I recently received a comment on my most recent blog post, where I had detailed the experience of my transgender son. I must say, the comment was written so kindly and compassionately, which I truly appreciated. In fact, it reminded me of something I might have written five years ago; I’ve always been the loving kind. I realized I wanted to respond the best I could to this comment, but that I also had a lot to unpack to answer it thoroughly. Hence, I’ve decided to write about my journey as a Jesus-loving, charismatic, Evangelical Christian, who has come to support and affirm the LGBTQ community.
I could regurgitate things I’ve read from other authors who support the LGBTQ community, but that would not be genuine nor authentic. In fact, it would be no better than the people who reject LGBTQ, by spouting off the things they’ve learned, been taught, or read throughout the years. Instead I want to tell you my personal journey, my thoughts, and how I went from one place to another over time. I will share links to articles or sermons I’ve found helpful, but overall this is simply me putting my heart out there for you. Please try not to trample it too harshly, and provide me some grace as I try and explain.
Love the sinner, not the sin. This is a phrase I’ve always heard, and one I used to ascribe to as totally credible. But now, I’m not so sure how that works. I cannot seem to reconcile how you love someone completely and unconditionally, yet simultaneously tell them that their feelings, desires, and sense of self are wrong, and an abomination to their Father who loves them.
I think I first really started questioning the topic of homosexuality from a Christian point of view around three years ago. I can recall watching Grey’s Anatomy with my husband, and two men were kissing. He exclaimed, “ughh. Gross.”
I replied, “I don’t think you should say that sort of thing. If the children are in the room, especially. We don’t want the kids associating gay people with the idea of disgusting.”
He was convicted, and very quickly agreed with me it was wrong. I never heard him say anything like that going forward. See, we both knew that all human beings are created by God, and worthy of being ascribed as such. To label, name call, or use derogatory terms to an individual is not ascribing worth to them as a beloved child of God. Listen, my husband is a great guy, but looking back, I think responses like those were built into his character over time due to environmental factors. If you exist in an environment where homosexuality is seen as wrong, against God, and abnormal, it’s hard not to have bias. I’ll just say this… I believe my husband and I have both grown drastically in the past few years, and in a positive direction.
But back to my questioning. Noticing the negative behavior of others towards LGBTQ ran parallel to my soul searching for how exactly a Christian was to respond. I definitely loved the “sinner,” but I wasn’t sure how I could love someone and say, “what you’re doing is wrong. It is not of God. The way you feel is an abomination.”
Because, if the sexual and romantic attraction gay people felt wasn’t from God, then where did it come from? The devil? How did you go about explaining to someone their innermost desires were demonic? The whole thing just didn’t coincide for me. I couldn’t wrap my head around how the Jesus I was so close in relationship with would want such a large percentage of people feeling helpless, hopeless, and worthless.
First, I believe gay people are born that way. You can speak with them and discover their same-sex attraction came in childhood, and it’s a falsehood that some sort of abuse or trauma has always occurred to bring about these feelings. I have spent many hours reading peer-reviewed, scientific research from accredited sources that document the numerous hormonal functions occurring in utero that develop gender identity and sexual attraction. The body is far too complex to place it into the neat little boxes we did before anatomical and physiological knowledge advanced to the current degree. But even if you don’t want to read and learn about the processes at play in the womb to determine sexual orientation, a simple thought occurred to me. Why would anyone choose to be the target of judgment, hatred, bigotry, and violence? As a child growing up in a Christian home especially, why would said child make a decision that ostracized them from friends, family, and the faith they enjoy? They don’t.
So, let’s keep going. Let’s say a child discovers at a young age they have same-sex attraction. Let’s say they are raised in a Christian home, and they are raised and taught that same-sex attraction is a big, no-no sin. Where does this child go from here? How do they proceed going forward?
Many will keep their sexual orientation a secret, for fear of losing relationships. Many become depressed, anxious, suicidal, and actively self-harm. This was my child at the beginning of 2022.
My trans son had been raised that homosexuality was wrong. We have always tried to be very loving. Remember, love the sinner, right? Well, when my child was entering puberty and began to ask questions, we’d answer. When my child asked his dad about gay people, he said, “they’re wrong, but we love them anyway.” Or when asking about transgender people and their salvation, my husband answered, “I think they can go to heaven as believers, but their heavenly body will be the one God originally made it to be.” Again, as parents you answer your children’s questions the best way you know how, based on what you were taught, and often how you were raised. This year, my husband and I have been humbled enough to realize we don’t know all the answers, but we do know how to proceed with the love of Jesus as our plumbline .
But more to the point of my questioning, that began years before it hit my home personally, my concern was how you can raise healthy, emotionally intact humans if you are insisting their feelings of sexual orientation or gender identity are something to be ashamed of, something to hide, or something to strive to change? How do you love someone well, but simultaneously tell them that who they are at the core of their being is despicable? Again, it didn’t gel. It didn’t feel right in my spirit. And it certainly didn’t seem like behavior I would see in Jesus.
A few years ago I first read an article by Sarah Bessey, which I’ll link to here. It’s lengthy, but then again, so is my post here. This is simply too complex of an issue to shortchange, but if you’re in a place of questioning like I was, it’s a good place to start. Reading it didn’t flip a switch in my brain. I suppose like the article suggests, my penny was still in the air.
