Being Christian and Gay

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Imagine living in a world where you are not able to love, not be in a romantic relationship, not have a family. Then imagine the sadness of not being able to change your feelings and realizing that you have no choice in who you are attracted to.

Welcome to my world.

I was 13 years old when I first realized that I am a lesbian. My first thought was, I’m a freak. No one can ever know. For the next decade or so, I dated boys and told myself that one day I’d be normal: I’d find the right man, fall in love, and have the family I dreamed of. That never happened.

In my 20s I came out and lived a gay lifestyle. Being open and honest about being gay meant I was free, I thought. Never would I want to hide this part of me again.

Sixteen years ago, everything changed. For most of my life, I had been an atheist, refusing to trust anyone or anything but myself. But no matter what I did or who I had relationships with, something was missing.

With the help of some wonderful people, I finally realized that what was missing in my life was God. At first I was hesitant to follow God. I was very afraid that by becoming a Christian I would have to give up on my dream of having a family. Reading what the Bible says about homosexuality, it became clear that this was not the lifestyle God intended for me.

Some of my friends who attend “gay-friendly churches” believe that living a homosexual lifestyle is OK as long as the relationship is monogamous. These friends believe that the Scriptures dealing with homosexuality reflect the context in which they were written and do not apply to us today.

These churches were very appealing to me. I could go, worship God, be part of a community, and continue to hope for a family. But with much trepidation, I decided to trust God’s Word.

On its website, the Christian Reformed Church states, “Homosexualism (that is, homosexual practice), is incompatible with obedience to the will of God as revealed in Scripture.” The church is not saying that homosexual orientation itself is sinful, but the practice of a homosexual lifestyle is.

All these years later, I still agree with the position of the CRC. But I cannot silence the loneliness. Much of the time I feel like I am walking this road alone, which makes keeping the commitment more difficult.

A Divisive Issue
Homosexuality is one of the most divisive issues in Christianity today. Much pain has been caused—either by the things people say or by the deafening silence that sometimes accompanies this subject.

When Christians tell offensive gay jokes in my presence, I feel like I need to hide who I am. Other times, their silence can be even more hurtful than insensitive words. At times I have wanted to talk about my struggles with my brothers and sisters in Christ. But I’m often met with silence. Just hearing the word homosexual or gay brings up images, stereotypes, and assumptions that make it difficult for many in the church to participate in a conversation about homosexuality. A few very precious individuals have been willing to sit with me, listen, ask questions, and remind me of how much God loves me.

I’ve had some tough conversations with gay friends. I tell them that even on the days I feel most alone, knowing that God loves me makes those days so much better than any of the days that I lived without God. Many of my friends say they will never set foot in a church. They believe church people despise them. And they are right—some do despise them. Unfortunately, theirs are the voices we hear most often. They preach hate and picket funerals with signs that say “Fags go to hell.” But I have met many others who are willing to love people who are homosexual, but just don’t understand the issues. If you’re one of those people, here are some things to consider.

  • Understand that for a gay person to follow Christ means never enjoying the intimacy of marital love, never having a traditional family. I have been told numerous times over the years that being gay and celibate is just like being a single person without a spouse. This is difficult to hear. Straight people have the option to begin a relationship with someone they are interested in. But I believe that obeying God comes first, even when it means we can’t have our heart’s desires. And I have discovered that God honors this.
  • Walking alongside Christian gay people means you’ll encounter both those who are seeking to follow God through celibacy and those who aren’t. Talk to people who are struggling with this. Some of the most helpful, healing conversations I have had were with people who truly want to understand, who care enough to ask questions. Show compassion. Cry with people and laugh with them. Share a meal and break bread together. Love them and let them love you back. Be empathetic. Imagine what it would be like to walk in their shoes. Include them in events that are for families.
  • Listen. We don’t have to solve every problem. We can’t pretend to really know how we would react to the same struggle. All we really have to do is to love others the way that God loves us.
  • Pastors and leaders, address the issue of homosexuality. Teach what the Bible says about the practice of homosexuality, but also teach how we are to love one another and welcome people into the church. Remind your congregation that the church is a place for those who are broken, and Jesus is the one who can make all things right. Create times when people can ask you questions about this subject and be in discussion with each other.

