May We Never Stop Speaking

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Last weekend, I sat around a small stove fire on the driveway of my brother’s house with his friends. We were cracking open beers, listening to country music, talking March Madness (which I feigned stress over). And one of the guys brought up the World Vision fiasco and my responses and how I was going about mending from the tragic turn of events that steamrolled over last week.

 

One of the guys, who I didn’t recognize, looked back and forth at us.

“What?”

 

I then explained everything, starting with a stuttered, awkward, “Well, you know, first off- I’m gay and christian, and a blogger, and, also, I’m Ben- nice to meet you!”

 

Then I dove into all the details of everything that went down. All the excruciating messages I heard in the conservative response, the swift and unanticipated betrayal from World Vision, and then, I talked a bit about gatekeepers and their ever shrinking circles. The kid sat their blinking,

 

“So, you’re uh, gay and Christian?”

 

It’s a fair question. Especially after learning about his conservative background, which we share, and his current beliefs, which we don’t. He told me he had a total of one gay friend, but after he came out, that friend quickly walked away from the faith, and from him. And I found it so devastating, the end of a relationship that could’ve borne so much fruit in that tension. The faith his friend was told was not for him. All it did was prove the point right, gay and Christian are mutually exclusive.

 

We talked then, through theology and books and the very essence of Jesus. He posed some brave, awkward questions, ones that showed how little he actually knew about what it is to be gay. Do you believe it is a choice? As in, just tell me the truth, did you decide this? An ignorant question, indeed! But you know what? His eyes were wide open and curious. This was an honest wondering. To him, he explained, all he knew was the old retired debate of choice vs genetics.

 

I explained to him that, no, of course I didn’t. He asked, if it were possible, would choose to be straight. I said, years ago, yes. Today, without a shadow of doubt in my mind, no. And I also told him I wasn’t entirely convinced in the born this way assumptions. I believed it was a mix of things, but perhaps with a divine plan in place? Who knows? Not me. But that’s missing the point. For all we know, heterosexuality isn’t in the genes either. Here we are today.

 

Conversations about sin led him into what I thought was the classic, “but we all sin…” olive branch, but then, instead of passing it back to me, going into what he believed my sin was, we found ourselves standing together on the beautiful core conviction that shame is not of Jesus. We lamented over the obsession conservative Christians have regarding any and all sex. Grieved over our Bible, the way it had been sharpened into a shank against every one of us. All around the fire, friends nodded their heads. Gave sighs of agreement. And we began sharing stories- real, meaningful ones. And we talked about grace. That offensiveness of it. We gave a long hug at the end. He said this conversation was such a relief for him to have. And the truth is, it wouldn’t have happened had I not said I was a gay Christian.

 

Jen Hatmaker published today one of the best pieces I have read from the conservative corner. I was surprised by the warmth it left on me. Like love does, I suppose. And I was impressed with her grace, honesty and her pledge to continue to find ways to love one another (and her acknowledgement that not all Christians agree here, some are-heaven forbid- affirming. An important point which is not ever mentioned in the GATEKEEPER, “Gays are not Christians! Allies are traitors!” posts.) There are gay Christians like me out here, searching and finding and living, and that, my brothers and sisters, is a victory for the kingdom.

 

I am a gay Christian. I have come to feel the destabilizing truth of this declaration. It packs a punch. It pisses off the gatekeepers more than anything, and evokes a call to love and learn from those with searching hearts. It provokes conversations that are fruitful and drop seeds, into both our souls, as we learn the difference between hate and disagreement, gay pride floats and committed relationships, as we, as I, ply apart the person from the, now inflammatory, Evangelical.

 

And so I’ll keep saying it because I am reaping such a harvest, such a renewal of life is growing in the ground of my soul: I am gay and I am Christian. I’m a gay Christian. You are straight and you are Christian. You are man, woman, genderqueer, black, white, brown, and Christian and the kingdom is where we meet and grow together. Sling arms over shoulders. Open our hands and choose to see the best behind our eyes. Choose to stay even when it scares us.

 

God love us all and may we never stop speaking. 

  • KennandMandi Robbins

    Beautiful! I read her piece too and even though I disagree with her position I thought it was loving and well thought out and the genuineness came through.

