Pray Away the Gay?

Today’s post is dedicated to every boy, girl, man or woman who has ever attempted to “pray away the gay.” I am sorry. I am sorry that anyone ever made you think that God didn’t love you JUST. LIKE. YOU. ARE.
This post has been coming all week. I apologize in advance for its length.
First I saw a picture on Facebook that was posted by a friend…

The caption said: A Christian group shows up to a Chicago Gay Pride parade holding apologetic signs including “I’m sorry for how the church treated you”.

This is a beautiful thing.

As the week progressed, I came across an amazing blog post in Rachel Held Evans‘ Sunday Superlatives called, A Mountain I’m Willing to Die On by Glennon Melton.” (You can read the whole post here.)

Part of the post was about how kids model what adults say and do and that we as adults and parents have to do better if we ever expect bullying to stop. But the second half was a letter to her son who is still just a little guy. It reads:

Dear Chase,

Whoever you are, whoever you become. You are loved. You are a miracle. You are our dream come true.

Chase, here is what would happen in our home if one day you tell your father and I that you are gay.

Our eyes would open wide.

And we would grab you and hold you tighter than you would be able to bear. And while we were holding you we would say a silent prayer that as little time as possible passed between the moment you knew you were gay and the moment you told us. And that you were never once afraid to tell us. And we would love you and ask you one million questions and then we would love you some more and finally, I would likely rush out to buy some rainbow t-shirts, honey, because you know mama likes to have an appropriate outfit for every occasion.

And I don’t mean, Chase, that we would be tolerant of you and your sexuality. If our goal is to be tolerant of people who are different than we are, Chase, then we really are aiming quite low. Traffic jams are to be tolerated. People are to be celebrated. People, every person, Is Divine. And so there would be celebrating. Celebrating that you would be one step closer to matching your outsides with your insides, to being who you are. And there would be a teeny part of my heart that would leap at the realization that I would forever be the most important woman in your life. And then we would tell everyone. We would not concern ourselves too much with their reactions. There will always be party poopers, baby.

We just wanted you to know this, honey. We’ve worried that since we are Christians, and since we love The Bible so much, that there might come a day when you feel unclear about our feelings about this. Because there are a few parts in The Bible that discuss homosexuality as a sin. So let us be clear about how we feel, because we have spent years of research and prayer and discussion deciding.

Chase, we don’t believe that homosexuality is a sin. Your parents are Christians who carefully choose what we believe and follow in the Bible. Some will tell you that this approach to Christianity is scandalous and blasphemous. But the thing is, honey, that the only thing that’s scandalous about this approach is admitting it out loud. The truth is that every Christian is a Christian who picks and chooses what to follow in the Bible.

Several years ago I was in a Bible study at church, and there was some talk about homosexuality being sinful, and I spoke up. I quoted Mother Teresa and said “When we judge people we have no time to love them.” And I was immediately reprimanded for my blasphemy by a woman who reminded me of 1 Corinthians 6: 9-10. But I was very confused because this woman was speaking. In church. And she was also wearing a necklace. And I could see her hair, baby. She had no head covering. All of which are things that are sooooo totally against the Bible Rules. * And so I just assumed that she had decided not to follow the parts of the Bible that limited her particular freedoms, but to go ahead and hold fast to the parts that limited other people’s freedoms. I didn’t point this out at the time baby, because she wasn’t a bad person. People are doing the best they can, mostly. It’s best not to embarrass people.

What I’m trying to say is that each Christian uses different criteria to decide what parts of the Bible to prioritize and demonstrate in their lives. Our criteria is that if it doesn’t bring us closer to seeing humanity as one, as connected, if it turns our judgment outward instead of inward, if it doesn’t help us become better lovers of God and others, if it distracts us from remembering what we are really supposed to be doing down here, which is finding God in every human being, serving each other before ourselves, feeding hungry people, comforting the sick and sad, giving up everything we have for others, laying down our lives for our friends . . . then we just assume we don’t understand it yet, we put it on a shelf, and we move on. Because all I need to know is that I am reborn. And here’s what I believe it means to be reborn:

The first time you’re born, you identify the people in the room as your family. The second time you’re born, you identify the whole world as your family. Christianity is not about joining a particular club, it’s about waking up to the fact that we are all in the same club. Every last one of us. So avoid discussions about who’s in and who’s out at all costs. Everybody’s in, baby. That’s what makes it beautiful. And hard. If working out your faith is not beautiful and hard, find a new one to work out. And if spiritual teachers are encouraging you to fear anyone, watch them closely, honey. Raise your eyebrow and then your hand. Because the phrase repeated most often in that Bible they are quoting is Do Not Be Afraid. So when they tell you that gay people are a threat to marriage, honey, think hard.

