A “biblical” man attracted to transgender women

Dear John,

I just watched your and your wife’s presentation on the Biblical view of homosexuality. [Here.] I have wrestled with this issue for a couple of years now, and what you said made a lot of sense. I have long thought that the key to understanding any literature, including the Bible, is the context.

I am a Christian who wants to behave biblically. I have been divorced for more than 10 years and yet my sexual desire is still strong. I am strongly attracted to women. Yet I have found myself also drawn, not so much to other men, but to transsexuals, who look and behave like women, and who believe themselves to be women in the wrong body, but have not had their male parts surgically removed. Twice, I have been with such a woman and have felt great satisfaction in their arms. Yet both times I was consumed with guilt afterwards.

I have had two questions: First of all, is homosexuality wrong? If not, then the other question is moot: Is gender in the genes or in the mind? In short, is a transexual woman, or even a cross-dresser who doesn’t have the opportunity or courage to live as a woman, a man or a woman? If she is a woman, then my guilt is false guilt, but if she is a man, then we return to the first question.

I totally understand that the OT verses and two of the passages in the NT refer to homosexual practice as it pertains to pagan and idolatrous worship, just as the condemnation of prostitution refers to cultic prostitution. The sticking verse for me is the Romans passage [Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. — Romans 1:26-27].

If I have to deny myself to live Biblically, I will. But if I am denying myself now, only to find out in heaven that I was being stupid, I’ll kick myself in my redeemed ass.

Please help.

So two things. First: homosexuality, in and of itself, is no more wrong than is heterosexuality. You’re already familiar with some of my arguments for why that’s true, so I won’t elaborate. (My entire case opposing the idea that God condemns homosexuality—including, most importantly, gay Christians telling their own stories—is found in my book UNFAIR. See also the Not All Like That Christians Project.)

As for Romans 1:26-27: see Romans 1:26-27 (Natural and Unnatural), or this entry on the website Gay Christian 101. Key quote from the latter:

Because all scripture is given in a cultural, doctrinal, historical, linguistic, literary and religious context, those factors must be part of our thinking as we seek to understand scripture.

Romans 1:26-27 was given in a very clear context. There is no cultural indication, no doctrinal indication, no historical indication, no linguistic indication, no literary indication, no religious indication, that Paul intended to blast lesbians and gays in Romans 1:26-27.

Also see A Clobber Passage That Should Lose Its Wallop over on the Unfundamnentalist Christians group blog.

And of course that’s just three online articles. There now exists in the world such an ocean of scholarly work proving that Paul never wrote a word against gay people, that at this point believing that he did is (unlike actually being gay), a choice.

I suspect the question you really want answered, though, is whether or not being attracted to (pre-op) transgender women means that you are gay.

But that’s the wrong question to be asking yourself. The right question is, Why do you care if you’re gay? Perhaps you are gay, or are becoming so: though certainly rare, some people’s sexuality shifts over the course of their lifetime. So maybe you started off straight, and are now transitioning into becoming bisexual or (though, again, such a radical reorientation is doubtful) even gay. If that’s the case, then it’s natural for you to find yourself attracted to the kinds of women you are, since such a woman affords you the opportunity to experience some degree of homosexual sex without too dramatically challenging your notion of yourself as straight.

Though from what you’ve told me this doesn’t apply to you, what is also of course entirely possible is for a straight man to fall in love with a transgender woman, whatever the current state of her Actual Equipment. Make no mistake about this: a transgender woman is a woman—again, whatever her silhouette. If you’ve fallen in love with a transgender woman, you have fallen in love with a woman. In that case your core straightness would remain intact—if, perhaps, a bit adjusted to accommodate the desires of your heart. Which is a beautiful thing.

Bottom line: You fall in love with a person, not their genitals. [Tweet that.]

Don’t worry about whether or not you’re gay, straight, bisexual, or anything in between. All God wants is for you to be whomever you are—whomever he/she made you to be—and to live with compassion and integrity.

Trust in God and his/her absolute love for you; don’t rush anything; discern the steps of your process; be kind.

Do those four things, and fear not, for then you can be sure to have never displeased God, or given yourself reason for regret.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • “You fall in love with a person, not their genitals”

  • Oh, cool. Well, I’ll turn that into a “Tweet this” thing, and … that’ll be nice. Thanks, Sylvie.

  • Hiya John,

    The research actually shows that sexuality is not all that fluid over time. (This is maybe less true for woman than it is for men.) The entire idea of damaging reparative therapy was that sexuality was not immutable and therefore could be changed. While small shifts can occur along the spectrum, there has been absolutely no evidence – even in highly motivated populations – that meaningful changes in sexual orientation can be achieved. That’s why I’m skeptical of any ex-gay narrative.

    Perhaps this chap is somewhere in the middle of the spectrum?


  • Matt

    Letter Writer, “transsexual” is a an adjective, not a noun. And transgender women are not the only ones who fall under the umbrella.

