Ask Me; I Dare You…

Recently I have been receiving a lot of stand-alone questions in the comment section of my posts—ranging from spiritual formation to why Brenda and I are trying to sell our condo to my understanding of Kingdom living in mainstream culture to why I theologically and culturally believe what I do to the hatred of ex-gay folks by some in the gay community. I feel that each of these questions deserve to be shared in an independent post instead of buried in a comment somewhere; because I feel many of them will really advance our bridge building work as great conversation starters. So that’s what I’m going to do now. Once a week I am going to start answering these questions.

Therefore, if you have any questions you would like me to respond to, let me know. It doesn’t matter what the question, how personal, related to my work or not, how easy or difficult it might be to answer, I’m going to lay it all out there.

Here’s my one condition though—I don’t have all the answers to everything; don’t claim to; never will claim to. If I’m asked something I don’t know anything about, I will be very upfront about that and then I promise to be thorough in my research and discovery and give as honest as a response as I can. Besides, it will keep things relevant to what you’re wondering about and/or dealing with, and it gives me some topics to write about instead of always coming up with topics myself.

This life and faith journey is intense and who knows where it will lead us? But I do know that I’m looking forward to continuing to do it together with you.

Tell your friends too, and ask away…

Much love.

www.themarinfoundation.org

About Andrew Marin

Andrew Marin is President and Founder of The Marin Foundation (www.themarinfoundation.org). He is author of the award winning book Love Is an Orientation (2009), its interactive DVD curriculum (2011), and recently an academic ebook titled Our Last Option: How a New Approach to Civility can Save the Public Square (2013). Andrew is a regular contributor to a variety of media outlets and frequently lectures at universities around the world. Since 2010 Andrew has been asked by the United Nations to advise their various agencies on issues of bridging opposing worldviews, civic engagement, and theological aspects of reconciliation. For twelve years he lived in the LGBT Boystown neighborhood of Chicago, and is currently based St. Andrews, Scotland, where he is teaching and researching at the University of St. Andrews earning his PhD in Constructive Theology with a focus on the Theology of Culture. Andrew's research centers on the cultural, political, and religious dynamics of reconciliation. Andrew is married to Brenda, and you can find him elsewhere on Twitter (@Andrew_Marin), Facebook (AndrewMarin01), and Instagram (@andrewmarin1).

  • http://www.lifewalk.info David Foreman

    OK, I’ll start. Let me re-ask:
    (about)…how you approach the hatred of “ex-gays” by many in the GLBT community. I certainly don’t buy into much of what those kind of ministries sell, but I DO buy into the right of the individual to investigate whatever avenues of help they so choose. I went through such counseling. Understand, I no longer consider myself gay, or ex-gay. Certainly not “straight.” I ran across the term “Spouseosexual” which seems to most fit me. Problem is, everyone (both sides) want clear-cut labels. Life’s not that simple. Anyway, your comments would be greatly appreciated.
    Again, much love to you.
    dave

  • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

    Here’s my nosey question that I keep forgetting to ask you. :P

    You’ve officiated at the weddings of three friends. You wrote earlier that those will be the only weddings that you’ll ever officiate at. Why is that?

  • Bob

    I have a lesbian friend who is admit about knowing my views on gay being sin, on gay marriages and gay rights. She wants to know if I am for gay marriage or against. She wants to know if I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I’ve been trying to follow your advice and not give her a direct answer but trying to “elevate” the discussion. I don’t think I’m doing it very well. She is frustrated. I tried to get her to define marriage and what she wants. I tried to give a definition of marriage without including gender. I told her it is a foreshadowing of Jesus and the Church. I told her it meant to grow in oneness with each other and with God. She is not satisfied. What do you recommend?

    Also I am planning on moving and being a part of her gay community. She and I are close friends and I’ve made friends with her other lesbian friends. They all seem to accept me. I have found a church in her community which would support me. Any advice?