I can only speak from my personal experience, but I’ve been married for eight years and barely any gay people have tried to break up my marriage. I say barely any because that Nate Berkus is a little shady. I am defenseless against his cuteness and eye for accessories and so he is always convincing me to buy beautiful trinkets with our grocery money. This drives your sweet father a bit nuts. So you might want to keep your eye on Berkus. But with the exception of him, I’m fairly certain that the only threats to my marriage are my pride and anger and plain old human wanderlust. Do not be afraid of people who seem different than you, baby. Different always turns out to be an illusion. Look hard.

Chase, God gave you the Bible, and He also gave you your heart and your mind and I believe He’d like you to use all three. It’s a good system of checks and balances He designed. Prioritizing can still be hard, though. Jesus predicted that. So he gave us this story. A man approached Jesus and said that he was very confused by all of God’s laws and directions and asked Jesus to break it down for him. He said, “What are the most important laws?” And Jesus said, “Love God with all your heart, mind and soul, and love others as yourself.” ** When in doubt, Chase, measure all your decisions and beliefs against that. Make damn sure that you are offering others the same rights, courtesies, and respect that you expect for yourself. If you do that, you can’t go wrong.

Chase, you are okay. You are a child of God. As is everyone else. There is nothing that you can become or do that will make God love you any more or any less. Nothing that you already are or will become is a surprise to God. Tomorrow has already been approved.

And so baby, your father and I have only one specific expectation of you. And that is that you celebrate others the way we celebrate you. That you remember, every day, every minute, that there is no one on God’s Green Earth who deserves more or less respect than you do, My Love.

“He has shown you what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” ***

 Love, Mama

PS. We thought we should mention, honey, that if you’re straight, that’s okay too. I mean, it’d be a little anti-climactic now, honestly. But your father and I will deal.

PPS. All of the above holds true if you are overweight or Muslim too. No problem on either count.

PPPS. As daddy read this essay, I watched his gorgeous face intensify. He teared up a little. Then he slammed the letter down on the kitchen table and said emphatically and without a touch of irony, “DAMN STRAIGHT.”

Which, when you think about it honey, is really the funniest possible thing daddy could have said.

Love you Forever.

It made me cry. It made me cry for people I know from my past like Chase Hutchison from A list Dallas who grew up in a church I used to attend, friends from high school like Seth, Scott & Eddie, people from my church like Cathy & Crystal, people in my extended family like Tracey & Liz and today it helped me learn about my husband’s friend. She saw his post of the previous article on facebook which started a conversation. He knew a little bit of her story so he sent her a private message and asked her if she would be willing to share her experiences. With her permission I share her story here in her own words. I pray you will find it as powerful as I did.

I have been a Christian my whole life. Some of my first memories are of going to church with my family, and the church has remained a frequent source of joy and compassion throughout my life. I have accepted Christ three separate and distinct times, which may sound funny. The first was as a child,probably before I knew much about what it meant. The second was as a 12-year old, when I knew more about what it meant. And the third was as a 28-year old lesbian, when I knew exactly what it meant.

Growing up in a small Texas town that had more churches than gas stations, I frequently sat through sermons about right and wrong. That same town had only one gay person: the junior high P.E. coach (enter cliché here), so homosexuality was a frequent – and easy – topic on which to preach. From the pulpit I heard about “them” being Other…Unacceptable…Fallen. History teaches us little more than that having a common enemy unites. Cheaply, but unites nonetheless. We all want to feel like someone is worse than us. I have done that myself many times…judged others in order to feel less judged myself. It is bullying, and I am ashamed of that.

