Further Readings and Watchings
If you have made it to this point from the beginning, or if you're jumping to the end to see what's here, I encourage you to consider more listening and thinking. What I've written here is only a small part of the overall picture. I hope it has given you enough room to approach what I believe to be the most important part, the life stories of gay Christians, with more willingness to set aside assumptions for a while and listen carefully.
The conflict we see in our society today around gay marriage is harmful to everyone – our families, churches, social fabric, and especially to those caught in the middle as gay Christians. I believe it is vitally important to learn as much as we can, and apply our knowledge under the principle of love (1 Corinthians 13) not judgement.
Continue below for:
- Personal stories
Forget all of the Greek and Hebrew, the verses and analysis and prayerful thinking for a little while. Read some of these selected stories (there are many, many more) of fellow Christians who grew up in conservative homes, committed to Christ and the church, yet found to their surprise and often horror that they're gay.
- Of Lunchboxes and Truth by Matthias Roberts (JBU)*
"I learned very early on that being gay was a horrible thing. My peers made sure that I knew it."
- 'I'm gay. God loves me just the way I am' – Vicky Beeching, Christian rock star
"I felt like it was ripping me in half. I knew I couldn't carry on. I was trying to align the loving God I knew and believed in with this horrendous reality of what was going on inside me," she says. "I remember kneeling down and absolutely sobbing into the carpet. I said to God, 'You have to either take my life or take this attraction away because I cannot do both.'"
- Justin Lee's story (author of 'Torn' below)
"Once I discovered that it was unlikely I would ever become attracted to women, I realized with despair that this meant I would have to be celibate and alone for the rest of my life. I was willing to do it if that was God's call for me, but the idea of being alone my whole life was a scary, sobering thought. Some people deal well with that; I'm not one of those people."
- To Date a Woman – Patrick Berquist (JBU)*
"I was looking for these women to change me. I was honestly desperate not to be gay. I had prayed, fasted, studied, talked… everything so that I wouldn’t be this dreaded thing I called 'gay.' Maybe if I found the right women, she could help to change me. She would save me."
- My First Kiss... – Candice Czubernat
"I believe shame to be a gift from God that helps us know when we’ve done something against His will. And that’s how I knew for me to be attracted to and live out a desire to be romantically connected to another woman wasn’t bad. I felt the opposite of shame. I felt love and peace and life. I felt God."
- Finding "Normal" – Corey Black
"The reason I came out in high school wasn't to get attention. It wasn't to gain popularity. I came out to show that you have to be you. Life wasn't meant to be lived in a skin or a shell that is placed on you by society. We are all individuals. We are all unique, and we all have a story. I came out in high school for the sole-purpose of people knowing that God loves us all equally, and you don't have to hide. I wanted my story to be heard, and I wanted people to know that yes, in fact, you CAN be a Christian and homosexual. Just as you can be a Christian and heterosexual. I have never felt the love of God like I have after coming out. I didn't 'lose my salvation' in some 'sexual tendency' or 'not praying earnestly enough' for this attraction to be taken away. "
And From Christian Parents of Gay Children:
- Just Because He Breathes: Learning to Truly Love our Gay Son – Linda Robertson
"...we told our son that he had to choose between Jesus and his sexuality... Choosing God, practically, meant living a lifetime condemned to being alone... We had unintentionally taught Ryan to hate his sexuality. And since sexuality cannot be separated from the self, we had taught Ryan to hate himself."
God gave me a gay son . . . and I did not always think it a blessing – Thomas A. Nelson
"There is one challenge that gives me, his father, much anguish. It is his feeling of utter rejection by the Catholic church. After his long struggle to find a place in it for himself, it seems that too many official proclamations only remind him that he is considered depraved, disordered and intrinsically evil. He has given up on it. I am at a loss as to how to convince him otherwise. I’ve discovered that when I apply my newfound empathy, I’ve had a tough time not reacting as he has. I can only continue to pray and wonder about what it all means. I try not to let it destroy my own love for the church. Sometimes I’m not too successful at it."
* A few of these stories come from people associated with my alma-mater, marked with "JBU" for those who are also familiar with the university.
Watching someone tell a story through art and speech can add far more dimension to the conversation than simply words on a page. Consider watching a few of the following videos.
"The Bible Tells Me So"
The video above was something I watched early on, before I supported gay marriage. It's a good testimony of a man who married a woman out of religious obligation which did not work out. You hear from his ex-wife and his parents who are conservative Christians. The difference represented between some Christians who accept him in his ministry and some of those who don't was quite striking to me.
The trailer above is for a documentary called "For the Bible Tells Me So", which is available on Netflix. The Gene Robinson video above is an excerpt from the entire film. It tells the stories of five Christian gay people and their families in the hopes of encouraging conversations.
A Straight Southern Baptist Pastor Changes His Mind
The video above is an hour long sermon from a Southern Baptist pastor. He was challenged by some LGBT friends who were leaving his church to take homosexuality seriously enough to do his own study. After years of study, he changed his mind on his own — and then had a tear-jerking conversation with his son.
