There was no way I could live my life being gay and Christian… that’s what I had been told. I’ve been a Christian for about 17 years. I’ve been gay, well, for longer than that. I have not been openly gay for all that time, which means that most of my life I hid that part of my life, because among other things I was told there was something wrong with me.
For years I struggled with being attracted to men because all I heard was how strongly against homosexuality my all-loving God was. I fasted, prayed, received counseling, attended programs to help me control that area of my life, received deliverance from alleged demons of homosexuality that somehow had a hold on me and cried to God to rid me from this. I went through all that having to balance the fact that I did not choose this attraction, nor was I abused as a kid or raised without a father figure.
A couple of years ago, after graduating from a Bible college in Dallas, Christ for the Nations, where the notion of me being possessed by demons was only reinforced, some things started to change. I sensed that God, the one who I had believed in for so long, was taking me through some seasons of change. It was a refreshing time where I could feel the love I missed when the simple act of being different made me an outcast. You can read about that process in more detail here.
I struggled with God’s love. I questioned why was I attracted to men. What made me that way? Why did God allow this to happen to me? Why did all my efforts fail? Why did God seem to ignore my submission to him and my dedication to his ways? I was giving him my all, while my heart was broken because something I saw no escape from.
Something radical happened when I opened up before God (read the whole story here). I came to him expecting rejection because it is what most of “his people” preach against homosexuals. I expected to feel like an outcast not only before Christians who didn’t understand that “hey, I had no part in choosing this,” but also before the God who created me, who knew for sure that I didn’t choose this.
What would happen to my world if I came to realize I went on with my life being gay and Christian?
What was gonna happen? Was I expected to just leave God out of my life? What was going to be my response to feeling his rejection? How would my life change after experiencing that the God I followed for so long wants no part in my life for something that I tried my hardest to unsuccessfully beat?
I didn’t have to go there. Rejection was the furthest thing from what I felt when I opened up to God. I didn’t have to run away and hide, I didn’t have to endure any sort of abandonment. Instead of rejection, I felt love, acceptance, grace. Later on, when I went before my earthly father with the same story, his response to my homosexuality was merely a reflection of that love, acceptance and grace that I received from my celestial one.
“My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.” – Brennan Mannning
Today, after some years of jumping through those hurdles, life and things have changed. This morning, while I drank my coffee, I considered some of the things I’ve heard and seen from many Christians lately and I came to a conclusion.
In my personal experience, Christians are the hardest part to believing in God. It pains me to write it. It sucks, because I know this doesn’t include all of them, but it’s true. From the get go, the message I have received from Christians is one of rejection, of disbelief. Many see my life as a failure because I am no longer the pastor I once was. Many see me as that guy who was a believer but has now forsaken their true God. Even close friends who have tried being politically correct, to not offend my gayness, have kept their distance because for them all that matters is that Rand now is gay, a sinner. Some of them, carrying the idea of superiority that many times goes along with being a Christian, see me as a lesser being.
Somehow my non-decision to be gay makes me the worst of sinners. That is the hardest part of being a Christian. My relationship with God does not matter to them. Gone are the days when I could make my Christianity shine by stating the very popular “Christianity is about relationship, not religion.” Many come after me quickly stating “show me the facts,” show me where in the Bible does God allow for homosexuality. Why? What for? Will my interpretation of the book of Romans shake you out of your conviction that you are somehow better and less of a sinner than me, because you are legally married? No. Will it matter that I have studied Biblical hermeneutics(the interpretation of Biblical texts, wisdom literature, and philosophical texts) in my search for the truth? No it will not. Because as a Christian you have been taught to disagree with anyone that has a different idea. It may not be completely your fault, I understand that. But it is your decision to live like that and to base your beliefs on someone else’s interpretation no matter what that is.
While I have thankfully never been bashed physically for being gay, the constant bashing from Christians using God’s “loving Word” as a weapon becomes very tiring. And what saddens me the most is that, as someone who has been a Christian for long, I can understand Christians better than most gays. Many don’t have that luck. Many have no experience in Christian circles, which makes them believe that the bashing and rejection comes from God, not from people. That is the hardest part. Because I believe Christians should know better. Because I believe Love is at the very heart of Christianity, but American Christianity has failed greatly in showing that love to all. Seeing that the love that I’ve experienced flowing around the pews and moving inside the Church building is only available there, to Christians(and obviously to poor people in the “mission field”) but not to fellow human beings in our country is painful, to say the least.
Yes, gays can be negative, dramatic(duh!), blatant and rude, but isn’t the mission of a Christian, a believer of Jesus, who follows his gospel to share that gospel? When did it all become about something other than the gospel? When did Christians determine that their main role in life is telling someone else how to live their lives. When did it become about something other than love? When did it all become about making others believe and follow what we follow, instead of showing others the power and love of God? I don’t know, but it saddens me greatly that most of Christianity has lost their main focus. That is what the church should be preaching.
Instead of focusing on telling me that I am not supposed to love a man, why not focus on loving people. I wonder how stronger would their efforts be in evangelizing if love was their main priority. I have to say this, I don’t believe this describes all Christians, nor do I believe that Christians in their majority hate gays. My problem is with love and how most Christians have left it out of their dialogue. And that is problematic. Because, after all, if love is not a clear part of your message, whose message are you really proclaiming?
“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians: who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” – Brennan Manning