that might be larger than we thought.

36 thoughts on “A Christian Response to Homosexuality

  1. Thank you for posting this. This is the spirit with which this issue, these people God made and loved, need to be heard. We need to stop talking about people with same sex attraction and talk to and with them. Thank you both.

    Dan

  2. A very much needed perspective. Thank you – and please thank your good friend – for the candor and wisdom of sharing it.

  3. I’ve always thought that the way we label this in our language has been unhelpful to dialogue between the two parties discussed here (e.g. “mainstream Churches/Christians/Christian Colleges” and “Homosexuals”). Like the writer said, I don’t believe that one’s sexual orientation is their primary identifying mark. I don’t go around calling myself a heterosexual. But it’s a difficult subject, and we’re kind of clumsy with it, and so we stumble around with the label “homosexual.” When maybe someone wants to seek a celibate lifestyle but still struggles with homosexual compulsions. Is that person a “homosexual” even if they avoid the practice? Are they the same as the group of “homosexuals” that are out there, proud, and antagonistic to people of faith? Language, or at least our use of it, seems to fail us here.

    If a Part 2 happens on this blog, I’d be interested to hear how his perspective has developed over the years after having left Harding. What does he believe about his sexual orientation today? In terms of actively engaging in homosexual behavior, and if he’s able to square that with his conscience and/or God. And — VERY curious — does he still want to be rid of his homosexual desire today in the same way he did when he was in college? Does he believe it’s even possible? Or has he given up hope in that idea? If so (or even if not), what does he think of those who claim healing (or, “healing”) from their former same-sex desires?

    Glad he found you as a friend. He chose well. And thanks to him for expressing himself here. The lack of bitterness comes through well, and I respect him for that!

  4. Thank you Jonathan for posting this, and thank you to your friend for providing his insight.

    I took a look at HUQP last week and listened to Dr. Burks’ statement. I understand why they blocked the site. The articles I read described in graphic detail sexual experiences. It wouldn’t matter if they were homosexual or heterosexual, Harding was going to block the site on campus. Burks said that the administration was not trying to control the thinking of the students, conceding that anyone with a smartphone can easily access HUQP.

    I also read a response from a current gay student at Harding. He disagreed with HUQP. He says that he is openly gay at Harding. Apparently Harding has no policy against being gay, but obviously has a policy on sexual activity (heterosexual and homosexual).

    I can identify with a lot of things your friend wrote. I am not gay, nor have I ever struggled with it. I have, however, had my own struggles, begging God to take them away. I have made deals with God, prayed more, read my Bible more, made sacrifices, etc., only to witness a temporary difference.

    American Christianity has made villains out of sinners. The American church has taught us to only confess our sins when there is no other option, typically after everyone has already learned of our sin. When was the last time you witnessed someone going forward on Sunday and confess to struggling with lust? I never have, yet I don’t know of a guy who doesn’t or at least hasn’t. And then when we learn that one of our church members has had an affair, we wonder, “How could this have happened?”

    The church needs to do a better job of allowing open discussion/confession of our struggles, whether it is homosexuality, lust, gambling, spending/debt, addiction, lying, etc. If the church really allowed Christians to live out 1 John 1.5-10, there would be a lot less hurting and a lot more healing.

  5. love. love. love.
    the truth and the approach always have to be love.
    the tough part here is to figure out what love looks like in this context.

    thank you jonathan for posting this
    thank you nameless friend for sharing… your pain is shared by more than you may ever know. may God truly be a God of comfort and healing for all of his precious children.

  6. Jonathan-

    The only thing I disagree with here is that you don’t feel there’s any other way to read the bible other than homosexuality being sinful. This is a complex issue… And I find it frustrating that there are so many who view the bibles word on it as open and shut, when it is anything but.

    The zine goes through all the passages and discusses them and how many that contributed interpret them. It doesn’t go so far as to mention the inherit patriarchy in the prohibitions of homosexual acts. To be blunt, the issue could very well be the “spilling of seed” and the ancient understanding that the man implanted a baby into the woman.

