The following is a reply I got from a pastor from a church about whether I could worship and serve there as a gay man. I have a home church but I'm looking for a secondary one as a back up closer to home (so don't panic MCC). I thought there might be a little hope with this one because on their website they talk about not wanting divisions and having a unified community.
The response was actually pretty kind than most. The pastor assumed, however, I was only now drawing near to God and looking for a church. Surely I couldn't be both spiritually deep and gay could I? I will include my response and try to keep you updated on other inquiries I make to local churches. I'm thinking that actually, I am doing them a service by getting them to look at the misinterpretations of scripture that they have bought into hook, line, and sinker...or as I call it, stinker. The very same thing I bought into so readily. Can I make some in roads to places of worship that aren't typically gay-friendly? How would your minister respond to such an inquiry?
Thanks for writing, and I’m glad to see you’re seeking to draw near to God and find a church. Everyone’s welcome here because we all need the Lord, his truth and grace. We'd love to have you attend. The Bible is our authority on all matters of faith and practice, so we do hold to the view that sexual relations are reserved for a husband and wife. We teach that whatever a person's orientation or inclination, participating in homosexual behavior is sin. By God's grace, whether a person's inclination ever changes, they are called to honor Him by submitting their desires and actions to His will. This is a work of grace that God can perform in a person’s heart (see for example 1 Corinthians 6:9-11). We all fall short of God’s glory, and are in need of forgiveness and His strength. So while teaching that the behavior is contrary to Scripture, we want people to experience hospitality and respect. So please know that you would not intentionally be made to feel unwelcome.
I could give you a more in-depth answer either in writing or in person if you'd like, but you may just be looking for a brief answer at this point. If you’d like to discuss it or anything else further, please let me know.
Thank you for your honesty. Because you were kind in how addressed me and I appreciate that, I will share with you something. Trust me, having been through Christian camps and non-Christian camps to somehow suppress, exchange, and every kind of theology you can imagine to live somehow anything else but gay, this is not a Christ like thing to suggest is true. It is a shame that those who never have experienced being gay make these judgments but I understand it because we are taught it through mis-intrepretation of scripture and the elimination of language and culture differences. As a very committed Christian ever since I was a very young man, I encourage you to read with a mind open to the Holy Spirit this article I wrote on the passages of scripture often used to condemn gays as living in sin--this supposedly Biblical proof as it were.
See below, and I wonder if your mind and heart may change even just a little on what you think you know about this state of being as being the "sin" you have been taught it is. I would be curious to your thoughts after reading it.
by LA Jamison
I was sitting across from a woman today who was falling apart and weeping terribly. She said that no matter what she tried, she couldn't convince a parental figure that her homosexuality was not a choice. But, even worse, because this parent was a devote religious person, she couldn't convince her that it wasn't the wrong choice, an unforgivable evil choice. The worst part was she also had to live with her. She is not alone. I hear stories like this all the time. What struck me was that all these people who were making these judgments didn't know anything about being a homosexual except what a local church or media had told them. It got me to wondering; why do straight people and religious people imagine this was a choice? When do they choose to be straight? You don't make these choices. Your sexual orientation just is. The American Psychological Association and even the Catholic Church itself at least acknowledges that fact. Yes, a lot of us experience some confusion early in life around our curiosity about both genders. Yes, we do make choices about sexually experimenting with both genders at young ages (you show me yours, you touch me here etc. and I will return the favor). Though we do make these choices early on, it isn't about a choice between what sexual orientation we may be. Rather, it is about discovering what sexual orientation we are. This is the only point of confusion I can come up with that straight people may have besides being terribly small minded. Ultimately, homosexuals and transgenders are driven to who they will love by something they have no control over.., something you don't have any more control over yourself. Wake up and smell coffee people. This incident with this woman brought back memories and an even firmer conviction for me of how oppressing the message is that homosexuals can and should "change"(often by people who are not homosexual themselves or severely homophobic).
It's a terrible thing and double bind because most involved will think they are doing humanity and God a service by not only further sexually breaking someone in this way, but in their identity as well. And what will they call it? Healing. Redemption. Sanctification. They will sing about it and they'll misuse God's Word to justify keeping such different folks at a distance, but in love, until they "change". Until they repent. And the damage of this, for myself, has been so deep, so numbing, that I am only now beginning to see slivers of a totally shattered confidence and trust start to heal. Only now, after 4+ years of coming out. Only now at age 45. For others, it isn't till they are 60, 70, even 80. Imagine living your life so numb, so broken that you aren't really experiencing life at all only to realize you were being suppressed by others and a false theology the entire time.
In light of this, I decided to post a portion of the appendix out of my book "Discoveries in the Closet". Use it for yourself, pass it onto to loved ones who can't quite come to grips with your own orientation in light of the toxicity that they have been brainwashed with. There is also a book recommendation at the end of this excerpt too. I used this book for this excerpt as a resource.
ADDRESSING HOMOSEXUALITY IN THE BIBLE
Today, many faithful gay Christians know the words "clobber passage" as specific scriptures in the Bible used to condemn homosexuals. This is a brief attempt at highlighting what I see as the four major ones and my response to it having looked at various writings on the topic.
