To a Christian lesbian rejecting her love

Got in this email about two minutes ago:

I have been in a loving committed relationship with my partner for 4 years now. She is wanting to end our relationship because she is struggling to know what God wants for her. She is gay and Christian and is having a big battle with want she is and what she thinks God wants her to be. Her family is very Christian and had made this very hard on her, after reading and watching your video. [She means this.]

I was hoping you might be able to help. What we have is so amazing. I really don’t know what else I can do. I am not able to fight against the Bible and her family, but I know I am trying to have her see and believe what you have said. I know that God has a plan for us, He is the one that brought her into my life and I cannot see him taking her away. Please help in any way if you can.

Dear girlfriend of the young woman who wrote me this:

It’s no sin to be gay. None. Not a little, not in some ways, not under some circumstances: virtually, 100%, now and forever never. Being gay is no more sinful than is being red-headed, blue-eyed, or left-handed. It’s simply the way God, in his infinite wisdom, saw fit to create some human beings to be.

God doesn’t think the people he created are abominations to him. What I guarantee he does think abominable are people allowing their ignorance, fear, and anger to fuse into a bigotry which they then dare to ascribe not to their own lack of character, but to him.

God incarnated as Jesus so that ALL people might know how much he loves them–and then lots of Christians (being, you know, human) managed to turn that wondrous benevolence into a vehicle for hating people who aren’t exactly like them.

How rewarding God must find that as he looks down from heaven.

Being gay is no sin. You only think it is because you’ve been coerced into believing the despicable lie that the Bible says that it is.

Nowhere does the Bible say that being gay is a sin.

Jesus Christ told us what he most wants us to remember about who he was and why he came. Remember this?

The Greatest Commandment

One of the teachers of the law … asked Jesus, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

That’s God, as Jesus, very clearly declaring that the most important thing he wants the world to know is that nothing is of more importance than loving others as you love yourself.

Do you think the people who treat you as they do, and who teach the condemnation of gay people they do, wish to be treated in the same way they are treating gay people?

Of course they don’t.

Those people–those Christians– are breaking the Great Commandment of Jesus Christ.

You have a choice. You can either believe the Holy Spirit within you—which, I promise, is telling you that you are perfectly fine just the way you are, and as deserving of love and respect as any straight person who ever walked the earth—or, despite the vast amounts of biblical scholarship to the contrary now available everywhere on line, you can believe that God thinks that being gay is a sin.

But that is a choice you have. And yes, it will probably cost you to choose to believe the truth that neither God nor the Bible condemns the kind of love you were born to give and receive. Your family may choose their fear and bigotry over their love for you. Your church may reject you. Some of your friends might suddenly prove cretinous.

But the total of those kinds of cost isn’t anywhere near as great as the cost of believing that those who would deny you love are right to do so.

They’re not right. They’re dead wrong. You don’t have to hate them for their wrongness; you don’t have to be bitter about it; you don’t have to fight them about it.

But you do have to quit listening to it. Because you, certainly no less than they, deserve love. And if you believe anything at all about the Bible, believe that God is love. To reject love, therefore, is to reject God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the Bible.

Don’t do that. Don’t do it to yourself, don’t do it to God, and don’t do it to any of us out here who love you, just the way you are.

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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. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • http://youtube.com/user/BowmanFarm Brian Bowman

    > But you do have to quit listening to it.

    “Freedom begins when you tell Mrs. Grundy to go fly a kite.” ~Robert Heinlein

  • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

    Traditionalist theology usually focuses on the clobber passages and the creation story – It boils all of human sexuality down to the sex act and says that gay sex is against nature.

    But the bible has a lot to say about what it means to be human and how sexuality fits into that experience. We are relational creations – we are meant to be in relationship with one another. Sexuality is an important mechanism for getting into relationship; it engenders emotional intimacy. And selfless physical intimacy has the power to deepen those emotional bonds.