I was 13 years old when I realized that I was attracted to girls (not all of them, of course). It was not a choice that I made. The biology of the body doesn’t lie (to dispense with the abusive/absentee mother theory: I come from a nonabusive, stable, loving home of two parents (married for 43 years this July) and four children, of whom I am the third). Having been deeply engrained with the idea that homosexuals were unacceptable, I felt absolute and total panic. As I think of it, I can still feel my heart race. But the “I think I’m gay” conversation doesn’t have a place in the Christian world of a young girl, or boy for that matter. Not with my church. Not with my family. Not with my friends.

So I turned immediately to God – a practice that I’m still quite fond of. I started a prayer journal, which I would continue for the next ten years. I would ask God to “take it away from me,” and to “fix me.” I even asked God to let me live until I was straight, so that I wouldn’t go to hell. I was too afraid of someone reading the journal to actually write down the issue, but it permeates my prayers. As I read back through those hundreds of pages now, I cry for that girl who felt so alone, so ashamed, so unworthy, and so separated from the Love of God. My sexual orientation consumed my prayer life for years after.

I also immersed myself in the practice of my faith: Bible studies, worship groups, Young Life, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Sunday School, everything. If I get close enough to God, I can’t still like girls, right? I also lived the life I sought after so desperately. I dated boys, kissed boys, and ultimately married one. My mantra was some version of “fake it ‘til you make it.” And I believed that would work. I was taught that it would.

In 2006, three years into my marriage, I got sick. Quite sick. I was having panic attacks several times a week, was depressed, and was working 17-hour days to keep myself from being at home. All still while praying and attending church constantly. It was as though the secret I had been keeping for all those years became too much to keep down. It was like a poison. I finally decided to tell my husband that I was attracted to women. Around the same time, I told my family. I should have told them earlier, but I was afraid. And that is my fault, not theirs.

My husband and I prayed and cried and turned to our church for help. We believed that prayer and support would provide a way out of it. But our church’s solution was some version of “pray away the gay,” and I was confident that was not going to work (see prayer journal for the prior 13 years, though we nonetheless continued to pray that I would be “healed”). Committed to staying together, we experimented with unconventional marital arrangements, none of which worked. After three years of hope, my husband and I divorced in 2009. He has forgiven me for it all, and he remains the most Godly man I have ever known. His love, support, and compassion are a constant reflection of God’s love for me, and – while he has had his own struggles with the situation – he remains one of the two great earthly loves of my life. And God has forgiven me as well.

While my marriage came undone, something else happened. With every honest word I spoke about myself, I got better. And not only did I get better, my faith transformed from a judgmental expression of failed expectations into one of compassion, love, hope, and grace. And through that I have realized that the separation from God I felt for all those years was my fault, because I let something come between me and Christ’s Love. Now I know that nothing…nothing…nothing can come between me and the Love of Christ. I only wish that fewer churches taught that something could…that some things do.

From the scriptural perspective, my best answer is that a condemnation of homosexuality in the Bible is a reflection of the time in which it was written, and that it needs to be interpreted with some acknowledgement of human rights progress. It’s also worth noting that Jesus, in His Sermon on the Mount, was far more concerned with sins of the heart than sins of the flesh. But the reality is that if homosexuality is a sin, then I am a sinner. And even if homosexuality is not a sin, I am still a sinner. I cannot change who I am attracted to. Believe me, I tried. I wept and prayed and tried and wept and prayed and tried. So far, God has seen it fit to leave me and love me just as I am. And so I am not afraid of it anymore…not ashamed of it…and it is no longer a secret. I am gay, and God loves me. I have Christ to thank for that.

Now I am in a committed relationship with my partner of several years. We pray together, worship together at a wonderful church in which we can hold hands during communion and not be judged, and ask God together to bless and guide our family. God hears our prayers, and we feel His peace in our hearts.

I listen frequently to the Church v. Gays battle that goes on in cities and churches all over the country. I feel like screaming “I am gay AND a Christian AND conservative!” But what I find is that’s too much for people to understand, which I completely appreciate because it was too much for me to understand for
28 years of my life.

