“Should I leave my anti-gay church, or try to change it from within?”

Here’s a letter I recently received:

Dear John,

I just found this blog and I am so excited! I did not know so many other people out there believe as I do.

I grew up in an evangelical mega-church in Iowa, and was raised to know what I believed, and why I believed it. So for that reason I thank my crazy church, because when I got to college and actually met people who weren’t white or straight or Christian, I started to do my own research about why I believed things such as “homosexuality is a sin.” And I realized that I did not have a reason to believe that. I completely agree with what has been stated on this site over and over, which is that if people would only read the Bible in context, and use their logic and reasoning skills, they would come to the same conclusion about the “sinfulness” of homosexuality, which is that it’s no sin at all.

I did not, though, do a complete 180, and throw away my faith in God. I just had to change some beliefs not central to my core beliefs.

The Christians at my church do not understand this type of thinking at all. They believe that you have to take all of the Bible literally, or take none of it at all. The atheists at my college think the same way; the only difference is that they have decided there are inconsistencies in the Bible, and so have tossed out the whole thing — which, in my opinion, is just as bad. I have not yet met another person (offline!) who is trying to find a way to bring faith and social justice together.

If anyone has an answer to my question I would appreciate hearing it. I am wondering if I should stay at my church (which preaches each Sunday against homosexuality — which is specifically cited as a sin in the code of the Assemblies of God international church) and try to make a change from the inside,  or should I just get out of that hate-filled place, and find an open church? The latter would be easier, but I wonder if it is right to leave my friends and family behind that way? It is stressful to stay in that environment, because there I am attacked by pastors who accuse me of misleading their flock, and I have been told by my parents that the devil has confused my mind. But if I let them drive me away, how will they ever hear the truth?

Amazing. You guys just kill me with these letters.

What a good, open, well-meaning heart this person has! Honestly, it’s letters like this that send me to sleep every night optimistic about the mission upon which so many of us have embarked. Ten people like this in the world can end up changing the world.

Though, that said, here’s my two-cents on question at hand:

Dear Inspiringly Good-Natured and Earnest Young Person,

Leave your church so fast you leave airborne bulletins in your wake. Life’s too short. The primary thing to which we all must tend is ourselves. You don’t need anyone in your life — and especially not anyone as meaningful as your parents and church leader — telling you that you’re evil, weak, stupid, confused, manipulative, blah blah blah you scare us because your love is greater than ours.

I’ve been in the “But wait! I’m making sense!” business of intra-religious dialogue for a long time now. And it’s been my experience that you’re about as likely to come across a guitar-playing peacock as you are a fundavangelical-type Christian willing to reconsider their conviction that (in essence) God hates fags.

That’s not to say such questioning folks aren’t out there. There are plenty of Christians (and more every day, praise God) who are realizing that the case for the Biblical justification for the full acceptance of homosexuality is at least as credible as the traditional case against it.

But given what you’ve written, I don’t think there are too many peacocks in your church trying to pluck their way through the “Free Bird” guitar solo. A big part of life is going with the odds, right? Well, odds are you would do more good out in the world leading a healthy, nurtured, loving life than you would staying in a place where it was generally accepted (and from the top down, no less) that you wouldn’t know Satan from Santa.

Here’s my real (and non-cartoonish) suggestion for how to leave your church: tell your pastor, your parents, and perhaps a few others whom you think should be there that you want to meet and talk with them for one half-hour without being interrupted. At that meeting explain to the group that you have arrived at the decision to leave your church. (It’s likely that right about there you’ll be constrained to remind them of their agreement not to interrupt you.) Share the pain that decision causes you; how much the church means to you; how difficult it was for you to decide as you have. Lead them through the process by which you arrived at the conclusion you have. Don’t try to sell them on why you’re right about gays and Christianity; just talk to them about what being so sure you’re right on that issue has meant, does mean, and will continue to mean to you.

During the conversation following your half-hour solo, try asking your pastor if he would be willing to facilitate any sort of congregation-wide conversation about the LGBT/Christian issue: a one-day symposium, perhaps, or an ongoing series of classes and discussions. If you’ve given it as much thought as you have, surely there are others in your congregation who at the very least would appreciate an open, honest conversation about an issue that is, after all, cleaving the American Protestant church. Ask your pastor if there isn’t a way that, as a church, you guys could at least talk about the relationship between homosexuality and Christianity. (If he shows any interest in moving ahead with such an effort, send him to This I Know, a wonderful [and wonderfully inexpensive] tool for churches with groups looking for a safe and comfortable atmosphere in which to constructively and productively engage about this issue.)

If your pastor is open to that sort of endeavor, then who knows: you might end up staying at that church after all. But if he’s not, and he tells you he’s not, then he’s just another blind man leading blind people around in ever-tightening circles. Then with a clean conscience you can do as Jesus advises his disciples to do at Mark 6:11:

And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.

Jesus said that to his disciples as he sent them out into the world two by two. If you leave your church, you may feel as if you are doing so alone. But rest assured that the other person in your two-person team will be Jesus himself.

About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • http://www.canyonwalkerconnections.com Kathy Baldock

    The tipping point is coming when people out = money not in, leads to “re evaluating our views with more compassion” = oh well, it is too late leads to church that are welcoming snagging the congregants. And in the meantime, some of the rejected will wander away and never look back. Church planning FAIL. I would slow this process down a bit. Meeting one on one with the pastor/pastors. Challenge them with their OWN mission statement and ask how it applies to glbt people. Under what circumstances are they wiling to let the glbt person stay and participate (ie celibacy, not serving, stepping down from serving). Then I would go away, write an thoughtful letter. Sit on it for a week, Edit it and ask to read it to the next counsel/ staff meeting. Say goodbye and contact me so that I can start “working” on them too. Then go to http://www.gaychurch.org/ and find new church home to heal, grow and serve God in. And thank God you survived .

    • Diana A.

      I like this!

  • Scott Amundsen

    “I have not yet met another person (offline!) who is trying to find a way to bring faith and social justice together.”

    That’s one of the great things about the Internet; it has the potential to connect people who are close in ideology but far apart in distance. That being said, I would say to the writer of this letter, “As you search for a new church (which I suspect you will be doing unless a miracle happens), keep your eyes and ears open; there are a lot more of us out there than you think.”

    The United Church of Christ, the Metropolitan Community Church, The Presbyterian Church USA, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Unitarian Universalist Association, as well as the Reconciling Ministries Network within the United Methodist Church, are just a few of the Protestant denominations in America that have embraced full inclusion and acceptance of LGBT persons. In fact I think there is a Pentecostal/Assembly of God LGBT group, but I confess I am not very familiar with it or how widespread it is.

