A Mom, Some Gays, and the Bible

A Mom, Some Gays, and the Bible April 4, 2013

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I am a Mom of five (nearly) grown kids I homeschooled, married to Rob for 26 years, and a churchgoing Christ-follower for decades. I know the lingo, got the t-shirt. Certainly I’ve figured out that most Christians I’ve met avoid The Gay Debate. When friend or fam pop up as gay, many Christians say, “It’s a sin — I didn’t say it, God said it!” Then they can “love the sinner and hate the sin” with abandon. I don’t blame them for avoiding the debate, honestly. Who wants to poke that hornet’s nest? And when a Christian learns of this cousin or that nephew or the other friend’s daughter, they must come up with something coherent to believe so as not to abandon Jesus’ word nor His principle. His word, they’ve been taught, says homosexuality is a sin. His principle, they observe, is mind-blowing, life-affirming, unconditional love to the deepest part of their being. And so they fool themselves into thinking that as long as they love the sinner, they’re all good to hate the sin.

But it’s not that simple. Place one foot in this issue and you’ll discover it’s multifaceted… thus this blog. Turns out “Love the sinner, hate the sin” feels to those on the receiving end just about the same as “hate the sinner.” Also turns out “Love the sinner, hate the sin” comes from Gandhi — same person who said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians, they are so unlike your Christ,” which might be more instructive to us.

So why would a married Christ-loving mom join in this great debate? Two reasons. 1. Jesus called me. 2. I can’t help myself.

1. Jesus called me through a series of experiences, culminating in one path-turning moment: I was listening to an impassioned speaker talk (on another topic) about responding to God’s voice, no matter the cost. As she spoke, the Holy Spirit whispered to me: “I want you involved in gay ministry, no matter the cost.” I was in tears — have you ever been undone by the voice of the Holy Spirit? I wanted to do what He asked. But I know Christians. I knew I may as well say I’m gay myself for the response I would get. But I couldn’t not follow Him. So I asked him to confirm it for me. Then the woman sitting next to me said, “You remind me of Ellen.” I stared at her. “I know,” she nodded apologetically, because we all know Christians agree about this topic, yes?? [No.] “You just look like her.” Well, by this time, I was having a good internal laugh with Jesus. I’d never heard I look like Ellen Degeneris, but leave it to Him to speak a language I could understand. And I’ve never… well, I’ve rarely… looked back.

2. I can’t help myself. My Jesus-compassion for this community started when my best friend in high school told me he was gay. I had no thought of judging him, nor of others I’ve encountered since, who find themselves unable to step off this path (despite the intensive prayers most people pray once they discover they’re gay). I cannot look at them and say, “You must change, or live celibate lives (though you do not feel called), or you are in trouble.” Is it right? Is it wrong? I don’t think I can say that for someone else. Why not? I will discuss that more fully in future posts, but for now, I refer you to meat sacrificed to idols (1 Corinthians 10:25-30).

Mostly I can’t help myself because love is the right thing. Jesus’ love is the right thing. He surprised many religious people by those He loved.

I’d love to hear from you in the interface between gays and Christians (no hate mail, please). What has been your experience?

CLICK HERE to read “What’s a Christian’s Responsibility re: Equality in Marriage?”

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  • Sue

    In my life, the interface is family. I have a beautiful niece who is 25 who, is a lesbian and has been living this lifestyle since she was about 17. She has attempted suicide on several occasions. It can get really dark for her.

    She will talk with me about Christ. But I think its because I try to talk only about her original identity, in God. I don’t talk with her about her sin. I just feel very very constrained on this issue. So I trust the internal constraint and it works well i.e the door is always open to talk about Christ / Christlife with her without angst. I’m not asking her to change anything, I’m asking to her to join me in my gaze in a certain direction!! Big difference.

    I applaud your passion and am very keen to hear more about your journey into this area.

  • Excellent read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on that. And he actually bought me lunch because I found it for him smile So let me rephrase that.

  • She’s trying to have a relationship with you and you’re failing her. You can’t pretend the elephant doesn’t exist. Everything you exchange will be facile and false until you address it. The question is, do you have to wait for the inevitable confrontation (or as in another blog entry, self-harm) to occur before you reconsider your views?