The response from many of my life-long friends was difficult. Soon after word got out that I was gay, I started to receive emails from people urging me to “repent,” to “seek the Church,” and to “turn back to Christ.” Most of them were replete with scripture and ended with “I’m praying for you.” The obvious assumption was that I had given up my faith in favor of my sexual orientation, but nothing could be further from the truth. I have done my best to respond with love even when I’ve felt judged and rejected. During a moment of wanting to be understood, I asked a friend: “What would you do if you had a physical reaction to another man?” His response: “I would kill myself.” That was the church talking. Not God. And I realized things were even worse than I had thought. Only one person has ever asked me how my faith relates to my sexuality. Everyone else assumed it didn’t.

I share my story because I think of that boy or girl who, sitting in church this Sunday loving God, is attracted to the same gender and feels ashamed…scared…separated from God. Though surrounded by Christians who are the best in the world at loving, he or she will probably not find acceptance or compassion. It is more likely that he or she will find at atmosphere of rejection, unacceptability, and a “let’s pray that you change” attitude. And that makes my heart ache, having spent 28 years wondering how God could love me if I am gay. We can do better. We all need the grace of Christ to be acceptable in God’s sight. If you’re ever looking for that grace, you can find it under my feet, in my arms, and stamped across my heart. I pray that every person has a moment in his or her life at which it is realized that all of us sin and fall short of the Glory of God. That’s not just a line; we really do.

In the words of Ms. Melton, I want every gay person to know that “They are loved as they are. Without a single unless.” By me and by God.

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41 thoughts on “Pray Away the Gay?

  1. Jacquie says:

    Thank you for expressing the heart of a loving mom & dad. As mom to a gay son and having been raised to believe gay is an abomination to God, and having decided that was not a belief I would embrace, it has been very encouraging to come across your writing tonight. Bless you.

  2. Charla says:

    I am the mother of a gay son. Being raised in a strict fundamentalist church that taught that homosexuality was an abomination of God, when my son came out to me I started doubting my whole belief in God/Christianity. How could “Christians” believe that my wonderful child who is the most compassionate person I have ever known was going to hell? When I told my sister that her nephew whom she loved was gay, she said “I’ll start a prayer chain for him”. That’s when it hit me — these “Christians” believe homosexuals are going to hell because that is what they have been taught. I told my sister a prayer chain would be great — we all need prayers — but leave the “gay part” out of it. My son being gay no longer impacts my belief and faith in God and Christ. I am emotionally, spiritually and mentally prepared for the reaction I get from some of my fellow “Christians” when I tell them my son is gay. I no longer sit silently if someone espouses the hateful belief that homosexuality is a sin — I express my beliefs in a loving way. Thank you so much for this beautiful post. I will cherish it always.

    • Jacquie says:

      Charla….what you have written could have been penned by myself…I am convinced that our sons have the most wonderful qualities and values and I am really happy to know that you have embraced and loved your son, just as we have with our son.

      As you say, Charla….it’s not an option to sit silently….we can speak up. Blessings to you and your son.

  3. Jacquie & Charla,
    I am so honored that you read my blog. Thank you for your kind words.
    I am thinking of starting a new weekly feature where I share the experiences of families from the gay christian community. Stories such as yours. It would be a great honor to share your stories the good the bad and the ugly. The story my husband’s friend shared this week was just one of the many stories that need to be told. I honestly believe that through telling our stories people are touched and hearts are changed. Would both of you prayerfully consider being part of my project? You may share with names (please make sure you have people’s permission if you use their names) or you may leave out or change the names if you would prefer. Thank you for sharing yourselves with me. Much love, m

    • Jacquie says:

      Michelle, I will give some thought to your request for us to share our experiences/ journey with our son. It’s a long one that involves lots of twists and turns but if and when I do write it out I will condense it as much as I’m able. Thank you.

  4. Frank says:

    How gay people have and still are being treated is a tragedy and is a poor witness for Christ. However falsely claiming that homosexual behavior is something that God created, condones and blesses is just as, if not more harmful!

    • Jacquie says:

      I will be so happy if the day comes when the Lord changes your heart and understanding towards homosexuality.

      From my experience God is quite capable of bursting into our lives and showing us his truth in a fresh and new way. It is not harmful to learn that God loves all he creates and he blesses.

