Being Christian and Gay – Part 1: Context for Conversation

Posted: September 5, 2017 in Being Christian and Gay
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The context for this blog conversation, which I hope you will engage, is the intersection of faith and sexuality, particularly, my faith and sexuality. 

Beginning in the early eighties, I was drawn to every printed word about homosexuality I came across. I filed every newspaper and magazine article I could find. At the time, I had not self-identified as gay, but I was desperately trying to find clarity to my sexuality in the context of my faith. 

Long before sexual orientation became the front de jour in cultural warfare, I had studied the Biblical passages that some people believe address homosexuality, and the theological and sociological implications of those passages. That search for understanding expanded to include psychology, sociology, and history. Years of study, prayer, and personal introspection, resulted in my coming to terms with my gay sexual orientation, which had been a mystery to me since before puberty.

In the year 2000, when I was sixty years old, I confessed to my wife Barbara the secret I had withheld from her by telling her I was gay. Through counseling, prayer, and deep soul searching, I concluded I could not break the marriage covenant I had made with Barbara thirty-three years earlier. I remained in that covenantal marriage.

Barbara was diagnosed with Cholangiocarcinoma (cancer of the bile system) in 2010, and died from the disease in 2012. I again was thrust into prayer and counseling to determine what I would do now that my wife was no longer beside me.

In the fall of 2013, I began coming out publicly as a gay man. Almost two years later, August 2015, I uploaded a post to this blog titled “Deep Places,” which was a public statement of my gay sexual orientation. There was only one negative response to the post, although many friends were left confused about how a committed Christian, pastor, former missionary, and denominational program director could also be gay. For almost two years, I have delayed my response to those people who have questions about my revelation. My sense of integrity cannot delay any longer. In the next few posts, I will open to you my thoughts, feelings, and beliefs about being Christian and gay.

There isn’t a need to add to the body of research about being gay and Christian, which, by the way, is not an oxymoron as some people treat it. I am a Christian and I am gay. The literature on sexuality in general and gay sexuality in particular has proliferated in recent years. Therefore, what I am writing is not a definitive statement on the topic; rather, it is locating me in that context. 

I have many friends and acquaintances that continue to be confused about my disclosure that I am gay. They don’t understand it, can’t make sense of it. Just pointing to existing material about being gay and Christian is too impersonal. The response to writings such as those might be, “Well, that’s what they think or believe,” yet have difficulty transferring what someone else has written to inform their understanding of me, their friend or acquaintance.

The place to begin this conversation is Scripture. When Christians have questions about orthodoxy and orthopraxy, particularly the belief and practice of homosexuality, it is to Scripture they first turn. And when LGBT people push against Christians because they feel Christians have denied their humanity, it is Scripture they denounce as antiquated, dusty manuscripts of a culture that lies buried with no relevance for today. 

Therefore, we will begin the conversation by talking about Scripture. I will do so acknowledging that Scripture is a collection of ancient manuscripts, and, therefore, was written to a culture much different than ours. By discovering its message to that culture, we discover its message to ours.

To place my experience in the context of Scripture, I need to provide clarity about my understanding of the nature of the Bible and its interpretation. In the next post, How We Read the Bible, we will consider how theology and an ethic that derives from it depends on how the Bible is read. If your just stepping into our conversation, you might want to read the introduction titled Being Christian and Being Gay.

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