    Keep the faith.

  • Leo

    I’ve seen many fundamentalists change. I was one of them, but they can’t be changed except by people that they view as on their side already.

    If you’re committed to the hopelessness that they are unchangeable, then your advice makes sense. The Gospel insists that we hope. I’ve SEEN it happen. It happened to me. Leaving them to their own foolishness is a very sad kind of abandonment of the hope which God asks us to have.

    • Janey

      I agree with you. I’ve seen it happen too. I talk with people nearly every week about the issue. I’ve seen the Prop 8 bumper stickers disappear off their cars. I’ve seen people change their tune.

      So I guess my advice is to do what the Holy Spirit guides you to do.

  • http://www.edgegal.com em

    I’d also start attending the accepting church, to see how you feel about it and have a network for support should you leave your church. I agree, life is too short to spend time arguing.

    When I stepped away from Christianity (and found it again with a liberal church), I had arguments w/my whole family and finally when I did go back to church, they didn’t accept it either. At this point, I don’t really care what they think and am happy w/my life and doing good work with my Episcopal church. :) Good luck!

  • Tara Bobara

    I agree you should leave, though I it’s so sad. I think it’s probably a waste of your time to attempt reasoning with them, it’s that whole “pearls before swine” thing. But if you need to do that so you can walk away knowing you tried everything possible to make it work, then do that. You will probably never change the attitude of people like the ones you’ve described, mainly because they don’t want to change their attitudes. They are right, you are wrong and trying to convince them of anything else, is likely to be a waste of your loving, positive energy. But there are plenty of flocks out there which are not exclusive clubs for heterosexuals, and where you will not find people continually being condemned for who they are and what they believe. Go find love and acceptance there, with a church that is deserving of you. It’s not your responsibility to stay in an abusive situation to try and make it right. Sometimes, you just have to cut your losses. I know that personally I could not go to a church where I had to endure what you’re describing and I admire you for trying so hard up to this point.

    I”m really sorry that you’re having to make this choice. Someday, I hope attitudes will change in this country and no one will have to go through this again.

    To quote a previous post on this site: “The rejection of the glbt community is not about their relationship with God. If I cannot fully love unconditionally, it is about MY relationship with God.” I love this. I wish that most churches could see that their hateful treatment of homosexuals is a much greater sin than the homosexual lifestyle ever could be. Love in all its many forms is Godly- judging, condemning and treating others with hatred is absolutely not.

  • Dani

    Research churches before you decide. Even within

    Accepting denominations there are individual churches

    That are not. I am a UCC member and we have a designation

    Called “open and affirming,” American baptists have “welcoming

    And affirming.” God bless your search for a new church home.

    • Diana A.

      Yes indeed!

  • Malcolm

    A group called Freedom2b may be of interest to those reading this especially from the Assemblies of God and pentecostal and charismatic traditions. It operates in Australia but does have online forums: http://www.freedom2b.org

  • A’isha

    I have a different perspective on this than John and many others. I’m a lesbian who attends a Free Methodist church. They’re very evangelical, and in a nutshell, their belief regarding homosexuality is it’s wrong. Here’s a link to their actual long-version of their stance on it: http://tinyurl.com/4xw6goj

    This is the church I grew up in…and left. For close to 20 years I was absent from the church, from any church. I returned to the church of my youth for reasons that are hard to articulate, but mainly I missed God. I missed fellowship with other believers, and I was searching for something. Along the way I realized it wasn’t God who had rejected me, but I rejected him based on the condemnation of humans. Fallible humans. My parents are both pastors in the church and both love me no matter what, but for some reason (probably in part to keep their jobs) they don’t take a stand about it. They have told people who discovered I’m gay that I’m exactly the same person I was before they knew about my sexuality. In fact, last week at church, sitting in the front pew, is when I told my dad about a woman I’m seeing.

    So why do I stay besides the fact that my parents are pastors? More and more I meet people within the church, within MY church, that don’t have an issue with it. Just today one of my friends from church “liked” a page that John here recommended originally, “Gay and Lesbian Christian Ministry.” Another friend from church told me today she was really happy about my new relationship. The more these people see me living a fairly Godly life, trying my best to follow Christ, the more they see that me being a lesbian doesn’t factor into that equation. I’m a Christian because I choose to be; I’m lesbian because I was born that way.

    That’s not really the full answer though. I stay because I feel specifically called to be a voice of truth and reason, to urge people to actually use their God-given reason and intelligence to discover what He actually says about LGBT people instead of what the standard church opinion has been for so long. I have to do this. I have to stay. I have to be vocal. And above all else, I have to be truly and transparently myself.

    This doesn’t mean that at times I wouldn’t love to have an affirming church to attend. The fact is, they just aren’t here. The closest gay-welcoming/affirming church is a 3-hour drive from me. At times it would be so wonderful to just be free to be who I am without people watching my every move. That would give me the freedom to screw up, to seek wisdom and advice from other followers of Christ. But this is the life I have at the moment, and it’s pretty darn good most of the time.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      This is a fantastic response, A’isha; thank you so much for it. One thing I wanted to point out, though, is that my answer to this person would have been different if he/she wasn’t so young. You came back after 20 years away, and so when you did carried with you a perspective a younger person can’t possibly have. That’s why I sort of right at the top of my advice to this young person said something about first and foremost needing to secure for his/herself a life that’s right and healthy for them. The kind of relationship you now have with your church is informed by a degree of maturity and discernment that I don’t think we should expect from someone really just starting out in life. So, that’s … that difference.

      • A’isha

        So, John, are you calling me old? ;)

        That definitely makes a difference though. At 20-something there’s no way I was mature enough to handle the possible complications that arise from questioning the authority of the church.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

          Oh, for sure. And it’s not something I would have said directly to the letter writer; as we all know, you can’t SAY to a young person that some day they’ll be … wiser (though I’m not sure that’s even the word for it; I suspect it’s not). But, yeah: when she’s older, if she comes back to her church she will be to it the light and blessing that I know you are to your church. But before then, I hate to think of her there, being hurt by her parents and pastor.

          • Diana A.

            It actually isn’t even an issue of chronological age. Keep in mind that Kara (I think that’s her name–I haven’t seen her posting here for a while but she’s the homeschooled lesbian young woman who has been so eloquent in expressing her reasons for believing that homosexuality is not a sin) is probably younger than the person who wrote you this letter and yet she is quite strong in her convictions, due to having studied it extensively.

            I do agree with your advice to the OP–mostly because this is a new thing for her and she’s so clearly in the minority at her church with her new point-of-view. She needs to develop her own emotional and spiritual strength before she can stand up effectively to those who still believe that homosexuality is wrong.