  • Mrs T

    Bob: Actually, “I don’t know” is the answer to some of the questions. Sometimes we don’t really know. As for gay marriage, since it is between consenting adults & we live in a mildly socialistic country where everyone demands insurance(so it seems), from a legal viewpoint, it may be the way to go. I sympathize with the gay worker who feels discriminated against. Maybe companies should have employee + 1 for their insurance coverage. It will cost more as many may add their aged parent. But we as a culture have gotten into the idea that we should be insured, so this is the path we are on! I doubt we can change it back to the 1950s! Maybe your friend will accept an “I don’t know” for an answer. We all must have friends that live lifestyles we don’t agree with, but are still friends. Prayer for wisdom works, too! Are you in Chicago? Welcome to the neighborhood if you are!

  • Seth

    Gosh, lots of questions come to mind. Here are a few:

    You are definitely on fire with your bridge-building mission! I’m always inspired to hear you talk and read your words. If you were particularly effective in a given community (i.e., a local “bridge” between evangelical Christians and their GLBT neighbors), what would that success look like, sound like and feel like on the ground?

    Lots of your programming is oriented toward churches and Christian youth groups, asking them to re-think their approach to their GLBT neighbors, and to open and maintain that dialogue. But gay folks can be equally or more frosty toward the church, based on their experience or on their limited, secondhand understanding. What efforts do you make to build bridges from the other direction?

    Finally, what do you do to renew yourself and keep from burning yourself out? You seemed to be on the cusp of disaster just a few weeks ago!

    Hope you get lots of questions to keep the blog posts coming.

    Loving you back,

    Seth

  • Angela

    Do you feel that a person who is a Christian and gay will go to heaven?

  • Person

    This question just popped into my head, so I figure I might as well ask it.

    How would your life be different if you were not a Christian?

  • Sarah C.

    Where do I start? I feel God calling me to provide more love and support and build bridges with my GLBT brothers and sisters. I’m trying to figure out where to start. I’ve invited my favorite lesbian couple to start a small group Bible study with me, and we are getting together to discuss. Should I also try to get involved with the pride group at work, a community group? What are the best way to intentionally love and grow together Spiritually with the GLBT community? How can I convey through my actions and words that they are not my “project”, and this is just as much about my own Spiritual growth as theirs? And, yes, I’m going to make the next live chat. My calendar is blocked off!

  • Iphimedia

    Dear Andrew and Friends,
    I have a question that I have actually emailed before to Andrew, so maybe this is the place to have it address. I know you are very busy and don’t have time to answer all emails. I have to say first to Andrew and all at the Marin Foundation, as I have before on these comments sections, how much your humility, integrity, compassion, hard wo and faith in your bridge-building work has inspired and sustained me.

    A bit of background before my question: I am a liberal Christian and a newly coming out bisexual woman. Strangely enough, it was while reading your book, Andrew, and looking at the Marin Foundation web site (inspired by reading your book which so impressed me by its loving nature) that I first had an epiphany that I might be bisexual. In a flash, a series of scenes of moments of attraction, dreams, discounted emotional and physcidesires and relationships with women with whom I had always classified as “very, very intense friendships” came before my mind’s eye, and I asked myself, could I be bisexual? After weeks of prayer, journaling, soul-searching, talking with mentors and research on the Internet on bisexuality and LGBT and bi web sites, I came to the conclusion that I am bisexual, and that I have indeed been in love with men and women. I am not sure how you’ll react to this reaction to your book; it certainly wasn’t what I anticipated and I’m sure not what you intended. My reaction to my sexual orientation has never caused me anything but joy; my family, faith community and friend have never wavered in their acceptance or support of me; God who is my rock and salvation has never sent me any message other than loving acceptance, and I feel as if an iron band I had not know I was wearing is now released.
    My question for you is: how much do you know about the experiences of bisexuals and Christian bisexuals in our culture specifically, and how does your ministry minister to them? Have you ever thought about or known that bisexual in the U.S. straight and bisexual culture face experiences, challenges,stereotypes and prejudices in both the lesbian/gay and straight worlds? In your book and in many of your posts and writings, you use the term “GLBT” seemingly interchangeably with the term “gay and lesbian” as if bisexuals were automatically covered in this umbrella term. Yet many lesbians and gay men deny that bisexuality even exists, claiming that bi people are lying (afraid to come out as gay/lesbian or simply experiementing straights). We are accused of wanting to partake of “straight privilege” yet hate crime perpetrators and conservative Christians who preach intolerance do not hate bisexuals or beat us up verbally or physically “half as much.” We don’t get fired from jobs “half as much.” In the gay community, we are sometimes abandoned by our same-sex friends if we begin a relationship with an opposite-sex partner. Some gay or lesbian people refuse to date bisexual people, claiming that we can never be faithful, that will always be hankering after the other gender (often this is based on one personal experience generalized to all bi people). We are stereotyped as carrying disease, as being promiscuous, confused, unstable, immature. Given all these generalizations on the part of some–certaninly not nearly all, thank heavens– straight and gay and lesbian and some transgendered people I have met in person and online–what would you say to bisexuals as a Christ-follower? It gets tiring to feel invisible, to have to explain or justify yourself, to feel that the “B” in LGBT doesn’t mean much to many who don’t believe you exist. To those with these prejudices/stereotypes? Do you think the Marin Foundation could help with a ministry to bisexuals specifically? Could the conservative Christian community offer a place for bisexual people who so often feel erased (people assume a same sex couple is gay and an opposite sex couple is straight?), discounted, invalidated by those to whom they look for love?

