The church is “the Body of Christ”.
I love Jesus, and I love His church.
I have spent most of my adult life as a member of the Body of Christ, serving people who make up “the Body of Christ”, while also ministering to those who do not yet know Jesus.
Based on some feedback from an earlier video post, I realized that my comments seem to be directed towards the entire church.
There are people in the Body of Christ who I love and respect – people who have been lifelong friends.
So today, I want to apologize for that and clarify, that’s not the way I feel.
My video announcement was not an attack on the Church. However, it was intended to do two things:
- First, to make everyone aware of my life change and relationship with Michael. The FaceBook post and my website blog posts were intended to let people hear it from me, rather than through second, third, and fourth-hand communication that often has elements of distortion by the time it’s passed along; and
- To begin the process of helping people understand that I have not made a rash or unstudied decision concerning my life change. For those who want to understand the progression of this change in my way of life, I am making myself transparent and vulnerable so that my life experience can be considered by those who desire to understand.
So let’s talk about my second goal (I think the first one was accomplished). I think that people land in one of four groups when it comes to homosexuality and the Bible. In addition, I think that some may traverse across the boundaries of one group to another as they ponder this issue in their own mind and heart.
- 1 – The Side-A Christian (non-traditional view)
Many people in this group were motivated to research and study the Scriptures and available science in efforts to reconcile their Biblical understanding with their (or someone they love) sexual orientation and sexual practice. The side-A Christian has concluded that the traditional view of Scripture was not correct and that there is a Christian theology of human sexuality that is inclusive of same-sex relationships that is also congruent with the Holy Scriptures.
- 2 – The Side-B Christian (Traditional View) :
People in this group come to understand sexual orientation as something that cannot be changed. They are therefore able to accept the gay person, while still rejecting the gay behavior. This group would require that the gay person either be celibate, or fulfill their romantic and sexual longings – their intimate sexual and emotional connection with a companion – in the context of what we now call a “mixed orientation” marriage. Or, they can remain single and celibate. In other words, this group has concluded that being gay is not a sin. However, they have also determined that same-sex relationships are not Biblical.
The Neither-Side Christian (Two groups):
- 3 – The OK Group: There are many in “the Body of Christ” who are loving and accepting even though they do not understand the life struggle that a gay person goes through, often starting very early in life. People in this group are not motivated to stop, study, and expend the effort to try and understand the LGBTQIA person. Rather, they just feel love in their heart and they extend that love without requiring the LGBTQIA person to conform to their own personal mindset of how the world is and should be.
- 4 – The Not-OK Group: Those in “the Body of Christ” who are unloving and unaccepting. This group perceives the “homosexual” as something that is vile, contaminating, as something that should be eradicated from the land. There was a news report of such a church on Atlanta’s WSB TV this past Thursday evening, January 31, 2019 at 6:00 PM (Thomas, 2019).
In groups 2 and 3, it is important to consider how the LGBTQIA person receives a communication. One can communicate a message of love with a purely motivate heart. However, it if isn’t received (or heard) as love, then the communication has failed. And all too often, the LGBTQIA person experiences feelings of rejection and condemnation as they are told that “God loves the sinner” while in the same breath, they hear that “God hates the sin”.
This is where understanding the construct of sexual orientation is critical. A gay person cannot help that they are romantically drawn towards persons of their same gender. They cannot help that they feel sexual attractions towards persons of their same-sex. No one chooses their tastes or preferences. Tastes and preferences just develop.
Here’s an example: When I have a garden salad, I love to have fruits, raisins, nuts, and sweet tangy dressings. Michael absolutely hates it. He likes vegetables (of all kinds), and savory dressings (Ranch is his favorite). Neither of us woke up one day and just decided our taste for foods. Rather, it was an outcome of our development – our growing up. I have had my taste for foods since I can remember. At my age now, I think I can safely say that my taste in foods is not going to change. Sexual orientation is the same way. It’s not going to change.
So, when a gay person hears that God hates the sin, they are hearing that God hates something that only He (God) can change. And many gay men that I have worked with over the years have agonized before God, since they were very young, begging Him to change their sexual orientation. And, He doesn’t. Therefore, when they hear from God’s people that God hates the sin, they are reminded that God hates something that only He can change but that He hasn’t been willing to change. The result is that this well intended Christian message not only reinforces that they are not acceptable to God, but also that God must not care or He would respond to their agonizing pleas to make them acceptable to Him, and His people.
Keep in mind too that often young people in this predicament are not being – and have not yet become – sexually active. In other words, they have not engaged in any sinful sexual behavior. They are simply announcing their romantic inclinations and sexual attractions, trying to sort it all out the same as any other young person does.
What do you do as a parent when you find out that your teenage child is lesbian or gay and is mad at God, and has identified with atheism because of all the nights they cried themselves to sleep, begging God to change them, and He doesn’t, while continuing to experience God’s displeasure (through the voice of their parents, along with well-meaning Christian people)? Or, what do you do as a parent when you lose your child to an HIV related death and you realize that you might could have responded to your child differently and therefore maybe have helped them to explore their sexuality in a way that was not only honoring to God, but also safe? Or what do you do when as a parent you discover that your child died from a drug overdose because they were using drugs in an attempt to manage their internal grief, despair, and depression that was related to their inability to change their sexual orientation and their perceived rejection by their family and their religious community?