    That aside, my first thought is that you are without a doubt straight. Think of it this way: you are so straight that you desire women no matter what their bodies look like. That seems like straight as straight gets. But getting more comfortable with gender ambiguity is healthy for everyone. We get very obsessed with putting people into male or female categories, to the extent that if we can’t figure it out, we remove their humanity. I would say that you are just opening up your mind and learning to express your heterosexuality in a new way, rather than changing your sexuality in any appreciable way.

    But only you can say for sure. Transgender people do not exist to challenge straight people’s sexual orientation (or gay people’s, for that matter). Having sex with folks like us is exactly what you make of it.

  • Andy

    Brilliant as always, Matt.

    I live in a very conservative community, so I assume that what few trans people live around here — and I think it’s reasonable to assume there are not many — are mostly closeted. I don’t think that should surprise you. Point being, I don’t really have experience having met people in real life that I know are trans, so mine is an outsider’s perspective.

    But it appears to me that there still exists a stigma. Most every human culture we know of has made a huge deal out of gender – there has always been a clear divide between men and women, they have different roles, and only recently in the grand scheme of things has there been any crossing that divide with few or no societal repercussions (e.g. women working and men homemaking). We have been conditioned to see this division and shun those that cross it, and it’s only with a good deal of pushing the envelope (much like widespread acceptance of interracial and gay marriage) that it becomes commonplace with less resistance from the rest of the world (you can see this in how it’s still newsworthy whenever a celebrity comes out gay or trans). And we have been conditioned to assign a stigma to trans people, and even to cis people who become involved with trans people. Both are shunned by a lot of ignorant people. And until there is a widespread paradigm shift, there will continue to be. It’s very unfortunate, and it’s not fair, but as I see it, that’s just how it is. Society changes very slowly.

  • Andy

    I’m curious what research you’re referring to. And is this for humans, or all species?

    I’m not an expert in this field, and I’m not even an amateur, but it seems to me that, while sexuality may not be fluid for very many people, it can be quite fluid for those it is, whether or not it’s of their own volition (and yes, I would include people who claim to have successfully “prayed away the gay” in this).

  • Matt

    Yes. Sex with us is often seen as undermining a straight (or gay) cisgender persons’s orientation. It is often seen as extra kinky, exotic, or adventurous, or that there is something “wrong” with people who are actually attracted to us.

    Some cisgender people seek out transgender people specifically for sex. We in the community call them “chasers,” and it can be a challenge to keep them out of the online support group I belong to so that it’s safe for people to be vulnerable. It just comes right out of the idea I mentioned earlier–if you cannot fit into any given person’s idea of “proper” man or woman, then you are no longer allowed to have human feelings and motivations ascribed to you. Luckily, this is slowly shifting. It cannot happen soon enough.

  • The study I’m most familiar with (and read in several incarnations) is the Jones Yarhouse Ex-gay study. They are conservative Christian researchers. But there are others out there that, at least in the abstracts, are aligned with this one.

    Warren Throckmorton does a nice summary of the findings here:

    As for other species…I have no idea. I’ve not seen any studies about the interior lives of gerbils.


  • I was so hoping you’d add your voice here. I love this: “Transgender people do not exist to challenge straight people’s sexual orientation…” Brilliantly put.

  • Matt

    And gay people as well! I have heard of several gay men who fear sleeping with transgender men will undo their hard work of coming out, and denigrate their fellow gay men who do. It is very tragic.

  • Andy

    I hadn’t considered this possibility. That’s a shame too.

  • Hi, David. So I tweaked what I said there to reflect this good input of yours, and linked to your comment about it. Thank you!

  • spinning2heads

    Pretty sure this dude is straight. If he wanted guys, he’d be gay or bi, but he doesn’t, he wants ladies. Also, I have no proof to point to at this exact moment (I’m at work and don’t want to do the google search that would bring up the proof. But you can! Go for it!), but I’ve read that being attracted to ladies with penises is almost exclusively a straight man thing.

  • Linnea912

    Yes! I *so* have to remember that one!

  • Jill

    David, I so appreciated your wisdom that that while sexuality likely does not change, our interpretation and understanding of our sexuality can and potentially does change over time. The removal of so many years of others’ expectations, disinterest in people-pleasing as we age, our own understanding of the nuances of our own sexuality, etc. I’m beginning to wonder if pansexuality is more common than people are willing to say.

  • Katie B

    Hi David,

    When we say that sexuality is fluid over time, that doesn’t mean that sexuality is *changeable.* Fluidity and changeability are different things – the former means that it’s capable of changing of its own accord. When people say that sexual orientation is “changeable,” what they generally mean is that you can change it by willing it to change, which is not possible. You cannot will yourself to desire something you don’t desire, nor to not desire something you do desire.

    If we want to take an example that is not sexual in nature: Ten years ago, I did not like cheesecake. Even “good” cheesecake. Could not stand the underlying flavor of cream cheese, and the texture didn’t do wonders for me on the tongue, either. It was something I DID NOT LIKE, and that was firmly set in my mind because of characteristics of cheesecake that I really, truly, absolutely didn’t care for.