  • http://hcjoel.blogspot.com Bart Wang

    Andrew, it seems that just from the comments above, you have the beginnings of a new book. Get on it, dude. You’re a blessing to us. May our words of encouragement be a blessing to you. (Ephesians 1:15-19)

  • Ryan

    Andrew, I don’t really know if what I am going to say in this post is really a question per se. And I will try to refrain from writing a biography here. But first just a little background to help you know where I am coming from.

    I grew up in a conservative evangelical church and came to the realization I was gay when I was 15 years old. I was a very devout Christian and over the years have struggled greatly to reconcile my sexuality and my faith.

    I recently left the Presbyterian Church church because I decided I just did not feel welcome there any longer. I feel that by their votes to exclude gays and lesbians they are basically saying we do not want you here.

    Over the years I have sought advice from pastors and counselors, I have looked for support from others in the Christian community, I have read books and articles on both sides of the fence. And for years tried to convince myself that with the help of the church God was going to heal me of my homosexuality. (Although if I am honest it is never what I really wanted.)

    I am now 43 years old and find myself where I feel isolated not only from the church but from the gay community. I never sought help from the gay community because I was taught in the church to fear them.

    I have never had a relationship or even just a friend who was gay to relate too. All my attempts in talking about this issue and try and get support has been in the Christian community. This has left me with alot of frustration and anger and feeling totally alone and given me little reason to want to have anything to do with the church.

    Despite these feelings I have reluctantly gottne involved with another church that I actually really like because they seemed to be commited to the issues I really care about (ie. poverty, social justice). But to tell you the truth I just don’t know if I want to put myself out there again.

    Shortly after I left the church I was attending I saw an intervview you did on youtube and then read your book. For the next few months it turned my world upside down.. I told a friend of mine who has been one of the few people in the Christian community who has supported me over the years (and who is an IV staff worker) that by reading your book it was like “coming out” all over again. And for the first time in a long time I felt hope that things were changing in th church. I really felt you had a true sense of the issues and pain that people in LGBT community deal with and that your sense of compassion was sincere.

    But I just don’t know if I can emotionally handle trying to continue investing in the church.And now I don’t know where to start in reaching out to the gay community for support. I honestly just want to give up on my faith because it is just too overwhelming and isolating. I feel like all my attempts just fall on deaf ears.

    Well I guess I lied about writing a biography. I really do not know what good this will do. But I was genuinely inspired by your book and thank you for the work you are doing.

  • http://jwalkergs.wordpress.com/ Jason Walker

    As a gay Christian, do I live a life that makes me happy here and now, hoping that grace prevails or do I live a life of loneliness trusting that the rewards of Heaven will make my loneliness here worth it?

  • http://Thresadavis.wordpress.com Thresa Davis

    You say that we should get rid of the labels and categories and validate each others spiritual walk/journey. How would this look within a church body? Would (gay christians) be allowed to serve as teachers, small group leaders or even as pastors?

  • anonymous girl living in the Bible Belt

    OK, so right now I’m too scared to really get into a discussion about what I’m wondering with anyone around me. (see my faux name)

    I’m a young woman questioning and deconstructing her childhood faith. One of the things that disturbs me the most about the church is the way it has treated homosexuals.