    • E. A. says:

      I challenge you to apply that reasoning to other sexuality-based “sins.” For example, how many people in your church or faith community are in a second marriage, the first having ended in divorce not based on adultery? Would you say that God cannot/will not/should not bless that marriage? That the couple should not be allowed to call on Christ to guide them? Does your church encourage them to terminate that marriage because it is inherently sinful? Does your church teach them that they are somehow cut off from God because of their relationship, and that their future is void of God’s closeness? I think it’s a dangerous thing to look around in church and judge whether a part of the person next to us is God-created or blessing-worthy…God’s got that covered all on His own.

  5. Rachel says:

    I thoroughly understand how any mother wants to think it’s OK for their son to be “gay”. Especially when that is all that we hear on the media how wonderful it is. They are now pushing it in the schools. Even in the elementary schools.

    Sodomite is the word that used to be used. Not such a pretty word. Think there was a reason it was changed to gay?

    I am not trying to offend at all but many have been deceived into thinking this deviant lifestyle is OK and those that think otherwise are just haters or intolerant.

    There are facts and there are facts. Let’s look at some facts and see how much God loves sodomy.

    First of all homosexuals live an average 20 years less than a heterosexual.

    Outrageous numbers of STD’s.

    Outrageous number of multiple partners. I’m not going into specific numbers. You can look those up for yourselves. It’s horrifying.

    There is also the unfortunate fact that when practicing this lifestyle for a number of years they then get to wear Depends for the rest of their lives.

    Here is an interesting and very graphic article that goes into much more detail.
    http://www.newswithviews.com/Devvy/kidd510.htm

    God wants us well and happy. We are not when we are disobedient. Sodomy is an extremely unhealthy lifestyle and many have walked away from it and repented

    • Sid says:

      Rachel, I’m sorry but you’ve been misinformed. As a gay Christian man let me try to clear up some of your misconceptions.

      There is some truth to the statistics and information you mention, though they seem to be disproportionately about males, but the causes of those problems among homosexuals are not attributable to just being homosexual. Many of the problems are in fact attributable to homophobia.

      Homosexual life expectancy is shorter for two main reasons: Suicide and HIV/AIDS. Homosexuals commit suicide more often because of the treatment they receive from intolerant people, people who tell them that they are abominations, that they can change. Many gay people like Ms. Melton spend years and years trying to change, to conform to what they have been told is right, and that kind of futile effort makes them feel terrible, like God doesn’t love them and never will. So, many of them kill themselves.

      As for HIV/AIDS and the “outrageous numbers of STDs” you mention, those are so prevalent among gay men because of a lack of sexual education. Homophobes are so insistent that homosexuality not be “taught in schools” (as if any straight child is going to “turn gay” because their 9th Grade Health teacher says it’s all right) that young gay men often don’t learn how to protect themselves from STDs, how to have safe sex.

      It is true that there is a bit too much promiscuity and loose sexuality among gay people. This too is a problem of lack of self-esteem and self-respect, though, as well as a rebellion against religion and morality inspired by poor treatment from close-minded Christians. It should also be noted that among today’s youth, the gap between gay and straight people sleeping around is not very big. Pre-marital sex has become the standard. You will not get homosexuals to be more chaste by continuing to push them away though.

      And lastly, you seem to be confused about how gay men have sex. For one thing, anal sex is not the only way it can be done. In fact, many gay men choose not to have anal sex at all. Among those who do, when done properly, there are no health problems and no incontinence issues linked to the practice. That gay men have to wear diapers is just patently untrue.

      I hope you will consider what I have said and learn to accept people as God made them. If you don’t, I’m afraid you will live your life perceiving God’s enemies everywhere and never seeing that we are all in fact His children. God does want us well and happy, and attitudes of intolerance are not conducive to that.