  • Dan

    Really? Leave just because a church says something you don’t like? any sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage is a sin, that’s what the bible says, so sadly, homosexuality falls in that category

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Yeah, that’s all I said, Dan: that she should just leave. Sheesh. Read much?

    • DR

      Super easy, very clear. Might as well just pack it up and go home.

    • Molly by Golly

      Romans 14 remains an elloquent reminder that despite a common faith, the practical implications of being a student of Jesus have always varied.

      Leave this church. Don’t waste another moment spitting into the wind of this generation’s purity debates. Find like minded Christians and use your energy living the message of Christ to the best of your ability.

    • Dirk

      Interesting, Dan.

      Do you believe we should follow, exactly all the words of the Bible?

      Or only the ones which you like?

    • Don Whitt

      @Dan: Why would someone spend their spiritual life in the arms of people who hate? That makes no sense.

      • Don Whitt

        Duh-oh! If hatred is okay, then it makes perfect sense to hang out with haters. Sorry I was so slow on the uptake and logic of it all. Need more sleep.

    • http://polygonsandsprites.wordpress.com/ Blake

      “sadly”, yes, seems like you’re really torn about this.

  • Noellajane

    This post couldn’t be more timely for me personally. I work for a chuch that is supposed to be open and welcoming but I have noticed the members and leaders are not as open as the tagline says. For some reason, it is something I’ve been struggling with especially the past week. But to leave is much easier said than done.

  • David J Martin

    Like this fellow, I struggled with who i am created to be versus my

    Church’s” teaching on homosexuality (Catholic: not sinful to be homosexual but sinful to express yourself lovingly physically). Catholicism interprets Scripture contextually but lapses into literal interpretation to suit her teachings. Having said that, I did not leave the “Church” the universal Body of Christ which includes ALL people, believers or not. aware of Him or not. For if one “loves” and serves hi/her neighbor he/she does the will of the Father. Having been dismissed from a diaconate training program because of appearances…not any impropriety…my eyes were opened that the particular parish I worshiped at was not accepting/welcoming, I searched for a true Christian parish which was nonjudgmental…accepting of all people…just as Christ accepted all people for none of us is perfect. I found it and am able to worship as a gay married man with five children who came out after 38 years of marriage…still married though living apart…because for both of us divorce is not desired…we love each other…but that love has evolved. My children, save one, are accepting and loving. My point is my Faith is rooted deeply in Christ…the universal Church…not in the human dictates and rules of any human institution which has usurped the authority to judge from God. Even that is a false teaching…we judge ourselves by our failure or success in this life to truly care for and love one another. Misdeeds, “sins”…prefer to call them personal selfish acts…are outweighed by the chief driving force in our life” capacity to and actually loving unconditionally.

    • DR

      Wow this is my experience as well. One can remain catholic within a gay-affirming parish but it’s very difficult. I won’t give money to the church but I do support the ministries it supports directly that I believe in.

  • Dirk

    I would say that John’s advice is excellent.

    It won’t change their minds, indeed, you will be subjected to the most appalling abuse. And that will make the decision to leave easier: You will have seen their true colors.

    The truly sad aspect of all of this upheaval in the American conservative churches is that, once the ‘gay’ problem is resolved, however it be resolved, there will be another group to hate in no time at all.

    That’s just the way this mindset works. I wouldn’t be surprised it there weren’t an inscription over their bathroom mirrors: You’re not paranoid, they really are out to get you. That is the driving force of this hatred of the other.

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ sdgalloway

      I am trying to find something positive out of your comments Dirk, honestly I am, but I am having a bit of a problem trying to get past all the venom.

      Whether you like it, or agree with it or not, attempting to place all conservative minded Christians into a small mindset based on hatred and violence is like trying to place all dogs into the category of Labrador Receiver. It just doesn’t work, no matter how hard you try.

      • Diana A.

        No, Dirk’s contribution to this conversation is not to be positive. Dirk isn’t coming from a positive place. Rather, he is coming from a place of raw pain and the rage that results from such pain. And reprimanding him isn’t going to help (I’m saying this because a lot of people are trying to get him to tone down his pain–this isn’t directed at you specifically–you’re just the one with whom I’m finally able to articulate what I’m seeing here.) Rather, he needs to be allowed to speak his rage no matter how unChristian or venomous it might seem. Eventually, I believe he will work his way through it. But that’s not going to be an overnight process.

        • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ sdgalloway

          And I suspect that you would be right Diana. Dirk is likely not the only one around who have been deeply hurt by people who also happen to be Christians. And that is the point that I was trying to make. People with particular views sometimes don’t realize that how they portray those views don’t line up with the views themselves. Or that people, regardless of faith, often can be biased, bigoted, or ignorant of the fact that how they treat others can be anything but respectful or loving.

          I think we all can improve on the simple yet impossible task of treating others better. I know I sure can.

          • Dirk

            Let me reiterate.

            While I am knee-deep in the debris of elderly, widowed, poor and orphaned people’s homes trying to help them, my parents – good, decent Christians – are being THREATENED with physical violence because I dared to bring my gay self back to our conservative little slice of Dixie hatred.

            Threatened by conservative Christians.

            You folks who think this is just ‘working through rage’ are missing the point.

            We gays, lesbians and the transgender are under direct, actual, real physically violent attack from conservative Christians.

            For us, this is not an academic issue, one which is resolved by processing inappropriate responses to illusions and non-real issues.

            I suggest you try actually reading the serious work of real journalists on the situation in Uganda. Try checking up on my statements regarding the suicide rate of teens in Bachmann’s home district. Look at the statistics on increasing levels of extreme violence against the gays, lesbians and the transgender in the US.

            Check out in how many states we have NO civil rights, states where it is legal to discriminate against us. I’m betting there will be at least one outraged comment that that is not true.

            Find out just how many places in the US can, and do, still prevent a spouse and child from visiting the bedside of a dying husband or wife, father or mother.

            Then, maybe, you might want to rethink whether your position that conservative Christians are the victims of my fury is righteous or not.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ sdgalloway

            Oh your anger is justified Dirk. That people would threaten your parents with physical harm is not only unethical but illegal. I live in the south as well, and hear what is said, and its unethical as well. It saddens and angers me too. Of course I am not walking in your shoes, but I can respect and try to understand where you are coming from.

            Yet I firmly believe in showing a better way, channeling anger to a work out positive outcomes. Of quietly yet determinedly demonstrating that caring about the people in my community means all the people in that community.