If we in the church can only love people who are not broken, who would be left? Loving people does not mean condoning a lifestyle. I knew a gay woman who decided to attend church with her partner. She liked what she heard and eventually spoke with the pastor. He explained the church’s position: that the Bible teaches that an active homosexual lifestyle is not acceptable to God. Over the years, the woman continued to speak with the pastor. He welcomed the conversation, as did others in the church. She and her partner continued attending. I asked her what kept them coming. “I don’t agree with the church’s position on homosexuality,” she said, “but there’s a lot of love here.” The pastor was also able to convey that this woman and her partner will always be loved by God.

Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). That means loving “sinners” as well as “saints.” Let’s come alongside homosexuals and let them know they are not alone. And may they know we are Christians by our love.

August 4, 2013 - Because so many comments no longer meet the biblical criterion to speak the truth in love, we have closed comment on this topic. —The Editors

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Comments

Thank you for speaking up, Merrill. This is a great article and powerful help for believers (and unbelievers) in many congregations. This kind of honesty and openness is not easy (which is maybe why we don't do it more often), but it is absolutely essential for addressing God’s work of salvation and sanctification today. May God bless you for your words and your willingness to share both your struggle and your joy.

Thanks for this article, Merrill.

Your words honor the complexity of this issue like few articles I have read. For me, the high point of your article comes when you write, "But I believe that obeying God comes first, even when it means we can’t have our heart’s desires. And I have discovered that God honors this." It's encouraging to hear that you are being blessed by God for walking the path of obedience. I'm confident you'll find that blessing will continue as you grow in your relationship with the Lord and his church.

Reading this post (and the comments) is heart breaking.

Essentially, what we're saying here is: I was born gay, and there is nothing I can do about this, but because I believe that God does not apporve gay relationships, I'll subject myself to the life of loneliness and isolation, although if I knew that God would not mind me being in a permanent relationship, I would have chosen it in a heartbeat.

I'm really sorry, but this seems so messed up. I kind of understand the position of Christian majority that Pat Robertson summarized saying that "gays are just confused heterosexuals who have forsaken God", So they need a bit of exorcism to cast gay away, and they will be perfectly fine. It's so wrong, but at least it's consistent.

But here we seem to in the house divided within itself: on one hand we accept that sexual orientation is something we do not control (just like the skin color), essentially saying that that's how a person gets born, and if we believe that God is in control of everything, it means that's how God made us, but on the other hand, we seem to believe that God would be angry if we lived according to the way we were born. I'm not talking about sexual permiscuity here, but the same long term relationship most of us (gay and straight) long for. And we use the Bible to justify this. And then we subject our brothers and sisters to the life of lonelyness.

This is so sad. It is especially sad because it is most likely wrong. Just as with many aspects of life that have been attempted (and forced) to be explained by the Bible (age of the Universe, solar system, race erelationships, slavery, etc), time will come (and it will be pretty soon), when we find mental and spiritual capacity to overcome our biases and look at people beyond their sexual preferences. But in the meantime we Christians will be ruining the lives of people whose primary wrong doing was to be born gay.

So sad... so sad...

Some times the Lord delivers us from our temptations, sometimes for reasons unknown to us, He doesn't. Reformed believers understand we are not sinners because we sin, rather we sin because we are born sinners. Not all of us are born with the same temptations.

The church seems to have moved away from the teaching of Total Depravity and the Law of God. It seems we do not know we were born with appetites that are sinful and unclean, that our heart is so desperately wicked from birth that Jesus said we must be born again, through repentance (turning away from sin) and transfering trust in ourselves, to the Savior.

