How I Changed from Disapproving LGBTs to Being Totally Affirming

Not long ago a close friend of mine, a conservative evangelical, brought up the issue of gays. As we talked I asked, ‘What about gay Christians?’‘What?!’ they responded very flustered. ‘Gay Christians!’ They could not imagine such a thing. The discussion went no further, but I understood how they felt.

I used to disapprove of gays (the old word for all related ‘behaviors’), but I now affirm them. I wish I could say my change came through a single flash of insight and understanding such as Paul experienced on the road to Damascus, but it did not. It was a cautious, step-by-step process for me.

I grew up assuming that God disapproved not only gay behavior but gays themselves. God was a forgiving God, but anyone who ‘chose’ to be so perverted, and who refused to give it up, were perpetually defying God’s laws. How could he forgive constant sin?

I knew about their depraved ‘lifestyles’–didn’t everyone? Just think of Sodom—or Paul’s description in Romans 1. Their depravity was obvious.

However, I didn’t actually know any gay people. There were no gays at my school (right?). There were no gays in my church (right?). And there were no gays at my Christian College (RIGHT?). It was not an issue I really thought about much because it did not immediately concern me, my friends, or any of my acquaintances. I just accepted the assumptions I had absorbed from my environment.

But it was at my Christian college that my assumptions were first challenged.

The Lord is My Shepherd and He Knows I'm Gay

The Lord is My Shepherd and He Knows I’m Gay

I loved to poke around the religion section of the college library. I learned so much and discovered so many new things. One day while browsing through the stacks I ran across a book titled ‘The Lord is My Shepherd and He Knows I’m Gay’. It was written by a gay minister who was kicked out of three denominations, including mine. Why it was in our conservative college library, I have no idea.

The author’s name was Troy Perry. His story was so sad—and so human. He did not resemble my image of perverted gay people at all. He seemed to genuinely love God and wanted to preach the good news of Jesus, but three denomination threw him out. After much discouragement and travail, he started a little church that would accept gays. He called it the Metropolitan Church; it was not associated with any denomination. Now, it IS a denomination.

Wow! Was this ever a challenge to what I thought about gays! The book was not a sudden flash of insight that changed my mind, but it did make me think about the issue—which I had never done before.

Years later, I read another rather shocking biography: ‘Stranger at the Gate’ by Mel White. I knew very well who Mel White was—he was a right-wing Christian political activist who was very involved in developing the conservative Moral Majority in the 1980s. He worked with the major names of the Moral Majority leadership, and his name was well-known to those who followed such things.

In the book, Mel describes his coming out as gay and immediately being ostracized by Moral Majority leaders. He, like Troy, came across as a genuine, human person who wanted to do the right thing. He caused me to deliberate further on the issue of Christian gays and to seek other books on gays and Christianity.

One writer insisted that Jesus supported gays. When pressed for proof they stated that Jesus’ entire demeanor was inclusiveness. Well, this is true but it was not enough to convince me. What if Jesus did NOT approve of gays? Other writers suggested gay relationships affirmed in the Bible: David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi, and specifically Jesus’ affirmation of the centurion’s gay relationship with his servant. As much as I wanted them to be, these cases seemed unconvincing to me—they still do.

The Clobber Passages

Along the way, I learned about intersex births, where the baby’s sexual organs were completely ambiguous, and the doctor or parents made arbitrary decisions on whether the infant was male or female. This made a big impact on me; individual sexuality was not so clean-cut after all.

I knew that God was loving and accepting, and my empathy and compassion pulled me toward acceptance; but the major concern for me were the biblical ‘clobber passages’ that condemned homosexuality. I could not act contrary to what the Bible taught on the subject.

I studied them all and concluded that most of them do not say what we think they say. My only concern was Romans 1, but it can be read more than one way.

My Final Conclusion

I did not want to be mistaken and accept what Jesus did not, but I decided I could either err on the side of caution or I could err on the side of love, compassion, and inclusion as Jesus did. So I chose to discard my inherited assumptions and prejudices and follow love, compassion, and inclusion.

I did not make the change quickly or easily, but between the weakness of the clobbers and the constant example of Jesus’ inclusion, I committed to full affirmation. Since then I have studied even further and am completely convinced that I made the right choice—the one that Jesus would make—full affirmation.

I now strongly believe the clobber passages are without merit—all of them. If you are interested, I discuss each of them on my Resource Page on Gays and the Church, which also includes articles by others and additional pertinent resources. If you condemn LGBTs, I invite you to reconsider.