    Two years ago I was reintroduced to cheesecake (I was in a social situation where cheesecake was the dessert and it would have been extremely impolite to the hosts to turn down dessert). I took a slice and was determined to eat it, in order to be a polite guest. Instead, I found myself enjoying it greatly. My tastes had changed – the cream cheese flavor that in my youth I had found intolerable was instead pleasantly tangy; the texture was enjoyably creamy rather than slimy. Nothing had changed other than myself.

    We change as we get older, and we experience things differently.

  • Hi Katie,
    Fluidity as I understand it refers to the degree of movement along the scale. The people on the poles will never be in the center.

    If an exclusively homosexual man is now diggin’ cheesecake over his once preferred ice cream, it’s probably because cheesecake has become a more socially acceptable dessert for men. It’s now less risky to indulge his secret cravings.


  • Andy

    That cheesecake thing happened to me too!

  • Andy

    This isn’t related to the thread, but I found it interesting nonetheless. I had never heard the term “chaser” until this morning when I was reading a webcomic that mentioned it…and now I see it again! I know, it’s random. Not trying to derail the conversation.

  • Lance Schmidt

    I have to admit I’m really struggling and need some help with this. I’m a guy in a same sex marriage who spent years as an atheist before rediscovering God and faith not long before Christmas of this past year. I initially was not that bothered by my sexuality as I was so enthused with my new found faith, but now it’s getting difficult.

    I am the product of very rigid, fundamental Christian thought that taught me a very narrow way of looking at faith, the Bible and salvation. As much as I try to grasp different interpretations of difficult passages such as that in Romans, I just can’t seem to find a way for my heart to understand it other than how it is written on the page. Yet somehow when people point out other things in the Bible such as slavery it makes perfect sense that we can’t take the Bible literally on everything it says.

    The sad thing in all this is that my faith is starting to get in the way of me being really present and available to my husband who has been my rock for the past 14 years. He is the sweetest, kindest and most gentle guy you could ever meet….I feel so terrible about it. And yet my faith is so integral and important to me that I couldn’t throw it away if I wanted to.

    A little light that came to me today as I was reading this post and the links provided was a new thought was that part of my problem may lie in this sort of unshakeable idea I have that God created man and woman and that same sex relations are unnatural. I don’t have a problem with evolution and am not a creationist, but I wonder if there’s a part of my programming that holds onto that idea of a literal Biblical interpretation of the creation story because it seems totally rational to me that if humans evolved then it makes perfect sense that there are different expressions of sexuality and that they all are on equal footing in the eyes of God. Why oh why can’t I get my heart around that?

    If anyone can help me or point me to something that may help me, I would really appreciate that. It seems I can only get so far in my internet searching, and I’ve so often wished I could sit down face to face with someone like you John to have a discussion about it.

  • BarbaraR

    Hi Lance, I think you already have hit on the basis for your struggle – ” I wonder if there’s a part of my programming that holds onto that idea of a literal Biblical interpretation of the creation story.”

    Yes. It’s your programming. And that will take time to change. It’s one thing to know intellectually what the source of your anguish is; it’s another thing altogether to deprogram yourself from your years of fundie upbringing. It’s a process and a journey.

    “Why oh why can’t I get my heart around that?” I think your heart IS around that. It’s the little fundie voices from the past that are trying to tell you otherwise, and they are damn hard to silence completely.

    While I don’t have an instant solution for you, I know that your putting it into words you’re on the right track. There may be an LGBTQ-friendly church or private group near you that can support you. John’s books would be helpful also.

    And stick around here! You’ll find lots of people experiencing the same things you are.

  • Thank you, Barbara. (Love to you, Lance.)

  • Cat Rennolds

    I’ve found when I cling to something that my rational mind thinks I should let go of, there’s something connected to it that I *don’t* want to let go of. We don’t hold on to behaviors that don’t serve us in some way; the question is how. Look for what you associate with that creation story, and why it is important to you to hold on to.

  • Cat Rennolds

    I think it is more accurate to say that gender ROLES have always been a big deal, regardless of culture; but many, many cultures throughout history have had a policy of not caring what your biological gender was as long as you filled whatever role you chose. You just couldn’t switch roles arbitrarily. In some cultures it was open – oh, you’re a girl but you hunt, here, you get a man job – or, you’re bi so you must be a shaman or a spirit speaker – but in some it was don’t ask, don’t tell, and pretend you don’t see it. Like, all those peasants in the field must be male because they are wearing trousers. Hah. The women are wearing trousers because it’s a biotch harvesting in skirts. That monk must be male because all monks are by definition male. Only when people were forced to notice discrepancies did it become a real problem. Now people are just tired of faking it.

  • Cat Rennolds

    I stayed out of this discussion for a long time simply to help protect people from forcible attempts at change. That said, I have noted fluidity personally in a number of situations. You are right that extreme polar shifts are very rare if at all existent. But gradient shifts are fairly common – for example, a bisexual person gradually shifting one way or the other for physical or emotional reasons is not necessarily ever going to shift back to the center. Doesn’t mean always that the person was hiding real desires before – although that DOES happen, a lot, as you are aware.