            What is happening is wrong, I utterly agree with that. To focus so strongly on hating a group of people has problems that those doing so simply do not recognize. We may not be able to change many of those people’s views. But I think that we can change some of the views, while showing future generations what God’s love is really about.

            one of my favorite quotes reads “Hatred does not cease by hatred, only by love. It is the eternal rule.” The quote is so true regardless of one’s religious affiliation. And I believe that is the key to solving the problem of hatred towards any segment of humanity.

          • http://djfree@blogspot.com DJ

            Dirk,

            I hear you. And I (think) I get it. I have (knock on wood) never been physically threatened with violence myself post-high school (though there have been times I’ve felt quite threatened, thus my hubby and I rarely hold hands or show affection in public). So, I don’t know what it’s like to be on the blunt end of the scorn directed to you and your family by the type of conservative Christians you speak of.

            I WILL say, however, that there are so many Conservies (as I like to call them) out there who aren’t intent on hate and violence. There are a lot who have good hearts, even if bad theology and poor orthopraxy.

            My parents are a case in point. Both EASILY fall in the category of “conservative Christian”, and both showed up to my marriage to my husband.

            People can change. People CAN learn to treat gay people with equality and love. Even conservative Christians. Sure, there are some bigots among them who won’t change no matter how much reason or Jesus you present to them. For those people, I feel truly sorry. Sure there are some that will use Jesus to justify their violence and vitriol. Those, I trust, will get everything they deserve.

            I think where people around here get concerned (perhaps), is that in castigating the ENTIRE group based upon the ignorance of the vocal minority, you may actually contravene the very type of productive dialogue that actually promotes CHANGE in people’s hearts and minds.

            I, personally, have not been around these parts long enough to see the “venom” of which others speak. I do see your grudge though. I do see anger. I do think both are justified on your part. But I also hope that you don’t stoop to the very level of the deplorably acting people with whom you (and I) are so repulsed.

          • Don Rappe

            While your story points out a real craziness, I tend to associate it more with a certain type of Southerner than a certain type of religion. I recall a time about half way across my life when a park employee was rude to my wife at Edisto Beach in South Carolina. It was really our first time being in the (American) South. When I came upon the situation the man quit hollering at my wife, changed color from red back to white, and began to apologize to me and try to justify himself. Since I am not particularly physically imposing, I was sort of amazed at his behavior. He appeared to have a cowardly fear of men, but, felt free to intimidate a woman. There seems to be some kind of love of bullying in some subset of the southern culture.

          • Diana A.

            Would you believe that there’s been a study done on this which backs you up? In Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers,” there’s a chapter in there called “Harlan, Kentucky” (subtitled “Die like a man, like your brother did!”) Basically, the “culture of honor” syndrome in the South can be traced back to the culture of their English borderland ancestors several centuries back, through their Appalachian ancestors and still influencing even the modern southerners. It’s pretty interesting.

          • cat rennolds

            While this is true, as I have reason to know, (I not only live in the south, my people are “from here,”) it aggravates and is aggravated by extremist Christian beliefs. People are far more apt here to justify bad behavior with Christ’s name. They are still trying to hold on to a culture they can’t admit is dying.

          • Diana A.

            Hi Cat!

            Yes, I see your point.

      • DR

        I don’t agree with Dirk’s sweeping views on Conservative Christians but there is a point he and a lot of others are making is critical for those of us who are Christians to hear. To keep hammering him on how angry he is detracts from the points we have just got to start listening to, if people can’t get past the anger then it’s truly our own emotional maturity that’s blocking that.

        There are many gay men and women who are actually fearful for their lives, the life of their spouses and their kids. And they are furious that the more mainstream, reasonable Christians (who represent the majority) have focused our time and attention and our finances making sure that gays can’t get married or debating this theology instead of shutting down the violence that people in our name are doing, and in the name of Jesus. He’s right to be angry, to qualify it or plead with him to be something other than exactly what he is because it somehow serves us seems to be very unreasonable in my opinion.

        • DR

          (our own *lack* of maturity, rather)

          • Dirk

            That’s right on, DR.

            Look, part of the problem here is one of definitions.

            For many here, I am NOT a Christian. My rejection of the hatred of the American Christian churches automatically makes me non-Christian.

            For others, my being gay means I am not a follower of Christ.

            Others, like Brian, use the coded language of ‘hate the sin, love the sinner’ in a (failed) attempt to hide their true agenda.

            So, let’s begin with definitions.

            OK, what one uniting characteristic can be assigned to ‘conservative’ Christians.

            Let’s see.

            Hmm.

            Oh, I know.

            They do nothing to stop the direct American led Ugandan Kill The Gays legislation. They may not actively support it, but they do nothing to actively oppose it.

            That’s the real problem. As long as the gays being killed are those barefoot hottentot darkies down there, who cares?

            Skip the rest, like the fact that conservative Christians only vote Republican and ALL Republican candidates who have a shot at the presidency have publicly stated that they want to make homosexuality illegal again and punishable with prison terms. Forget that ALL Republican candidates who have a shot at the presidency support laws stripping gays, lesbians and the transgender of the few minor rights we enjoy in a few states.

            Just focus on the fact that no conservative Christians are actively opposing the Kill the Gays legislation in Uganda.

            None.

            And now, in 3…2…1 we will hear that that’s off the table and it wasn’t really meant that way, anyway, it was only for ‘aggravated’ homosexuality.

          • DJT

            Which presidential candidates want to make homosexuality illegal?

          • Dirk

            I am glad you asked that.

            Rick Santorum (do google him, please).

            Michelle Bachmann

            Hermann Cain

            Rand Paul

            Shall I continue?

            I never make statements here which I can’t back up because conservative Christians are such liars.

          • DJT

            I will definitely look those up. I know that they are against gay marriage, but I didn’t know they wanted to make homosexuality illegal.

            I am a conservative, and not a liar. I’m also a republican who wishes my candidates would stay away from trying to legislate religious beliefs.

          • Diana A.

            I too wish that politicians would quit trying to legislate religion. Keeping church and state separate is vital for both church and state.

          • Dirk

            Oh my paws and whiskers, they just keep coming:

            http://gay.americablog.com/2011/08/romney-joins-bachmann-and-santorum.html.

            DJT, is this enough for you or shall I continue?

          • DR

            DJT is this a serious question? how else do you interpret not wanting gay men and women to be married, legally? Rick Santorum has said that his hatred of homosexuals runs so deeply, he believes they are the ruin of this country, Google “Michele Bachman, gay quotes” and you’ll find all she’s said about “the gay problem”. It’s despicable and with all due respect, as a conservative who believes the way you do I don’t give you a pass. These people are in your conservative tend – they’re your mess to clean up. I find it difficult to have tolerance for conservatives who question their own party’s front runners’ views on homosexuality. I just don’t get it.

          • Dirk

            Thanks, DR.