    • Paul says:

      Hi Rachel,

      I agree, sodomite is not a nice word. It is the word for not just someone who engages in anal sex but any form of copulation that is not penetration of the vagina by the penis. I don’t wish to be crude but seeing as you have no problem in being so frank about people’s sex lives: have you ever engaged in any sexual act other than vaginal/penile copulation? Because if you have then you too are a sodomite. Perhaps that is why it was changed, so that good Christian heterosexuals like yourself weren’t lumped into the same category as sexual deviants like me. So that every time a straight person engaged in fellatio, masturbation etc. they wouldn’t be confronted by the horrific image of two men or two women engaging in exactly the same thing as themselves, or someone sexually assaulting an animal (you may not see the distinction between sex between consenting adult humans and bestiality but if so we will have to agree to disagree). Or perhaps it was changed because heterosexuals are not colloquially defined by the act of penile/vaginal copulation but as human beings who are more than their ability to engage in sexual intercourse, therefore neither should homosexuals none of whom solely exist to to copulate either but make just as much a vital contribution for good to society as their heterosexual counterparts.

      Thanks for the link to Devvy’s page. I’m from the United Kingdom (home of sarcasm and irony) so it’s always good to be reminded that not all articles I find satirical were written to be as such. I especially liked the part on gay male sex statistics. Gosh, I’d very much like to meet who-ever they were surveying, like most gay men I do not engage in orgies or a promiscuous lifestyle and at 31 years old I can count on one hand the number of sexual encounters I’ve had in the last 5 years. After recently backpacking through Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia and spending most of my time being surrounded by and sharing dorms with straight backpackers, I can confidently say that most gay men are no-where near as promiscuous, sexually uninhibited and downright dirty as heterosexuals. I got next to no action for the 15 months whilst I was away, despite looking younger than I am and fairly attractive (or so I’m told) and spending most of my time around other young free and single travellers (several of whom were other gay men but their was either no attraction or it was unreciprocated by one of us). However, I certainly got more than my fair share of midnight sex shows courtesy of straight travellers who thought it was fine to rock the top bunk above me. Realising a man and woman in the seats behind me were getting jiggy under a blanket on an overnight bus ride was pretty irksome too (btw, fun fact: they were from the States).

      There are around 30 admonishments of homosexuality in the Bible but over 650 on heterosexuality. Some say this is because God knows that heterosexuals are less disciplined and therefore need more guidance. After being exposed to the sexual appetites of so many heterosexuals I can certainly see why.

      Devvy’s info on homosexual assault in the military was entertaining too. Sexual assault (especially rape) of an adult is rarely motivated by sexual attraction to the victim but by control over another human being, to be the one in ultimate control to the extent that they can impose the ultimate humiliation – it can be very intoxicating for those who let the dark corners of their souls take over. I never tire of marvelling at how anti-gay people instantly sweep this commonly known fact under the carpet when it comes to those who sexually assault someone of the same gender, in order to add two and two together and come up with five.

  6. Michael Ownby says:

    It is a shame that Rachel comes across as so ignorant on this subject. Sid, thank you for your rebuttal. I find myself falling somewhere in between the two extremes represented in other people’s comments on this. Most of us could stand to search ourselves & the scriptures a little more on this subject. Michelle, thanks for bringing it to the forefront.

  7. Michael Ownby says:

    Also… “A Christian group shows up to a Chicago Gay Pride parade holding apologetic signs including “I’m sorry for how the church treated you”.”… gives a whole new meaning to the word apologetics, doesn’t it?! What better way could there be to “defend the faith” or provide proof in favor of Christianity than to truly show Christ’s love in such a practical way! Kudos to those dudes! Beautiful indeed!

  8. DeeAnna says:

    Whew. There is a lot here, isn’t there? I could write a book in response!

    I think when people try to “pray away the gay” they are kinda missing the point. Most of our sinful nature doesn’t disappear with prayer. I, personally, have never been able to “pray away” my gossipy tounge, my quick to anger temper, ny love of eating and drinking way too much, or any of the other many sins I struggle with. Prayer doesn’t rid one of sin. The idea, I believe, is to press into God to keep from falling INTO sin due to the sin nature we all possess. I have struggles with certain sins and I have no reason to believe I won’t ALWAYS struggle with those sins. Doesn’t mean I don’t love God, or that God doesn’t love me. It simply means I’m imperfect, and in need of a Savior.