    With regards to new testament, the Greek word in Corinthians is not a solid translation. It’s been unclear for ages exactly what the word means, but it’s been conveniently used to include all that those in power find “disgusting”.

    The Romans passage (the only passage in the bible that discusses lesbianism, see prior discussion of patriarchy) is the toughest, but it seems clear to me that Paul though that straight people were doing things that were “unnatural”. If, as it appears, being gay isn’t a choice that a straight person makes, rather an orientation determined mostly genetically, that passage might need to be revisited.

    In short – for some of us (gay and straight) this is akin to the church using the bible to enslave and oppresss minorities, it is the church using the bible to kill anabaptists, it is the church using the bible to support segregation, to colonize people, to beat wives, etc. We’ve used the bible in the past for an awful lot of awful stuff. And I’m sure I will continue to participate in doing the same things to different groups of people… I just pray that god spirit pushes us to look past a broken understanding of sin, that causes us to sin by oppressing and alienating brothers and sisters based on an unredemptive readingnof the text. There is progressive revelation to us… The church should be on the leading edge of accepting the lepers, women, and slaves of our day.

    1. I agree with you, Justin. Also, no homosexual is going to want to “be loved” by a Christian who blatantly condemns their lifestyle. You can talk about love all you want, but it ends up being the same love that, say, the Pharisees had for lepers. There can be no dialogue in this relationship. We need to at least give merit to the argument that homosexuality is not a sin, even if we may not personally choose that interpretation ourselves. It is easy for Harding, or anyone else for that matter, to sit back and condemn homosexuality because it is easy to do so. It is easy to look at the bible and conclude so if one has never been in those shoes. But the homosexual raised in a Christian home must wrestle with the question of whether it is wrong throughout his life. They know so much more about it than others. I am blessed, if I may say so, that my life has been this easy and I have not had to face those questions for myself. But I will not answer them for somebody else. Empathy is something that comes with love, and telling somebody Also, Michael Parks, you do go around calling yourself a heterosexual. It is an enormous part of who you are. If you are married, everywhere you go you will be telling the world you are a heterosexual. I hate when people say they are annoyed at homosexuals who flaunt their homosexuality. That is like a racist saying they hate when black people show their skin.

      1. *correction: line 13 after “somebody” insert: “that ‘you are wrong no matter how you interpret scripture, because I have all the answers and am an authority on the issue’ is the mistake that Christians have been making for 2000 years. It is why we have become a less a body of believers and more a ravenous brood of warring factions that nobody wants to be a part of.

      2. @Chester, Actually, it will not always be a love like the Pharisees had for lepers. My best friend is gay. We grew up together, and have been through many ups and downs. He knows I believe it is wrong. However, I am there for him no matter what, even when it comes to issues pertaining to his relationship. He has been hurt, happy, angry, etc., and he calls me, unloads about what is going on, the whole nine yards because I will listen. I give him honest feedback. My children know all about him and who he is attracted to. My wife loves and accepts him.

        We have friends that believe differently on issues that I believe contradict the Sermon on the Mount. I can love them, fellowship them, etc. I can do this with my friend, too, even though he is gay. My friend does not pressure me about my views because he knows that my views do not stop me from loving him 100%. Love does not mean I have to agree with everything a person does or “is”.

        Jonathon, thank you and your friend for posting this.