  • Olivia Faix

    Oh, Ben. This is beautiful. I want to have a heart as big as yours. I’m always in awe of how you open yourself up to people who you know may end up scorning you, how you are willing to wrestle with hard questions with people who may or may not be affirming or even respectful. So much grace. I can see how God is using your brave and humble soul to change hearts of those inside and outside the church. May we all follow your lead and take the risk of having these conversations. Blessings to you, dear friend. <3

  • Jen Hatmaker

    Ben, officially, I am your friend and I am for you. You are welcome in my comment feed, my inbox, and my home any time. And also? NEVER STOP WRITING. Wow. You are sincerely gifted. I am proud of you. You are managing a gentleness and grace in the midst of crazy. You will be so glad of that five years from now. (I always think through that grid: Will I still be proud to stand by this in a few years? Was I gracious? Was I kind?) Lastly, I died laughing: “We were cracking open beers, listening to country music, talking March Madness (which I feigned stress over).” MARCH MADNESS IS GODLY. Please work on your theology. ;0)

    • Thank you Jen, just for all of this. So happy to call you a friend 🙂

  • Jen

    I wish we knew each other and could talk like you did with your new friend. I have no gay Christian friends (that I am aware of, anyway) only unbelieving ones, and I would LOVE to hash it all out with you. I never comment on things like this, be it blogs or fb, because I am always so scared I will be inadvertently insulting or say something stupid and hurtful, because I kind of suck at getting out what’s in my head and heart. As Jen says in her post, these things need to be talked about in relationship, across tables and lounge rooms… you know, where translation is not lost in type, and body language and facial expressions help with portraying sincerity of wonder and longing to understand.

    So, yeah. Hope I didn’t say anything bad.

  • Jen Hamilton

    You have an amazing way with words, friend. You are wise and a lesson to all of us who claim to follow Jesus. I swore I wasn’t going to read anymore posts about WorldVision (and this wasn’t, mostly!) but I’m so glad I read this one. Thank you for continuing to put yourself out there for people to hear, to see that this is not an “issue” this is people. (soylent green is people!! sorry. that just jumped into my head.) I hope this gets shared a LOT.

  • Rebekah Richardson

    Ben, so so beautiful.

  • Hi Ben –

    I’m going to write this with as much grace as I can muster right now. I will try to speak this truth with love. And I give you full permission to delete this comment if for any reason you would like to (as if you really need my permission ;).

    I read Jen Hatmaker’s piece yesterday. I absolutely agree that she is trying to hold her beliefs with as much love as she can. And I totally empathize with feeling like she has been painted with too broad a brush. For sure, in the public conversation, too often people like Jen Hatmaker get lumped in with people like Franklin Graham. I know that I have not always been as charitable as I should be in this public conversation.

    But here’s the thing. Jen Hatmaker doesn’t get a moral pass. Her beliefs cause harm.

    In her post, Jen suggested that she seeks to be the one to bind the wounds of the man on the side of the road. In reality, she is inflicting more pain.

    At this point in history, with all that we know regarding the undeniable harm caused by beliefs like Jen’s, to choose to hold it is either willfully ignorant or is knowingly inflicting harm.

    I’ve come to understand that the traditional belief is both emotionally and spiritually abusive. Statistically, the gay kid growing up in a conservative church is likely to consider suicide. Some portion of these kids will make the attempt. Some portion will succeed.

    Intent counts for something but it doesn’t excuse impact. A damaging belief, no matter how sincerely held, no matter how nice the person is who holds it, is still damaging. Jen is saying that she is causing hurt because she believes that’s God’s will. Fair enough. The Christian Scientist who withholds essential medical treatment from a sick child is also causing harm because they believe that’s God’s will. Claiming God doesn’t make either of these beliefs any more morally acceptable.

    Jen’s belief (and I use her as an example because of her declarative statement yesterday) says that gay people are not intended to live fully into our humanity. The belief itself diminishes gay people to something less than human.

    In her piece, she claims love after declaring, in no uncertain terms, that my marriage is immoral, inferior, and detrimental to society. That’s offensive. That’s hurtful. That’s intentional.

    I’ve said it many times before. If the Church is serious about loving people who are gay better, we must change our theology. We must believe in a way that doesn’t cause harm.

