Amendment One and An Angry Lament of a Native Son

I am a native son of the Deep South, born and bred in the land of cotton, Christianity and conservatism.

As a native son, I soaked up the homophobic culture in which I lived just as I soaked up a love of college football, the smell of fresh mown grass and cut wild onions on Sunday afternoons and July thunderstorms beheld on the back porch with iced cold sweet tea.

But I know now what I did not then. I know that I had friends who were gay, lesbian and bisexual, and I know that those friends overheard hate speech, cloaked in piety, fall from of my mouth as if it were righteousness. They heard me use the word “gay” as a pejorative. They heard me speak with confidence of how God condemned homosexuality. They heard me joke that God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. They heard from me what they heard from everyone else in the South and what they heard tonight in North Carolina.

I’d like to apologize to them all, because I am sorry, and I humbly repent. But let’s be honest. Right now, as the state of North Carolina codifies hate speech into a constitutional amendment, apologies don’t begin to cut it.

As a native son of the Deep South and of North Carolina, tonight, I am ashamed, and angry.

I am ashamed for being too understanding of my homophobic brothers and sisters in Christ, knowing personally just how difficult it is to unravel the hate that can be instilled by the Christian faith. I am ashamed for being too tolerant of intolerance and hate. I am angry that the moral arc of the universe has been so misshapen by so-called Christian morality. I am angry that our churches, by and large, have stood for spirit of the world — the spirit of sin, death and hate — rather than the spirit of God — the spirit of love, creation and just societies.

I’m angry that we’re still having this conversation.

And I am angry that the land I love — that I have loved — is now the last place I want my two sons to experience their childhood.

See, it took more than a decade to overcome my own homophobia, and I would spare my children from living in place where such hate and exclusion is not only accepted, but applauded as godly. Even after I became convinced that condemning LGBT+ persons was not supported by Holy Scripture, I still held onto an emotional reluctance  — embedded deeply within me by cultural conditioning — to embrace same-sex couples. It wasn’t until I left the South and joined a playgroup with gay and lesbian parents that I felt the final bindings of hate release, that I could emotionally as well as intellectually affirm equality for all humans, regardless of their sexuality. It wasn’t until I interviewed couples remembering with fondness the February weekend they dashed off to San Francisco to finally have their relationships recognized that I saw the genuine romance in LGBT relationships. It wasn’t until I listened to those same couples mourn the rejection of their relationships at the ballot box that I understood the fundamental inhumanity of heterosexists. It wasn’t until all this that I finally realized “they” were no different than me.

Mostly, though, tonight I am angry that the vote in North Carolina doesn’t surprise me one bit. Actually, anger doesn’t begin to describe it. I am angry to the point of rage, which is better than the alternative of despair, I suppose. I am enraged that the land of my mother and father has been turned into a den of robbers that break into people’s bedrooms and relationships, cover it in hate and steal away human rights.

Angry enough to overturn tables.

And, as a Christian, I think it is time to admit who bears responsibility for atrocities like Amendment One and all other anti-LGBT legislation.

It’s Christianity.

I might want to say I’m not like those Christians over there who stood for Amendment One and other such legislation. But they are my brothers and sisters in the faith, no two ways about it. I might want to say those Christians don’t represent what Christ stood for. But I bet they would say the same thing about me. I can try to split hairs and divide the Christian community so I don’t have to think about the hate my faith tradition has spawned and let loose in the world like a legion of demons.

But I can’t say any of that with a shred of integrity.

Tonight, Christianity is to blame. To say otherwise would be a lie.

So, perhaps, on second thought, while saying I’m sorry might not be enough, it might just be the only thing to do tonight.

About David R. Henson

David Henson received his Master of Arts from Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, after receiving a Lilly Grant for religious education for journalists. He ordained in the Episcopal Church as a priest. He is a father of two young sons and the husband of a medical school student.

  • http://lenguadelaz.blogspot.com/ Brandon Lazarus

    Thank you for sharing. It pains me deeply. It especially hurts to see that sign at a Methodist Church. I was present at General Conference this past week when we as a denomination chose to keep language that refers to homosexuality as “incompatible with Christian teaching”. We tried to have that language removed or even add a clause that says we will agree to disagree and we could not even do that. I can’t describe my hurt and anger yet I can not imagine what my homosexual brothers and sisters are going through at this moment.

  • Ellen Haroutunian

    A painfully heartfelt post. Thank you for putting so much of what many of us feel into words.
    God help us all.

    • Jon DeBell

      Not a bigot. Not filled with hate. Not homophobic. In fact I strive to be kind and loving to anyone who will allow me to be. But I will not bow down to the god of political correctness nor will I stand quietly by and allow my religious freedoms–clearly spelled out in our constitution–taken away. Those opposed to amendment one will not be satisfied until everyone celebrates their lifestyle with them and voices to the contrary are silenced. “Tolerate everyone and celebrate diversity!” . . . unless of course that person believes the Bible.

