How I Repented From My LGBTQI+ Stance

How I Repented From My LGBTQI+ Stance November 27, 2017
Courtesy of Pixabay
Courtesy of Pixabay

Last month, many in the LGBTQI+ community, as well as those who identify as allies, celebrated Coming Out Day. As most of us are probably aware, coming out can be a momentous occasion, but it can also be quite terrifying. And I can understand why: those who are more religiously-inclined tend to shun and scapegoat any and all who are not heterosexual—with God on their side of course—and even those who stand in solidarity with non-heterosexual folks. So needless to say, coming out can be quite the stress-inducing situation in our current culture (and most cultures that have preceded ours).

While I grew up in a family that was more hospitable toward the LGBTQI+ community, they were still in that old, religious mindset: “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” To that end, it is no wonder that this was the same exact worldview that was handed to me at an age I can no longer recall.

Now, I don’t blame anyone for giving me this view. Indeed, my parents and probably their parents before them were given the same view at an age they can probably no longer recall. And I’m sure the intergenerational regress could go on and on for millennia.

Nevertheless, I’m thankful that I see things differently now—much differently! In fact, my life’s journey has been such that I now tend to be one of the more boisterous voices in the theological community who champion for the full-inclusion of LGBTQI+ folks. Go figure, right?

So, what changed for me?

In brief, it started by actually listening to those around me who weren’t heterosexual. Novel concept, isn’t it? Instead of simply listening to what my straight pastors, or straight parents, or straight Bible study leaders had to say, I started listening to what gay folks had to say. I started listening to what bi folks had to say, and what queer and transgender and those who aren’t classified by any of these labels had to say. I started to actually hear them, and, wouldn’t you know it, I actually started to show some empathy.

And then one day it just sort of dawned on me: How could I call something “sin” in another’s life that wasn’t sin in my own? How could I tell two loving, gay friends of mine that what they were doing was sinful when I was doing the same thing with my non-gay girlfriend (who is now my wife)? I couldn’t!

This made me feel like Saul of Tarsus on the Damascus Road. My whole paradigm shifted. And I’m so glad that it did, for it has caused me to be much more loving, much more empathetic, much more gracious, and much more forgiving than I had ever been before.

Before, I could so easily denounce the behaviors of others because, like any good fundamentalist, I had God on my side. His Book was clear. I could just pluck out any of the clobber passages I wanted, denounce “sins,” and then claim it as the loving thing to do. After all, I was helping them change their ways so that perhaps they wouldn’t burn in hell forever. I know, horrible, right? But it’s where I came from and so has its place in my story. I may not be proud of it, but have certainly learned a thing or two from the whole experience.

So here’s the rub: As long as we are constantly holding our beliefs loosely­—rather than clinched with white knuckles—we will get to where we need to go. I’m convinced of this. Even if we begin our journey in the most religiously oriented way, we, like the Hebrew prophets, can muddle out of it and find the light.

We need each other though. Indeed, we need to learn from all sorts of unique individuals. During my process out of fundamentalism, if it hadn’t been for the love the LGBTQI+ community showed toward each other (and to me!), I’m not sure I would have found the light as of yet. I’m certain that I would have had a come-to-Jesus moment sooner or later, but perhaps it would have taken a lot longer. And who knows, I may have harmed more people than I already had with my bad theology. And I call it “bad theology” because any theology that brings death to others is not a theology worth having. Our theology needs to bring light and life to others, it needs to bring love, joy, peace, and all the other fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:22–23). I hope more and more people come to see this as the truth.

At the end of the day, what matters most—especially for those who profess trust in Jesus Christ—is how we love. Jesus summed up the whole of the law and prophets by telling his followers to love God and their neighbor (Mark 12:30–31). To that end, if we are going to love our LGBTQI+ neighbors, we ought to start by accepting how God made them, not being so quick to judge, and by always welcoming them in to the great banquet table our Lord has set before us all. Should we fail to do this, should we fail to show them love simply because of who they are, then we’ll fail to love others as Jesus loves them. May we be the embodiment of love. Shalom, my friends.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • jamesparson

    I wonder if and when atheists will be on the OK list.