    • Krissy N

      I felt the same way when I read Jen’s post yesterday. I admire her for being honest, for aspiring to be loving and gracious in our disagreements. But to me it’s no different than people who hold a complementarian view of women and the roles that women are allowed to have in church contexts. This was the case for me with the pastor whose church we eventually left: he is a man who, I believe, truly and sincerely seeks to follow Jesus. He and I agree that we can disagree in a theological point and still treat each other with love and grace. BUT, in the end, his position, his belief, is one that HURTS me, my daughters, and, I believe, all of the women in his church. So this is a very interesting tension in which we live, is it not?

    • Logan81

      I agree completely with this. I’ve said this before, but no matter how loving a person may be, if they see my sexuality as “sin,” they are essentially saying that this core part of me is not good. That I’d be better off if it wasn’t there.

      I lived for years under the belief that there was something wrong with me on a fundamental level (partially due to my sexuality, partially due to other factors). I know just how damaging that belief can be. No matter how good a person’s intentions may be, if they are doing ANYTHING to put that belief on another person, they are causing harm.

    • You literally just said exactly what I’m drafting to say to her right now. You are exactly correct.

    • Hannah

      I’m in this same camp, Ford. I love Jen Hatmaker, and thought her response was one of the best I’ve seen and is a great reminder/guide for the conservative community. But, I have a hard time buying the “biblical marriage” thing of one man, one woman. Why does King David get to be in a polygamous marriage (and many other “heroes” of the Bible too), never repent of it, God never seems to have a problem with it, and he gets to be a “man after God’s own heart”? There’s too much inconsistency in the Bible regarding marriage and how God seems to view it and what it “means” or “represents” that I can’t get on board with the “one man, one woman” idea being supreme. Especially not after all the truly horrible heterosexual “marriages” I’ve seen play out. Is God really more pleased with a heterosexual marriage like some of the awful ones I’ve seen than he is with a marriage of two people of the same gender who truly love each other? One thing I’ve learned from the Bible is that God cares more about the heart than the outward symbols and appearances and holding blindly to the law.
      However, I want us to live in peace if we can’t agree on things. I love Hatmaker’s appeal to the conservative “traditional marriage” camp to live in a way that treats the other camps and our LGBTQ brothers and sisters with kindness and dignity, and it’s a reminder to me to do the same to those with whom I disagree.

      • Julie-Anne

        While I appreciate Jen’s heart in this, I have a problem with her basic assumption that Marriage Has Always Been Thus, Everywhere. Marriage can only be defined as ‘Whatever constitutes legally binding marriage in your country/state/whatever.’ For ancient Greeks, it was sharing a meal. For the Maori, it was spending a night together. For slaves, it was jumping over a broom (I think. Sorry if that isn’t right– not too fluent in the history of slavery)
        ‘Christian marriage’ is a modern concept with a pretty short history. If the State re-defines marriage, the Church should just be helping people meet the requirements. The Bible shows all kinds of marriages– arranged marriages and love-matches; polygamy and more polygamy. Pastors were to only have one wife tho…
        I love the Book of Common Prayer (Anglican thing that the marriage ceremony they use in things like Pride and Prejudice is found in) and the words in it are beautiful — and define modern marriage — but it is NOT the Bible.

    • singingsoprano

      Here’s the deal though, to change a theology, one has to consider his or her own, and then consider others. And weigh them out. And see which stands. And leave room for the idea that his or her own is wrong. And be willing to reconsider them all again. And again. And again.

      And if the presupposition is that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God (capitals intentional) then just deciding to believe differently is in the mind of the literalist, inviting damnaton unto oneself. And it’s a crushing path. Really, I walked it. I’d say I was where Jen was 10 years ago. And then for a long time I was in the “I don’t know, and it’s not my problem to figure it out, since I’m not gay” camp. And now, I’ve come to the conclusion that what I previously believed is wrong, and I believe that being gay is not a sin. And that the Inerrant Word of God is Jesus, not the written words,(which help us understand, but through a veil darkly). But, oh, that leaves me a little homeless and wandering, thanks to my years in a very fundamentalist church.

      But what worries me, is that it was love and relationship that caused me to keep reconsidering my understanding. And if we sit in the “gay is a sin” or “gay is great” camps, refusing to acknowledge the reasoning and the pain that is on both sides, no one bothers to build the relationships. We start to think of each other as enemies. That is its own tragedy

      I think Jen is wrong, I do. But I think we still have to maintain the tension of relationship. Know this, if her understanding changes at any point, it will cost her deeply–not just in terms of followers, and money, and friends, but in terms of how she views EVERYTHING. The whole world. Her own relationship with God. Leave room for her, and then many who are with her. And let her at least lead people to good behavior. It’s a decent starting point.