      I appreciate the fact that the writer does recognize those that differ from his point of view as true brothers and sisters. I will differ from those that trumpet that Jesus was only about love. His life was about LOVE and TRUTH. He acted in love to all. But He also spoke the truth and was not hesitant to stand against sin. He (and we who follow Him) was not being judgmental. He was exercising judgment. Everyone does this every day whether they will admit it or not. Christians are called to use judgment/discernment/wisdom in all we do. This includes what we approve of and do not approve of.

      I’m sorry for the fact that so many same sex couples are filled with the pain of living in an unaccepting world. Those of us who hold to traditional values are pained, even grieved, over the decline of these values. It’s not as simple as “live and let live”. Homosexual couples can live how they want to. Just don’t expect me to condone it and call it marriage.

      • Daniel .

        So true Jon. The theological basis is fairly clear – http://stasisonline.wordpress.com/2012/04/10/homosexual-marriage/

      • Nick

        *What* religious freedoms are being taken away from you? The freedom to control everyone else’s life? To impose your own twisted “values” on others? I find it sickening that you have the gall to play the victim here, when *you* are the one who is taking rights away, splitting families apart and causing pain and suffering. You claim to be sorry for the hardship and pain that same-sex couples endure, and yet it is *you* who unrepentantly causes that hardship and pain. You, sir, are two-faced.

        Perhaps you are not “filled with hate”. But you are undeniably filled with contempt. That is why you are a bigot.

      • http://twitter.com/nedlum Alden Utter

        “Just don’t expect me to condone it and call it marriage.”

        Nobody is asking you to condone it on a social level. But we are demanding that it be legally treated as the equal of a marriage between a man and a woman.

      • Barry_D

        “But I will not bow down to the god of political correctness nor will I stand quietly by and allow my religious freedoms–clearly spelled out in our constitution–taken away. ”

        The right always defines their freedom in terms of their power and right to control and hurt others.

  • Smeron

    Painful, but beautifully written. And a really important, refreshing sentiment for folks who are NOT Christians (like me) to hear from those who are, so that we don’t somehow confuse the intolerance and bigotry and hatred in NC with Christianity. You and a few others have given me new faith in organized religion (no pun intended), so don’t lose heart. You and other Christians speaking out about this is hugely important.

    I know this is infuriating. I feel it too. What you’re seeing is some people desperately grasping onto an era, a way of thinking, that is dying out. There is no stopping this progress; it’s just a matter of time. And that is frightening for some Americans. Young people, for the most part, don’t feel this way about LGBT folks, and we’re actually seeing a few states legalize gay marriage. The percentage of Americans who believe same-sex marriage should be legal increased from 27% to 50% between 1996 and this year; those who believe same-sex marriage should NOT be legal: Down from 68% to 48% between 1996 and this year. (Data comes from this week’s Gallup poll.)

    African Americans, women, Jews — practically anyone who’s not a WASP male — has struggled. But repression can’t last forever.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/davidhenson David R. Henson

      Thanks, Shelly. It’s a nice reminder not to loose heart. It is tempting to throw one’s hands up in the air every now and then.

      And I promise I’m going to believe your second paragraph again in a couple of days.

  • http://nitecaravan.blogspot.com/ Green Monk

    I feel your anger. I know the pain. Thank you.

  • SB

    i can’t thank you enough for your post, and your support. as i sit here in tears, wondering how i will find the strength to hold my chin up high tomorrow… i find courage in your post. we will prevail. as a people. even though this hurts (in ways i just could not describe)… i find some solace knowing that your children will grow to learn that love is not conditional… thank you!

  • caito

    I’m a native North Carolinian too, and I identify greatly with your post. I too grew up to rise above and beyond the bigoted, racist, homophobic, close-minded culture far too many of us come from. It’s been hard but it’s all been worth it. It’s embarrassing and infuriating. My county (Rowan) voted in favor of it. My husband and I have been thinking about moving, and this just furthers our resolve. I’m still in shock, I feel like I’m in the twilight zone.

  • Guest

    I really appreciate the sincerity and candor of this piece. I have to say what I’m really hearing (or, reading) here, though, is a heart-wrenching internal cognitive dissonance resulting from the selective, subjective nature of religious faith. See:

    http://www.alternet.org/belief/152210

  • Shelli

    Beautifully written and expressed. There is hope in Christ and it is this that we must cling to, not ‘Christianity’ as we know it today. The evil in the world will be overcome and I believe that one day ALL will be welcomed into the house of the Lord with full and equal acknowledgement of the love that God has for ALL of His children. We are being called to have a tremendous amount of faith in Our Father at this moment in our life…continue to believe in the rights of ALL people.

  • Virginia

    I couldn’t agree more with you views on the amendment but I beg to disagree that all Christians are bigoted and judgmental.As a Christian I have never held these views and it grieves me that the views of some have driven away so many from the church. Thank you for having the courage to write this piece.