    I would love to hear your distinction between not asking her to change and asking her to look at what you’ve deemed to be virtue. I’ll save you the trouble: there’s no difference. But it’s not she that needs to change.

  • Thank you, Karon. I wish so too.

  • Lol! You’re more than welcome, and I appreciate all your kind words! Yes, I believe God is doing something big in the culture on this topic. I have seen God work through this in profound ways. Love to you, Susan

  • The Bible says that God offers us reconciliation to Him through Jesus Christ. We go to heaven if we have accepted Jesus as out Savior. Actions do not send us to hell, but rejecting the offer of salvation. That’s it. I know it’s difficult when you have believed something for so long, but if your son knows Jesus, he will not go to hell, he will go to heaven! That’s the astoundingly good news of the gospel!

  • Thank you for your sweet comments. I’m so glad you are listening to God to do the right thing. I’m sad for your cousin. The Bible does not tell us to reject our family for their choices. It says love Jesus first and foremost, above anyone else including family, but it does NOT tell us to reject our family for their choices. Good for you for listening to God!

  • Tim Simmons

    Hello Susan. I knew Rob through Hope Kids. I am still trying to find the Christian-correct response to homosexuality. It is a sin. No doubt about that because the Bible says it is a sin. Love the sinner. Hate the sin. So I do. I hate the sin (homosexuality). I love the sinner. I can’t think of anything that is more loving than to love the sinner yet stand by your convictions that homosexuality is a SIN. God said it is a sin. How can I be wrong when I stand by what God says? That does not mean I cannot talk with them, interact with them, pray for them. But I should NEVER give in to their sin and just “accept it”. That is what Jesus would do. He would accept their presence and talk with them. But he would never give in to their whining/insistence that he should accept them as they are. He never just accepted sinners as they were.

  • Hello Tim. I’ll say hi to Rob. Well, I’m going to disagree with you on this. Jesus accepts us exactly where we are. Then, as He lives His life through us, He grows us and frees us over time. “Love the sinner, hate the sin” has become a free pass NOT to love the sinner, and those on the receiving end don’t feel loved by it. I’d say we have about 1000 miles to go to learn to love the sinner before we even think about hating anyone else’s sin. That gives us lots of time to hate our OWN sin and let Jesus deal with that. We’ve been given one job that sums up the law and the prophets: love God, love others. That will be more powerful than anything else we could possibly do. Thanks for writing.

  • survivorgirl007@gmail.com

    Hi Melissa – I’m new here but wanted to let you know that I, too, live in the South (but in a large southern town), and I am finding it horribly difficult to even hint at being an ally for my son. I’m co-leading a Bible study, and the class members have made some horrible comments about the LGBT community. Only my co-leader knows about my son, but she’s of the “love the sinner, hate the sin” ilk. I hate that phrase. I think God has me in that group for a reason, and should the subject arise again, I will be addressing it, but it is HARD. I have been ostracized by quite a few “friends” in the Christian community, those who believe that my son is gay because of bad parenting on the part of my husband and me. Gee, that’ll ruin a friendship in a two seconds flat. 🙂 People avoid me. I feel like I can’t even be myself around them, so I can only imagine how gay people feel. Anyway, I didn’t mean to drone on and on, but I wanted to let you know that, as a fellow southerner, I am struggling … and I want to be “out-loud” supportive. There is a cost. A big cost. But I’m thinking that this is part and parcel of my Christian journey, and I need all the help I can get. How sweet of God to let us know that we aren’t alone! God brought this blog to me the very morning after I spent a HORRIBLE night in despair, begging Him to help me deal. That was my answer. 🙂

  • Boy, I really thank you for such a heartfelt comment – and sad commentary on the church’s position. People who’ve told me they treat this “like any other sin” (do you hate that?) are deluding themselves. The judgment of “what the parents did to cause it” are disheartening at the least. I would not be surprised it God was really shaking down the evangelical church to root out this special class of citizenship for LGBTQ. Many in the church react in fear because the LGBTQ threaten their worldview, and though their answers don’t fit, if they pound long enough, maybe they can make them fit. A shame. I join hands with you to say, go wherever God leads you. Perhaps a church you hadn’t thought of, a group you didn’t know about. Other denominations. Perhaps God will show you a place to take a stand. Whatever one’s biblical interpretation, the treatment of the situation is Pharisaical. I pray that God grant you a place of healing and a place to use your considerable gifts without fear of reprisal. Bless you on your journey, my friend! And GOOD FOR YOU for your love-in-action for your son!