      People can believe that many of the things we do are wrong and sinful. I’m divorced. I can’t change that (whether it was a choice or not is up for debate). It means that in some circles, I am not invited to sing/take communion/share my testimony. That being said, participating in a worship service with those who believe that to be correct theology is painful. Them HAVING the belief is not painful. I just think they’re wrong. And they think I’m wrong. And we can still have lunch together later, and we can discuss how it all falls into place like people who still love each other. (BTW, that is also true for those who think the fact that I married again, to a Hindu, with a child from his first marriage is sinful, and those who think that the occasional glass of wine I partake of makes me a sinner.) I’m an easy target.

      • Hi singingsoprano –

        This is a really smart comment and there is much I agree with.

        One of my core beliefs is that we are sanctified through relationship – we are mutually transformed by knowing and being known by one another. I am not suggesting that traditionalists be shunned or ostracized.

        But I also fervently believe that in the public conversation about people who are gay, we must confess the harm that has been wrought by the traditional belief.

        Jen Hatmaker seemed to be claiming that it’s possible to hold this belief without causing harm. That’s simply not true.

        Traditionalists might believe that God requires them to cause harm as an expression of faithfulness or that it is somehow for the greater good; but it’s dishonest to suggest that their belief is harmless. It’s not.

        On another note – I fully agree with you that polarization is a barrier to change. I abhor the “Side A” / “Side B” language. There is a full spectrum of beliefs about the sinfulness of homosexuality that range from fully exclusive to fully inclusive. The best model I’ve seen identifies seven specific views along the spectrum.

        When we create the false dichotomy, we don’t give people the room to move along the spectrum. Instead, we demand that they leap across the chasm. That’s as unfair as it is unrealistic.

        • Kimberly

          I’m interested in the model with seven specific views along the spectrum you mention–can you share a link or the name/author/etc?

        • I really love how you framed this. For those of us who built or faith in the innerrant written Word, a change in our beliefs can be devastating. Maybe necessary, but devastating nonetheless.

      • junedale

        ‘And that the Inerrant Word of God is Jesus…

        What causes or leads you to know that is true?

        • singingsoprano

          What are you asking Junedale? I still believe the Bible is inspired and true, and the true testimony of people’s interaction with God and with the community of faith. I also realize it was not carved in stone by the hand of the Almighty, it was passed through oral traditions down to scribes who recorded with their human frailty. I believe that language is fluid and since, as a small example, the word “gay” has shifted meaning so dramatically in the past 50 years that there is room to believe that even if the words were perfectly transcribed they may not be perfectly understood. I know that people who diligently pray and study and seek the Spirit’s guidance still come to varying interpretations of the same scripture, so it’s not a perfect science.
          But I also know I’ve seen people healed in the name of Jesus, both physically and mentally. My spirit testifies to the goodness of God, and his mercy in my own life.
          If being a follower of Jesus meant having to believe that everything in the Bible were literally and inerrantly true, I think I’d probably have to count myself out. I don’t think it does. I don’t even think it’s proper exegesis to read it that way. Don’t get me wrong, I’m among the walking wounded. it was easier to believe in the rigid. No room, really, for self-examination or even personal belief. This is much harder. This is a harder walk of faith, but for me I think it’s at least more honest.

      • I really love how you framed this. For those of us who built or faith in the innerrant written Word, a change in our beliefs can be devastating. Maybe necessary, but devastating nonetheless.

    • I absolutely agree with this. In my experience and based on the stories I’ve read, these beliefs cause undeniable harm and misrepresent the human experience entirely. People really need to know that there are alternative beliefs that do less damage.

      But, belief systems change slowly, and all beliefs have some potential to cause harm, especially if taken to extremes. Since none of us have perfect beliefs, perfect knowledge, or perfect understanding at any one point in time, I think it’s important to start by finding ways to minimize the harms our beliefs may cause and practice those regardless of what beliefs we hold at any given moment.