    • Frustrated in Nebraska, too

      This person did not say that “all Christians are bigoted and judgmental.” In fact, he’s a Christian–therefore your comment doesn’t make a lot of sense. I know you mean well, but this is just the initial knee-jerk response that frustrates me, too. You are a Christian and you speak for others like the Christian author. He knows that there is compassion among the Christian community–unfortunately, that is not the purportedly unified voice that is coming out from the church. So, Virginia, SPEAK UP EVERYWHERE. In your church, in the community, so that the voices of the oppressors are drowned out!!! :-) Keep up the good thoughts, Virginia!

  • http://logicandimagination.wordpress.com/ Melody Harrison Hanson

    Thank you. For your honesty and courage. I’m standing and applauding.

  • SadinAmerica

    I would agree and disagree. First I agree all, no matter what, are children of God and must be seen as such. I disagree that it is fully Christianities fault. Not all Christians are behind this legislation, but who is? I would say its the evil one who roams the earth to cause pain and chaos. It is a spiritual battle, the evil one is doing his best to fill all minds and hearts with lies to turn us away from Jesus. Sin is sin and if you believe the gospels the only way to heaven is through Jesus. Some don’t believe , some choose not to believe, some are following the wrong messages believing they come from the scripture. If you call yourself a Christian and condemn another for what you perceive as sin, then you are not following the teachings of Jesus. No question, just stop. Sadly it’s the human element of the Christian church that has caused its fault. “He with no sin…” please I beg those throwing stones in the form of legislation, just stop.

  • Trwrebel

    I find myself a bit “conflicted” as I am less and less concerned with with is “legal” or legislated….as I find little in scripture to support having much to do with the kingdoms and empires of man.
    I do find it undeniable that homosexuality misses the mark as does adultery or gluttony or gossip or lying….no more, no less….the difference being that I find no fornicators (hetero) trying to organize and legislate for their rights…God is not a fool….don’t you think he would’ve at least given us an example of one or two gay couples in his kingdom…when Jesus describes marriage don’t you think he would have listed all possibilities….not just male and female?

    I have gay friends, I once had a gay roommate….as a Christ follower I am mandated to be a neighbor to them….but I will not call what is sin “good”….and feel no grief from the barbs and the sanctimony of those that want to bash me as a homophobe…conversely, I will never stand and listen to hate speech or anything that denies the humanity of any person….whatever their life and choices.

    Peace

    • rustywheeler

      “…don’t you think he would’ve at least given us an example of one or two gay couples in his kingdom…”

      You mean like Jonathan and David?

      “And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.” 1 Samuel 18:3-4

      “After the boy had gone, David got up from the south side of the stone and bowed down before Jonathan three times, with is face to the ground. Then they kissed each other and wept together – but David wept the most.” 1 Samuel 20:41

      Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear.

      • Trwrebel

        Really strained interpretentation Rusty…..which ZERO orthodox scholars have ever made…..assuming David waw gay, or at least bisexual….don’t ya think there would have been a mention of this in his adult life….
        Men CAN and DO have affectionate relationships…I DO…..while not common in our Western culture….it is very common in the rest of the world.

      • rustywheeler

        Ooooh: orthodoxy. The last refuge of scoundrels.

        “don’t ya think there would have been a mention of this in his adult life”

        I see no reason to believe that if their HAD been a mention of it, that said mention would have survived the re-writes and interpretations that the Bible has been through.

    • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

      “…the difference being that I find no fornicators (hetero) trying to organize and legislate for their rights…”

      Unmarried people who choose to have sex with members of the other sex without getting married first don’t organize to fight for their rights because they already have all the rights you do. Your statement is totally lacking in introspection at best and disingenuous at worst.

    • Patty Worrells

      How about John, the deciple whom Jesus loved, and with a special kind of love… A love that was even accepted by Mary the mother of Jesus at his crucifixion?

      • Daniel .

        Yes, good point patty. It goes to show that those who believe homosexual relationships are sinful, are still capable of heart-felt love towards those of their gender, and are not simply haters after all.

      • Patty Worrells

        You misunderstood me Daniel. Although I agree with your statement, it was not the point I was trying to make. I have always been curious about the relationship between Jesus and John. At the crucifixion, Jesus said to Mary, “behold your son” and to John, “behold your mother.” I believe there was a love relationship between Jesus and John. Not love in the brotherly sense, love in the biblical sense. Throughout to book of John, and the other gospels, John has always been referred to as the disciple Jesus loved. I don’t think this was John’s ego, I believe it just may have been true love. Jesus not only gave his mother to John, he gave John to his mother. Quite profound. I do not believe any of the 3 who remained to Jesus’ death ever believed homosexual relationships were sinful. I believe they witnessed and approved of them. That would be John, Mary M. and Mary the mother of Jesus.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=789525030 Caias Ward

      You do realize that the Bible was written by men in a time when women had few rights? What do you think they would put in the Bible?

