A Gay Man and an Evangelical Walk into a Bar . . .

A gay man and an evangelical walk into a bar . . .

That’s not a joke, it’s everyday life.

It happens all the time. Gay people and evangelical Christians interact with one another every day – in public, at work, within families, in church, in friendships.

Most believers haven’t formed our theology about homosexuality in a vacuum. We don’t believe sex between people of the same gender is wrong because we’ve never met a gay person.

There’s much ado this week about the impact gays on TV have had on public opinion. Hollywood seems to believe that if I watch a Modern Family marathon, I’ll suddenly decide I’ve misread the portions of scripture concerning homosexuality.

If that was how it worked, I would now be an energetic proponent of premarital sex, alcoholism, divorce, and greed from my years in front of network broadcasting.

If we were all Archie Bunker, this theory would hold water. There are many Archie Bunkers out there, so that’s why there’s anecdotal evidence that watching Will and Grace changed some people’s minds. And believe me, if including gay characters on sitcoms helps reduce the hatred and misguided rage in the world, if cable TV makes people kinder to their neighbors, then “Yea!”

But I didn’t meet my first gay man on TV and the first lesbian friend I had was in my Jr. High, not on HBO.

I’m not prejudiced against homosexuals. My opinions (and many other Christian’s opinions) about homosexuality are a direct product of my understanding (and 2000 years of church understanding) of Biblical teaching on the subject.

I don’t carry “opinions or feelings formed without knowledge, thought, or reason.” My opinions are not “preconceived.” Nor are my opinions or feelings “unreasonable or hostile.”

prej•u•dice   noun
1. an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason.
2. any preconceived opinion or feeling, either favorable or unfavorable.
3. unreasonable feelings, opinions, or attitudes, especially of a hostile nature, regarding a racial, religious, or national group.

As a thoughtful, studied Christian, I hold certain convictions.

con•vic•tion n.
2. a. The act or process of convincing. b. The state of being convinced.3. A fixed or strong belief.

You ‘re welcome to disagree with my convictions. You’re free to base your life on something other than Biblical truth. You’re also free to disagree with my interpretation of the Bible.

But, don’t insult me by calling me prejudiced or by insinuating that a viewing of La Cage aux Folles will enlighten me and I won’t suggest that watching the Jesus movie will result in a desire to kiss a girl instead of your gay partner.

I certainly won’t debate the power of the media. I’d love to see more realistic and balanced portrayals of Christians in movies and on television. It’s much of the reason I write Christian fiction – so I can write characters who reflect the amazing believers I know.

But, having good feelings about people doesn’t change Biblical truth. There are plenty of people I love and enjoy who do things I believe are wrong in God’s eyes, myself included.

Premarital sex is rampant on network TV. This has increased our tolerance of the act but it hasn’t diminished the truth that premarital sex is a sin. Where visual media breaks down our desire to hate or judge – this is good. Where it erodes our ability to discern truth as defined by Scripture- this is destructive.

Jesus did not condemn the woman caught in adultery but He did tell her to “Go and sin no more.”

Calling a behavior sinful is not the same as condemning, judging, or hating anymore than saying that driving 50 mph in a 25 mph zone is illegal. It’s not a judgment; it’s a statement of law.

It’s good to dialog about homosexuality and faith but discussion is too often abandoned because people can’t engage in civil conversation without labeling.

I applaud the media anytime it helps us to see the truth. The truth is that we shouldn’t judge one another and we should treat every human being with respect, dignity, and love. Where portrayals of gays in the media help us to love one another better, I’m all for it.

But Jesus loved us perfectly and He didn’t change the laws, He died to pay the penalty for us breaking them.

Raise the conversation. Don’t settle on being a two-dimensional character in a sitcom. Insist on all the dimensions of life. Jesus came that we might have life and have it to the full. Don’t settle for less – even if it looks great in HD.

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    The Conversation

  1. wordsbyrobin says:

    Lori – excellent! You have encouraged dialogue, promoted love, and explained the difference between judgment and spiritual law. Wonderful examples. Very refreshing. Thank you!