  • NEIL C. REINHARDT

    MOST PROBABLY NOT UNTIL AFTR THE PROGRAMMED RELIGIOUS ROBOTS ARE ABLE TO DE-PROGRAM THEMSELVES.

  • I wonder if and when red herrings won’t be used.

  • jamesparson

    I think it is totally on topic. The Bible has all sorts verses that condemn atheists just like there are verses that condemn LGBTQI+ people.

    I have to hide who I am; I can’t use my real name. I have to deal with people telling me I am hell. It is not the same experience, but there are similarities.

    I wonder if you are suggesting LGBTQI+ are only OK if they are Christians?

    ~~~

    Let me go back to my closet where I can be safe from those who look down upon me because I am different from who they are.

  • NEIL C. REINHARDT

    HERE IS ONE FORMER CHRISTIAN WHO DEPROGRAMMED HIMSELF https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-91oN4Km5U&t=182s

  • First off, the Bible doesn’t condemn LGBTQI+ people because LGBTQI+ as a sociological category wasn’t a thing until recently. The Bible, when condemning certain sexual practices, does so in the context of pederasty. Let’s not be so anachronistic.

    Second, did I suggest that LGBTQI+ folks are only OK if they are Christian? I don’t think I did. Heck, I don’t think the term “Christian” really means anything anymore. If folks like Frankliln Graham and the WBC and Robert Jeffress get to call themselves “Christian,” then that term means nothing to me.

    Third, let’s not be so quick to play the role of victim. Sheesh, you are acting like you are the victim when the reality is that LGBTQI+ have been victimized over and over by shitty theological views.

  • jamesparson

    First, I am going to skip your first comment, because it would take me all day to untangle it and I am a crappy writer.

    Second, should LGBTQI+ believe in Jesus or not?

    Third, it is written into the Bible that I am a lesser person.

    Psalm 53

    53:1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good.
    53:2 God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God.
    53:3 Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

    Mark 16

    16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

    It sounds like I am going to be pushed for all eternity.

    As for this life, I have lost friends. There are family relationships that are strained. There are times that I have to keep quiet and say nothing.

    There are people who have lost a lot. I am not one of those. In my personal world it has only been an inconvenience. For others they lose everything. There friends, their family, their kids, their parents, their jobs, everything. When I hear their stories, it makes me afraid. I could have been born in those places and been surrounded by people that would treat them bad for not believing in God.

    ~~~~~

    LGBTQI+ were afraid for a long time. And in many places they still have to be afraid.

    Atheists are still afraid, I am afraid. Should atheists be afraid? Should I be afraid?

  • jamesparson

    I don’t know how long until Matthew decides that we are off-topic trolls and banishes us. But I would like to read how he responses to the video below. Or maybe the ideas of atheists are beneath him.

    This is one of the more powerful things I have ever heard. I have watches a lot of atheist videos. But this topic made me stop, and consider what was just said.

    https://youtu.be/5lyxL2nx5cw?t=85

  • NEIL C. REINHARDT

    THANKS, DO NOT THINK I HAVE WATCHED IT BEFORE, — DID YOU KNOW ABOUT DAN BEFORE SEEING HIS VIDEO IF NOT, I CAN FILL YOU IN.

  • jamesparson

    I have watched a lot of Dan’s stuff, but I don’t know much about him personally.

  • NEIL C. REINHARDT

    Aside from his starting preaching at a young age, he is a best selling Christian composer, and was an evangelical minister for some 18 years. At some point he realized religion is bs wrote a letter to FFRF. This ended up with his appearing on Oprah, and his meeting FFRFf’s founder and her daughter, he went to work for FFRF and married r-the daughter. He and her are now co-presidents of FFRF. (-Last, he reportedly has one of the world’s highest recorded IQ’S-)

  • NEIL C. REINHARDT

    IF THE CHRISTIAN GOD DOES NOT APPROVE OF HOMOSEXUAL CONDUCT, WHY DOES ABOUT VERY SPECIES HAVE SO MANY HOMOSEXUAL MEMBERS?

