I’m writing to share a problem I have with being a Christian and confronting the anti-gay attitude of the Church.
I am not gay. I am divorced and raising two children on my own. I became a Christian 11 years ago, when I stumbled into a Church, broken and full of despair, and Jesus told me to lean on him.
I have found such tremendous healing and strength in my faith journey since then, and it has been such a force for good in my life. I have wonderful friendships with gay friends (none of whom are Christian), and I guess that when it came to my faith, and the general attitude in Church towards homosexuality, I blanked it out. Just tried not to think about it.
Since reading your posts, and the ones from the Unfundamentalist Christians Facebook page [here]—plus of course my own sickening experiences listening, for instance, to Christians equating homosexuality with pedophilia—I feel that the more I read and understand about the narrow-minded, ungracious and unloving attitude of Christians towards gay people, the more it is pushing me away from God. If it makes sense, your articles inspire me, but they also seem to anger me (in the unfairness of the treatment towards homosexuals), making me feel resentment and despair about so many Christian people. It feels like to support the “cause” of a just and fair acceptance of homosexuality, I have to reject the Church.
I guess what I am trying to say is that I need to find a way to make peace with my support of gay people, and also not take this anger to Church with me. I am lucky that I belong to a Uniting Church here in Adelaide that has an accepting view of homosexuality. Saying that, the whole subject is still never mentioned. How do I reconcile the two? How do you do it? The Jesus that rescued me all those years ago is the same Jesus now to me, but I feel that this issue is blocking me from being able to freely worship him. I feel that I am at a crossroads in my faith journey: that I need to either stop going to Church, or find a way to keep my faith, know that this situation is not going to resolve itself quickly (or quietly), and stand up for what I believe is right when the opportunity presents.
Do you have any advice or suggestions for me? Best wishes.
Dear Person Who Wrote Me This:
What about suggesting to your church that it talks openly and directly about the gay issue, via a class series, symposium, seminar, etc.? It’s likely others at your church are feeling as you are. Find out if they are. It’s your church, too. Ask your pastor if your church can hold some sort of open forum on the gay issue. If he or she says declines or demurs, then start a little inner-church class or discussion group on your own. If you can’t get that going, then you’re definitely attending to the wrong church. A church that won’t deal with the theology informing difficult questions facing Christianity isn’t worth the paper on which its bulletins are printed.
But as to your larger point about your relationship overall to Christianity, your faith, and church. It’s clear how much you consider one being faithful and attending church: you wrote, “I need to either stop going to Church, or find a way to keep my faith”—and you’re careful to capitalize the word church, and so on. Like so many, you naturally assume that being a Christian is essentially synonymous with going to Church.
But it’s not. Being Christian is something you are; going to church is something you do. Not the same thing. They’re certainly not for me, for instance, if that helps you at all. I go to church about as often as I vacuum under my couch. And I’m as Christian as Christian gets.
You won’t lose Jesus if you don’t go to church. You can’t. Jesus came to find you; Jesus has you. That relationship is fixed. You’re in. It doesn’t matter if you go to church or not. You’ll always be a Christian—unless at some point, for some reason, you consciously and purposefully decide not to be. I don’t think that will ever happen to you—and if it does, it won’t be because you didn’t go to church often enough. It’ll be because something serious got broken.
You asked how I continue being a Christian, when so many Christians and their churches condemn gay people. That’s easy: I never, ever confuse Christianity with Christians. I don’t care what other people think. I care if the Bible says that Christians are supposed to condemn gay people. But it doesn’t say that. If it did, I wouldn’t be Christian—that, for me, would be a deal breaker. But it doesn’t. So that’s just not an issue.
Again, I don’t care what other people think. Any Christian who believes that the condemnation of gay people is inherent to Christianity is flat-out, one hundred percent wrong. There’s nothing all that weird about that. If being ignorant and wrong were a crime, we’d all be communicating by rapping tin cups on our prison bars.
Also, on the anger thing. I can only tell you how I handle my anger toward Christians who use Christianity as a weapon of oppression and subjugation. What I do is write this blog. I do my best, pretty much every day, to put forth out into the world, right here on this here blog, a Christianity that I know is righteous and true. That is my obligation to God, people, and life. So that’s what I do. Then I don’t feel angry anymore. Because then I know I’ve done what I can to do what I should. Then I can sleep at night.
There’s nothing wrong with being angry; anger is the healthy response to injustice. (See Jesus.) What’s unhealthy is to feel an enduring, abiding anger that you let seethe rather than constructively act upon. As long as you are doing what you can to right the wrong that’s making you angry, you’re good. So do that! I don’t know what exactly that means in your life—it may mean simply refusing to attend any church that isn’t manifest affirming. It might mean changing the life of the church you attend. I don’t know. But do something. Don’t let other people’s ignorance make you chew yourself up. Then the Eternal Stupid wins twice. Screw that. Make sure that wrinkled, faded buck stops at your desk.
Mainly, just don’t ever confuse Christ with Christians. That’s really the primary thing. That’s always the primary thing. And remember that when Christians are being ignorant, bigoted, awful people, that (assuming nobody whom you’re in a position to defend is being bullied) is none of your business. That is between that person and God.
And God help them.
And you can trust, I say, that if they are true to God, God will.