            If these first years of the twenty-first century have shown us anything, it is that conservative Christians lie through their teeth without the slightest hesitation or remorse.

            They call their hatred of gays, lesbians and the transgender ‘love’.

            They call President Obama a ‘boy’ and a ‘tarbaby’ then boldly say that those figures of speech do not, in any way, mean what they mean.

            Right now, this week, they are lying before a federal court, claiming that the sole purpose of marriage is to promote sexual reproduction.

            They lie, whether by omission or commission is irrelevant, lies are lies, when they insist that the statistics showing that well over 40% of homeless CHILDREN in the US were kicked out of their homes by their conservative Christians parents because the child is gay, lesbian or transgender.

            They lie when they say sexual orientation is mutable. They lie when they say we hate God and can not be true Christians. They lie….

            They lie like rugs. Filthy, dirty, reprehensible lies and the biggest lie of all: They claim that their lies are in the service of God whose mind they claim to know.

          • Dirk

            Oh, great. Just great. Now, DJT, we can add Rick Perry to the list of haters:

            http://joemygod.blogspot.com/2011/08/tx-gov-rick-perry-wants-constitutional.html

            Do you want more? I had stopped at just those first few thinking the point was made. Unfortunately, I can continue to back up my statement regarding the Republicans for quite a few other candidates.

          • DJT

            Ok, so I suppose I am not a conservative after all since I don’t believe the things you and Dirk say I believe or say the things conservatives say about the president and I don’t hate gay people.

            I wasn’t looking for an argument, just asking a question.

          • DR

            DJT you get to be who you say you are – if you identify as a conservative and support gay rights then I believe you. What I also believe though (and it applies to me as well), if we self-identify using a generalization like “conservative” or “Christian” (in my case), we’re responsible for the people we influence who have power underneath that umbrella. For example I’m Catholic and as such, I’m responsible for the priests that are molesting kids if I’m financing the church with my tithing. As a conservative, I hold you responsible for those underneath that particular umbrella that are taking such extreme measures to block gay men and women from legal marriage (and also, working behind the scenes in countries like Uganda where being gay actually is illegal categorically). You guys are voting these people in, not us. So for me, while I’m supportive of giving you the full and absolute last word on who you are as a *person*? I believe there are some collective responsibilities we are a part of if we associate with a particular group.

            I hope that adds a bit more detail to what my opinion is.

          • DJT

            DR, I hope you get to see this. It’s been a few days since I’ve been on the blog. Also, I couldn’t get this to “reply” directly under your last comment.

            Thanks for the polite and civil reply. I can see through reading some of your old posts that you’re very passionate on this subject.

            I guess I would say that I’m a conservative in the political sense more than in the religious sense, as I don’t take the Bible literally in most cases. I was raised in an Assembly of God church. I was young fundie. Now I’m a middle aged Episcopalian. My feelings and beliefs on gays have changed dramatically. Such change doesn’t happen over night, and God is still at work in my heart.

            You have given me something to think about in terms of being responsible for what other conservatives say/do.

            Thanks for trying to understand.

            Debbie

  • DR

    The letters you receive KILL me. Some break my heart and others like this one are so encouraging.

    Lovely letter sender, the people we worship with and the place where we worship needs to be safe where we don’t have to worry about this kind of thing. Ultimately, we are all responsible for ourselves, Scripture says we find what we seek. I know the responsibility you feel towards the burden you have and I believe that is good! But the people in your current church – like you – have a choice to put *themselves* in places just like you did, whether it be school or a book club or even this blog so they can seek what they want to find and then find it. It’s not your responsibility to show anyone anything. Your responsibility is to love God with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength and let others experience that from you. And if they are challenged by you and say so? Then you deal with it.

    We need to start letting these churches wither on the vine. We need to stop giving them money which is so difficult because they are doing some incredible things for a lot of people. But we can’t show up with our resources anymore and our butt in a seat is a sign of success.

    Much love to you. Whatever decision you decide will be the right one. Thank you for writing this it is so encouraging. xoxoxo

    • Dirk

      So true – we must stop financing hatred.

      And, yes, the conservative Christians also do some good things.

      Just as did the Nazis, who made the streets safe to walk at night.

      And they were really good to dogs.

      • DR

        I also know Conservative Christians who are out there fighting for gay rights as much as anyone here on this forum. They deserve to be called out and acknowledged as such. And I also know conservative christians who just didn’t realize they were participating in such damage and with some education, also changed.

  • Mindy

    This is one of those very challenging situations that can be met head on in different directions. I agree with John’s advice – life IS too short, and you can do great work in a church in which your values are shared. If you leave, do it as he suggests, or as Kathy B. suggests in a comment below – make sure they are challenged to THINK, and make sure they know why you are leaving, as well as where you will go and who you will support the church you ultimately join. They certainly need to know that they are losing you to another church, not that you are just giving up on religion.

    I don’t believe you are giving up hope – I believe you are looking for an avenue through which to spread your hope further. And maybe some of those close-minded church members will eventually miss you and those like you enough to explore your new destination, and begin the process of opening their own minds.

    I wish you the best – you sound like a wonderful young person!

  • Kristyn

    Having been raised in the Assemblies of God, myself, and having spent way too many summers at their headquarters/camp, in Falling Waters W. Va, I would also advise this critically thinking and compassionate person to leave and to learn about other Christian traditions. Fortunately for me, my father left the Assemblies of God when I was about 15, and we started attending a Presbyterian (PCA) church. From there, I went on to attend an Anababtist College–and learned still more about what each Christian tradition tries to emphasize. Today, I do what I can to fight for LGBT equality and inclusion, but I have found that my time in the Assemblies of God has made me uniquely qualified to speak to them in their own language. Through Face Book, and the internet, I’ve been able to soften a few hearts, lately. It is my hope that they will take that new found empathy back to their churches and begin a small movement for change.

  • Linda B

    I think forher own growth she maybe should leave for a while if she can find another church that meets her needs. But in time she may find she has a greater voice there to right some of the worngs.

    Does anyone know any books I can read that will give the contextual perspecive on how to interpret scriptue? I come form the literal biblicl evangelical background and haven’t been to chruch in 5 years in any meaningful context due to my life falling apart 6 years ago. And I found out recently I am gay, which explains so very much. I am comfortable with being gay but not even close to being comfortable around christians and still have no idea what to do with jesus. I would appreciate your in put. thanx

  • Don Whitt

    “The primary thing to which we all must tend is ourselves.”

    Thank you for saying that, John. For many of us raised in the Church, the goal is to crawl up on that cross and die for everyone. Ick.

    And thanks to you for the great response to the writer. There are so many congregations, that don’t waste their time on hatred, that would love to bring this person into their community.