Excerpt comes from "Discoveries in the Closet" available in the Book Store
Clobber Passage 1.
Genesis 19--Genesis 19:1-5 (RSV)
"The two angels came to Sodom in the evening; and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them, and bowed himself with his face to the earth, and said, "My lords, turn aside, I pray you, to your servant's house and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise up early and go on your way." They said, "No; we will spend the night in the street." But he urged them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house; and he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.
But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house; and they called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them."
The Argument: God destroyed the city of Sodom due to the sin of homosexuality. The sin of homosexuality has to be the worst sin for God to do something so severe.
The Reality Check: The word used for “know” in this particular passage is actually equivalent to our word “rape”. It is not referring to committed homosexual relationships. Lot in turn offers the men of the city to rape, to “know”, his daughter instead of the two visiting angels at his home. So this clearly, in context, has more to do with harm and abuse to guests here than homosexuality. Offering one’s daughter to be raped is no godlier than the original act being commanded of Lot to let them rape his male guests. It just doesn’t make sense that this story is anything about sexual ethics in light of Sodom’s offering of his own daughter in this way. This makes sense since this city was known for such violations of travelers which was considered terrible back in this period. (See Scriptural Reference Below)
Genesis 19:8 (NIV)
Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof."
The book of Ezekiel, God answers the sins of Sodom this way:
Ezekiel 16:49-50 (NIV)
"'Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.”
There are several cultural and historical inaccuracies when one ties the meaning of this story to homosexuality alone. Besides what is already mentioned, for practical purposes, it was rather unlikely the entire city of Sodom was filled with only gay men, but rather populated by criminals who had rape of both men and women in their portfolio. Also, raping another person of the same sex was considered a military tactic of showing dominance by humiliating the unwilling other and treating them as they would a female back in this period. It was seen as the ultimate insult and no doubt purposely used in this story as an example of the ultimate violation of another human being. How could one offer such a terrible thing to a “guest” let alone anyone else?
Clobber Passage 2
Leviticus 18:21 (NIV)
“Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.”
Leviticus 20:13 (NIV)
"If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads."
The Argument: It very clearly says in Leviticus that a man should not lie with another man as a man would a woman; therefore, homosexuality is against the will of God.
The Reality Check: These were a part of a series of Levitical laws that no one follows today. For instance, just as severe and requiring death in this list are things like disobeying or cursing at parents, eating pork or shellfish, having sex with a woman on her menstrual cycle, divorce, using anything of an animal with cloven hoofs (no things like wallets, footballs or baseballs). The list is endless.
So why don’t we follow all these Levitical laws today? Better yet, why are all these listed laws ignored while people insist that the law against homosexual intercourse (and therefore, homosexual intercourse of any kind) be followed? It surely has to do with the taboo of homosexuality and homophobia because as Christians we are called out from the law. For example, Phillipians 3:9-10 says our “righteousness is not of the law but that which is faith through Christ—the righteousness that comes from God through faith.” Galatians 2:15 goes on to say, “…know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.”
Of course, Christ gives us our God-Compass, so to speak, so we aren’t to go about with a sense of no moral code. This God-Compass is stated right by Jesus himself in Matthew 22:37-40 when he tells what commandment to live by that fulfills all the others “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with your entire mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like: love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets rest upon these two commandments.”
Clobber Passage 3
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (NAS)
"Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God."
1 Timothy 1:9-10 (NKJ)
"Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine."
The Argument: Paul’s epistles condemn homosexuality.
The Reality Check: The words in bold above are the English translations for one Greek slang word called "arsenokoitais". It is only used in these passages and there has been so much trouble with this slang word that people have changed its English translation over time. If you check out different translations of the Bible, they also will vary in their word usage.
Some have concluded that the word arsenokoitais means “man with many beds” by breaking down the word to its Greek roots. This means a promiscuous man, whether they are straight or gay. So as we read through the list of the type of people clearly not focused on God, one cannot lump a person who wants a loving homosexual relationship with swindlers and murderers.
Clobber Passage 4
Romans 1:21-31 (NAS - bold is my notation)
“For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.
“And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful.”
The Argument: Paul clearly states homosexuality isn’t natural and assigned homosexuality to degrading passions and those who refused to worship God.
The Reality Check: Look into what is defined as natural and unnatural in Pauline texts for a necessary reality check. The Greek meaning for “natural” is coming from the word meaning that which is “instinctual”. It could be as unnatural for a straight man to have gay sex as it would be for a gay man to have straight sex. Both would be “unnatural”. It is not talking about gay men and women here having gay sex. It is talking about straight men and women who in their depravity start performing indecent acts that are not "instinctual" for them but doing anything under the sun and depraved--even more so, things like murder, greed and malice. These are not the kind of people that are run out to the courts like today that want marry in committed relationships. These were not the natural states of being for those people addresses here. Many scholars believe that this passage is eluding to the Roman temple that had male and female prostitutes rather than the loving homosexual relationships that we see more of today. There was no word for same-sex loving relationships at the time this was written so clearly this is not what these scriptures were referring to but rather roles of same sex prostitution in the temple.