  • histrogeek

    Thanks Dave for this. It is so very hard to see Christians being the spearhead of this abomination. And it’s no good trying to separate ourselves into “the good ones” and
    “the bad ones.” We have chosen to be part of a community that charges away to deny others, including other Christians and other Americans, their equal rights. I’d love to toss out my progressive Christian credentials, but it’s so inadequate compared to the magnitude of the evil we face. So we can only apologize and carry on the fight.

  • http://benirwin.wordpress.com/ Ben Irwin

    Seems to me some things are too important to decide by majority vote. It’s striking to hear some Christians brag about how they’ve now passed anti-gay marriage initiatives in 31 states. Seems to me that those who oppose gay marriage should think twice before using “democracy” to impose their will on others – if not for virtuous reasons, then perhaps for pragmatic ones. “Majority rule” can work against you just as easily as it can work in your favor. http://wp.me/p4PcB-15G

    • Patty Worrells

      Amen! It worked for Hitler!

  • Beth T

    I am proud to be a Christian, and to live in one of the handful of counties in NC (Orange, the one that Jesse Helms said to put a fence around and call the state zoo) that actually did vote against this thing. Disappointed? You bet I am. Surprised? Unfortunately, not really. I do believe that in the no-too-distant future a lot of us who voted AGAINST will be saying we told you so. What scares me is the division among Christians, that somehow if you are against Amendment one you are not a real Christian. What do I believe that Jesus would do? He preached love and acceptance, he dined with society’s most undesirables, he was a rebel rouser. I believe that he would have definitely voted AGAINST Amendment One. As Christians, we should all be living that word of love and acceptance but very few actually do.

    • Bweb

      What do I believe that Jesus would do? He preached love and acceptance, he dined with society’s most undesirables—at least the ones that REPENTED. I am not homophobic- but don’t twist Jesus into what you want. The bible is clear, please don’t be so blantantly blind. I wish the Gov’t would do away with any connection to marriage. Paul said come out from those unbelievers. Real Christians don’t worry about hell bound sinners- because that is what hell bound sinners do. And remember Mark 13:13. My best to you.

      • http://twitter.com/SpiffyKeen Spiffy Keen

        The Bible is anything but clear. There have been so many iterations of the text over the millennia and so many people who have felt the need to butcher it, that what we have now is not what was written originally.

        Also, it’s all about context, something that most fundamentalists lack. The text from Leviticus, which people quote most often as purportedly anti-gay, is from a veritable laundry list of no-no’s that the Jewish elders came up with in order to distance themselves from their polytheistic neighbors.

        Are you also aware that according to that list, a cotton-poly blend is an abomination in the eyes of God, as well? Are all the folks who shop at Walmart in danger of going straight to Hell because they mixed fabrics?

        Jesus — Remember him? He’s the one who gave his life as part of a new covenant with God that would do away with all of the wrathful Old Testament punishments — didn’t have a single word to say about homosexuality. Not one word either for or against. Know why? Because homosexuality, as a concept, word, etc., didn’t even exist back then. It was just one of the normals.

    • Daniel .

      Beth, yes, Jesus preached love. But acceptance … well in some ways, but not all. It was him who said “sin no more” (John 8:11) IE he wasnt accepting of sin. He wasnt supportive of same-sex marriage, but despite that, I suspect he would support civil unions, so I think youre right – I dont think he would have voted for Amendment One. Actually I dont think he was really into politics and I suspect he wouldnt have voted at all.

      • Lisa

        How do you know Jesus wasn’t accepting of same-sex marriage?
        Know what he had to say about the subject? Nothing. Not a thing.
        You’d think it if was so important to him, he’d have mentioned it. But he didn’t. Just kept telling people to love their neighbors and be good to each other. Speaks volumes.

    • Sylvia

      I really like what you wrote. I think Jesus is probably livid right now because of something that shouldn’t even be an issue! Contrary to popular Christian belief, gay people DO NOT CHOOSE to be gay! Choosing it would actually be complete insanity, but these hate mongers refuse to understand that. I didn’t choose to be gay any more than a straight person chose to be straight, and fundamental human and civil rights are inherently separate from religion. Religious beliefs are no excuse for practicing discrimination against homosexuals and treating us as second-class citizens. However, God forbid we should stop paying our local, state and federal taxes, because if we did, I guarantee that the government would hunt us down and would apply to us the same exact laws that apply to everyone else! In such a case, the government sure as hell would consider us as “equal” to all others, wouldn’t they? Once again, this topic shouldn’t even be an issue. ALL PEOPLE should be able to marry whom they love, regardless of gender. Such a simple concept but so difficult for many to comprehend. :-(

  • Shelvisentertainment

    Sick! Army GUYS are allowed to kill each other but not love each other?
    We are allowed to kill in war but not be together as one no matter male or female?
    It also reads thy shall not KILL in the Bible but babies are Killed everyday and that’s ok?
    NO I WILL NOT VOTE NO ON GAY PARTNERS GETTING MARRIED! I have a wonderful, loving sweet giving and a christian women i am married to and i love her! Not in body but in soul and deep love for one another.