        1. I graduated from Harding in 2004. I did not always love the decisions of the administration, but I loved my teachers, my friends, and Harding. I agree with James Jones’ perspective. Every person has to walk their own walk. Everyone has unique struggles with sin in their life. All different avenues of sin. And we are each responsible for studying and interpreting scripture diligently… and to adhere to our conscience. As scripture says, you must “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:11-13). God’s grace is sufficient for all, but our God of grace is also a God of justice. We are responsible for seeking God and for our own interpretation of scripture. And we will suffer the consequences for our actions both in this life and in the life to come. This is not so different from Paul when he says some Christians don’t feel “right” eating pork but others do (1 Corinthians 8). In this example, neither is right or wrong in their conviction—Paul’s point is to love and respect your brother’s/sister’s conscience as to not hurt or offend. One of my favorite verses is “Everything is permissible for me, but I will not be mastered by anything” (1 Corinthians 6:12). My interpretation of this verse is as follows: God’s grace in Christ’s death has freed us of any law except the law that we love God and one another. Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” And it’s said again in John 13:34-35, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” In actuality, these are the ONLY two commandments given in the new testament because they encompass all the other commandments. Now getting to the last part of before mentioned verse (1 Corinthians 6:12), “Everything is permissible for me, but I will not be mastered by anything”. As Christians, our sins are forgiven, and we are free from the torment of our imperfections. We no longer have to question our salvation—”It is finished” (John 19:30). Strong emphasis—God/Christ’s part in our salvation is finished. He has done his part to free us, to make “all things permissible” for us. But, and it’s a big “BUT”, our part is not yet finished because we are still alive and making choices daily that effect our being. Christ has chosen to save us and has already done his part to make that possible, but Satan still wants for us to fail, and we can fail if we fail within ourselves. Two natures are at war within each of us—Good and Evil, Love and Hate, God and Satan. Sin cannot exist where love exists, and love cannot exist where sin exists. Until the day we die, we will each be fighting the battle within ourselves, working out our own salvation (Philippians 2:11-13). Let’s fight the battle with diligence and sincerity—with all our heart and soul… since that is what is at stake, after all, our very souls. “I will not be mastered by anything”, I will not be mastered by sin and Satan. And I do not want my brothers and sisters in Christ to be defeated either. Let’s be committed to challenging each other in our faith, to seeking and knowing what love is and who God is. But first and most importantly, let us love and support one another in this journey.

          1. Upon reading the above post, my sister was very bothered by my statement, “Sin cannot exist where love exists, and love cannot exist where sin exists.” She said that it was unclear, and might be misconstrued. So I would like to clarify. I should have said, “Complete sin cannot exist where love exists, and complete love cannot exist where sin exists.” A glass cannot be both empty and full at the same time. It is either mostly full or mostly empty or somewhere in the middle. When Goodness/Love/God is dominant in our lives there is little room for Evil/Hate/Satan, and vice versa. As humans, we are fallible so we will never obtain perfect goodness and love. That’s why we need the grace of God and why Christ came to die to forgive our sins. “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:16-18) For most people, fear is their initial reason for becoming a Christian. This is not a bad motivation (it’s just not the best motivation)… but once you are saved and clothed in Christ, the only motivation left to serve Christ is love, not fear. This is the “perfect love” that John is referring to. We have a taste of that love as Christians (because we are made “perfect” in Christ), but our cup will never be 100% full in this life because we will never obtain perfection until we are fully united with God in heaven. At least this is my understanding of it based upon scripture. Here is one such scripture: “The world was not worthy of them… These (the prophets) were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” Hebrews 11:39-40

  7. One of the underlying questions to this topic is “Are people BORN homosexual?” The answer determines your reaction as a believer in Christ. If you believe that people are NOT born homosexual, then homosexuality is in the same class as adultery, lying, gossip, addiction, etc. All of those are deeds that a person can stop doing if they choose (albeit some are harder to stop, but you get the idea.)

    If people are born homosexual, how can you suddenly expect them to not be? Now you’re talking about something in your DNA. You can’t ask a tall person to be short, nor can you ask a brunette to be blond (without Paul Mitchell.) If this is the case (I don’t know if it is or isn’t – I’m not that smart!), what does God call the person to do?

    1. @Ben, I believe it is possible that a person is born this way. It is not how God originally made mankind. Since the fall, humanity has been different. We are not the same as we were when Adam and Eve were created. Folks across the board have to battle with difficulties due to genetics all the time. It is not easy. It stinks to be born with struggles that open doors to matters that are deemed sinful. Until the restoration of all things (Matt. 19:28), it will continue to be a battle. Love, mercy, and support is needed.