  2. Lori, I will continue to admire and respect you, though I could not disagree with you more.
    There are a couple of things I could pick, but I will settle on your closing statements. Calling homosexuality “sinful” is hurtful. It is. You wrote it – I read it – and it is hurtful beyond belief. You can say that it is not judging, but just saying so does not make it so. I know it is an ugly thing to say because when I read it, I felt that ugly feeling somewhere deep between my chest and my belly.
    You want to know why? Those are the same words that I felt growing up in my adolescence, feeling like a monster doomed for hell, because that was what I was taught by people who thought as you do.
    Imagine feeling that way at 12 or 13 years old. Not understanding these feelings you have. Imagine growing up feeling that you are a monster or a beast. Trying your best to hide who you are from those you love most.
    You cannot imagine what it is like to grow up this way, because you are straight. But let me be clear in no uncertain terms, it is language like this that cause so many wonderful young men and women to kill themselves, and gives license to predators to bully and heap all sorts of cruelties on folks like us. I know this, because those thoughts crossed my mind at that age. I know because I was subject to cruelty that was fueled by – let’s face it – Biblically backed justification.
    I know you are trying to say “hate the sin but love the sinner”. I get that. What you fail to understand, or believe, is that you cannot separate the sin from the sinner in this case. I am gay. I have no choice to whom I am attracted. My biological drive is to be with emotionally, and express my love sexually for a member of my own gender.
    This is not the same in any other of God’s Laws. I can choose to kill. I can choose to murder. I can choose to be a prostitute, or be The Grand Wizard of the KKK. I cannot choose to be straight. I have a sex drive. That sex drive, God given, is directed at the same gender, as your attraction is directed to the opposite gender.
    And when I threw off the shackles of thinking that who I was, what I felt, and how I behaved was a sin, I never felt more free, happy, and full of grace. I am telling you, my love for Shawn, and the sexual act of expressing that love feels wonderful! It is blessed by God and it is beautiful.
    This does not give me license to be promiscuous, again – there is a difference between my 12 year relationship with Shawn and same sex promiscuity. Promiscuity is a choice.
    Now, compare the feeling of condemnation I feel, (whether intended or not,) when I am called “sinful” verses the happiness I feel when I live my life as God meant it to be lived. What feels more Christ-like? I know what feels more Christ like to me.
    Now, we may never, ever agree. I understand that.
    We will never agree if we cannot agree on the 2 most basic points on which our beliefs are built.
    Homosexuality is a choice. (It is not. Trust me – I have tried to choose to like girls. I have been party to awful, gut wrenchingly clumsy attempts to be attracted to girls that probably made a few very nice young women question their own attractiveness and shattered my self esteem for years. But those are stories for another time.)
    Literal English interpretation of the Bible. (My Roman Catholic tradition, my personal study of Biblical exegesis and hermeneutics, and my embrace of natural science make me understand the Bible in a very different way than you.)
    If we do not agree on these two things – we will continue to have different beliefs. You will pray for me, and I will continue to pray for you.
    Thanks again,


  3. Calvin, I don’t pretend to understand what you’ve wrestled with and I don’t want you to hurt. You know I love and respect you. Nothing of what I said, however, “gives license” to predators to bully young men and women struggling with their sexual identity. People who do that aren’t being Biblical or Christian, they’re being hateful and cruel. Continue to seek Christ and I will do the same. I don’t understand what it’s like to struggle with same-sex attraction, Calvin, but I do understand what it’s like to wrestle with feelings that make me feel like a monster and want to hide who I am. I know what’s it’s like to hear words from the Bible that identify me as a sinner and call what I’ve felt or done sinful, worthy of hell. I believe Jesus is the only way through those feelings of condemnation. Self-acceptance makes me comfortable but it can’t save me. Jesus makes me feel uncomfortable but He is able to save.