    Everyone close to me is an evangelical conservative. A lot of the people around here are.

    I’m a people pleaser. I’m scared of not being loved or liked. Yeah, I know, it’s selfish if I let this control me, but it is honestly hard and scary.

    Recently, as I’ve been trying to research this, I read on a very very hardcore conservative website that demonized gay people, and had a very strong ultimatum to everyone to agree with them.

    Then, on a pro-gay website, I read a declaration by someone who said he would refuse to discuss alternative views on homosexuality, as it was akin to being soft on slavery, ect. That he would ignore anyone who thought homosexuality was sin. Now I see his point, and I have no doubt that the awful injustice towards gays mustn’t be tolerated.

    But right now, I just feel caught in two. Like I’m either teetering on the brink of Hell or being a bigoted homophobe. It isn’t pleasant.

    There has to be some way that none of us is too hopeless to change, or do better, or listen to another who is different than him. Just – how do we get the vision for that, without compromising on right and wrong? I don’t want to be soft on wrongdoing either – and right now I tend to feel that the church and bigotry have most of the wrongdoing on their hands. Yet I must go over traditional teachings for myself and just make sure just what I don’t agree with at this point – but now I’m scared whatever I do that I will either be reprobate or bigoted. Do you see what I’m saying? That I feel trapped and condemned anyway?

    You know, I *am* a sinner, and I *am* a homophobe (though it’s not all my fault because so much of that gets drummed into you from childhood), and where I do find the room and the grace to keep taking those tiny steps out of it all? As well as not be sure of what I think? What can I say but Christ have mercy?

    Any advice for me on my journey of research and questions?

    Sorry for the book. This is really frightening right now – but love never was easy at all, was it? You know that.

  • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

    “But right now, I just feel caught in two. Like I’m either teetering on the brink of Hell or being a bigoted homophobe. It isn’t pleasant…

    Any advice for me on my journey of research and questions?”

    1. Read more resources on the subject. Aim for the middle.
    2. Don’t worry what others (might) think about you or your opinions. Make your own decisions and choices because they are right with you, not because someone else pressures you to agree with them.
    3. Give yourself time and give yourself a break. You don’t need to have all of the answers now. And you likely will never have all the answers.

  • http://www.livingitout.com Rachel

    Hi anonymous girl,

    Don’t know if this will be helpful or not, but I do know that what you’re experiencing is really common. All of us brought up within a Christian context get to the point where we have to question *everything* and make our faith our own. Many people get lost along the way, many leave church and God for a while and then find our ways back, some decide the faith of their childhood is still one they want to affirm, but yet others come to a new relationship with God, and a deeper, more authentic faith.

    A resource that I know a lot of people here in the UK have found helpful is a book called ‘The Post-Evangelical’ by a guy called Dave Tomlinson. I don’t know if you’re someone who finds books helpful, but I’m sure you could order it via Amazon if you wanted a look. He specifically talks a bit about the church and ‘the gay issue’ as something that can trigger faith-problems for people. And, for a US author, Brian MacLaren’s ‘New Kind of Christian.’

    An important thing on your search is to know that God can meet you *anywhere* – even in books and people and places that your unbringing has told you are far from God.

    I hope you’re one of the ones who finds a new way to hang on in their with your faith – your desire to find out more gives me huge hope that you are.

  • anonymous girl living in the Bible Belt

    Thank you so much, Jon and Rachel. This helps more than you know. I will keep on, and read more, and most of all, try to wait.

    If anyone who reads this would pray for me – that as I go this journey I would not focus on my fears or even my good questions so much as just *loving* people, loving the best I can and beyond each moment. In an uncertain life and world this is truly what matters most – and I think it is what God is really calling me to above all.

  • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

    Anonymous – I’m not trying to ignore repsonding to your comment! I want to give it the respect it’s due and make my response into a full post. I will most definitely be praying for you, and as shameless as this is, please get a copy of my book because my journey started 100% as being in the place that you’re at right now when my homophobe past was hit head on when my three best friends came out to me in three consecutive month! That was a huge motivating factor and underlying theme of how I wrote it, and I honestly believe you would get a whole lot out of it. Much love!