His church decided to stand with him and his family against the policies of the conservative denomination, and they were removed from fellowship.
Music video for the song Danny Cortez mentions above:
I've become a big fan of the singer Macklemore. He addresses a number of social issues that are important to me in his songs, like consumerism and materialism. The music video above gives a sympathetic perspective to this situation, showing us a little of what it might be like to grow up unaccepted for your sexuality.
"Ending the Teaching of Contempt"
Dr. David Gushee, an evangelical Southern Baptist professor of Christian Ethics and Holocaust scholar, speaks above about how he changed his mind on homosexuality. He highlights the parallel between how the church had to deliberately re-interpret the Bible to treat Jews as good and equal after the Holocaust, and what we should be doing today with LGBT.
It's Time to End the Suffering
"Emily Swan and Ken Wilson call pastors and leaders to end the suffering inflicted on gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender people by simply refusing to enforce exclusionary policies.
Ken and Emily tell a bit of their own story and sketch out an approach to controversial issues called "Third Way" that is rooted in Romans 14–15."
- The Church is Responsible for This – by Candice Czubernat
"I hold the church personally responsible for any LGBTQ person who walks away from God and Christianity...Their church has found out they are LGBTQ and because of this are no longer welcome to join in these church activities they long to be a part of. "
- Hope for the Unseen – by Benjamin Moberg
"As long as we LGBTQ Christians are shoved into the shadows of this faith community, no evangelical parent with a closeted child is going to know of another way until it’s too late to take it. No LGBTQ child is going to have hope that there is place they belong. As long as we are unseen, families will continue to fall apart. Beautiful lives will continue to disappear."
- The False Gospel of Gender Binaries – by Rachel Held Evans
"But what sort of gospel is only good news for the majority? What sort of gospel leaves people behind just because they are different? . . . The gospel of Jesus Christ is not so fragile as to be unpinned by the reality that variations in gender and sexuality exist, nor is it so narrow as to only be good news for people who look and live like Ward and June Cleaver. This glorification of gender binaries has become a dangerous idol in the Christian community, for it conflates cultural norms with Christian morality and elevates an ideal over actual people."
- When Evangelicals Turn Against Children to Spite Me – by Benjamin Moberg
"I don’t know how to explain how crushing and infuriating this is. Could words describe this night of speaking the truth over myself: God is love, Jesus is love, This I know is true. Can I even express what it feels like to know that my existence is the reason children are losing their livelihoods? Possibly dying? Falling from protection and into the hands of trafficking?" [referencing the World Vision controversy in 2014 – see also "When World Vision Drops Me"]
- Distorted Love: The Toll of our Christian Theology on the LGBT Community – John Pavlovitz
"Scores of people from all over the world have shared with me their devastating stories of exclusion and isolation, of unanswered prayers to change, of destructive conversion therapies, of repeated suicide attempts, and of being actively and passively driven from faith, by people of faith. Church, this is the reality of our theology on homosexuality. This is the cost of our religion to the LGBT community. More accurately, it’s the cost of our religion to LGBT human beings. This is the painful collateral damage that comes when we see principles and ignore people; when we refuse to give them the dignity they deserve."
- Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate by Justin Lee
This is the first book I read on the subject, after much online reading. It approaches the topic from the human perspective, a personal story, though also includes discussion of the Scriptures.
- God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines
As a conservative evangelical Christian who realized he was gay, Matthew took a few years off at Harvard to research the topic. He focuses on the cultural context that the Bible was written in, and gives much support from Greek literature and early church writers.
- The New Testament and Homosexuality by Robin Scroggs
This book by a Biblical scholar in 1984 is an excellent short and readable approach to academic research on the topic. I gained a lot by reading it, and you'll see a number of his perspectives reflected in what I wrote here.
- God Believes in Love by Gene Robinson
The first openly gay person elected to be a bishop in the Episcopal church writes a very personal book about his background, what he has learned, and he makes a thought-provoking case for gay marriage as someone who is both married and marries others.
- The Marin Foundation – Building bridges between the church and gay communities.
- The Gay Christian Network – "Our membership includes both those on Side A (supporting same-sex marriage and relationships) and on Side B (promoting celibacy for Christians with same-sex attractions). What began as an organization to provide support to LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) Christians has grown into a worldwide movement for compassion with many straight members as well."
- The Reformation Project – The Reformation Project exists to train Christians to support and affirm lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. Through building a deep grassroots movement, we strive to create an environment in which Christian leaders will have the freedom to take the next steps toward affirming and including LGBT people in all aspects of church life.
Most importantly, let's talk openly about this. Let's talk with real people, in real life. Talk with people who have opposing views, or are gay married Christians. Have discussions, not debates. Listen and share, don't lecture. Respect each other. When a fellow Christian says they affirm the equality of gay marriage AND the Bible, consider asking them why instead of rejecting that it's possible. It doesn't mean you have to change your mind, but it is how we practice unity in love for all.