  • Shelvisentertainment

    WONDERFUL STORY I LOVE THIS! A TRUE CHRISTIAN WHO UNDERSTANDS GOD’S LOVE!

    • Daniel .

      Have you read the Bible Shelvisentertainment?

  • soulsearcher

    As a gay Christian, I am so glad to read this article. Growing up, I always knew I was different, even as young as 4 or 5 years old. As I reached my teens years, and became aware of my sexuality, I became frightened. I spent many nights crying myself to sleep, asking God why He made me that way. I often heard from people, like my mother, that homosexuality was the only sin in the Bible that God doesn’t forgive, and that gay people would all go to hell, unless we changed to heterosexuality or lived a life alone, without love, or without a partner, a soulmate, in life (the proverbial “it’s ok to be gay, just not act on it…” message). I thought that God would strike me dead, even though I had no control over who I was, or my sexuality. I couldn’t understand how God could love everyone but me, especially since I never made a conscious choice to be this way. I contemplated suicide. I hated the thought of having to live alone, and not have someone to grow old with. So, I prayed. I prayed, and prayed, and prayed —- for 25 years!! You see, my mother insisted that if I asked God to take that awful sin out of me, that He would. And when I explained that He didn’t, I was told that I didn’t mean it when I prayed because God always removes sin from people who TRULY repent of it!

    So, I married, and found someone who wouldn’t be demanding of intimacy, and I asked God to bring me children, for two reasons: first and foremost, because I had always wanted children. And second, I thought it would help “change me.” And He brought me two beautiful children, and I kept praying for my sexuality to change through this marriage. It didn’t happen. I thought God, and Christ, weren’t listening to me and all my prayers, through all of my pain and tears, all those years.

    Well, one night, when I was challenged to try and hear what Christ was saying to me, what He wanted for my life, I realized it wasn’t that He wasn’t listening to me, it was that I couldn’t hear Him because my mother’s voice was drowning Him out! And then I could see Christ reaching for my hand, and telling me to come — as I am– with Him. And He started moving these boulders away, and letting me walk with Him, just as I am. I finally realized I got to have my own walk with Christ, and that He knows who I am, and accepts me as I am.

    I have since then become true to myself, and have parted ways with my ex-husband, with whom I am friends. He has moved on to the right relationship for him, and I have found an AMAZING Christian woman to spend my life with. My children are sooo much happier now that there is a REAL sense of family in their home. They see BOTH of their parents happier now. My partner and I are accepted, and active, in our church. I try not to spend time judging others. I wish the very vocal Christians who justify their hatred would just stop. While my partner’s family accepts me, and my siblings are coming around, my mother refuses to acknowledge my partner, and will not step foot in our home. It’s too bad because my partner takes such good care of me and my children, and my mother is missing out on so much as a result. Thank God that there are people like David Henson out there!

    • marie

      I love what you wrote about Jesus reaching his hand out to you. . .so beautiful. Hugs to you!

      • soulsearcher

        Thanks Marie… and hugs back!

    • Patty Worrells

      Soulsearcher, your walk was so much like mine. I am in tears reading your story. I spent 30+ years trying to be healed of what I felt was a defect that God placed in me at birth. Even more I felt “I” was defective. Secrecy ate me up from the time of my first memories. After a very hard break-up with my best-friend (we became intimate when we were 16 and broke up when she chose drugs and a man over me), I turned to the church. A fundamental christian church. I didn’t tell anyone about me for years, over 15 years. I prayed daily or more for deliverance from this horrible thing that plagued me. I attended Moody Bible Institute and studied Greek so that I could understand and follow Christ. I maintained celebacy in all areas for 20 years! I lead bible studies, sang in the choir, was a leader in the church. I knew I could not be with a man, and I could not have a woman. So I knew I would spend my life on this earth alone. I found out years later that I was taught MBI’s interpretation of the Greek, and the fundamental church’s interpretation of the bible. It was subjective interpretation which was to be as god-given as the bible.

      Finally I confided in my pastor at a church I was attending. This was about 14 years into my religious journey. The pastors and their wives agreed to pray and counsel me and help me receive a healing from this horrible affliction. Finally, they sent me to Wheaton College where I ministered to in order to be ready to be healed. There was a woman named Leann Payne who was known for “healing homosexuals” and she would put on 4 day seminars in which homosexuals could be healed. She would give lectures based from Freudian psychology intermixed with scripture. After the day long lectures and counseling sessions (which I now refer to as brainwashing) every night she would hold healing sessions. Many times I was doused with holy water and had “homosexual demons” cast out of me. It never worked. The only way I can describe the feeling is “pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization.” (I borrow this from a 12-step group I have also come to know well.) I went through this 4 times in approximately 2 years. The church’s answer was that it was always something in me, that didn’t want it enough. Some type of sin, some demon, someway I was blocking the spirit. There was something in me that was stopping the sunlight of the spirit from coming into my heart and cleansing me. I had been obiedient… for 20 years I had been celibate. I knew in my heart, I had given everything I had.