  • anonymous girl living in the Bible Belt

    Thanks Andrew! I will get to your book as soon as I can. :)

  • ChristinJoy

    Anonymous Girl Living in the Bible Belt:
    I would love to share with you part of my story because I understand where you are coming from. I was raised in a wonderful home and had parents that are probably the most loving and accepting people. But the church culture (as a whole) has elevated being gay into something that it is not. Because of my lack of my understanding, I treated the GLBT community as though they had leprosy. I became this judgmental pharisee that thought I was better than others.

    In the last 5 years, God has completely changed my heart and mindset because I have allowed him to break me and he has prepared me for more than I ever could imagined. My senior year of college, I busted out of my “Christian bubble” and became friends with a lot of different people. This was step 1 in preparing me to step out of the box and allow God to work in my life.

    Until about 3 years ago, I had never met anyone that I knew was gay. The whole concept was fairly new to me because like I said I just didn’t understand. But God gave me a divine appointment with a girl whom had just broke up with her long-term girlfriend. I knew she was gay and that scared me, but I also knew that God put me in her life. She was very depressed and really didn’t have very many friends so I opened my home and life up to her. We would have dinner and hang out just like my normal straight friends. It took about 6 weeks for her to completely open up to me about her life and I will never forget that phone call I received that night. She just left my apartment about an hour earlier practically in tears. She wouldn’t tell me what was wrong. She called to tell me she got home and we started talking about her life.. She said “ I’m afraid to tell you something because I’m not sure if you will want to be my friend anymore”. Those words pierced my heart. Was I really a person that people are afraid to talk to? I told her that nothing could change the fact that she was my friend and that I loved her. She proceeded to tell me that she was gay and her girlfriend had just broke up with her. She was hurt and felt so rejected. She had made so many selfless decisions for a relationship that was over. She shared so much of her life with me. We laughed and cried together. At times it was uncomfortable for me, but she was patient with me. She changed my life. She changed the way I look at the GLBT community, she changed the way I look at everyone.

    How did I balance the truth with love and grace? I don’t know. And I don’t know if I did it well. Never once did I quote scripture to her. Never once did I preach a salvation message. I lived it though. Did I share truth? Yes, but it wasn’t about her being gay because honestly that’s between her and God. But what I did do – I was the first person to arrive when she got into a car accident. I was the person she called at 3AM when she was crying. I let her sleep on my couch on numerous occasions when she was having problems. So the tiny steps you can take is to just be a friend. What I focused on was I am I allowing Jesus to love her through me? My concern was not her lifestyle, but her salvation.. Let God take care of the rest – its not in our job description. :)

    So what I am saying my dear friend, do not complicate it. Do not allow yourself to feel trapped and condemned that is Satan just trying to deceive you. We are free in Him. You are going to find so many opinions and I bet most people here would even tell you they don’t have all the answers. Just remember this whats is important is that Jesus died on the cross for ALL and He has called us to love.

  • anonymous girl living in the Bible Belt

    Christin, I don’t have any words. What a beautiful story of you and your friend. It just gives me so much joy. And hope.

    Truly, it is such a beautiful thing that the most important thing should be open to us, whatever mysteries remain in our lives. Thanks for reminding me.

    Much love to you :)

  • http://www.livingitout.com Rachel

    Anonymous, Christin, I am so encouraged that God is working in these ways all across the globe. That anonymous, you’ve already been able to listen to two gay people, myself and Jon. And that Christin, you’ve been able to listen to God instead of your culture to make friends across the gay-straight divide.

    A straight woman I interviewed said, ‘When my lesbien friend said she wasn’t expecting me to change my views as a result of being friends with her, I think that helped me relax and just get on with being friends. It’s possible to be friends with someone and not share their beliefs about everything.’ Several straight Christians have come and told me how powerful and liberating they found hearing that.

    And even in the virtual world here are people living that out, helping each other keep our eyes on God whether or not we agree on the other stuff.

  • anonymous girl living in the Bible Belt

    Rachel, it is indeed so so encouraging. If this can happen just on the internet I am going to wait for much more in real life. :)


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