    Here’s the thing that traditionalists can never respond to: scripture never says that the human experience is different for people who are gay. It doesn’t say “It is not good for man to be alone unless you’re gay.” It doesn’t say “It is better to marry then burn with passion unless you’re gay.”

    Being in a committed gay relationship is not acting contrary to God’s created order as traditionalists like to argue. Quite the opposite. It’s living into God’s creative intention.

  • Greg Dill

    The act of homosexual sex is indeed sin. Period. There is no denying that. But, having affections for, thoughts of, and love toward someone of the same sex is not sin. We need to be condemning all sin: gluttony, pornography, divorce, lust, homosexual sex, etc. equally. But, never condemning or judging the sinner. Especially since we are all sinners in need of grace.

    • http://www.enesvy.com/ Enesvy

      In case you didn’t read the letter, there is much to deny that homosexual sex is sin. You may have missed the link above that John posted: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/2012/04/the-best-case-for-the-bible-not-condemning-homosexuality/
      Check it out with an open heart. And if you’re not gay, you really don’t have any say in the matter as to how gay Christians walk out their life with Christ.

      • Greg Dill

        I actually did read it and it does not address the “clobber” verses. It leans heavily on grace and uses many straw man arguments.

        Just because I’m not gay does not mean I have any say in the matter. These are my brothers and sisters in Christ. We are to love one another and speak the truth in love.

        • Matt

          As a perfect stranger to you, Greg, I have no say in your marriage or other sexual relationships. I have no say in how you experience, worship, conceive of, or reconcile yourself with God. It’s your deeply private, personal business. And I’m glad to have it that way, because only you have all of the information you need.

          Can you not see how you are putting yourself above gay people by presuming you know how they’re living their lives? Love others as you love yourself. Treat others as you would like to be treated. No qualifications, no buzzwords, no extras. It is not hard. And we tend to have the most truth to speak when we listen first.

          • Greg Dill

            Matt – As a brother in Christ I would welcome your say in my relationships as longs as it is always done in love. If I am living in sin and simply unaware or in denial, then I would need counsel. Faith is not private (unless you are an American). Faith in Christ is very communal and what we do or not do can effect the Body of Christ.

            Am I putting myself above someone by simply pointing out what Scripture seems to be saying is sin? Not to condemn or humiliate. But, to lovingly correct, build up, and encourage. If I were caught in sin I too would want someone to show me where I am wrong and where I may be hurting others. But, also how can I improve.

            In fact, just last week I had a Christian friend lovingly tell me that I need to slow down a bit and not always feel compelled to always do (which I am guilty of). I received his advice and correction and now putting it into practice.

            Pointing out what seems to be a clear sin (homoerotic sex) to a brother in Christ, not to condemn, but to lovingly show and encourage, seems to me, well, is love.

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      No, Greg, there is denying that being gay is a sin. Entire Christian denominations–and huge ministries and organizations within all denominations–deny it. I deny it. And (as many have) I prove it’s no sin to be gay.

      And that “Love the sinner, hate the sin” thing is bullshit.

      • Greg Dill

        [comment deleted.]

        • Andy

          While he’s looking for that, could you show us the Scripture where God specifically allows us to argue over the internet?

          Here’s a hint: there isn’t one. Because computers didn’t exist when any of the books of the bible were written. Nobody knew what computers were.

          Do you think they knew then what homosexuality (as we call it today) is?

    • http://youtube.com/user/BowmanFarm Brian Bowman

      “Sin lies only in hurting others unnecessarily. All other sins are invented nonsense.” ~Robert A. Heinlein

      • Greg Dill

        Actually Brian. I have chucked it all and given to the poor. In fact, I live in the slums of Tirana, Albania serving among the Roma (Gypsies).

        But, I humbly tell you this in simple response to your question. And, I’m not sure what this has to do with the discussion at hand.

        • http://youtube.com/user/BowmanFarm Brian Bowman

          Jesus on money = 25

          Jesus on homosexuality = 0

          P.S. Good for you on actually obeying Jesus on dropping out.

    • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

      Hi Greg –

      I don’t think the differentiation between attraction and behavior is very helpful or biblical.

      I understand that the church is trying to become more inclusive; not excommunicating gay people solely because of their orientation is a huge step in the right direction. Kudos.

      But the problem is that this distinction still dehumanizes people who are gay – i.e., recognizing the essential human desire for relationship but then forbidding the gay person from living a fully human life.

      In a recent interview about his book “Bible, Gender, Sexuality”, James Brownson had this insight:

      “…I began to realize that this orientation/behavior distinction just didn’t mesh with the teaching of Jesus, particularly in the Sermon on the Mount. There, Jesus says that lust is equivalent to adultery (Matthew 5:27-28), and that anger is equivalent to murder (Matthew 5:21-22). In other words, Jesus teaches that the inclination to a sinful action (like adultery or murder) is just as culpable as the sinful action itself in the eyes of God, who knows our hearts as well as our actions. Correspondingly, if same-sex behavior is always wrong in the eyes of God, then the inclination to that behavior must also be always morally wrong in the eyes of God.”

      I think that’s right. If you believe gay sex is sinful, I think you’re compelled to believe that orientation is also sinful. Conversely, if you don’t believe that the sexual orientation is sinful, then it’s illogical to believe the expression of that sexuality is sinful.

      The entire interview is posted on the sacred tension blog if you want to check it out.

      My best to you
      David

      • Greg Dill

        [comment deleted]

        • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

          Hi Greg –

          I say this with all due respect – the bible is anything but clear about the sinfulness of covenant gay relationships. I spend enough time in conservative spaces to know that even evangelical theologians are struggling with the texts (which ultimately boils down to Paul’s flourishing rhetoric in Romans 1).

          And to make a claim of biblical clarity, one has to focus exclusively on the clobber passages and dismiss everything else the bible says about human sexuality.

          • Greg Dill

            There is no mention of gay relationships. I agree. And, that is not where my argument is. My argument is specifically about homoerotic sex to which the Bible is exceedingly clear in both the Old and New Testaments. I would dismiss it if these verses were only in the OT. But, the NT is also very clear on the matter.

            But, here is where I lovingly end my discussion. Because unity and relationship is more important to me. Peace.

          • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

            Hi Greg –

            Not to belabor the point, but “exceedingly clear” the bible is not. I agree that there are clear Pauline proscriptions on abusive sex acts such as pederasty and coercive sex with slaves which happen to be homosexual in nature (which bibles after 1948 translate as the word “homosexual”). The bible is *absolutely* silent on gay sex in the context of a covenant relationship (save for the possibility that such sex is included in the sweeping Romans 1 language).

            If you’re willing to challenge your beliefs a little, I just read an excellent book by an evangelical pastor who writes about the discernment process he recently undertook. I think his insights might be helpful for you if you have any interest in continuing to discern God’s will for the Church regarding people who are gay.

            The book is called “A Letter to My Congregation” by Ken Wilson. It’s available in e-reader format. I highly recommend it.

            My sincere best to you –
            David

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com/ Eric

    This is a beautiful response, John. But then truth is like that, isn’t it?

  • Heather

    You make it sound like there are only two options. “You have a choice. You can either believe the Holy Spirit within you—which, I promise, is telling you that you are perfectly fine just the way you are, and as deserving of love and respect as any straight person who ever walked the earth—or, despite the vast amounts of biblical scholarship to the contrary now available everywhere on line, you can believe that God thinks that being gay is a sin. …But that is a choice you have.”

    However, there’s also at least two other options. One would be to give up on god entirely, and embrace who she is, thereby sidestepping the pain of trying to reteach herself religion from a new perspective. And there’s side B, where you stay in the relationship, but remain celebate. The bible really doesn’t say anything about gay love. But it does about ‘relations’.

    • Matt

      I remain constantly amazed at the casual dismissal of LGBT people’s basic needs and humanity. Why don’t you try giving up on God? Let us know how that goes.