  • Leslie Marbach

    Lance, changing your thinking on things you’ve believed pretty much your whole life is difficult. The belief that same-sex relationships are wrong probably took years and years to really form and won’t disappear overnight, no matter how much scholarly evidence you read. It’s possible that in addition to that belief you’ve also absorbed the belief that questioning the “church” is wrong. That would make sense considering your background. Fundamentalist churches tend to teach people that if they question what the church says then their faith isn’t strong, that they’re questioning God himself. Well let me tell you, God is big enough for all questions! Much of what you learned is wrong. Flat out wrong.

    It took me years to reconcile my sexual orientation with my faith. I’m still in the process of rebuilding a faith that makes sense to me. I would encourage you to read the links John provided. Pray. Be still. It’s really hard to listen to the Holy Spirit when your brain has been filled with lies for so long. But wisdom comes to all who ask for it.

    It sounds like you’re extremely blessed to have such a loving husband. I wish you well in this journey.

  • Psycho Gecko

    Another thing to note here is that sexuality isn’t necessarily a “This or That” proposition. It’s not a straight line. It’s more like a web. You may be attracted to a certain practice or fetish that might have nothing to do with gender.

    Also, in regards to whether gender is physical or psychological, the definition is actually psychological. When referring to a person’s biology, it’s called sex.

    That being said, confusion is understandable. There are a lot of misconceptions out there.

  • Hi Cat,
    Although I don’t have personal experience with this, I think you and I have the same understanding. Thanks for weighing in.

  • Thanks for this, Leslie. You’re the best.

  • Outstanding. Thanks, Cat.

  • Hi Lance. I’m a gay married man too. I love the creation story. It helped me reconcile my faith and my sexuality. It shows us that we are created as relational beings. We are meant to be in relationship. Traditionalist theology actually demands that people who are gay live contrary to God’s creative intention. To repress my sexuality as I did for years was to reject God’s gift. For me, that was actually sinful. It drove me away from God.

    Aside from John’s very powerful book, I’d also recommend “A Time To Embrace” by William Stacy Johnson.

  • Jill

    Hi Lance, I simply wanted to jump in and say that every comment I’ve read from you is SO full of heart, depth, honesty and hope that I couldn’t have any doubt that you will get this and this will make logical, as well as spiritual sense to you.

    If you’re like me, you crave reconciling of seeming disparate thoughts and feelings. All I can confirm on that front is that we did ourselves a disservice by believing that the Bible could be taken wholly literally and fully cohesively, as if the one book led right into the next (no blame on ourselves– these beliefs were ingrained).

    In some ways it was a comfort and an assurance, was it not? That God had it all well in hand, everything was justly recorded and the righteous had all the answers to provide to us. Easy 1…2…3. That’s how it was for me once.

    But God did not want me to depend on others to tell me God’s purpose for my life. God did not want me to be, frankly, lazy about finding the path S/He meant for me. I could not have continued in the the path laid out in front of me even if I had stubbornly refused to move away from it. It was actually killing me. I would guess, based on your insightful comments, that neither could you.

    The path less traveled does not mean alone, unpartnered. It simply means, to me anyway, authentically mine. I am created by God after all. Being me can’t be a bad thing.

  • Jill

    I have personal experience with this. Thanks Cat for your insight.

  • anakinmcfly

    Nah, I know of at least a few lesbian couples where one or both of them is trans.

  • anakinmcfly

    Yes to all this! Especially the line about how he’s so straight that he desires women regardless of their bodies.

    Although regarding the vocab – from my years hanging around trans communities, I’d always been under the impression that ‘transsexual’ is both an adjective and a noun (while ‘transgender’ is only an adjective). This is the first time I’ve heard otherwise. :/

    Googled it, and yeah – transsexual is both adjective and noun, while transgender is just an adjective. Though it might have changed since; I’m not sure if people have been phasing out the former.

  • anakinmcfly

    That’s synchronicity!

  • anakinmcfly

    Will have to counter your poles statement – at puberty and for years after that, I was 100% attracted to men, 0% attracted to women. Then I transitioned to male and started testosterone, and for the first time in my life I started experiencing mild sexual attraction to women, basically shifting from a firm Kinsey 6 to roughly 4. It stabilised eventually once all the hormonal upheaval was done; I’m now somewhere around a 5 and identify as gay for all practical purposes (not attracted enough to women to actually want to pursue a romantic and/or sexual relationship with one), but I’m now definitely responding in some way to women that I never did in the least bit pre-transition. (And I tried pretty hard, because I feared that no one would believe I was ‘really’ a guy if I liked other guys. The same doubts hit me – for a while I thought that I was just a lesbian who happened to exclusively like guys. Teenage logic ftw!)

  • Oh gosh, anakinmcfly
    I can just see it now. Traditionalists trying to “cure” homosexuality with hormone therapy. I’d be interested to know if this is purely anecdotal…do you know of any studies that looks at the relationship between hormones and sexual orientation? That would be very interesting to me.

  • anakinmcfly

    It’s actually been done, and many times at that – for a while it was fairly common for doctors to try to ‘cure’ gay men by giving them testosterone, and estrogen to lesbians. On the flip side, there were also severe ‘cure’ attempts which included forcing unwanted sex-reassignment hormones and surgery on non-trans gay men, reasoning that if they couldn’t be straight men, they could be straight women instead. Naturally it all went horribly. And it didn’t work.