  • http://ihopetomorrowisbetter.blogspot.com/ Molly Bandit

    I was raised Pentecostal, and in my adult years joined a UCC congregation that was Open and Affirming. It took awhile, but my family eventually saw that, hey, I was going to a for realzies church that did real church things and made positive changes in people’s lives that were obviously inspired by God. The past year or so, they’ve showed more of an interest in reconsidering some of their beliefs, or at least talking them out and agreeing to disagree instead of “go to hell, do not collect $200.”

    so here’s a thought: Maybe if you join a different church, you can come back to your family’s church in an ecumenical sense and work together with them and your new church.

    • Diana A.

      Thank you, Molly. It’s good to hear a story of hope.

  • tom brisson

    People go to church for all kinds of reasons. I go to a church that doesn’t approve of gay marriage, but gay people go there and participate and are loved.

    I’m not there to surround myself with people who agree with me on every issue. I’m open about what I believe, and it doesn’t seem to be a problem. So what.

    We’re all asses groping toward the truth.

  • http://ninure.tk Ninure da Hippie

    ould a Black person be expected to stay in a church that taught that Blacks were inferior to Whites?

    Why then are GBLT folk expected to prove that that they are “good Christians” by staying in churches that “spiritually abuse and kill them”?

    • Don Rappe

      I agree, but the guy who wrote this letter seems to be straight.

  • Ashley

    Thank you everyone for your help! I have read every comment. I actually have been learning about LGBT and what the Bible has to say about homosexuality for about 3 years. So my feelings about that are not new…just the feelings that maybe it’s time to leave my gay-hating church. I have thought about it and decided to leave. Coincidently I am moving to NY next month. So now it’s just a matter of having the talk and formally leaving, or leaving the state and the church by default. I like John’s idea of having the talk so they know their actions have not gone unnoticed or did not affect me. I will try to make it happen. When I get to NY I’m sure I will be able to find a open and affirming church to attend. Thank you again for all the insight and support in making this decision. I’m so glad I found this blog and I hope to meet people like you all in the real world.

    • http://djfree@blogspot.com DJ

      Personally, I LOVE it when straight people stick around like a thorn in the side of these annoying, hateful churches. However, having been one to try and stick it out in such an environment, I’ve found that the environment can often become caustic, and downright unhealthy for you to remain. (It should be noted that I’m gay though, so trying to help narrow-minded people understand a bigger piece of the complex pie was more than theological, esoteric experiment for me…the rejection I felt had dire consequences for my LIFE, not just my ego and theology.) That being said, I do regret leaving my last church without saying a word about the way they treated me poorly. I don’t know it would have done any good, but at the very least, I could feel like I had done ALL that I could…

  • Susan Hershberger

    Our Church, United Methodist, is running about 50/50 for and ‘against’ (whatever THAT means) the Christian understanding of homosexulaity.

    We are staying in order to take the church voting to over 50% understanding and love of homosexuality.

    HOWEVER, we have stopped attending a rural church (UMC) due to the hate talk from the pulpit after the NY ruling.

    The UMN church in a larger urban area (where we spend the winter) ALL seem to be Christ based and caring of ALL God’s people, however God made them. We will go there and support the one church we selected while there.

  • liberaloneinPA

    LEAVE!! take your money and run give your time and energy and money to a congregation that believes as you do that is the only way the literal churches will change.

  • http://polygonsandsprites.wordpress.com/ Blake

    What I don’t get is how a church can preach against homosexuality every week. It must be really easy for heterosexuals to attend. “Have I been gay this week? No. All right, I’m golden.”

    • DR

      Clearly, this is something that is often a part of a larger message on immorality and the problem with our culture right now, it’s often used as one example among many.

  • Lisa

    It’s up to God to change hearts, not YOU. There is something colossally self centered about it ‘all being up to you’ to ‘save’ people. LEAVE. There are wonderful churches where gays are fully accepted; many, such as mine (the Episcoapl Church) have paid a high price for their stance.

    Of course, at any time and in any place, you should speak up for the ‘right path.’ But to stay with people who refuse truth is not noble– it’s just wasteful.

  • rjw918

    My advice would be a bit different –

    Don’t leave just yet, although anticipate that you might in the future.

    Don’t make the mistake that I did at my last conservative church, trying to convince people they are wrong, or that a literal reading of the Bible is wrong. They simply won’t hear you and some, at least, will come to view you as the enemy. (Some even quite literally on that point,as well.)

    As an alternative, show them (and explain to them) how a more expansive reading of scripture increases your own appreciation of, and wonder of and worship of the glories of God. (Personally,I find Borg’s “Meeting Jesus Again For the First Time” to be a wonderful source for examples of this.)

    Do’t tell them literal readings are “bad,” show them that how your understanding has strengthened your own walk with God

    As St Francis of Assisi almost said: “Preach the metaphorically understood Gospel continuously – only if necessary, use words.

    If some challenge you for asking questions, remind them of 1 Thes 5:19-22: “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.”

    And perhaps remind them of a great test of prophesies and of men’s understandings of scripture from Romans 8:15: “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again.” If an understanding of scripture doesn’t contribute to liberty for all, I believe myself that it should be re-examined .

    And remember this – if it is true that the Holy Spirit teaches each of us in the ways and at the level we are able to comprehend at any given time, then my own (mainly in the past) dismissal’s of mothers “narrow” understanding was, perhaps, a blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

    So before you leave, scatter some seed around the place – you often won’t know, but some will find some fertile soil, take root, and thrive.

    In His dust,

    • http://deep.mastersfamily.org BJohnM

      As a gay man, I have a dog in this hunt, so I have stayed in my Methodist Church here in Florida. I have tried some other religions, but just never felt as at home as I do within the Methodist Church (strangely enough). So I feel I’m called to work within. You don’t have a dog in this hunt, so you should not feel compelled to stay at your church, but RJW makes a good point.

      A few years ago I saw a notice that a Sunday School class was going to be having a series on the history of Methodism, so I went. At 50 y/o, I was the youngest in the class by probably 15+ years, but I found a great group of people who were smart and engaged and open to honest discussions. A few were founding members of this church. I’ve continued attending that class, and now frequently teach. During a series I did on the Social Principles of the Methodist Church, I came out to this group when we came to the topic of homosexuality, and they have never missed a beat in welcoming and loving me.

      Over a year ago I went, alone. to the Administrative Council at the Church with a resolution asking them to adopt a statement of non-discrimination which included sexual orientation. You would have thought I was asking them to urinate on the alter or something. The idea was not well received.