      It is quite interesting that it was in one of these seminars at a healing session, where people where running out of the room screaminng as demons flew out of them, or layed hold of them, that I heard that still, small voice inside of me, the one I have come to know as truth, say: “Patty, I have set you free. Why do you keep putting the chains back on?” I was sitting there with my bible open to Galatians.

      My brothers and sisters in Christ condemned that voice as the voice of satan. I knew differently. It was the voice of truth and good. It took me 2 years of exploration and seeking before I was truly able to accept myself for who I am, completely whole and just who I was meant to be.

      I had to make a decision to accept who I am completely or remain in a church who viewed me a vial. With much pain, I left the church, my family. I felt torn in two. But that was when the healing truly took place.

      Today I practice spirituality rather than religion. I know longer accept the things of christianity as truth. Some are, but I can recognize them. I now take truth from the things I see and the things I feel and those I know to be true. I believe in the spirit of the universe. I take the best of the best and I cherish it. I see truth in other people and am amazed as truth continually is brought forth from other people. There have been only a very small number of times when that still small voice speaks to me, but I recognize it now as I did then. Truth.

      I am also in a loving relationship. Fortunately for me, my mother and family accept my partner and our lifestyle completely. I have never been happier than I am today. And I only have today…..

      I wish you the best.

      • soulsearcher

        Patty, thanks so much for sharing this. I am glad you found the truth for your life. I have experienced the same feelings as you, although I haven’t been sent to any “healing” places. My source of healing has been to understand Christ’s message, and to constantly be reminded of His two greatest commandments: to love God with all your heart, and to love your neighbor as yourself. God does not promise to heal every affliction, every sickness, and every wound. He promises to love us unconditionally, and to strengthen us when we are weakened. What a testimony to the power of God’s love if we are able to love each of our neighbors as He commanded, without judgement and condemnation, and without deciding that it is our responsibility to “fix” or “change” people. Our duty is to love unconditionally, and let each person have their own relationship with God. God can use ALL of His to His glory.

    • Sean K Reynolds

      Soulsearcher, as a straight, married man in Seattle who loves and accepts his gay friends as equals: thank you. Thank you for your beautiful post.

      • soulsearcher

        Thank you Sean, and thank you for loving and accepting your friends, and not perpetuating the hate. God bless you!

  • Stephen H

    Why can’t dislike for a lifestyle choice be separated from dislike for a person? I dislike the gay lifestyle. I care for my gay friends. The Bible says homosexuality is not normal and is a sin. I believe that. Hence my dislike for the lifestyle. I don’t dislike the person that practices that lifestyle, however. I don’t hate people who choose to text on their phones while driving even though it’s super dangerous any more than I hate someone that practices homosexuality. Calling something hateful, doesn’t make it so. It just shows your lack of respect for other people’s beliefs. A vote was taken, and because a majority of those voting decided that marriage should only apply to unions between a man and a woman, it’s now hateful. You say you are a Christian, and that’s between you and God, but to be a Christian, you are supposed to be a follower of the Bible. The Bible is clear on homosexuality, both Old and New Testaments. You are not supposed to add or take away from it. So because it offends your liberal mindset about homosexuality, you’ve chosen to ignore what is clearly there. Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away or to make it wrong. Maybe you should reexamine your beliefs and whether or not you are a true Christian.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/davidhenson David R. Henson

      Because it’s not a lifestyle choice and your exegesis on the biblical passages regarding sexuality is deeply flawed and simplistic. Perhaps you are unaware that my current faith tradition the Episcopal Church has openly gay bishops and priests and is preparing to bless same-gender relationships. We consider ourselves true Christians just as I consider you a true Christian even though I have strong disagreements with you. Questioning one’s Christianity in a disagreement shows a lack of maturity and I expect a higher level of dialogue.

      The vote that was taken doesn’t make it hateful. It’s always been hateful.

      I will not tolerate hate speech in the comments section, so please choose your comments carefully if you respond.

    • Patty Worrells

      This is the bigotry that has always prevailed. I feel sad for you.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=789525030 Caias Ward

      Stephen,

      Please point out where Jesus condemned homosexuality.

      Also, do you eat bacon? Wear mixed fibers? Refuse to interact with menstruating women? Those are also prohibited in the Bible.

      Also, be aware that the prohibition on homosexuality was in reference to Canaanite temple prostitution as well as a necessity in a time where a nomadic culture with infant mortality rates through the roof required many children just to keep population numbers up.

      As for voting… there was a time when black people couldn’t marry white people. How do you feel about that?

  • Summer

    Thank you for this.