    2. You should know that they have done studies on the brains of serial killers and mass murderers… their brains indicate that they have physical characteristics that cause them to be inclined to murder. Does this justify their actions? Because they were “born” this way? Surely not! All sins are equal, and God’s mercy covers all sin. But we are still responsible for working out our own salvation in that we determine whether we will let Good or Evil, Love or Sin, God or Satan rules our hearts and our lives.

    3. “If people are born homosexual, how can you suddenly expect them to not be?”

      You don’t, but they like those given to excessive sin in any category, Jesus can be their answer to withstand the subtle, at times an overwhelming desire to again go to a sinful area in our lives with which we struggle constantly. We ALL, everyone of us is ‘born’ with a personal area of constant struggle. We all have been offered liberty from them in Jesus. No, it isn’t an easy struggle, but I firmly believe struggle we must in Him. Only Jesus and the Holy Spirit have the courage, strength and knowledge how to wage this battle. We really should consider begging their help and wisdom to fight these and other spiritual battles that are ongoing in OUR spirits.

      Are we “born” with these attractions? Only so far as we are all born with attraction to sin, thanks to Adam.

  8. I am pretty sure a theme goes through the entire Bible…I desire mercy, not sacrifice. May God be as graceful to all as He has been to me, and may I be the same. Thank you both for the post.

  9. I am pretty sure a theme goes through the entire Bible…I desire mercy, not sacrifice. May God be as graceful to all as He has been to me, and may I be the same. Thank you both for the post.

  10. Thankyou for making the dialogue possible. I appreciate the discussion. People are very good at speaking on behalf of others (how often do you hear a Republican telling you what the Democrats want to do and vice versa) but not so good at listening. I appreciate your friend giving us the opportunity to listen.

  11. I was a gay student at Harding. While I deeply feel the pain of the students on many levels, there are other ways of expressing their problems. Allow me to introduce another way of looking at this subject. By the way I thought I might also throw out there, that there are many GLBT who are Christian. Please give this link a thorough reading.

    http://www.gaychristian.net/justins_view.php

  12. I am a father of a very much heterosexual young man. I have learned so much in my attempts to be his father. I have found him to be more open on just about everything than myself. I have also really struggled with his own faith struggles. He no longer is active in a church of any kind and he is sexually active with his very lovely girl friend. He called me the other day to tell me that he was thinking about moving in with her when his job took him to where she was living. My situation is very different from what is going on at Harding, but there is one similarity. No matter what, I have no other choice than to communicate to my son my unconditional love. The fact that he did not call to simply inform me of a decision, but to discuss what he should do was encouraging, and I doubt this would have happened if the first words out of my mouth would have been how ashamed I was of him. I would step in front of a bullet for him. These issues are tough. I believe that living together before marriage is wrong. I also believe that the practice of homosexuality is wrong, but I also know that the vast majority of our world doesn’t give a damn about what I think. I really appreciate the graciousness of the person that wrote the post. I want to keep an open mind and I hope and pray that if I ever met you I would treat you as I would treat my own son.

  13. Thank you for posting this. What we need, and I think what HUQueerPress was seeking to establish, is open communication. I hope that, if one thing comes of all that has happened this past week, that it will cause people to see that the church needs a new approach. We aim to be “teaching the truth in love.” For far too long, we have instead been shouting the truth without love. I don’t know why the church seems to have such a problem with homosexual relationships but seems to tolerate sinful heterosexual relationships. I have a handful of gay friends, but I know dozens of couples who are sleeping with someone they are not married to. Harding has a right to prohibit sex between non-married couples on campus, provided they treat heterosexual and homosexual couples the same. I am still undecided on how exactly I understand the Bible’s stance on homosexuality, but I hope that we can be loving to everyone, regardless of what we choose to believe.