      Last year, after the rash of teenage suicides I was teaching the class again, and reserved some time at the end of the class. I discussed the recent news with them, gave them a copy of my resolution, and told them I was going back to the Administrative Council…that at the least, the young people at our church deserved to know they were loved and welcome, no matter what…and invited any of them to attend. Everyone of them showed up, everyone of them spoke in favor (a new member of the Admin Council, who was in favor of the resolution came up to me afterwards amazed because he had assumed, due to their age, they were coming to speak against it), and when a couple of the more verbal opponents, including the minister, made lame excuses about why it was a bad idea, they spoke truth to power, and so now, at the end of this month, wording has been worked out, and that church will, at least, have an official non-discrimination statement. And this at a Methodist Church in the Florida Conference which is presided over by the most homophobic Bishop in all of Methodism.

      I know that’s a long story, but I want you to know that LIsa is right, God changes hearts, but sometimes he uses people to convey the message. So I think John and RJW offer sound advice. If, and only if, it’s important to you to try to change things in a way you believe to be right, then try to sow some seeds, but as he RJW has noted, accept that some people will come to see you as an enemy of their own beliefs. Too many people do not like having their personal beliefs challenged.

      • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ sdgalloway

        That is n awesome story BJohnMm and just drives home one of the reasons I moved to the Methodist denomination. True there are some congregations that are not as welcoming as others, but one thing that I admire about the denomination is the general willingness to discuss such social issues and to make changes as needed. They have tended to be one of the Christian leaders of social awareness and change.

        It is true, God does change hearts, and He does tend to use one of his favorite tools to do so. People like yourself.

  • Joel

    I dont think it’s the function on an individual to change a church. That role was reserved for someone greater, Jesus. To get the existing church, dismantle it and create a new church (as mentioned in the book of revalation) is and always will be left to Jesus.

    I believe we are fulfilling our role by modeling equality and the other heart virtues like valor, forgiveness and the like.

  • Lili

    Just popped on and read this letter. I don’t have time to read all of the responses, so forgive me if I’m being redundant, but I want to say I agree with John’s response whole-heartedly. Of course we will never find a church where we agree 100% with everything the local or denominational leadership says, and it is always a good thing to be part of an ongoing discourse on things you disagree with. However, some issues are just too important to either compromise on, or or reach an uneasy acceptance of, and this is most certainly one of them. Don’t forget that your ongoing participation implies a tacit acceptance and approval of at least the major doctrines of the church, and this is pretty major. As John suggested, I would make it clear WHY you are leaving to the relevant people – otherwise you are wasting an opportunity to make your voice heard. In that sense, leaving might be the only real way you have a shot at making a difference there.

  • tsel

    I am an ex-Catholic. I left the Catholic church as an angry teen, but as a much calmer adult, I’ll be darned if I go back to patriarchal, abusive, sexist institution. They will get not a cent of my money or an iota of my time.

    I’m reminded of The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis, where Aslan talks about good and evil, “no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him.” Yes, you can remain in your church, and worship God in your own way, but why would you want to be surrounded with people offering God their bigotry and their hate?

    Get a new church.

    • Pamela

      There is nothing in the bible about hating homosexuality. It is not in there. I am a bible student. 35 years. I happen to be straight, but some call me a Bible Scholar. Go to the original arameic, hebrew, and greek. The traditions of men make the word of God of none effect.Mark:13.Sodomy in the original text is about raping children. Stupid men and women are afraid of what they are afraid of. Then they teach other stupid people what they “know”. Ihave a sign on my desk that says “I will be nicer if you will be less stupid”

  • http://facebook.com/kscollins2k Keith Collins

    I truly LOVE the fact that we can seriously be having this discussion today. It was not too many years ago that any member of the LGBT community who tried to reconcile his/her sexuality with Christianity would get crucified from BOTH sides. Today, we still have the Fred Phelpses of the world, but every year more and more people of faith are coming out of the closet, and ever increasing numbers of straight Christians are accepting them openly. Truly amazing, especially if you’re old enough to remember the “before AIDS” era, which changed everything in America and the world.

    Regarding staying in the church: Unfortunately, as the Log Cabin Republicans have found out over the years, working from within the church is a very good idea, but it all too often closely resembles the guy in Hades doomed forever to try to roll the boulder up the hill, only to lose control every time and watch it roll all the way back down to the bottom. The good you accomplish will be met ten fold with negative remarks, frustrations, rejections, and constantly having to hear the mantra from these people that you are a freak, a child molestor, a pervert, a sissie, a faggot… and that (no question) you are going to go to Hell. It’s there in black and white in the Bible. Repent now!

    Few things in theology today are as inflamatory as LGBT relations with the church. Just look at what’s happening within the world-wide Anglican communion regarding the ordination of women, and (especially) the ordination of Bishop V. Gene Robinson, an openly gay man in a long-term committed relationship. If anyone is willing to put up with such abuse as these people experience, I say more power to them! Just realize what you’re getting yourself into… and that there are breakers ahead.

    There is a great quote which your readers would probably enjoy regarding the literalist interpretation of sacred writings, whether Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, or any of the others. He happens to be a Christian minister, but the words apply to all other religions as well.

    “In reality, there are no Biblical literalists; only ‘selective’ literalists. By abolishing slavery and ordaining women, millions of Protestants have gone far beyond Biblical literalism. It’s time we did the same for homophobia.” ~ Rev. William Sloane Coffin

    Best of luck in your journey of faith!

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

    This is a test to see if (as I’ve been told might be happening) people can’t post comments here. So … um … well, here’s something I twitterated earlier today:

    My primary concern isn’t the gay “issue.” It’s the abuse of power. And if CHRIST is being used to abuse? Color me focused.

    • cat rennolds

      post?

  • Maria

    Amen, amen

  • Sue Hatcher

    >>Honestly, it’s letters like this that send me to sleep every night optimistic about the mission upon which so many of us have embarked. Ten people like this in the world can end up changing the world.<<

    This statement is such an encouragement. I am one who has embarked upon this mission to address the gay Christian issue amongst church people and provide some information to dispel the myths and ignorance.

    There are many Christians like us and we can change the world. Thanks for the encouragement.

  • John F. (London)

    I agree John, this letter is extremely inspiring. The writer does not indicate that he/she is gay, just that he/she is convinced that the AoG is wrong about their stance on homosexuality is wrong (and i agree.) My point is, that it’s one thing for a gay person such as I am to take such a stand, but if, the person is heterosexual and could have remained “comfortable” or at the very least – keep a low profile – in this hostile and toxic environment – takes a stance and will not want things to remain as they were. I am reminded of the story of Martin Luther, who like the writer came to realise the Church he belonged to was wrong about crucial articles of faith, and ultimately he had to take his famous stand leave the fellowship.