I have a hard time with this denominations teaching on homosexuality. That we are to modiify our behavior, without first dealing with purity of heart. Jesus spoke firmly when He said. 'Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind guides! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean...you are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hyprocrisy and wickedness." (Matthew 23:25-28)

The church is a hospital for sinners, where the goal is to get right with God, right? Somtimes a stinging dressing or shot in the wound is necessary for healing. A church that loves must address sin however it manifest itself, even if it hurts.-This is true love.

In Matthew 23, Jesus is not talking about sex, he is talking about money.  This text has absolutely nothing to do with the subject matter of this discussion. 

Thanks for a well written article.  I appreciate your facing squarely the cost of discipleship and I pray that I, personally, as well as the Church in general, heed your request to not needlessly increase that cost.

Too many have accepted the notion that following Jesus does not really mean we must deny ourselves and take up a cross.  In ways few others can comprehend, you have resisted that cultural pressure, taken up the cross, and in so doing issued a challenge to us all.

Thanks again.

Merrill said, "Imagine the sadness of not being able to change your feelings and realizing you have no choice in who you are attracted to".  Thinking that you are unable to change your feelings is a lie.  Psalm 51:10 states, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me."  Ephesians 3:20 says, "Now to Him who is able to do imeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us...".  You can change.   You also say, "I believe that obeying God comes first, even when it means we can't have our hearts desires."  God wants to give you your heart's desires as long as it is in accordance to His will.  

II Corinthians 10:5 states, "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."

Ephesians 4:22-24 states, "You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." 

 

 

 

Kevin, many believe that Merrill was indeed created in the image of God in true righteousness and holiness, which includes her sexuality. It is becoming increasingly clear that traditional understandings about scripture on this subject are not necessarily correct.  What is tragic about her story is that Merrill's heart's desires may not be "deceitful desires" or "against the knowledge of God." An increasing number of people in the CRC believe that her loneliness in completely unecessary and the CRC's position is causing gay people to suffer needlessly.  Yes, it is possible to change what is in the mind.  My challenge to you is that you try to open your mind and be willing to change your views on this subject. 

"My challenge to you (John Slagter), is that you try to open your mind and be willing to change your views on this subject."  

Loneliness and love....  Sometimes, in some marriages, the partners are lonely, because they cannot communicate with each other...   Sometimes there is lack of love in marriage also... and some people, like for example Mother Teresa and others like her, do not feel either lonely, nor without the ability to love....   The incidence of homosex partnerships ending is much, much higher than for heterosex unions, probably because they were lonely and unloved in those partnerships.  I think the wrong criteria are being used for discussing this issue.   The real issue is where does God's will and God's blessing enter in to the picture.  I think Merril has tried to put this issue into the right context, and has a family, whether it is the church family or her Peace Corps, and she has the ability to love those around her in ways that those with a bio family often are unable to do.  

Can homosex people change?   I recently heard/read a direct testimony from someone who had been in a lesbian relationship for six years, and then became a Christian.  She began to realize that what she was doing was not in sync with God's will.  She eventually left her partner, even though it was difficult.  She had difficulty because many of her friends were also homosex or transgender, etc., and she had invited one to church with her, which was difficult for church members to understand how to react to.  However in the long run, she stuck with that church, and married a man, and had several children with him, and is happy and confident in her situation.

Does this one example mean that Merrill needs to do the same thing?  To find a man and marry?  No.  Not necessarily.  But it does demonstrate that not all cases are unchangeable.  God gives us renewal and hope through Christ and His Spirit.  Most of the time, the homosex community takes away renewal and hope, and replaces it with fate and psychological determinism. 

John, you may religate the Scriptures to history or as being irrelavent by todays world standard, I don't know. I think looking at Scripture through those lenses may come at the expence of one's own soul. The Bible tells us not only that "every word of God proves true" but " out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person." (Matthew 15:19,20) 

The CRCNA's teaching on behavior modification without a change of heart is living a compromise you're trying to make peace with. How can a person be at peace, rest and joy with this kind of balancing act. This article is a reflection of the CRCNA's failed teaching and the inner turmoil that comes with it.