  4. Calvin says:

    Lori, you are a wonderful breath of fresh air. I hope you know I wouldn’t even engage anyone else with your beliefs on this subject, because my attitude runs toward “why bother?”. I’m happy, and I don’t need validation from any other person on this earth. You are a rarity, a bright gem that is found only when you move tons of dusty rock. I appreciate that and the tone of this discussion. I want you to know that is why I participate in this discussion.
    I don’t struggle with my sexuality. I don’t even think about it most days. It just is, like being straight is, or being left handed, or brown eyed, or having sickle cell anemia or a very high IQ. If it wasn’t in the political spotlight right now – I wouldn’t give it much more thought than any other aspect of my life. It is pretty normal for me.
    My concern is when Christians call homosexuality “sinful” that causes a great deal of damage to a person. In particular, it causes immeasurable damage to a young impressionable person who is coming to terms with who they are. (I am particularly sensitive, because THIS damage is what I struggled with in my adolescence to early adulthood.)
    To be called “sinful” and feel condemned to Hell for something you have absolutely NO CONTROL over very damaging. I know – because I used to pray at night to God not to send me to hell. I used to pray for hours and cry and plead with God that he would make me straight. When my Grandmother died when I was in Jr. High, my first thought is how disappointed she will be with me, now that she is in Heaven and knows my secret. Can you imagine my shame? Shame for something I can no choice in. No child should have to feel that way on the death of a loved Grandma.
    That is not the same as feeling sinful because you are 12 and stole a pack of gum. It is not the same as feeling sinful because you choose to cheat on a test. If that is all I had to struggle with in High School, I think I would have been a much happier child. To feel sinful for who you are, to make someone feel damned because of who they are, that is a true cruelty. It is something that I hope all young gay men and women never have to feel. Because that is what I lived, I would not wish that on anyone else.
    And asking forgiveness from God? How can you – when you are gay every minute of your life? Rape, murder, every other sin, is an act. How can you be forgiven for who you are?

  5. Calvin says:

    Growing up in a small town, there was a creepy guy that everyone hinted was gay. He was dirty, and a pervert, and we were all warned to stay away from him. Growing up in the 80’s, the only gays you found in pop culture were drag queens, Village People types who wore leather chaps and were feminine and flamboyant, or sexual deviants and perverts. Well, I knew that I was attracted to my own gender (I hope you understand this is also an emotional attraction too – not purely sexual. I have many wonderful female friends. However, my emotional commitment is, well Shawn in particular, but men in general. I just thought that was important to point out.)but did not want to be a drag queen, or dress like a Village Person, nor was I a pedophile or pervert. But I was gay. How can that be? I had no role models.
    So, being called “sinful” made me a very lonely person for many years. I made a mask for myself; I cloaked myself in my personality. I choose to lie, to others and myself, for who I was. It made me an inherently dishonest person, and closed me off from God. It wasn’t until I was moved to a big city, and found wonderful, masculine, handsome, professional gay men who became my friends that I suddenly realized – being gay is a great thing! God made me this way. It wasn’t the gay that was sinful, it was the lies that I wove, it was the lack of honesty with myself and others that was the sin. The biggest sin was not being the person God made me! God made me – ME, and I was allowing others to tell me I was sinful. Being surrounded by men who were not creepy or perverts, but normal men like me who got up each morning and went to their boring jobs and came home to boring dinners and just happened to be boring gay guys! That was astounding to me!
    That was the most wonderful experience of my life. It was my burning bush moment. It was the moment I was spit out of the whale a whole and healthy gay man and given a mission to be the man God made me to be.
    That’s it in a nutshell, Lori.
    God made me Gay. He gave me a strong , but healthy and what I think is a normal sex drive that, like a compass, points “gay” rather than “straight”. My emotions and connection belong to the heart of another man. It is just the way it is. No struggle. Just my life.
    I think we both can agree that God created the universe and everything in it. That includes you and me, and our feelings and our biology. I think we can agree he does not make mistakes.
    But people DO make mistakes. I think the interpretation of the bible that makes some Christian’s believe that being gay is equal to being sinful is the mistake. The true sin is not being gay, the true sin is not allowing yourself to be the person God made you to be.
    But as long as Christians keep referring to gay men and women as sinful, they continue to be implicit in a sin of their own. We have no idea how powerful, and therefore cruel, those words can be.
    I hope your readership takes the time to get to know someone who is gay, someone who leads a normal and healthy life. Then perhaps they can see the grace of God in this person’s life, a grace that could not exist in a life of sin. Maybe it’s time we give God the credit he deserves in making wonderful gay men and women, and be humble enough to understand that we were wrong for thinking that something God created was “sinful.”

  6. Calvin, you’re a thoughtful, articulate person and you articulate your experience beautifully. I’m glad you’re willing to dialog with me – you know I value you dearly.

    I’ll have to say, there are 12 year olds who aren’t struggling with same-sex attraction but who struggle with much bigger issues than cheating on a test or stealing gum. There are also heterosexual Christians struggling with attractions that fall outside of what is Biblical. As I’ve said in other posts, homosexuals aren’t the only people Jesus called to “deny themselves and follow after Him.” It’s wrong for others to vilify gays as if they are some “other” type of human being but the struggle of same-sex attraction is not the only deeply intense struggle people face when confronted with Biblical truth. You’re not as alone as you think.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.