      Like, if you believe in soft patriarchy, start by finding ways to protect women within that system, like by emphasizing servant leadership among men. Practice finding opportunities for individual women to use their strengths even if your denomination doesn’t support women deacons or preachers.

      This is important to me because I’ve seen beliefs that I believe are
      positive, like feminism, used to hurt other people I hold dear. But once we’ve figured out how to live out our beliefs in ways that cause the least harm, then we can start on the hunt to find beliefs that are less harmful in the first place. I feel like Jen started the conversation on the first part, which at least no longer precludes conversation on the second.

    • junedale

      ‘Her beliefs cause harm.’

      Ford1968, you find harm has been done. What’s the remedy?

      • Believe differently.
        When Steve Chalke created a dust-up in England over his endorsement of covenant gay relationships, he looked on in disbelief as his fellow evangelicals renewed their promise to love gay people better. He said (paraphrasing) that the same theology will most certainly lead to the same harm. He called on the Church to change theology – to believe differently. I agree with him.

    • jtheory

      paradigm shifts are hard. there has to be grace there. Not saying I totally disagree with you that these beliefs cause harm. But I like to hope that whatever harm is caused is not intentional, and I hope to speak to that good heart behind the wrong beliefs, as it processes through all this.

      • Hi jtheory –

        I think the *intention* is to follow Christ. I’m right there with my traditionalist brothers and sisters.

        I know the *impact* is to cause harm. If those who subscribe to traditionalist doctrine are going to engage honestly with this belief, they have to admit the harm that it has caused.

        • jtheory

          agreed. they may just not know the harm. that’s part of engaging with them lovingly and gracefully, telling them the stories which show how what they believe harmed another, and letting that speak to their heart.

    • Hey Ford!

      You know I love you, and I know that you are someone with so much grace, more grace than many I know (so, no, of course I won’t delete this. Your voice is valued here!)

      I stand with you in the fact that I too believe the traditional theology itself is harmful, but I am also hesitant to write off Jen herself as harmful. It’s all relative, yes, I know, and it seems a shallow argument to make, but her post in comparison to many others from her camp was the most grace-filled, loving things I have come across.

      I’m sorry. I get it. I know that love is a complicated thing, especially in gaging it from conservative brothers and sisters. I don’t know what to say. But I’m so appreciative of your voice.

  • Rachel Whaley Doll

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us. The only way we can truly see one another, instead of issues, is by sitting down and really listening. What a powerful conversation, when both sides listen in love. It’s a long road, but we’re going to get there together!

  • Thank you for being patient with those of us who have ignorant questions. And thank you for this hopeful story.

    • Jason

      “Ignorant” questions, Esther? Would you consider a man asking a woman “what’s it like to give birth?” an “ignorant” question? I’d certainly hope not. It’s a legitimate question seeking information that the man cannot gain through his own experiences (because, after all, he cannot personally give birth). Similarly, a person who is not gay asking a gay person questions about their experience is not a sign of ignorance but a sign of humility. A heterosexual cannot, by their very nature, have homosexual feelings. It strikes me as incredibly “ignorant” to qualify honest questions that a person cannot answer out of their own experiences as ignorant.

      • Jason, “ignorant” is defined as “lacking knowledge or awareness in general”, and I think it’s fair to say that a question that implies a lack of knowledge on a given subject might be deemed ignorant. And to be clear, I said “those of us who have ignorant questions” because I often feel like I could be hurtful or come across as bigoted when I ask a question about what it’s like to be gay, because I don’t have a great deal of knowledge on the subject. Of course “ignorance” does have negative connotations, and I do agree with you that innocently asked questions should be treated with respect, just as Ben treated the “ignorant question” (his words) he was asked. But to expound on your example, as a woman there are plenty of innocently asked questions that can also feel like an attack. For example, “Do you really believe that women have the same leadership qualities as men?”

  • Jere Witherspoon

    It has been a crazy week. And in the midst of the craziness there are several voices bringing clarity and calling to people like me: Your voice is one of them. Thank you for being willing to put your story out there knowing that you may incur hateful words. For me, the words I want to continue to hear is encouragement to further the kingdom of God through the grace and mercy shown through Jesus. You have done that. Thank you.

  • Jere Witherspoon

    Oh…and I agree…NEVER STOP WRITING!