  • Virginia

    Susan, I found your blog when it was sent to me via PFLAG. My amazing son is gay. I have always loved him. I always will. I believe God always has and always will too. The thing that breaks my heart is that he doesn’t believe that he is loved. I blame the church for that. I blame the church for turning my son and both my daughers away from God because of the church’s stance on being LGBT.

    Some of your bloggers say that Jesus says being gay is a sin, but he does not. Please go to your Bible and read Matthew 19:11,12. I have heard people say that people who “hate gays” also hate women. I think it is curious that when people quote the story of Lot at Sodom, they fail to notice that nothing happens to Lot when he offers to send his virgin daughters to the gang to be gang raped. I believe that people who use the Bible as a weapon against other people – to judge them in the name of God – they grieve the Holy Spirit, deeply grieve the Holy Spirit.

    I search for a way to be “out” as the mother of a gay son who believes that he has a place in this world, and the next, and a place where I can worship the God that I have come to know, not the God that is only about judgement, but the one who is full of compassion. My prayer is for my own courage in the face of the rejection I feel for myself and for him.

    Thank you for your blog.

  • Oh wow. I can’t tell anyone what to do about that, but he will have to trust Jesus for himself and whatever Jesus has to tell him. I’m so glad you wrote. I’m going to email you. 🙂

  • Marilyn, thank you for your heartfelt comment. I agree that the biggest risk facing this issue is turning people off to God altogether, when we weren’t given that job. So sorry for your pain.

  • Dear Virginia, Somehow I just saw your comment — thank you for writing. I know it’s difficult. You make some excellent points. I think we’re misguided on this because we don’t see the cultural context, and we don’t see the bigger picture (of redemption and restoration). Bless you on your journey, Sister.

  • Virginia

    Marilyn, your post is spot on to how I feel in church. Why do people continue to say being LBGT is a “choice” when it is not? It is no more a choice than which family you are born into. – and that by the way, is possible to change. The choice for LBGT folks is whether to reveal their status. Why would you love someone today but not love them tomorrow simply because you know one more fact about them today that you didn’t know yesterday? They haven’t changed, maybe it’s just that you have become someone they want to try to trust. – sorry Marilyn, not preaching to you, I know you already know this. Peace to you.

  • Thank you for your kind words, Jenn. I’m so sorry about your daughter’s rejection by “close friends.” Tragic. (Even those who think it’s wrong wouldn’t end friendship with someone who gained 100 pounds from emotional eating, would they? People DO treat this as a special category. Jesus was NEVER about shunning those we disagree with.) But I’m SO GRATEFUL she has YOU in her life! Yea!! 🙂 You’re more than welcome, and I’m glad you’re here. 🙂 Thanks for writing.

  • I so agree with you, Miriam. It’s brutal out there on this issue. I’m glad you found me and look forward to what God has in store! God bless you, sister.

  • Yes, I do feel angry at the church’s response.… Although I’m sure I’ve expressed that adequately. 🙂 God has called you into the fight – bless your heart!

  • Valoree McLean

    Susan, this response is perfect! I agree with you 100%.

  • Thank you, Valoree.

  • James, thank you so much for that. You stated all those points beautifully, and taught us something. I will be checking the Oxford Annotated Third Edition Bible! Best to you.

  • Virginia in Tennessee

    Hello Survivor Girl –

    Your story is so like mine! I’m from the south, raised my children in the church, did everything that religious community demanded. What I’ve learned is that there are lots of folks with a plank in their eyes that are pointing out the specks in other’s eyes. I joined my local PFLAG chapter – for a long time it was the only place I was “out” as the Mom of a gay son. It’s not a religious group, but it is a place to meet loving and compassionate people (what you expect to find at a CHURCH!). That’s where I learned about this web site — http://notalllikethat.org/ – it is full videos posted by Christians who are “not like that” It might help you to visit this site and see that some of us Christians actually get it. I did have to change churches, but in the end, I don’t regret it.

    You may have a PFLAG chapter in your area. I urge you to contact PFLAG.org to learn more about them, or especially to attend a meeting.

    Hang in there. You are not alone.

    Glad you have this site, Susan!

  • So glad you’re here, Virginia!