I regularly find myself in conversation with people who feel deeply conflicted about how to love and respond to LGBT people: conservative minsters whose hearts have softened towards LGBT people, but whose theology has not; college chaplains who are suddenly finding themselves flummoxed by trans, queer, and gay students sitting in their office, struggling with faith and sexuality; parents, friends, siblings of gay people who see the damage done by the church and don’t know how to stop perpetuating that damage.(more…)
At the moment when I was the most certain of my traditional beliefs on sexuality I fell, quite by accident, very deeply in love with another man, whom I will call Andrew.
As I’ve told my story of failure and wounding within a commitment to lifelong celibacy – and how I have eventually walked away from it – the most common response from conservative Christians has been withering. The vast majority of them who have responded on social media and the blogosphere have been singing variations of, “so what you are saying is that you cannot live without sex.” When they hear me say that Side B (the traditional view of gay marriage) crushed me, they assume that’s because I can only conceive of intimacy as a sexual act, that I have an idolatrous view of romance, and that I see sex and romance as the most fulfilling experience on earth. They also assume that I have a misplaced understanding of community and friendship.
It’s been a long, painful and perilous journey from a life of suffocating fear and self-loathing toward a life of fearlessness and love. I spent most of my teenage and adult years trapped in the impenetrable coffin of my self-loathing, absolutely convinced that I was unlovable to God. As a young boy growing up in the evangelical world, I somehow absorbed the message that being gay makes a person loathsome and subhuman. When I started to discover that I was gay myself, I became the victim of my own undying disgust and hatred. Like a supernova, my being collapsed upon itself, the object of its own unquenchable disgust.
I’m happy as a gay man. In fact, with the exception of when I sit down to write about it, I rarely think about being gay. It’s simply a fact, fading into the details of life. I think of myself as simply Stephen, with a myriad of interests, and I think of my partner as my partner, whom I love dearly. Very rarely now do I ever stop to consider that we are both men. I love my partner’s masculinity (I am gay, after all) but that doesn’t mean I stop to dwell on the fact. This lack of dwelling is a mark of happiness and freedom for me.
In 2013, I was sick with heartbreak. My boyfriend, on a sunny January day in Baltimore, broke up with me.
He was a conservative Christian, and so was I. We both believed that homosexuality was not God’s best for humanity, and that it would be a sin to act on it. And yet, here we were: deeply in love, and now deeply heartbroken. We had lived in a horrible in-between place, unable to change our beliefs and unable to stop loving each other. The dissonance drove us mad, and it ended in him breaking up with me. I’d never known such rending emotional pain.
Wendy VanderWal-Gritter – a Christian thinker, ministry leader, and straight ally – has long struggled with the dynamic tensions of being a person of faith who also embraces the gay community.
Nearly every gay person raised in the Christian world has heard it at least once in their lives: “You know deep within your heart that what you are doing is wrong. You know in your heart that homosexuality is not God’s best for you, and you are just unwilling to admit it, running away from the truth.”
Far too often, we hear this from the people we love the most: old friends, pastors, parents and siblings – the people who raised us, nurtured us, taught us how to understand the world. They are concerned, well intentioned, unaware of just how damaging, belittling, dehumanizing those 9 little words are: “you know the truth deep down in your heart.”
I’m away from the blog this month, focusing on school, work, and vacation, and I will be back next week writing regularly. While I’m away, I’ve decided to repost articles from my previous blog. Enjoy.
As I’ve struggled through questions of faith and homosexuality and arrived at a more affirming position, I have found myself on the receiving end of some persistent and annoying assumptions. Granted, some of these might be stereotypes of affirming gay people for a reason, but I feel that these assumptions become blocks, disengaging people from the uncomfortable and redeeming act of listening to each other.
While I can’t even begin to address all of the assumptions people make about gay people, I will go ahead and list the ones I most frequently run into here.
In 2014, Michael Coren – the conservative Catholic columnist, television personality and bestselling author – made international waves by coming out in support of gay marriage and leaving the Roman Catholic church. Earlier this year, he published Epiphany: A Christian’s Change of Heart and Mind Over Same-Sex Marriage.
I found his book heartfelt, beautiful, and compassionate. I am always moved when someone like Michael Coren – someone who represents the conservative Christian vangaurd – publically switches views and risks disgrace from his own camp. I reached out to Michael to discuss his book, his thoughts on the church and the LGBT issue, and (as he describes it delightfully in his book) his “conversion on the road to the rainbow.”