  14. I believe that the Bible teaches that homosexuality is sin. However, I have friends who are gay whom I love very much and I am concerned that they are living in a way that is detrimental to their soul. Having said that, I keep waiting for someone to explain, in a convincing way, that they are gay/lesbian and they can’t help it; that they were born that way. Lust, as well as some other sins are mentioned, so those who lust could just as easily claim that they were ‘made’ that way and they can’t help it! I could contend that I am a ‘child molester’ and I can’t help it…..I just haven’t heard anyone say anything that brings up the point that there is anything more involved it why those are gay/lesbian, except for the fact that a lifestyle as such is more to their liking, than they just can’t help it!?
    Fran

    1. I agree completely. We each have our own “thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor. 12:7-10) whether it be lying, cheating, lusting, stealing, sexual immorality, etc. All sin is the same, and all sin separates us from God and all that defines love. God is Love.

  15. Thank you, Highland for supporting, encouraging and learning from Sally Gary and her ministry, “Center Peace.” She speaks from personal history and offers an answer to those who struggle with same sex attraction. She offers a Christian perspective to a difficult situation….How to live with and struggle against same sex attraction without living in a same sex relationship.
    One thing all who call themselves believers in and followers of Jesus the Christ can do, as Wade Hodges said to us one Sunday here at Highland, ” Love, acceptance and forgiveness first, then comes repentance.”
    It is terrible that we have made same sex attraction/homosexuality another of our pet unforgivable sins, but it’s not the one God speaks about to warns us.
    I truly pray we can begin to live and act as directed in 1 John. If we don’t love those we see how can we say we love God whom we cannot see? How I pray we can make this verse our banner verse rather than ‘Let women remain silent in the church…’ or “…sing and make melody in your heart…’
    Love your heart, Jonathan. We are so blessed to have God bring you to us. We were pretty well satisfied with ourselves. You have begun to unmask areas where we really should not be so satisfied – areas where we can and need to continue our ongoing growth in our life in the LORD of Lords!! Bless you! We love you in Him!!!

  16. Thank you for your candor but I think Christianity takes a bum rap for a lot of things. I’m not saying there aren’t extremists out there – they don’t represent me or the Bible in spite of what they say.

    The thing is that I don’t get to chose what is or isn’t sin, neither does anyone else. The Bible is very clear. I believe that mistreating others is as contradictory to the Bible as is homosexuality. I had a lot of the same feelings you did growing up and never had any inclination toward being gay. The facts are that most sexual abuse victims (anyone inappropriately exposed to anything sexual before the age of 17) has those same feelings. You were violated and those miserable feelings are part of the many the side effects. You clearly said you didn’t tell at Harding but still felt out of place. If people didn’t know, they weren’t necessarily treating you differently because of being gay. Some of that was between your ears as a result of being violated.

    Sometimes it seems to me that because I believe homosexuality is a sin, I am treated as if I were some sort of monster who is routinely rude and abuses other people. There are extremists in everything and the expectation that I have to agree with or accept everything in order to not be labeled a basher of any sort. The Bible clearly tells us that people are uncomfortable in sin of any kind – it means homosexuality the same as sexually active outside of marriage or stealing, etc. The more we read the Bible and the more we are exposed to our sin or Biblical truth, the more we are uncomfortable unless we change those behaviors.

  17. Having been a homosexual most of my life I totally agree and definately feel for all those who are not accepted or loved because of their sexuality. Homosexual has been around since the beginning of time and it is not going away, so why try to make it go away. Why not just accept it, accept those who are gay and love them for who they are. They are not different then anyone else. God delivered me from my homosexuality, but I will forever defend gays and love them no matter what. What I have a hard time with is this, gays go to church, they become christian and they love God just like anyone else, Is God really going to condemn them in the end when judgment day comes? Are they going to go through life, going to church, loving God and believing in Him only to be condemned in the end? I certainly hope not…

  18. Wow, Storment, you are braver than I. This is the kind of post that makes me admire you. You could totally keep the status quo and you certainly have a gift of making people feel better about themselves, but you risk some of that to really challenge the church on difficult cultural issues. This is an issue that I have a difficulty getting my evangelical Christian views to mesh with my left of center politics. Could it be that the mainstream church is right in their theology on this, but that the political liberals are right in demanding that we not discriminate against anyone? I don’t claim to know, but thanks for tackling this issue.