  • Patty Worrells

    Because of the things you stated above, and because I tried for 30+ years to be “healed” of the defect of homosexuality, I had to leave the christian (yes, a small c) church. I had been to seminary and studied Greek and the bible. Only to find out years later that they sold me their interpretation of the Greek, their interpretation of the bible. Today I am a free woman who is more of a pagan than anything else. I pull from all things true. I have fondly been drawn to native american spirituality. Today the ultimate being in me recognizes the ultimate being in you. Thank you, Native Son, for your honesty and for making a difference for good in this world.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Darren-Gottfried-Wilson/1524550179 Darren Gottfried-Wilson

    An refreshing take on the “christian vote”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xa4eRki7BFE&feature=related

  • Mag

    Hmmmm…. it appears you have gone from hating one group of people to hating another.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/davidhenson David R. Henson

      Which group would that be, the group that I call my brothers and sisters in the faith?

  • pete

    I would disagree that ‘Christianity’ is to blame. Christians are to blame. We have a tendency to misinterpret not only the Scriptures themselves, but their intent.

    The words of Jesus don’t speak to gay marriage, only the behavior. Acts of homosexuality are condemned, but so are greed, lust, and anger. One of my favorite (and increasingly relevant) verses is Romans, chapter 8. The law was powerless to save us because we could not uphold its requirements. Jesus came for us and died for us to fulfill those requirements. It is impossible to legislate morality. Gay marriage bans will only further polarize conservative christians and the LGBT community.

  • http://www.facebook.com/allien.smithee Allien Smithee

    I truly agree, and am also glad to hear you address the ‘Real Christian’ issue. People accuse you of being ignorant of your own faith, a Gnostic, a Universalist; all kinds of things when you stand up for the rights of non-Christians. I figure it like this: I had an instinct, a drive, a compulsion; to finally accept Christ at the age of 40. That same moral compass is what leads me to treat people as equals. Unless your gonna stand there and tell me Satan is the one that led me to Christ – I’m trusting my compass over your hate-mongering. (BTW; I live in NC and am proud to be in the 38% who voted Against). Here’s a little further reading:
    http://anthropologist.livejournal.com/1314574.html

  • Willrobinson1229

    Thank you for your honesty and courage. Your lack of self-denial and your integrity are inspiring. Best of luck to you as you grapple with these painful realizations. You will only have a more meaningful enriching life because of this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gerry.fisher Gerry Fisher

    It’s time to hold large, organized religions responsible for their poisonous political actions.

  • Jorgemar

    Very powerful. Thank you. I myself, although brought up Catholic, am not a Christian. But I would disagree with you that “Christianity” is to blame: it is a certain kind of Christianity, wedded to a particular culture. It is very hard to extricate the religion from the culture of a group, since each is used to reinforce the other. I know there is a kind of Christianity that is nothing like what you grew up with. I would blame basic ignorance and fear, stoked by certain churches instead of dispelled. The real sin here is that in the name of religion, fear and ignorance are reinforced: THIS is what I believe must be fought against with all our might.

  • pearlmoongirl

    Bravo, David. Thank you for articulating all of this so well, and please … hang in there.

  • http://erikscottdebie.com/ Erik Scott de Bie

    Well said, David. I’m so glad you spoke out and articulated your thoughts so well.
    As a married straight man who was raised Christian (United Methodist, in fact), I absolutely support the equal rights of all consenting adults–male or female, straight or gay–to have their relationships acknowledged the way mine is. You deserve these rights.
    Christians–real, loving, understanding Christians who follow Jesus–should be leading the charge to legitimize and legalize civil rights, not standing in the way.
    Keep the faith, and keep posting. We’ll win this fight together.
    Cheers

    • soulsearcher

      Erik… thank you for this post. Well said.

  • Kris

    Beautifully said. Thank you.

  • William Cook

    Native son of the Tarheel state myself, and directly effected by the spoken and unspoken anti-gay feelings I grew up with. As a proud gay NC son, I thank you for your words. I no longer live there, but whenever I return to visit family now, it will be with a heavy sadness and tempered anger. Surely it will be reversed, though I may not live to see it.

  • soulsearcher

    It also strikes me that, while I am a Christian, and chose to try to live out Christ’s commandment to love my neighbor as myself, I don’t believe that any religious belief (including Christianity) should be able to dictate the constitution that is in place for ALL Americans, not just the Christian faith. What if Christians were no longer the majority? Would it then be ok for another religious belief to dictate the laws of our country? What if Christians were now told that they couldn’t marry because it was against God according to the doctrine the new populous uses? Would they now rebel and say that religion should have no rule over their inalienable rights? What if the shoe were on the other foot here? The government should not be allowed to discriminate, or forced to discriminate, as a result of religious pressure. I think of the Pledge of Allegiance, which ends: “with liberty and justice for all,” and can’t help but want to change the last word to “some.”

