A person recently asked for sample letters to convince an anti-gay Christian that they were wrong. I don’t think that is likely to help, so I submitted this…
Dear Uncle Luke,
I think you know you are very special and important to me. If you were not, I would not be sending you this letter. I think you also know we disagree on how God views homosexuals, though I used to totally agree with your perspective.
I used to disapprove of gays (the old word for all LGBTs), but I now affirm them. I wish I could say my change came through a flash of insight and understanding such as Paul had 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, was perpetually defying God’s laws. How could God forgive constant sin?
I knew about their depraved ‘lifestyles’. Just think of Sodom—or Paul’s description in Romans. Their depravity was obvious to me.
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 or any of my acquaintances. I just accepted assumptions I had absorbed from church.
But it was at my Christian college that my assumptions were first challenged.
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 the book 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; and that church grew into a new 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 did make me think about the issue—which I had never done before.
Years later, I read another shocking biography: ‘Stranger at the Gate’ by Mel White. I knew very well who Mel White was—he was a conservative Christian political activist who was very involved in developing the Moral Majority in the 1980s. He worked with the major Moral Majority leaders, 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 the Moral Majority. He, like Troy, seemed 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 did not convince me. What if Jesus did NOT approve of gays? Other writers suggested some gay relationships affirmed in the Bible: David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi, and 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 sexual organs are completely ambiguous, and the doctor or parents must make arbitrary decisions on whether the infant is male or female. This made a big impact on me—individual sexuality is not so clear-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 none of them said what I thought they said.
I also read books by two other gay Christians, Justin Lee (Torn) and Matthew Vines (God and the Gay Christian) who both came across a genuine dedicated believers, and who both did great jobs exposing the clobber passages.
My Final Conclusion
I did not want to be mistaken and accept what Jesus did not but 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 Blog Resource Page on Gays and the Church, which also includes articles by others and additional resources. I hope you reconsider your rejection and condemnation of LGBTs. And feel free to continue this conversation if you wish.
I love you, Uncle Luke, and wish the best for you.
Jesus without Baggage exists to assist and support those questioning beliefs they have been taught in fundamentalist, traditional evangelical, and other groups. If you know someone who might find Jesus without Baggage helpful, feel free to send them the introductory page: About Jesus without Baggage.