  • Katie Hampton

    Love you and this! (and I don’t even know you, but you’re my Brother in Christ)

  • Tired of the hypocrisy

    All of this. You speak truth in love. Thank you.

  • May you never stop writing! Love this, this wrestling. And tension is the latest word I find myself running into over and over again, from pulpit to my own thoughts and now here. I have to stop and ruminate when I see or hear it.

  • I will say it again and again, more than anything else I’ve encountered over this whole issue in my whole life, it is your stories that have moved my heart and mind, Ben. And I am so deeply grateful. Love to you.

  • Ben, I’m ashamed that I’ve only recently discovered your blog through RHE. We’re in different camps theologically, obviously, but I find so much of your writing to be just astonishing and heartrending.

  • Martin Jacobson

    Ben, I admire your bravery in the discussion you had with the young man. That takes guts, and I can see how much you have grown and continue to grow into your power.
    Regarding Jen’s post, yes, she acknowledges the pain that many of us have gone through. That’s good, and I don’t want to take away from that. But her love is conditional upon us being in pain. As long as we are hurt, we can be “loved.” But what does this “love” cost? She uses the example of the Samaritan. At least the Samaritan had to pay for the wounded person at the inn. Jen uses pretty words, but they cost her nothing (except for some inner turmoil, which would be there regardless of the position she takes in the world she chooses to live in).
    If we believe we are loved and get into a relationship and are happy, Jen just can’t support that. She uses her “love” as a bargaining chip to keep us in our place. It comes across nicer than those who forced World Vision to change their position, but I think it ends up more damaging than outright hatred. At least with outright hatred you know to steer clear. With Jen and those like her, you get pulled in and become vulnerable, and then because the love never really existed in the first place, they can wound you when it turns out you are not perpetually the wounded person on the side of the road.
    I hope that for your sake you don’t take her up on her offer to be a part of her life. Maintain a cordial, professional blogging relationship, if you must. But if you let yourself define what Jen is offering as love, it won’t bode well for you. A healthy person would never let their friends disapprove of their family or refuse to acknowledge that they are a family. (Would Jen even give you the time of day if you refused to acknowledge her husband as her family?) It would destroy the friendship or the family, and the family needs to be more important.

  • “Choose to stay even when it scares us”. Beautiful words that many scared Christians don’t know how to do. Stay. Just stay.

  • Proud to know you, Ben.

  • jtheory

    “but then, instead of passing it back to me, going into what he believed my sin was, we found ourselves standing together on the beautiful core conviction that shame is not of Jesus.”

    Dude, that’ll preach.

  • Laurie Clark

    Thank you so much. If you’re ever in Columbus, OH, please come to St. Luke’s on 5th – where everyone is a beloved child of God. It’s a real invitation.

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  • Wow Ben, I think I am going to need to read this again a few more times this week. I am deeply struggling with a part of my humanity, a chosen lifestyle that has had me in its grips for decades…Christianity. I am grateful for you reminding me of the power of sharing that I am gay and Christian and how over the years that has opened doors, hearts and even a couple of minds. I sure would love to talk with you about how you keep claiming the name Christian.

    Kimberly

    PS – Your sports theology is just fine brother 😉

    • Jason Matthew Thorp

      Are you saying you chose to be Christian?

      • Yes. I was born to the religion but left a long time ago then returned by choice. It is a lifestyle choice to claim the name Christian and not something programmed into my DNA. It is also a choice I am weighing heavily once again.

        • Jason Matthew Thorp

          Your experience and way of speaking exposes the problem with American Evangelicalism that my other comments on this thread are about. Before you throw Christianity under the bus, may I ask that you check out the Lutheran Confessions (can be read at http://www.bookofconcord.org). See if you think that Lutheranism has what American Evangelicalism lacks, but go at it with an open Bible and test it. If you get a chance to read through it, let me know if you think it has what is missing from what is called Christianity in America or if it clears some things up for you as it did me. As a Confessional Lutheran I ask please don’t lump us all in with the ELCA as most non-Lutherans do. They aren’t us. We get judged by non-Lutherans because they are the biggest and most visible.

          • I’m not nor ever have been an evangelical. I was raised as a Baptist, returned as a Methodist and am currently a member of a lovely and thriving UCC church. I am a post-denominationalist to the core so all of the above and any others are radically problematics for me right now.