    Notice I’ve equated the sin of homosexuality with other sins, like the sin of not controlling one’s tounge. This is because I truly believe there is no heirarchy to sin. No one sin is greater than another. I cannot look down on a murderer because I have, in fact, committed murder in my heart every time I’ve been angry with someone. I believe this because Jesus said it. I don’t know how (or why) the Church became so obsessed with this one particular sin. Why is it that a gay person is made to feel like they’re not even human, when a powerful politician who cheats on his wife is winked at by some Church communitites? I don’t know. It makes no sense to me. It’s not Biblical.

    People like to quote that homosexuality is an abomination. Guess what else the Bible says are abominations? Pride, lies, hands that shed innocent blood, the sacrifices of the wicked, cheating (as with a false scale), making idols, offering human sacrifices, robbery, murder, adultery, opression of the poor, breaking vows, incest, etc. I could go on and on. The word “abomination” is not limited to homosexual acts or homosexual people. We ALL fall into one of these categories of sin. Personally, I’ve totally been proud, I’ve lied, I struggle to keep my word, etc. Did I mention that we are ALL in need of a Savior?!

    Here’s the thing though. No one would be tempted to claim that murder or robbery aren’t sins, right? It’s clear. It’s in the Bible. They turn our stomachs; we inherently KNOW they’re wrong so we don’t argue with the Bible when they’re called sinful. But it’s prideful to think that we would KNOW all sin was sin. It would make the Bible a little unneccessary, wouldn’t it? And none of us seem to quite agree on what we KNOW. If it were absolutely right to follow our “gut” when it comes to determining what is and isn’t sin, then our “guts” wouldn’t disagree so much, would they? I think this is part of the reason God gave us the Scriptures, so that when what we feel doesn’t agree we can find out for sure what He really thinks about something. So, logically speaking, we all can’t be right here. And I think that claiming that the Bible is in error would itself be the greatest error of all.

    If the Bible is wrong and homosexual acts are not sins, then lying is also not a sin. Child sacrifice is not a sin. Violence, injustice, usury, false gods, having sex with a prostitute in church would all also NOT be sins. Murder wouldn’t be a sin. My husband would have had nothing to repent of when he confessed his adultery, because that would also not be a sin.

    Calling homosexual acts “sins” is not an unloving thing to do. One can absolutely do it in an unloving way (which itself would be a sin), but pointing out a sin is not in and of itself hateful. Because true Christians, much like the guys with the “sorry” signs, realize we are ALL in the same boat. We ALL need Christ. We need His grace and His truth. We cannot get the grace without knowing the truth… Can we? Again I turn to the Bible to guide me, and it seems grace and truth always go hand in hand. It’s up to God to work it all out. I’m positive there are homosexuals in heaven. POSITIVE. But I think those Christians who claim homosexuality is not a sin are stealing this grace from many. All so… What? We can be liked? We don’t have to be the bad guy delivering bad news? We can help God look a little better to the rest of the world? It’s selfish. It’s illogical. And neither side on this debate is totally right.

    Only the Bible is right. We should stop trying to make it say what WE want it to say and actually try finding what God’s heart on the matter is. Only then can we offer true love and true grace to our fellow sinners.

  9. DeeAnna says:

    BTW, none of these comments are directed at you, Michelle, since very few of your own words were in this post. I agree with all the things you said. The Church has done a HORRIBLE job offering both grace and truth to homosexuals. And we were commanded to spread the Good News to all peoples. Homosexuals not excluded. Thanks for a thought provoking post.

  10. Kent says:

    DeeAnna, what do you mean by the word “homosexuality”? Is it a sin for a person to be attracted to somebody of the same sex? I say no. Being a homosexual isn’t a sin, right? Having sex outside of marriage is a sin, right. So we can agree, I think, that anyone, homosexual or heterosexual, who has sex outside of marriage, commits sin.

    • DeeAnna says:

      Kent, notice the words “homosexual acts” were used over and over in my comment. Being attracted to someone of the same sex is not any more of a sin than being attracted to someone of the opposite sex. It’s what one does with that attraction that leads to (or away from) sin.

      And yes, I agree without doubt that any sex outside of marriage is a sin. And I don’t think it’s “worse” to have sex with a person of the same gender. Again, one sin isn’t worse than the other. People get all worked up over this particular issue as if it’s a special, distinct issue from all other sins, and it simply isn’t. And homosexuality doesn’t deserve to be judged by Christians as if it IS.