What do you do as a gay person when those that speak for God tell you – over and over again, day after day, year after year – that your romantic inclinations and sexual attractions are something that God hates? What do you do as a gay person when you beg (over and over again, day after day, year after year) God to change you and make you acceptable to Himself and to those that speak for Him, and He doesn’t. What do you do as a gay person when you encounter someone who tells you that you should be killed and eradicated from the land?
And what do you do as a Christian gay person when you realize that Christian people in Groups 2, 3, and 4 above are all being viewed by non-Christian people in secular culture as harsh, condemning, and judgmental? What do you do as a Christian gay person when you realize that those in the Body of Christ are not representing Jesus well to our culture, resulting in people being pushed away from Jesus rather than toward Him?
Many of you heard me say, in my previous video announcement, that it was as early as 10 years old that I knew I was gay. That is me looking back on my life experience as an adult man. I can label it now. However, when I was 10, my life experience then had no label such as the word gay. Rather, it had feeling. So when I say that I knew I was gay when I was 10, I mean that looking back on things as a 61 year old man, I can see now that my sexual orientation was developing in ways that was very different than my male peers.
By the time I was engaged to Nancy (age 23), the word gay had still not emerged in my mind as a self-label. Rather, the intensity of my romantic inclinations and sexual attractions towards other males intensified greatly over those years. And if I had not developed a deep abiding intimate friendship with Nancy, we would never have married. But it did and we did marry. And it was in the context of our marriage relationship that I learned to see myself as one with bisexual interests. It is the only thing that made sense to me at the time. And fortunately, our friendship bond and commitment to each other somehow enabled me to push my romantic inclinations and sexual attractions towards other males into my unconscious mind. When it would resurface, Nancy would help me. We would talk about it. We would reaffirm our friendship, love, and commitment to each other. And I would repress it again (push it back into the background and unconscious part of my mind).
Back then, I called myself bisexual and I thought of myself as choosing to be committed to my wife while taking the other option off the table. That’s what one does in a marriage commitment and covenantal relationship. Today, I call it a “mixed orientation marriage” because now, I can clearly see that I was not bisexual. Rather, I was gay and made the decision to commit myself to Nancy and for us to build a life together based on our friendship and love for each other. And we did, for 35 years.
In all of my ministry career, I believed and practiced the theology and way of life that I taught others – one can either enter into a heterosexual or “mixed-orientation” marriage relationship, or one can remain single and celibate. Late in my ministry career, after working with many who struggle with being single and celibate, I did begin to wonder if celibacy is possible. Why? Because Jesus Himself said that it isn’t possible for everyone (See Matthew 19) and Paul confirmed it (see I Corinthians 7). So questioning myself about the requirement for celibacy has a Biblical foundation. And, questioning myself was not being a discredit to the beliefs of the church at which I was employed. It was not until Nancy had died that I began to realize that I was gay. It was not until then that I realized that celibacy was not going to work for me. It was not until then that I came to understand that I would not be successful in another mixed-orientation marriage relationship. And it was then when I began to realize that I would not again be successful – in Nancy’s absence – to push the same-sex orientated romantic inclinations back into the unconscious and background parts of my mind.
My hope and prayer is that the Body of Christ can become unified in a message and style of communication that communicates the fruit of the Spirit of God: “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). Some of what I have experienced, since Monday 1/21/2019, by others who claim to know Christ felt like hatred, discord, fits of rage, and such as Paul describes in Galatians 5:19-21 as the fruit of the flesh. This was my motivation for mentioning, in my previous video, that there are gay people sitting in the pews of our churches.
When we get to Heaven one day, I may find out that I was wrong in my theological conclusions. That is a possibility. It is also a possibility that others may get to Heaven only to discover the Father’s displeasure regarding the way in which division concerning this issue has resulted in people being unable to discover and embrace Jesus, His love for them, and their need for His atoning work on the Cross.
In the meantime however, I plan to expend my energies in helping Christian people who are suffering with the inability to resolve their faith with their sexual orientation. I plan to be a support and encouragement for those who are trapped in a life situation that doesn’t allow the free expression of their sexual orientation in a way that is safe and honoring to God. I plan to help families avoid disastrous consequences related to LGBTQIA concerns that arise in their midst. And I plan to continue using my profession skills to help people find freedom from the ill effects of addiction, relational problems, and past trauma and abuse. Finally, I will continue to reinforce the message that I am a Christian man with a theological perspective that I have confidence in and that the Spirit of God is quite capable of bringing conviction into my heart over matters where He desires to do so.
Thomas, T. (2019). Metro Atlanta church may soon be on national list of hate groups. Downloaded 1/31/2019 from https://www.wsbtv.com/news/2-investigates/metro-atlanta-church-may-soon-be-listed-on-national-list-of-hate-groups/911741190