          • Jason Matthew Thorp

            For Lutherans, that means you are Evangelical, or more commonly we would call you Reformed, but we don’t necessarily mean Calvinist. We speak differently than pretty much everyone else and it can be confusing for people who are not familiar with out way of speaking.

        • Jason Matthew Thorp

          BTW, thanks for sharing your time and experience.

  • Patrick Miller

    I’m reading this, and here would be my question to you: when did “sexual orientation” become something that is equal to your identity as a person? You are absolutely so much more than what your “sexual orientation” may or may not be! Am I a heterosexual? I think the world would say so — but I’m a single man, not sexually active, and I absolutely have to fight against my flesh’s constant craving to be fed with porn, lust, fornication, etc. It’s never an easy fight — but God’s grace is absolutely sufficient. It’s no more right for me to claim that I was born desiring those things, and I should be allowed to feed those desires than it is for anyone to claim they were born a homosexual and so they have no choice but to indulge those desires. My point is– we are so much more than our sexual desires. We are humans — all of us. All loved by God, but He loves us way to much to leave us as we are. He commands holiness, and He will absolutely help us to live what He has commanded. In fact, without Him we can’t live the lives He asks of us. That’s the point. I don’t know you Ben, but I know that God absolutely loves you for who you are — not a homosexual, but a person. A person created in His image, made uniquely. And He commands holiness, and would absolutely walk with you in that.

    • Giauz Ragnarock

      I was born heterosexual. There was never a time when I was homosexual. I began being interested in girls and their differences in physical features before the age of five (yes, I realize experiences vary). When hormones kicked in around 13-14 years of age, girls are who they made me pay attention to. There was never a time when my hormones captured me with guys.

      Finally, if you do consider someone an actual person, you usually don’t paint them as being just one dimension of themselves to contrast with your own complexity. All people are complex, but some have this quality (or qualities in the case of the entire LGBT+ spectrum) that the majority of people who are without that quality use like tar and feathers (the WHOLE person is covered so that only the tar that burns them is seen).

    • I think Ben also has to struggle with the temptations toward porn, lust and fornication. That’s the plight of everyone who is single and not asexual. Associating with a particular orientation does not equate to lust and fornication. And I get that you are single, but do you ever plan on marrying one day? Even if you don’t, there has to be some comfort in the fact that you could. According to your theology, Ben never can. It’s a big difference, and we should be careful in placing too many prescriptions on him, particularly those who think he is called to celibacy.

      And of course his sexuality is part of his identity. We all operate this way. God created us as sexual beings; who we are attracted to affects who we are. Just like whether we are introverted or extroverted, or whether we are right or left brained. He has every right to think that both “gay” and “christian” are essential aspects of who he is.

  • imredeemed

    It
    seems like everything leans towards not “offending” the “gay
    christians”. I find it interesting that they are so easily offended.
    “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend
    them.” Is it possible that because there is such
    a lack of respect for truth that they truly have no peace about the
    choices they are making?? I often wonder if we as the church would be
    extending the same amount of grace to “adulterous christians” or “lying
    christians” or “fornicating christians”. I see that the dividing issue
    is whether homosexuality is really a sin or not. It seems pretty clear
    in the Bible that it is, so to continue in that lifestyle with no
    repentance or at least desire to change is a dangerous place to be if
    you call yourself a christian. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t love
    gay people, what I’m saying is that there is a big difference between
    gay people and gay people who profess to be christian. If they
    willingly choose to continue in sin, then we as christians should not
    make them feel comfortable in the sin. I have no doubt that this
    comment will get much backlash, but rest assured that I will not be
    offended. If “gay christians” continue to be offended over things such
    as the World Vision issue, then maybe the offense is actually the
    conviction of the Holy Spirit. To me the most blatant thing about this
    whole issue is the fact that if the more conservative christians would
    voice that their feelings are hurt or that they don’t feel loved, the
    same love would not be reciprocated. And that is nothing more than
    hypocrisy.

    • singingsoprano

      No divorced and remarried people in your church? How many “Defenders of traditional marriage” laws are being trumpeted from your congregation? We are FAR more careful in selecting whom we’re willing to “offend” for the sake of “speaking the truth in love”

      As a straight Christian, I’m LIVID with the 10K people who pulled their support from the children they pledged to support. One thing to choose to give elsewhere in the future, another to PULL support and say that this is a “Core Belief”. If not hiring people in homosexual relationships is a “core belief” of any group, they have an extremely odd mission.