  • jamesparson

    He speaks Spanish and ancient Greek too. And plays piano.

    ~~~

    As for the appearance on AM Chicago in 1984 was an important moment in atheism. Oprah was the host, but it was not a nationally syndicated show. Still to get out there and say we exist was a huge movement forward. At that point in time, probably 0.01% of people would call themselves atheist. When I was in my early 20s, if people would ask, I would say things like “I believe in God, but I don’t believe in religion”. Or I would say that I was an agnostic. I would avoid using the word atheist.

    It took many years for that fear to disappear. There were a lot of reasons why I stayed afraid. I don’t ancient Greek, so maybe there is something to do with translations. People claim they have had miraculous events in their life. Piece by piece after listening to Dan Barker and other atheists, came to better understanding of how I was miss led.

    ~~~

    On the LGBTQI+ front, I took a while to change. Two years ago, I was neutral on LGBTQI+ rights. I am not one of them, it does not impact me why should I care. About one year ago, I realized why I should care.

    1) Someday I might find myself as minority that is oppressed, and I would want others to speak up for me.
    2) They stood up to the religious; they endured the insults; they had the Bible verses thrown at them; they were told they can’t be happy married. They lead the way and changed societal opinion of them.

    In no way have I had it as bad as them, but they showed the way to how things can be better for me and all atheists. I owe them a dept of gratitude.

  • NEIL C. REINHARDT

    First, Dan’s appearance on that show is on YouTube

    Second, until I saw Madalyn Murray O’Hair on he Phil Donahue show in I think, 1974, I did not know there were other Atheists.

    Third, I was drugged and raped by a homosexual in 1955. In around 1960, I was thinking about how, other than their homosexual conduct, they were just like everyone else. And I thought about how much they were hated, beat and killed simply because they were homosexuals.

    So I decided that as there was no way any sane person would choose to be a homosexual, it was not a matter of choice. So since then, I have been sticking up for them

    Forth, I have been a Blacks civil rights activist and on at least three occasion’s [ placed myself in physical danger for them.

    Fifth, I was a card carrying dues paying member of NOW, which was a Woman’s civil rights group and a Woman’s civil rights activist.

    And as you can tell, I am Atheist civil rights activist

  • NEIL C. REINHARDT

    SOME NEVER STUDY HISTORY, SOME WHO DO STUDY IT, DO NOT LEARN FROM IT.

    UNLIKE THEM, I BOTH STUDY HISTORY AND I LEARN FROM IT.

    HISTORY HAS PROVEN, FOUR TIMES IN A ROW, THE FASTEST AND MOST EFFECTIVE WAY TO ACHIEVE POSITIVE CHANGE IS TO CONFRONT YOUR OPPRESSORS!

    IT WAS FIRST PROVEN BY THE BLACKS, THEN BY WOMEN, AIDS ACTIVISTS AND LAST, THE HOMOSEXUALS!

    AND IT NOW BEING PROVEN AGAIN BY ACTIVIST ATHEISTS LIKE ME!

  • Luke Jones

    Thanks for sharing! I too come from a, well, semi-fundamentalist background and I struggle to reconcile scripture to dear friends who openly practice homosexuality and do not confess Christ. One of my dearest friends does confess Christ, is powerful in the Spirit, is bombarded with homoerotic temptation and is in a heterosexual marriage. For this reason, taking a stance against homosexuality is important for me as a way to support his/her own beliefs and his/her marriage. On the other hand, with my other dear friends, not condemning them for their homosexual marriage is important. I just want them to meet the Spirit of Christ and I’ve “resigned” or conceded to letting him convict them of sin in their life, whatever that may be. My point is, taking a hard stance of sin or not sin on the issue of homosexuality is probably not the most loving thing. To let the Spirit move, we must hold such issues loosely. Just my thoughts, I welcome discussion.

  • Ivan T. Errible

    Wow-passiveaggressive! Didn’t see that coming!