      • Andy

        I guess that depends on whether or not you think you can choose what you believe, as opposed to it being a subconscious action. Based on my personal experience, I don’t think I can choose what I believe.

      • Heather

        Apparently I’m dismissing my own basic needs and humanity, then. I did try that actually. It is where I am now. I feel a little more free, and in less pain. But honestly it still feels weird, too.

        • Matt

          Heather, if you are hiding any part of yourself, if you’re contorting who you are to fit some mold, then it will feel weird. You can certainly survive that way. Your heart will beat. You’ll sleep, and wake, and be able to function. But you won’t be living, you know what I’m saying?

          You only get so much time here. I think it would be great for the world to get to meet you in that time. And more importantly, you should be able to embrace all that this life has to offer. First and foremost as a human being and person, plus the extra charm, beauty, and light that the being known as Heather brings to the experience.

          • Heather

            Thank you. Not there yet. But I hope to get there. Currently afraid of dating.

          • Matt

            You have hope? Then you’ve got this! That’s all you need to start with! All the best to you.

    • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

      Hi Heather –

      RE: your last alternative – celibate relationship.

      1. There’s a very strong argument to be made that the bible never condemns lesbianism. Agustine took Paul to mean the unnatural behavior of the women in Romans 1 was anal sex.

      2. As I commented below, it’s a gap in logic to believe the inclination to sin is morally neutral while the sex act is morally problematic.

      3. I know this is a new trend for conservative gay Christians – have a celibate covenant relationship. I wonder about the wisdom of this. It seems like they are setting themselves up for shame and self loathing when the emotional intimacy inevitably turns physical.

      4. I really, really hate the “sides” language. It forces people into a false dichotomy. There’s a spectrum of belief about the morality of covenant gay relationships that ranges from totally exclusive to totally inclusive. One can have non-affirming beliefs that allow for pastoral accommodations permitting same sex relationships. That view, which I think is key for evangelicals to move toward inclusion, doesn’t fit neatly into “side a” or “side b”.

      • Heather

        Thanks for your response. I agree with just about everything you said. I’ve been single for years in order to avoid dealing with all of this. But this article/letter touched a nerve.

    • http://youtube.com/user/BowmanFarm Brian Bowman

      Gay “relations,” huh? The apostle imposter* Paul wants to take a young man as a traveling companion with him, and demands the young man must be genitally mutilated before the trip. If the apostle didn’t use a modern glass tube to prevent the spread of STDs during the ceremony, what does that make him?

      __________
      * I don’t consider The Mythmaker an apostle.
      “Of this band of dupes and impostors, Paul was the great Corypheus, and first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus.” ~Thomas Jefferson (Jefferson’s Works, Vol. ii., p. 217)

  • CK

    Wow, this response moved to tears. It’s what I’ve been needing to hear for so long. I pray that the letter writer’s partner is moved similarly. May this be her light in the darkness. Thank you, John.

  • Kenny Pierce

    Let the debates begin, while those of us who have had to sit back and watch friend after friend be decimated physically, emotionally and spiritually in God’s name look on. Let’s hope that the poor woman wrestling with her “sinfulness” isn’t watching herself be thrown to the lions as we sit on the sidelines and add to the din of the crowds.

    Mr. Shore, perhaps you’d like to dig up the 47 (that’s what I count) passages speaking “Biblical Truths” (probably “in love”) about slavery. The ones for which the Southern Baptist convention, in the 1860s, was created, and the ones that propelled the country to the Civil War and on to the period of civil rights and “lynch tonight, sing the hymns tomorrow at church.” Let’s talk about the SBC convention in 1996 (150 years later) where they issued a declaration of atonement for their role in slavery.

    Oh, here, I’ll do the heavy lifting for you. Because the Bible is so clear, that I’d like to know why I can’t own a slave – it’s all there in black and white. No pun intended.

    http://www.openbible.info/topics/slavery

    So yeah…back to those 6 poorly-exegeted passages. How they fit into the scheme of things (which you’ve well-addressed). What’s happening, in “love” to our kind – in Uganda, Russia, Nigeria, and actually, now here in the US of A in Kansas, Tennessee, Idaho, is a direct result of what has been done with what I think is really masked revulsion, veiled in 6 passages.