      • Jason Matthew Thorp

        That is the problem with para-church organizations and why I try to avoid supporting them as much as possible. A truly Christian organization cannot affirm so called “gay marriage”. World Vision had two roads to choose from. Affirm gay marriage and be in open rebellion against Christ or become a secular organization divorced from Christianity which is fine with me since it isn’t a church.

      • imredeemed

        So how many “gay christians” do you think supported world vision before all of this? And if any decided to support them when they first changed their stance, how many of them dropped them again after they changed their mind. There’s really no difference. Truthfully World Vision should never have bowed to the pressure, which in this society has become so volatile.

    • Jason Matthew Thorp

      Actually, homosexuality is adultery. It’s just that western civilization is not yet ready to put the stamp of approval on that label yet. But really, they already accept it. Pre-marital sex is adultery too. So is looking at someone with lust. The problem is not that people who claim to be gay christians have same sex attraction. The problem is that they deny it is sin and will not confess it as such. There are Christians who struggle with same sex attraction and call it what it is. If I see an attractive woman and have an adulterous thought, I don’t sit there and think it is okay or try to justify it of myself. I confess it as a sin and trust I am forgiven for Christ’s sake because His shed blood atones for all of my sin. It is the same for people with same sex attraction, it is just a slightly different manifestation of adultery.

  • Precious, precious Ben. I read one of your posts, then another, and I CANNOT STOP READING. You are, as that lady Jen Hatmaker would say, running your race well. Your mama must be so proud. I just wanted to tell you what a light you’ve been for me today. My husband and I have felt increasingly drawn toward a fledgling homeless shelter for LGBT youth in Arkansas. Nearly every night we have the conversation again: We believe that God is close to the brokenhearted. We are convicted that this is where Jesus would go. But we live in the BIble Belt, for goodness’ sake. The backlash, even from our friends and family, could be staggering. Is this really a hill we want to die on? You have reminded me that it’s worth it. You are shining light into dark places. You are offering real, honest, good news to people who desperately need to hear some. Thanks for reminding me that God’s redemptive plan is always at work, always winning, and my job is simply to be a beacon of hope. DON’T GIVE UP, Ben. Much love.

  • Steve Flower

    Ben, back when I was first coming out, and dealing with the “how do I remain ‘out’ and still remain ‘Christian,’ I started writing – both to other people who were coming-out themselves, but mostly to my straight (and largely Christian) friends. I love what you’ve written, because it reminds me so much about conversations I have had over the years with straight and gay, Christian, agnostic, atheist and everything in between.

    I also hate what you’ve written – because it reminds me of what my writing could have become if I’d kept it up. Never stop trusting the source of the Light – and never stop writing, please. So many need to hear your experience, strength, and hope.

  • Alysia Caringi

    I love this. Thank you.

  • Jason Matthew Thorp

    Oh how doctrine of Original Sin is missing from American Evangelicalism! That said, why is it that no one ever says “I am an Adulterer and Christian” (which is the same thing as saying “I am gay and Christian” Biblically speaking) or “I am a thief and a Christian” or “I am a fornicator and a Christian”. I have no problem with the Christian who confesses that they struggle with the sin of same sex attraction. What I have a problem with is people who claim to be Christian but say their sin is not sin, or say they have no sin. ” 5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” Both legalists and antinomians deny St. John’s teaching.

  • Jason Matthew Thorp

    As I read through the posts on blogs like these the striking thing is that the Gospel seems to be absent along with core doctrines like Original Sin. What is put in it’s place seems always to be law. Not necessarily God’s law (though usually some variation of it), but law none the less. I think American Evangelicalism has been gutted of the Christian Faith through various movements and fads. Among them being Pietism, Liberalism, Church Growth/Seeker Sensitive/Seeker Driven/Purpose Driven (Bible believing Liberalism?), “Holiness” so-called (which is really Pietism)/ and its offspring known as the “Emergent Church”(Liberalism 2.0) and its flip side Legalism a la Fred Phelps. That is the real reason we are having this debate. A debate so absurd I cannot imagine that Christians 1,000 years ago would ever fathom the possibility. But then 1,000 years ago we were doing a pretty good job of obscuring the Gospel too.

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