    Alan Turing was one of those treated with estrogen to ‘cure’ his homosexuality. His body started feminising, he sunk into depression, and later committed suicide.

    I’m guessing that hormone therapy does little to nothing to the sexual orientations of most LGB people, at least the cisgender ones. But I’ve anecdotally heard of quite a lot of trans people experiencing shifts in sexual orientation upon transitioning, some of them going from one pole to the other. Jury is still out on how much of it is biological and how much social (e.g. someone being more comfortable in their sexuality once they are more comfortable in their expressed gender.) But FWIW, if I think of myself as female, my orientation goes right back to exclusively men.

    It would be interesting to look into how someone’s lived gender affects their sexual orientation, for trans and intersex people. I’ve known trans people who were strictly either homosexual or heterosexual, such that the objects of their affections changed along with their gender expression: from ‘gay man’ to lesbian, ‘straight woman’ to straight man, and so on.

  • Guy Norred

    Jumping in quickly without having taken the time to read the other responses you have received (which I am sure are good) but I feel there is one very quick if perhaps simplistic answer to always keep in mind.

    God and all that is from Him is good. God is also for all that is good. Before your awakening of faith, you knew your relationship to be good. You still seem to know your relationship to be good even if there is some legalism in the way of your understanding. God is not in the legalism.

    OK–a little more. There are a very few things that I think should always be part of any question in search of the truth of God. First, how does it relate to the Great Commandment and “the second”? Does the issue stand in the way of loving God or our neighbor? (of course, especially in the question of loving God, there are those who feel that the closer one cling’s to legalism, the closer one is to ideally loving God, but at best this is putting the letter over the spirit of the law, and at worst, turning the law into an idol and placing it before God Himself) Second, what are the fruits of the possibilities. Bad fruit cannot be from God. Of course some good fruit may be unpleasant in some way–sadness and grief for example are not inherently bad–and sometimes God does ask us to do things that are painful–but He does this in an individual way and often to end or avoid another pain (for ourselves or others).

    And finally for now, why would you think that God would create you and instill in you this thing that brings love and all its gifts to your life and to others, but then tell you that this is something to suppress and find shame in.

    Not that your relationship may not change in some ways as you grow spiritually, but watch for it to grow also. At the same time, do realize that what you see as not being really present to your husband may in fact be the case. I know I have struggled much with this lately as I find I need time to myself to commune with God, especially when we are out of the practice. One thing though I have found is that when I allow myself to have this time, I am often more present with my husband afterwards. In the end, I would think this is something that would happen to any relationship and has nothing to do with orientation.



  • Matt

    While technically one can use it as either, the way that the letter writer used it can often come off as objectifying–it is clear that he has a very narrow view of what “transsexual” as a noun means. Obviously you and I would think of it very differently. I recommend to most cisgender people who are just now encountering transgender people to use it as an adjective exclusively until they get clearer on what exactly it means. Using it that way helps them think “person who is this way” rather than “other who is not like me.” It eases the transition from rigid, exclusionary thinking to more flexible, inclusive thought.

    Even better–“trans” has a much more universal definition, none of the negative connotations that “transsexual” sometimes does, and it is easier to say. But again, small steps.

  • Guy Norred

    Another thing–in regard to the creation story–

    I may be assuming a lot here, but I do this with the knowledge that this story has been true for many, many people.

    What do you remember about your awakening to your sexuality? Was there shame? Has it taken years to overcome that shame? Might you now be putting it back on?

    Shame is not of God.

    I recently reread the creation story and something struck me. This was that after eating the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve felt shame. True, this shame was a product of sin, but what were they ashamed of? They were ashamed they were naked. Being naked was not their sin. They were naked before they sinned and nothing was wrong with it. When they felt this shame they hid (in the closet as it were) and God sought them out. When he found them, he did not condemn their nakedness nor did he take it away or tell them to hide it. He clothed it, which in a way, honors it.

  • Matt

    I could not be more proud of you for being able to say these things, Jill. Much love to Lance, as well.

  • Jill

    I so get this. I sometimes throw around the term ‘the straights’ as a collective noun, for a little sass and attention grabbing. And it does have a little bite to it, putting a diverse group of people in a narrow, polarized category based solely on how they primarily tend to express their sexuality…
    turnabout is fair play and all that.
    People are not their descriptors, and that’s why I can’t be comfortable using sexual or gender identities and expressions as labels. But I still say ‘the straights’ sometimes because I’m rebellious.

  • Lance Schmidt

    Thanks to everyone for their love, support and encouragement. I read the comments last night and again this morning before leaving for work, and they were what I needed to help ground me. As I was walking to work this morning, out of the blue nowhere came this powerful, quiet thought that my Christian journey and path to truth will be the willingness to walk into uncertainty to wrestle with the big ideas and not give in to ideas that will leave me stunted and frustrated. That message was immediately followed by “…My love for you is forever and unchanging” and somehow I knew that I had been visited by the Holy Spirit.