  19. Andrew Marin and the Marin Foundation is doing a lot of positive work in repairing and having conversations, his book Love is an Orientation is an interesting perspective and one worth reading.

    Thanks for writing

  20. This is beautiful! I am of the belief that homosexuality is sin but so is judgment, lying, gossip, and coveting (and so many other things). Why do Christians accept and even participate in these forms of sin but homosexuality is absolutely unacceptable? We all need to be loved where we are and encouraged that God loves us for who we are. That being said, there is a challenge to change. He loves His “bride” but he is seeking for her to be pure and spotless. He doesn’t make all our struggles disappear, but He will hold our hand and wrap His arms around us as we CHOOSE to deal with the hurt and pain behind our sinful choices. We are in a continual process of growing and changing in the Lord. He is the answer and He is love.

  21. Hi Jonathan,

    I was looking up information on Rick Astchley, when I stumbled across your open letter to him. I have attended The Hills off and on for 13 years. Sometimes I admire it and other times I am frustrated by it, but the one thing that always brings me back is Rick. I believe he is all the things you say he is.

    That is not the reason I am writing you. I began reading your other blog entries and I was shocked at how honest and courageous you are. I know Highland is a “progressive” church of Christ” but still. Homosexuality and the existence of Hell? In one month? Wow.

    I still find it difficult to believe the same fellowship that produced you and Rick also created my Grandfather whose love of legalism/fundamentalism has left its scars on now three generations of children. It has taken 35 years to get to the point where I don’t see that horribly misguided man as God himself. It really is people like you (I was at The Hills for a few of your sermons BTW) that have helped me see God in a different way.

    I have read C.S. Lewis’ book “The Great Divorce” and I must say I was taken aback by it. I would never have guessed his view of Hell would be so unorthodox. But as I have moved from fundamentalism to agnosticism back to faith, I think his view lines up more and more with my own. Having Hell be a perpetual rather than final choice changes the message of the gospel I think. What it changes it to is something that the Church is going to have to figure out.

    That brings me to the subject that really got me inspired to write you. Homosexuality. I will not challenge you on your reading of scripture. You have probably read the same arguments I have trying to explain away the prohibition on homosexual activity. Like me, you have found them lacking I’m just guessing. So, instead I would like you to ponder a few questions.

    What exactly is a gay person to do? Are they to remain celibate their entire lives? Should they marry the opposite sex anyway? Is that really a prescription for good mental health?

    Or, is it possible that gay marriage is the answer? Rather than it being an existential threat to heterosexual relationships it could serve as an affirmation of what we as people of faith value. Love, authenticity, faithfulness.

    I don’t know the answers to these questions and I dare say no one really does. I do know however, that the Church is seeming more and more mean spirited by the day by refusing to reconsider it’s position. I was told growing up that women couldn’t be ministers and instrumental music in church was of the devil. You know as well as I do that there are scriptures that can justify these positions, but here we are rejecting that thinking anyway.

    Just some things to ponder,

    God Bless
    Brian Gibson

  22. I think the big problem with the orthodox Christian view on homosexuality is that this view is impractical – i.e. gays are deemed sinful or are accused on “choosing” their sexual orientation.  The logical outcome of the Christian position is that … gays (including people who are raised Christian and later discovered they are gay) either leave the church volunarily (because they know they’re unwelcome) or are forced out of church.  Why is this impractical?  It’s impractical because the church is losing people – including some of its best members.  Many gays are religions and very moral and conscientious and responsible.  If we lose these quality people because of their orientation … we’re really just weaking the church, no?

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