What I did know was that the mismatch between saying you love someone, and showing it through your actions, was enough of a difference that I couldn’t speak on the subject. I just didn’t know. My whole life, to be told something is bad, but then to experience such turmoil over how I could react to someone like Christ would, in light of it.
So, to catch-up where we’re at… I believed on a scientific level that same-sex attraction and gender identity were complex issues not just related to environmental factors, but also genetic and hormonal ones in utero. I had determined people were born that way. Secondly, I couldn’t understand how it was possible to tell someone born gay or transgender, “yeah, I get you can’t help it, but if you wanna get to heaven, you either gotta change, or deny yourself the very things I take for granted. Like, falling in love, getting married, and raising a family.” Forced celibacy or conversion therapy (which fyi, has proven more harmful than effective).
What about the Bible? God’s word! Well, let’s go there. First, I will link to an article/video sermon by a smart guy named Matthew Vines who is Christian and gay. He spent years studying scripture and breaking it down to write this book, titled God and the Gay Christian.
But forgetting one man’s interpretation, if you will, I would like to suggest that for many people who are against LGBTQ, they are basing this off a handful of scriptures they’ve been told about, and not necessarily basing it on their knowledge of the Bible in its entirety. When you can read the Bible from front to back, ruminating over scripture, allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to you in spirit and truth, and running your every action, thought, and decision through the filter of Christ-likeness, you might find you learn a lot of things. In fact, it changes your heart. I’m not suggesting that since I’ve done this that I know everything. I don’t! I mentioned earlier that my husband and I have admitted we don’t know all the answers. But we do have a beautiful, fundamental, dependent relationship with Jesus that steers everything we do. We allow Jesus to guide our future (where we live), our finances, our family, and most importantly to take our fear and anxieties.
Another important part of Biblical study is to understand the historical context in which many things were written. I absolutely believe the Bible is the living word of God. I also believe the books were written by men (that were definitely inspired by God), but also limited by their finite nature and societal norms. For example, Paul and Timothy have instruction for us about women not speaking in church, or slaves obeying their masters. Slavery has been abolished, and women’s rights have increased since this text was written. To be a scholar and study the word, you must understand context of situations and societal norms when they were written. This is why I don’t have to go live outside my house when I’m on my menstral cycle, or why I’m allowed to work while my husband stays at home with the children. It’s why people aren’t being stoned in the street still when they have an affair. We cannot cherry-pick one verse and use it as God’s command if we’re going to ignore other verses. We do not have the authority to pick which verses are most important based on our political stance. In fact, I believe Jesus told us the greatest command from the Father, and if you don’t know it, shoot me a message. But I’ll tell you, it’s what drives this blog.
So, yes, I place so much value in the word of God. It drives my life! I believe that Jesus loves us. I am supportive and affirming of the LGBTQ community. It’s my belief in Jesus and the word of God that has brought me to this place. This wasn’t happenstance, hasty, or without hours and hours of prayers, asking for God’s wisdom. This has been an evolution (or rather, love-induced growth) of my faith over the past few years, and it isn’t just about the LGBTQ community. The character and love of Jesus has changed my opinion on minorities, immigrants, and the marginalized. The least of these. The one out of the 99. Jesus spoke of justice, but not to defend the religious. He spoke of inviting those outside the gates to the wedding feast, and in a world that seems to be focusing on us versus them, it’s totally anti-kingdom to do otherwise. Following Christ isn’t a club membership, where we pick and choose who can come inside based on what they wear, who they love, or where they were born. It’s an open invitation, and God never asked us to be the bouncers at the door.
When you read the Bible as the beautiful love story it is intended to be, you’ll see how the law first came in the Old Testament to help us rid ourselves of sin and death. But no one, absolutely no one could keep it. Jesus came with a New Covenant. He came not just to save the people of Israel, but the Gentiles as well. When the apostles first suggested it wasn’t necessary to circumcise, people lost their gourds. When John said it was okay to eat meat from pigs, people scoffed. When Jesus refused to throw stones at an adulteress, or insisted on restoring the cut ear of the guard who came to arrest Him, His followers were shocked. God is good at bringing us back to Him, and that doesn’t always look like we think it should. But He said that He came to save all mankind, so who are we to cause people pain and in the process push them from His table?
Above anything, I want my children to know Jesus, and to understand the freedom from fear and death they have through Him. I couldn’t imagine how I could tell my child, Jesus loves you unconditionally, except you need to not be gay or transgender, because then you’ll probably burn in hell, I think. Like, wouldn’t that be conditional love?! Isn’t that how we humans end up loving? “I love this man, but if he doesn’t pick up his dirty socks or wash more dishes, I’m done.” We have to stop loving “sinners” like humans love, and start loving all mankind (as we’re all sinners) as Jesus loves. Without stipulation.
My husband said to me the other night, “I don’t know if what I’m doing is right, but I do know that when I stand before the Lord, if I’m wrong, my decisions were made in love. I just don’t see God holding that against me.”
What a wonderful thought. The Lord doesn’t tell us to decipher every sin possible, arrange them in order of importance, and then be the Gatekeepers of being good. But He does tell us to love our neighbor as ourself. If I have missed the mark on some verses, but I’ve loved completely, I don’t believe He will cast me away for trying.