    I feel a bit like Peter walking toward Jesus on the stormy sea. As long as I stay centered and focused on God I do okay, but it is when I start to notice the wind and waves around me I start to sink in fear and doubt. Thanks again for helping point me back to the Source.

  • Josh Magda

    Dear John and John’s readers:

    Thank you for your unequivocal support for LGBT people. My small Christian circle has begun a series of direct online actions against the Patheos blog “Love is an Orientation” after they posted a particularly egregious article suggesting it might be OK for gay people to date straight people, in an effort to appease DoomGod. They have spent years coming to our communities under false pretenses of reconciliation, when really what they seek is to keep us in a state of permanent second-class citizenship in God’s Queendom, as part of their self-serving attempt to keep their conservative theology impervious to substantive change.

    If you have the time, and as a Lenten discipline of saying “no” to domination systems in hard and soft forms, your activism there would be much appreciated. Be forewarned, they have banned and deleted my comments on five separate occasions over the last 3 days, and have sent me massive emails, even offering to fly me to Chicago for a tour of their “facility,” in an effort to buy my silence.

    But the way you methodically go about making your point without being incendiary, something that is not always my forte with homophobes (its more like Jesus), may just get past their radar. Or it may not.

    Love Josh

  • SonjaFaithLund

    I’ll admit, I was nervous about how you were going to handle this question, but I was so pleased with what you wrote.

    I remember when I started dating a trans woman, after months of being openly gay, and having friends and acquaintances asking me if I was actually bisexual. No, of course I wasn’t, because I was still dating a *woman*.

  • Josh Magda

    Brother, if you are unfamiliar with this organization, they have many resources that can help you.


    The diabolical voices of our past can be hard to overcome. But remember, God is not the accuser, and Jesus ALWAYS erred on the side of expansive Love in the Gospels. God is Expansive Love. God Loves you and cherishes you and your partner for who you are, and wants the best for you. The still small voice inside that you heard today, that already Knows this, is indeed the Holy Spirit. Trust in it, rest in it, turn to it, always. No harm can come to you. And no good thing will God withold, from those who walk with integrity (Psalms 84:11).

    I Love You. Don’t be afraid, and don’t ever give up. Claim your faith, and walk in the fullness of the dignity that has always been yours. You were born from Love, you journey with Love, and unto Love, you shall return. Of this, you can be absolutely certain. Love never fails.

    Continue your journey in faith!

    Love Josh

  • anakinmcfly

    Ah. Got it, and agree.

  • Hi Josh.
    I saw and liked your comments on their blog. I read that blog post completely differently than you did. They were in no way advocating mixed-orientation marriages. To the contrary, they were warning people of the dangers.

    I have serious qualms about Marin’s approach. I think they are providing moral cover for churches who preach the toxic traditionalist doctrine. I have told them personally and they received that feedback with a lot of grace.

    The guy who wrote that post you object to – Jason Bilbrey – has written extensively about how and why he has become an ally. He has officiated same sex weddings. He is in no way a homophobe.

    I think you’re misreading this situation.

  • Josh Magda

    “I have serious qualms about Marin’s approach. I think they are providing moral cover for churches who preach the toxic traditionalist doctrine.”

    Which is what our direct action is about. Been talking with Andrew this morning, and here is what I just told him:

    Shared humanity is wonderful, and a necessary basis for any human future. My particular concern is the future of the Church, that it be an unequivocally welcoming home for all gay people, a place of full and total inclusion, body, mind, and Spirit, for us and for you, and that conservative Christians (which I am not, but was as a child and teenager) find the resources within that tradition to make that happen, as many already are. As my Mom says, I am not willing to “open up the door and let the devil in” by accepting, affirming, or validating LGBT apartheid as a live option for the Christian future. And yes, that cannot happen without breaking a few theological eggs. But of all peoples, Christians should be the ones demonstrating that Love > Belief Systems. That is probably the basic difference between us. I do not regard fundamentalist belief systems as being on the same metaphysical level as the Souls of gay people. As I said, beliefs can change, we can and should not. The Church, as you are well aware, is the biggest source of LGBT oppression worldwide. I do not accept your semantic disjunction between acceptance and validation, especially when it comes to the Church of Jesus Christ. In the multi religious World of today, if any religious tradition is to do so, we should be LEADING THE WAY in “erring on the side of an expansive Love.” I don’t see you or your organization as fully doing that, but it is my prayer that you find the courage to do so one day. My time commitment here is not open ended, but through the Lenten season, at a minimum, you should expect to encounter the ongoing presence of St. Hildegard’s at all of your major online venues. We hope, in a small way, to help ramp you up in the Spirit in the direction of the World Based on Love that God wants for each and every one of Her children. If not, we at least want to make your readers aware that there are other Christian options available that are even better than what the Marin Foundation presently offers them, until we can all sit down at the banquet of the Kingdom together. Yours in Christ- TinderHeart (Josh)

    Thanks for your support.