  • Scottcorbin

    I feel your pain but please know that to say Christianity is at fault is to say Christ is at fault.
    Is islam to blame for 911?
    All these things done are of men and mankind. Peace is itself a lie as no peace shall be sustained under the canopy of heaven so long as man governs himself.
    So for now temper your rage and seek instead to embrace your foe and quietly and boldly set about changing their hearts and minds. That’s the only effective way to achieve social change. Not passing laws.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/davidhenson David R. Henson

      I prefer to let Muslims speak for Islam and trust their judgment. But I do see Christianity as a primary motivating force behind anti-LGBT legislation.

  • Brandon

    It’s great to read some of these stories, some not so much. I am an Aethiest, yet I respect everyone’s right to follow their own beliefs. But I do find it puzzling that as a gay person who is accepting of oneself, that anyone can continue to follow and be involved with a religion ( not just Christianity but we’ll focus on that as this is the common religion here) that condemns who you are. Feeling afraid that God will not forgive your sins and that you will be sent to Hell? What nonsense. How do people in the 21st Century still live their lives so strictly that to that what is preached. When do you step back and decide for yourself?

    • soulsearcher

      I understand completely what you are saying. But, how some Christians interpret Christianity does not change what I personally believe, which is that Christ is my savior. It was only in my childhood, and young adulthood, that I let some of these people, who were, at the time, very influential in my life, cause me to struggle deeply with this conflict. As an adult on my own journey, I was able to be freed of that type of condemnation as I came to know many Christians who also believed that Christianity means to be forgiving and accepting, showing love and compassion. This was what I had known in my heart all along. My relationship with Christ became the relationship I had always sought, as soon as I stopped listening to people who use religion to support their own personal beliefs instead of spreading the true message of Christ.

    • soulsearcher

      Brandon, to respectfully respond to what you’ve said, which is a very good point, I do not “follow,” nor am I “involved with a religion.” My faith is of my own conviction. I follow Christ. I don’t follow followers, because, as you see, some will lead you astray, albeit with what they feel are good intentions. Through my seeking of the truth for who Christ is in my life, I began to realize that when some Christians say something that leaves a bad taste in my mouth, that it is like a soured wine that should be spat out. I learned that if I focus on following Christ, I won’t be lured into being guided by the misguided. Knowing that Christ has not only freed me from the condemnation of those with bad intent, but has freed me from the condemnation of those with good intent, is both cleansing and joyous. It makes “the good news” even better!

  • Astropsyko

    “I am enraged that the land of my mother and father has been turned into a den of robbers that break into people’s bedrooms and relationships, cover it in hate and steal away human rights.”

    Extremely well written!

    I, too, believe that our God is a loving, accepting God. As He is our only judge, we as a Christian people should let go that aspect of many of our “faiths” and follow Jesus’ example in befriending the so-called outcasts of society, no matter their form.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/P76OAMZWKTFY6SMOLNVKH7COLU TruthSayer

    Lots of interesting comments but the fact is that there is nothing but discrimination at the root level of religion. If all the religions of the world were rolled into one you would soon see a breakout of people who were devout believers starting a new cult of religion so they could be different, and therefore discriminate, from all the ‘sinners.’ Tell me again how many ‘christian’ cults there are and then explain how they could all arrive at the delusional belief that 0nly they are ‘right’ and all others are just misled sinners.

  • TPhill

    Thank you for sharing your feelings in such a poignant way. I am a Southern, Christian Democrat and the way this issue has amplified the ignorance that surrounds it absolutely breaks my heart. For my gay friends and family, I feel their pain and try not to let it progress into destructive anger. For my judgmental Christian friends and family, I feel great sadness. It’s as you said, they think my tolerance is wrong and there is no convincing them that their judgment of another human is in itself sinful. Their choice to close their mind to the opportunity to find love and understanding for a group of people because they are different is distressing for me. This brings me to my greatest weakness. I find myself with my own judgmental feelings towards those who judge others. This conflict turns me into the thing that I detest the most. I do, however, have faith that someday we will evolve into a more mature, loving society.

  • Jhlangworthy

    thanks

  • http://twitter.com/shalom08 Shalom

    As a gay Christian, this post is greatly appreciated.

  • guest

    You people are blinded by sin and you don’t even know it. Jesus taught love yes, but he did not condone homosexuality. It’s a sin that he died on the cross so that your sins would be forgiven and so that we all can have a personal relationship with Him. Don’t blasphemize the Bible to make it say what you want.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/davidhenson David R. Henson

      Jesus didn’t say anything about homosexuality, actually.

  • frankwick

    You don’t need to be a homophobe to disagree with homosexuality. I believe marriage should be between a man and a woman and my gay friends understand and respect this. I could probably be talked into benefits for committed couples, but not marriage itself. Christ did not hate homosexuals but he did not condone their activity. In fact, he invited them to listen to him and showed his usual welcoming attitude. we should all learn from him.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/davidhenson David R. Henson

      Christ didn’t say anything about homosexuality actually.

  • Meical abAwen

    Wow. A Christian with integrity. You give me hope for your kind. Kudos, David.


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