  11. Tracey says:

    Michelle, i do still plan to send you my story…that little thing called grad school was in the way. ;-} now that i have time to sit & think about my experiences, i find myself feeling some of the same anxiety that comes up when some of my relatives express their beliefs about gay people. my coming out story isn’t anything earth-shaking or mind-shattering — compared to some of my friends, i’d say that i’ve been overwhelmingly fortunate — however, i’ve found that over the years, it’s been WAY scarier for me to come out to religious/church-going people than to any other group of folks (non-churchgoing family, friends, strangers, classmates, professors, etc.). coming out to religious/church-going *family members* has been an even deeper level of scary for me, even when those coming out steps have been tiny and measured.

    wow. i can feel my stomach burning even now, and i haven’t fully put my story down on paper/pixel.

    at any rate, i’m going to sit with that discomfort for a little bit, acknowledge & respect the feeling and what may be behind it, and get started with moving through it. in the meantime, thank you very much for the work that you do with Word of a Woman, and for being such an incredible person.

    • Tracey,
      I cannot tell you how much I admire your courage. I am praying that this journey you are undertaking will bring healing not only to you but to the others it will touch. I also hope that in some way it will bring understanding and acceptance and allow others who come after you to be better understood and better loved.
      Be strong, step out. You are changing the world.
      m

  12. Angela says:

    I found an great meaning of toevah
    With reference to the Torah term “toevah”, referring to homosexuality and other practices (see the quoted portion below):

    >>Now, whole books have been written about this stuff, but basically Leviticus 18:1-3 and the Deuteronomy 23:17-18 set the scene for arguing that the other Levitical passages are based on idolatrous, same-sex pagan temple prostitution. Scholars argue that the word for “abomination” (toevah) is used to refer to the pagan practices of other nations. You brought evidence from Leviticus and Deuteronomy. I will likewise only refer to Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Leviticus 18:26, 27, and 29 refers to all of the sins in the chapter (incest, relations when the woman is menstruating, adultery, sacrificing children to Molech, sex between two men, and bestiality) as “toevot”. Deuteronomy 14:3 refers to forbidden foods (animals that don’t chew their cud and have split hooves, aquatic animals that don’t have fins and scales, certain birds, animals that die of themselves, and cooking a kid in it’s mother’s milk) as “toevah”. Deuteronomy 17:1 terms as “toevah” bringing an animal sacrifice that isn’t physically perfect. Deuteronomy24:4 describes as “toevah” a situation where a man divorces his wife, she marries another and is again divorced or widowed, and he remarries her. Deuteronomy 25:16 calls dishonest business practices “toevah”. Is it the opinion of the scholars that all sexual offenses (not just male-male ones), forbidden foods, maimed sacrifices, remarrying a divorcee who has been married to someone else, and cheating in business are also only prohibited in the context of pagan temples?

    The first instance of the use of the term occurs when Moses, speaking to Pharaoh, describes the form of ritual that the Hebrews will practice (if only allowed to do so) as “toevah” to the Egyptians (Exodus 8:22). The second occurrence, also in the exodus story, is similar.
    It would be absurd to suggest that Moses considered our practices as “abomination”. He does, however, recognize that they are foreign to the Egyptians.

    The list of things described as “toevah” (see the quote above) are of a similar nature, They are foreign, in this case to the Hebrews. The translation of “toevah” as “abomination” is clearly wrong. While it may be that Jews have been instructed not to practice male homosexuality or remarrying your ex, it doesn’t follow that these things are inherently evil, disgusting, perverse or whatever other baggage the incorrect term “abomination” implies. It is also true that some foreign practices on the banned list (eg- passing your children through fire) seem pretty self-evidently wrong. However, the Torah often instructs us to avoid wrong action (see some of the ten commandments) without using the term “toevah”. Toevah is not identical to ethics – it is related to culture.

    Folks may legitimately use the Torah to criticize homosexual practice as “toevah”, but only if those same folks are prepared never to indulge in the “toevot” of eating shrimp, having sex while the woman has her period, etc. That would appear to rule out most Bible-thumping Christians, as well as a lot of Jews.

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