  • spinning2heads

    My bad, I was unclear. What I meant was, I’m pretty sure being into trans ladies means that you’re into ladies. That means you could be a straight dude, a lesbian lady, or a bi of any gender, but you gotta be into the ladies. This letter writer seemed worried that he was a gay man. The thing is, gay men are into dudes, and he’s into ladies. Ladies of a certain body type, sure, but ladies. Not dudes. So that makes him straight.

  • anakinmcfly

    Oh, okay. I misread that. But yep!

  • Jill

    This brought tears. Beautiful.

  • Bones

    The Master said. Love God, Love yourself, Love others.

    That’s it.

    And you’ve got it.

    Now go and enjoy life and stop bashing yourself up.

  • Josh Magda

    Discover EVEN MORE LOVE! The conversation on the Christian future WILL RETURN 3/24/14! Patheos. Twitter. Facebook. – The People of St. Hildegard’s 🙂

  • Hi Josh,

    First, I totally agree with you that the church should be totally inclusive (I think that view is shared by the folks at the Marin Foundation). But I’m not sure that inclusion is ultimately enough.

    There is a conversation to be had about the morality of a theology that diminishes the humanity of an entire people group. Complementarianism is one example. Anti-gay theology is another.

    The traditionalist doctrine says, in essence, that homosexuality is a pathology, that people who are gay are profoundly flawed and unintended for romantic intimacy, and that gay relationships are immoral and inferior.

    This theology has engendered both external distress (marginalization and stigmatization) and internal distress (shame and self-loathing) for people who are gay. It has led to the destruction of families and communities. It has also led to despair and suicide.

    Many people who hold to this theology deny both the exegetical implications of their belief and the demonstrable harm it has caused. But we can’t give them a moral pass. If the (small c) church is going to hold destructive beliefs, they must be made to acknowledge the human destruction they’re causing.

    When I once tried to engage in this conversation with Andrew Marin, he responded by suggesting I was vilifying traditionalists. He claimed the traditionalist belief is morally neutral. It is not.

    All that to say that I think the most important (and most fruitful) part of this conversation is the examination of the human toll of this belief. Therein lies a reason for the conservative church to abandon the moral certitude that drives exclusion.

  • EvenMoreLove

    Amen. Marin’s blog might benefit from this analysis as well… before they take it down. That’s OK, with your permission we’ll repost it for you. – St. Hildegard’s

  • Marin’s blog has had this analysis on multiple occasions. I would just encourage you to keep an open mind about their intentions. Even though I profoundly disagree with their approach, there are some good people that work there. Their goal is the same as ours – make the Church a safer place for people who are gay.

  • Josh Magda

    I know their intentions are good. And that matters. But as I told Andrew and Michael, good intentions are not enough.

  • Josh,

    You and I see things in a similar way. The crux of my disagreement with TMF is over this idea of “cultural reconciliation” versus “real reconciliation”. According to Andrew Marin, the former is an ability to honor and respect alternate world views, the latter is social coercion. I don’t think society should respect and honor the heterosexism any more than we should respect and honor racism or misogyny.

    With that said, I’m not sure how effective your expression of disagreement is. And I leave it to you to decide if you are doing more good than harm keeping in mind they have conservative readership who are on their own journey to inclusion.

  • Josh Magda

    The journey will never be complete, if Marin has his way. I have four populations in mind, conservative readers being one of them. I am very familiar with how the conservative religious mind works. It is very easy for it to impact itself into an echo chamber of willed ignorance. It can and will do so for a lifetime (and who gets to feel the brunt? gay kids do) unless it faces repeated disruptions by a spiritual force at least equal to or greater than itself, that leads to either a gradual erosion of the oppressive worldview or a sudden cathartic break with it altogether. The victory may not be achieved in a single day, month, or year, but seeds of the victory are planted each time we resist LBGT apartheid. They cannot keep us in our place forever. Love Wins.

  • The entrenched conservatives reading Marin’s blog are those who don’t trust him. They will be utterly unpersuaded by your protests. But how will those truly on a journey view your aggression? I wonder if you aren’t reinforcing harmful stereotypes. There are stonewall moments when an aggressive demand for inclusion is necessary. I’m not convinced this is one of them.

  • Josh Magda

    “But how will those truly on a journey view your aggression?”

    We have different definitions of aggression if hyperbole in the service of Shalom on an Internet forum counts as aggression.

    As to your specific question, we’ll find out, won’t we? 🙂 I am interested in their journey reaching its inevitable conclusion sooner rather than later, both for their sake, our sake, and for the sake of their children (who, as with everything I do, I consider to be my employers). The horizon of the possible must be in view. The non-negotiable end of homophobia in its entirety must be announced by spiritual and religious people. Such actions hold the space so that the whole process moves along more smoothly. I and people like me are not the entire solution, but we are a part of it, and often a missing part. Generally, liberals/progressives do a very poor job of holding a clear line, because confrontation is an inevitable part of holding a clear position.