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15 Responses to How I Changed from Disapproving LGBTs to Being Totally Affirming

  1. sheila0405 says:

    You meant to say David and Jonathan, right? Anyway, I was privileged enough to meet and become close with a gay colleague who I met at work. He introduced me to many gay friends of his, and our relationship is one I treasure, even though after I got married & had children I was not able to see him much. We had so much fun together, and with his friends. I had fallen away from regular church attendance, but after I had children, returned. It was love of my friends, and the fact that my sister in law was in a committed gay relationship that I started my own investigation. Happily, I found the Gay Christian Network, and from there it was so easy to see that God creates gay people.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Good grief! David and Joshua?! I have no idea how that happened, and I didn’t notice it during numerous re-reads for edits. Thanks, Sheila, for saving me from this embarrassing error before the post was widely read.

      I am glad you had such a good relationship with gay friends that caused you to rethink the issues. And I agree that the Gay Christian Network is an excellent resource on gay Christians–perhaps the best resource of all.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Chas says:

        Tim, if it is any consolation, I read it as Jonathan anyway, because I was familiar with the story. I suspect the friendship described is the comradeship in the face of death and the awareness that your buddy is likely to be the one who saves your life; the one whose life you save; the last one you see before you die, or you will be the last one he sees before he dies. If you are lucky, he will be the one with whom you celebrate your joint survival at the end of your ‘tour’ of duty.

        Liked by 2 people

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          I agree with your assessment of the relationship, Chas. But I also have a male friend whom I am fond of and ‘love’ very much; however there are no sexual undertones whatsoever. He is just a great buddy.

          I assume many people have such relationships.

          Apparently, both of us read ‘Jonathan’ rather than ‘Joshua’ because both the phrase and the story are so familiar.


  2. My journey is very similar. As I’ve had friendships with people in the LGBT community, I can see no justification for judgement. How wonderfully and uniquely made are those in the LGBT community — also made in the image and likeness of God!

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Shelly, I agree! “How wonderfully and uniquely made are those in the LGBT community — also made in the image and likeness of God!”

      Well said!


  3. tonycutty says:

    Yeah my journey was similar; I know you’ve read it (because you commented!) but for anyone interested, the link is here:

    I too disagree with the assessment of the David/Jonathan; Ruth/Naomi relationships in that I believe they are not homosexual relationships. But, for me, that gave me more of a ‘cringe’ when I saw the lengths to which authors went to try to get those passages to agree with their beliefs; personally I can’t stand it when people do that. But that didn’t stop me beginning to thaw with regard to my attitudes towards LGBTQetc. people, because I could clearly understand why people in a persecuted minority might try to find all the Scriptural support they can get!

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Tony, I agree. The first time a writer promised to show how God approved gay relationships in the Bible, I was excited. I really wanted to learn these passages I could not remember–though I hade been a constant, heavy Bible reader since I was 10 years old; I couldn’t imagine what the examples could be.

      But when I read their explanations of the passages (mentioned in this article), there was no way I could make them work even though I wanted them to. In the end, I found them to be thin, speculative, and unconvincing; and I refused to consider them in my deliberations on Gays and the Bible just because I wanted them to be true. This would be as dishonest as anti-gay believers twisting biblical passages to support their views.

      But, like you, I can understand how some people might promote the ‘gay relationships’ in the Bible out of their need for affirmation, and perhaps desperation.

      Liked by 1 person

      • tonycutty says:

        Yep. Actually to be fair, the passages were used more to affirm others in their sexualities than to justify the writer’s position. Kinda like, ‘Look, here are some Biblical examples of your sorts of sexualities; you’re not alone!’. Done with the best of intentions in my view, but that doesn’t make it right 🙂


    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Hello GCB, I read a few of your posts and it seems you are in the middle of an important journey. I hope things go well with you and that your blog proves helpful to others.


  4. Dennis Wade says:

    Hi Tim
    Thanks for this post. It was a very good read.

    As a normal heterosexual male, it was expected of me to “hate ” gays, and so I grew up doing all of the typical things that young boys and young men do when they talk about or to gays.
    We teased each other about being gay, and put down gays as weak, cowardly, dirty, and perverted
    As i grew older, however, I began to notice that it just didn’t seem to be such a nice thing to do anymore.
    i began to realize that what I really wanted to do was to just leave them alone.

    Immediately, I began to have the secret fear that I think all, young men have if and when they find themselves becoming tolerant towards gays: “Am I Gay?”
    The idea sickened me. Here was one of the dirtiest things I had ever been told of in my life, and now I was thinking that I might be one!