    I agree with you – there comes a time when we have to bite the bullet and withdraw. I also agree that “going quietly” is not an option – the meeting is a good idea but the pastor and maybe even the parents may well boycott it. I would suggest that the writer prepare a written statement explaining the reason for leaving because there will be elements in the Church who will want to give their take on his/her reason for leaving – all while branding him/her apostate, heretic, etc. He/she could possibly place this statement on a blog. While being careful for personal safety, publishing a public statement so that people in the Church can at the very least know the real reason for leaving.

    I was taken aback when I read: which preaches each Sunday against homosexuality.

    What is it with such pre-occupation with this issue. They say that sexuality is not what defines a person but what they go on to say about the issue proves that they believe the opposite.

    John

  • http://imagaybloke.wordpress.com Paul Clevett

    I think this is such a difficult thing. YOu have to be very strong as a person to be in a church even where SOME of the people accept you.

    For me it did get too much, not that I wasn’t accepted but that I knew that if I turned up with a partner / boyfriend some who did accept me could turn “nasty”

    i do now go to the most wonderful fully gay accepting church and I’m growing in love for Christ and as a believer.

  • John

    I would only add that there is a frustratingly wide spectrum of churches one can move to as well so you have to choose your battles. There is a battle looming almost anywhere you move to. The opposite “extreme” is perhaps an MCC or United Church of Christ. They are fully welcoming in that they are open and up front and militantly against the “God hates fags” christians. The rest of our churches are somewhere in between. My partner and I are fully “out” at our southern Episcopal church. We do not have an acceptable level of support from clergy. We work hard, participating in almost every aspect of church life and have the respect and friendship of many, if not most of the congregation. We have considered moving because clergy cannot get past the scriptural issues and therefore are not there when we need them. Needless to say, in spite of progress in the national Episcopal church, they are far from ready to make moves that pronounce their/our church as welcoming and affirming. They are happy to take our money and energy, but of late, I have felt like a hypocrite, and feel like they are too. I would love a workshop as you propose, but it will never happen. In spite of knowing us and being a “downtown church” they are afraid to reach out into the local community or engage in constructive dialog.

    • Molly by Golly

      Isn’t it interesting how Rosa Parks was never invited to sit in the front of the bus despite sitting nicely ‘in her place’ for all those years?

  • Karen

    I haven’t read all the comments on this entry, but it’s something that I feel strongly about. I spent several years in your garden-variety conservative Southern American Christian church. I knew I was much more liberal than the other members, but it never really came up as an issue. I felt I could stay there and be a voice of love and liberallness in private, should it be needed. Until the new pastor suddenly decided that it was time for him to speak out against all the ‘sins’ of the neighbourhood we live in (which has a large gay population), and he began to preach rank hatred instead of love.

    I was repulsed by the things I was hearing from the pulpit every week, and it was corroding away at my spirit to listen to it… Even so, I agonised over whether to stay or leave for the longest time.

    In the end my non-church friends put me straight – if it was destructive to ME to stay in that environment and to listen to that kind of claptrap coming across the pulpit, why would I want to put myself through it? And why would I want anyone ELSE to think that I might possibly agree with their stance? Staying, even in repulsed silence, was giving my unspoken support to the message, and suggesting to the world that I thought that their bigoted hatred was right. I HAD to leave.

    And the very next week, God brought me to a wonderful, WONDERFUL UCC church that I’d had no idea even existed, and as soon as we walked in the doors we knew we’d come home to where we really belonged.

    Vote with your feet my friend… go where your spirit leads you, and lend your support to the kind of church you can truly believe in, not the one that your parents decided was right for you.

    Remember Shakespeare from English classes? He might not have written the bible but he had a pretty good grasp of what was important, especially this verse:

    This above all: to thine own self be true,

    And it must follow, as the night the day,

    Thou canst not then be false to any man.

  • http://www.christopherfbezzina.com Chris Bezzina

    Thank you very much for linking my blog to one of your posts. I am grateful that my witness is helping. Finally I decided to take another step out of my ‘third’ closet and be a witness to the whole world. Keep well and many blessings.

  • Carol A Ranney

    Wow, I could have written this myself. I adopted a son last year who is gay. I talked to my church, tried to educate my church, the men’s group was praying for my son, everyone knew he was coming, and after he came, within two months he accepted the Lord as his savior. When I told my pastor this he was strangely cool and made no comment, and from then on it was downhill until the Sunday that he announced in the course of a sermon that “all homosexuals will go to hell.” Unbelievable. I have not been back since, although at the urging of my son’s mentor from church (a God-given, godly, Christlike man to whom I will be forever grateful) I did go back for a meeting with the pastor and some overseers and got to the point that the pastor said he would look into the idea that gay was not a choice. Now to find a more friendly church…not as easy as it sounds. Now I go to MCC. My son goes nowhere. I feel adrift, lonely, frustrated, lost after 30 years at my church…but I will not go back under any circumstances.

    • Diana A.

      It makes me so angry that your (ex)-pastor was so brutal with your son’s budding faith. I hope that, if you have not already done so, you submit your story to John for consideration for his book (I think it’s a book–check out the link.)– http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/2011/06/21/gay-christians-tell-evangelicals-your-story/

      I think it’s very much the kind of thing that Christians need to hear.

      Your (ex)-pastor’s behavior toward your son makes me think of Matthew 18:1-6–especially the last verse: At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

      He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

  • Robert

    Yes… you should leave your church. No… you should not try to change it from within. It is a pointless exercise and will be a waste of your time.

    I understand that there are a few pasages in the bible that condemn homosexual sex as defined 2,000 to 10,000 years ago. There are also passages about charging interest, stoning women for adultery, about ritualistic slaughtering of animals, about shell fish and blended cloth.

    Christians are not following approx 99 percent of what the bible says to do… they have selected out of the menu that is the bible and follow those things because their minister tells them to… they are not a “thoughtful” bunch… and are likely afraid of ambigity and complexity. I pity them, but I will not engage with them and I have learnt not to “try to enlighten” them. They seem to be very self satified with their beleifs… and they need someone to be better than… Gays are an easy target.

  • http://gayambassador.blogspot.com/ Anthony Venn-Brown

    There is another way http://gayambassador2.blogspot.com/

    Some are called to work inside the city walls…..other outside. Depends on the person.

  • glareproof

    as we are all aware Rome disintegrated from within, so if you go that route, perhaps you will be successful in causing the spiritual downfall of your church, adding one more to the list of apostate churches.

    • Elizabeth

      Gibbon was critical of organized religion in The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, despite being an on-again, off-again Protestant. Perhaps you want a different allusion.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X