    Confrontation is not in the liberal/progressive’s nature, my own included. But as Aquinas said, nothing great happens in this universe without anger. It gets balls rolling. Yet this particular direct action will not end in anger. And I am not convinced that, in the fulness of time, it will have had no bearing on the course of the Marin Foundation’s OWN journey, which is the ultimate goal. Then they can continue to do the good work that they are trying to do now, while joyfully embracing a clear line on the impending end of LGBT apartheid and the intrinsic dignity of our relationships, something that serves all parties they speak to in the long and short run, and something that they are not presently doing.

    Stay tuned. Or not. 🙂


  • Josh Magda

    comments updated

  • Josh Magda

    “The crux of my disagreement with TMF is over this idea of “cultural reconciliation” versus “real reconciliation”.

    Mine too. To Andrew: That is probably the basic difference between us. I do not regard fundamentalist belief systems as being on the same metaphysical level as the Souls of gay people. As I said, beliefs can change, we can and should not.

  • Hi Josh,

    I wish you well. I’ll let God be God.
    I’ve been in this public conversation for a while now. If you ever want to discuss engagement, feel free to reach out to me at ford@fordswords.net.

  • UnstoppableGrace

    The same. 🙂 And we’ll go with what Rabbi Heschel told his student when the student complained that he couldn’t feel the Spirit move.

    “My son, have you ever considered moving the Spirit?”

  • Bryan Matthews

    I am a Christian THAT MEANS PART OF THE BODY OF CHRIST! There is all these different people using the word “Christian” like we use “red hair”! I am going to do my best to let the Holy Ghost bring the words for me to write about this blog.
    1st- no man or women was born into the wrong body! Why? If that could happen then God could make mistakes and He can’t!
    2nd- any kind, hear me here, ANY KIND of sex is a Black sin out of the pit of hell.
    3rd- Yes God wants you to be happy but our happiness is to come from Him not our flesh! If you are someone out there tonight getting dressed to go out to the Bar, that lightheaded, pounding pulse, etc is NOT God pumping you up for a night on the town! It’s your own desires and emotions! Unless you have NO understanding, then you know the voice of God.
    “O FOOLISH Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the TRUTH….Are ye so foolish that having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Have ye suffered so many things in vain?

  • James Walker

    while i understand the teaching that you’re coming from, I have to say that you’re wrong on all points.

    it is not necessary to view gender dysphoria as “God having made a mistake”. perhaps the mistake is us attempting to force on that person an identity based solely on their external genitalia. perhaps God intended that person to experience transformation from a female appearance to a male one or from a male appearance to a female one. it is not our place to say. that is solely between that person and God.

    second, the idea that God is somehow against us having sex with a person to whom we are physically attracted (and who shares a mutual attraction to us) is patently ridiculous. the Jewish laws prohibit certain types of sex, and the Christian writers of the New Testament certainly frowned upon sex outside the marriage commitment, but there is no support in Scripture for the idea that sex itself is sinful.

    third, the idea that Christians are to take joy only from spiritual pursuits and none at all from physical ones is a false teaching based on gnosticism.

  • Lance Schmidt

    God doesn’t make mistakes. The mistake is when people fail to honour and recognize the diversity of God’s creation. Their proud and arrogant nature rises up to proclaim that they know better than God and in that they will be weighed and found wanting.

  • Adam Crowl

    Personal opinion, but I think we need an Isaiah grade prophet to clear away the mental cobwebs in the Church. The message to Isaiah made all the returning eunuchs from the Babylonian Exile acceptable members of Israel, even though they were excluded by the Torah. And that didn’t change – thus Jesus’s words on the topic. That’s what we need if we’re ever to get rid of this silly stigma.

    The other point, which most don’t realise, is that Greco-Roman homosexuality was what we’d call “pedophilia” these days. Early Church writings, like the Didache, were more explicitly against that behaviour, than what we read into St Paul’s fuliminations. The ridiculous, unacknowledged historical fact is that the ancient Church shared the prejudices of its time and spoke to a specific historical context.

  • anakinmcfly

    I guess this means that no one ever gets sick either or gets born with any medical conditions, because if that could happen then God could make mistakes and He can’t.

    What alternate universe do you live in? How did you get here? Is it a two-way portal? Can I go? Because I’m pretty sure that my lightheaded, pounding pulse etc is down to complications from the flu, and I’d love for it to stop asap.

  • Christians Love

    I have spoken to Bryan Matthews on the phone. IMO, he is trying to drive out his own homosexuality by driving it out of others. He quotes rigid religious ideas, but admitted he does not go to church. He wears toupees and colored contact lenses and make-up, which gives his pictures their strange look. He was chasing after a college guy when I spoke to him some months ago. Yet at the same time, he was writing these bizarre hateful homophobic attacks. He mentioned his reliance on pills and he liked it when I called him a “Pill-Billy.”

  • I’ve prayerfully wondered about this, but I think we don’t have such a word from God because some things are meant for us to work-out: what we learn about relating to each other in love (of each other, and each other *with God*) is *more important* that what the “right” answer is to the controversy. God could (easily) sit us each down and say “you’re right, let me give you a hug!” and “you’re wrong, you need to repent” to the appropriate people and then tell us all “play nice together.” But God doesn’t do this, and instead lets us work this out with His Spirit together. I strongly suspect that we will not know for sure what God thinks about this until we are face to face.