    You can imagine the horror that went on in my head. I would be with my friends, and they would start joking about gays, and I would start thinking, “What if I’m one? Wouldn’t I WANT to hate them, if i’m not?”
    I would even find myself imagining gay acts with my friends, and would be sickened by it.
    Even worse was the thought that my friends might find me out. Surely I would be doomed to their ridicule and hate, and cast out of their circle of friendship!
    And so I would try harder to outdo them, to have the best gay put-down jokes, and all the while I just wanted to say: “why can’t we just leave them alone! They’re people, too!”

    All of these feelings and worries were put to rest when I “fell in love” with a young girl in High school and finally made it to “first base” when she allowed me to put my hands under her bra and fondle her breasts.

    I wasn’t gay! Oh, the joy!

    But then I realized that I still had the problem of wanting gay people to “just be left alone”.
    Why? Shouldn’t they be ridiculed and shamed for what they were? After all, it was unnatural and against God, wasn’t it?
    But wait, I didn’t believe in God! And I myself had always enjoyed being a little rebellious and liked to think of myself as someone who was ” a rebel” and “outside of the norm”.
    And to my surprise, i also discovered that some of my favorite writers were gay:
    Oscar Wilde, Walt Whitman, James Baldwin, and Tennessee Williams, to name a few.

    I began to learn a disquieting truth about myself. I was a hypocrite, saying one thing and thinking another. I was a coward, afraid to say what I really thought. I was a bigot. I was as bad as all of those people who stood silently by while the Nazis rounded up the Jews just for being what they were.

    This did not sit well with me.

    It came to a head one day when I was out with some friends in a bar in Vancouver, Canada one weekend.
    Vancouver has a large gay and lesbian community, and some of them were there in the bar that night. We all noticed one couple, both males, who were touching and kissing each other in a corner, and immediately us “Men” began the usual jokes and insults.
    When the hullabaloo began to die down, one of the young ladies we were with leaned over to me and quietly said: “I really don’t know what the fuss is all about.”
    When I asked her what she meant, she gave me a very thought provoking answer:
    “When you think about it, love is such a rare thing in this world. When two people finally find someone that sees them for who they are , and loves them, and in return they love them back, it’s a wonderful treasure. What does it matter if they turn out to be the same sex?”

    Wow! It was like being hit by lightning!
    I spent the rest of our time in that bar sneaking glances into that corner where the two young men were. They DID look happy, and seemed to find real enjoyment being with each other, laughing together, Was it really so bad? Maybe she WAS right?

    Later that night, at home in my bed, I reached some decisions: I was going to be honest in saying what I thought about such things:
    I just really didn’t care if someone was gay or not. That was their business, and they had a right to find love wherever they could.
    Slowly over the next few months i began to test the water by saying things like this when the “gay” jokes started to come up. Amazingly, what began to appear was not what I expected. I was not cast out as weird and possibly gay. Sure, I received a few crude remarks and strange looks, but for the most part My friends would get quiet for a few seconds, and then tun their attention to other topics.
    And I never had the feeling that I was being left out on any of them.

    Finally, one night, when it was just the two of us, one of my friends turned to me and said: “You know, we all admire your honesty and courage.”
    I asked him what he meant and he replied:” about not putting down gays. You’re being honest about how you feel, and I think we all like that. I think you are teaching us something.”

    And so, that’s my trip through “gay phobia”.
    Since then I have had the pleasure to meet quite a few gay men and women and have found most of them to be “good people”, the kind of people I would be proud to have as friends.

    I also began to notice something about gays. When they finally get the courage to “come out”, they don’t just come out of “the closet”. They also come out of whatever was holding them back from withholding their uniqueness to the world. Their humor, their joy, their flair for drama, their uproarious sense of play comes out with them, and they gift the world with their talents! And they begin to light the world with their spirit!

    I think we do the “Jesus community” a real disservice when we close our doors to these people, and refuse to fellowship with them. The Holy Spirit wants to shine through them just as it wants to through us, and if we do not allow them to “let their light shine”, the Kingdom of God will be all the darker for it!

    In fact, I hate having to use the term ” these people”.
    GOD”S PEOPLE !!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Dennis, I loved hearing your journey on gay-affirmation. It rang so authentic that I have no doubt that it happened exactly as you said. It is much different than my journey, but the important thing is that we both arrived at the same place.

      Your story was funny at points, but I almost cried at, “You know, we all admire your honesty and courage.” I asked him what he meant and he replied:” about not putting down gays. You’re being honest about how you feel, and I think we all like that. I think you are teaching us something.”

      Influencing others one by one…


    • Dennis Wade says:

      And if you want to know what I mean by “shining through them just watch ANY performance by the late, great Freddy Mercury!!!

      Liked by 1 person

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