    My biggest issue with it all lies in having the curse of wisdom. Of living long enough to have lost lots and lots of lesioned and wasting friends perish in the AIDS epidemic (or “gay cancer”) in the early 80s through the mid-90s. While Falwell’s Moral Majority, Jesse Helms, et. al. drove the country’s evangelical agenda amid the hysteria, sending Reagan & Co. into silence for 6 years. He uttered the word “AIDS” finally, in 1987 – as if an afterthought – as over 50,000 lay dead by that point in that genocide. Yes, we floundered and died in my coming-out years in Los Angeles and San Francisco. I believe that Pat Buchanan called it “Nature’s Revenge” and the good folks at Liberty U called it “God’s retribution.” All born of the same rhetoric being uttered here (albeit today in a more “loving” garb in comments and blog posts such as those that I see today).

    I absolutely agree that the writer has only one thing to fear – listening to the lies being spewed at her. I have lived long enough to witness the carnage resulting from the toxic vitriol aimed at the scapegoats. Yes, she can believe the lies, or she can turn away from that darkness to the light and know the real truth. One that is beautiful beyond belief. I wish that I’d not hated God for 30 years before I came back to my soul, and that beautiful truth.

    She and her beloved partner do NOT need to eat from the fruit of the most rotten of trees.

  • http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/ Lotharson

    Amen to that John!

    I think we have strong theological grounds for welcoming Gay couples into the Church.

    I have also argued elsewhere that Christians ought to be much more tolerant towards homosexuals than they currently are.

    I would love to learn your take on that stuff.

    Lovely greetings in Christ.

  • MT

    Dear girlfriend of the young woman,

    To bring break up a loving relationship is to take a sledgehammer to God’s face, because God is love (1 Jn. 4:16). I don’t suppose I can even begin to comprehend how it must hurt to be on the receiving end of such a hard-swung blow as the Spirit of the Lord, dwelling in your heart, spurring you to love your parents, your partner, and your whole planet actually, has been dealt by some who have called you kin.

    By all the strength God may give you, please don’t pass that on to another, especially not one whom you love and cherish. You’ll not help yourself hurting somebody else, especially not one who loves you truly as you are, without expectation of your becoming anyhow, anybody else.

    Please don’t give up now, not on this committed relationship you’ve so much invested in, but neither on the hope that someday your family might be more understanding—and if not the family that was with you when you came into the world, then the family that will be with you when you will leave it.

    Please keep a safe distance to those who might wield sledgehammers anywhere near to your heart (howsoever unintentionally they may do so). Remember, the commandment to love others goes only so far as your loving you: Love is kind (1 Cor. 13:4), so don’t put yourself through anything cruel.

    Remember also that the context of that commandment is as part of Jesus’ answer to the question of which (single) commandment is greatest, explaining that it’s all part and parcel of loving the Lord your God, which means loving love, which means loving your God-given capacity—your God-given right—to give love and to receive it.

    Seek council from the Holy Spirit. Let God’s peace come over your heart, and in that moment, listen to what your heart is saying.
    Somewhere in there, I’m sure you already know what’s right, and what’s just.. a very serious (if well-intentioned) misunderstanding.

  • ErikaBeseda

    amen and amen

  • My Sweetness

    I believe that in the end love is what brought us together and hopefully love will bring us back together it seems to me that everyone has an idea of what god and Jesus what for us or does not what for us but in the end just like everyone’s individual relationship with god my beautiful, sweet loving girlfriend will have to find what is true in her heart and with what she believes god and is telling her personally, I think that with faith and love she will soon see that you can be christen and gay because I know that I am and she is the one who brought him back into my life and am faithful he will bring her back into my arms of love and this is just a test of faith and love.


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