"Christ did not come into the world to appease. The word of God welcomes, loves, affirms the value of all people, but it does not appease." (Joe Dallas)

Living an invigorated life of homosexuality, Joe Dallas, now married to his wife finally learned the truth that set him free. He said, "The night I repented was the night I had the deepest most untroubled sleep I had in years. I know what ever was going to come of it I was back in God's will. That was the beginning of a new life for me."

What are you holding back from God?

Merril (and others) please know that there are many Chrisitan's who accept you and do not judge you. Thank you for sharing your story and giving examples of how people can support you and accept you for who you are. Unfortunately you will always encounter people who have very strong and condeming views....they speak loudly and often.Those of us with different views (there are many) need to speak up more. As a married woman with children it might be easy for me to have all the answers on how you could "change your life" or "deny your feelings".....I have not had to do that, so I will respectfully say that I do not live your life and therefore will not pretend that I am an expert in it. May God bless you as you continue to enlighten people on this topic.

Merrill, I hope you know that God created you exactly how you were meant to be.  I believe that we Christians have sinned grieviously with how we have used our power to create a culture that tells some people that they are less, while others are more.  We have not understood how to be a body very well.

While I believe that there is more than one valid interpretation of scripture on the matter of gay marriage, I respect your view and believe that you have taken a path that must be incredibly difficult to walk.  I am hoping that people on all sides of this issue welcome you with open arms.  

In terms of feeling a part of a larger body, the organization Gay Christian Network may be a place to find a sort of virtual community.  Here is a link to their website:

http://www.gaychristian.net/greatdebate.php

 

This article, as well as developing deep relationships with many gay and lesbian Christians, has given me a conviction that we all need to consider how we treat one another more sensatively, and not just develop policy statements.  I hope you feel a part of the CRC family, even from the far away place you are at present.

 

Merrill, Thank you so much for giving us the gift of your story and your voice. I lament and grieve with you the difficulty of having healthy desires for commited love in an exclusive relationship but feeling like you cannot act on such desires. I don't know you personally, but want you to know that I love you BIG MUCH! Thank you for your service to the church, and to Jesus Christ. He is "well pleased" with you.

What kind of a God would create you gay and then deny you the desire of your heart, Merrill?  You are not sick - born with some sort of defect or damage - you were born gay.  God wants you to be as honourable and faithful in your gay relationships as he wants others to be in their heterosexual relationships.  No more.  No less.  Go find someone to love and then look for a church community that loves you in all your "gayness."    

"Romans 1:25 They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. 26 That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. 27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved." 

I believe that like other problems such as blindness or lameness, it is not necessarily the sins of the individuals that caused their problems.  It is a result of the general sinful condition of man, and the sinful attitude of society that results in these problems.  Scripture is clear that this is a problem, and that God permitted it to exist as a result of people's general desire to worship creation rather than the creator.  The beauty is that God gives us a way out of this particular problem through repentance and through acknowledging the claim that God has on our life, and the forgiveness He provides.  For that reason, Merrill can at least come to grips with this, and others in similar circumstances have actually been released from it. 

"Jude 1:18 They told you that in the last times there would be scoffers whose purpose in life is to satisfy their ungodly desires. 19 These people are the ones who are creating divisions among you. They follow their natural instincts because they do not have God’s Spirit in them. 20 But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit,"

The same kind of a God, Jennifer, who would create somebody who desires a menage a trois (or more), or finds something more enticing simply because somebody else has it, or Downs Syndrome, or a genetic predisposition to alcholism or cancer...

That one desires it in one's heart naturally does not make satiating that desire good or moral.  We are not in heaven yet and our natures - all our natures - are distorted in the aftermath of the fall into sin.  All of us struggle with wanting what is sinful while those redeemed in Jesus also struggle at the same time wanting to not want it.  Paul speaks of this rather famously in Romans 7.

So I don't think, as some suggest, that simply praying or striving to live more virtuously, or reading the Bible more, or whatever act of piety is recommended, will somehow make Merrill's desires go away.  The thorns that beset us are not always removed.  But neither do I think that desiring something by nature automatically validates the desire.

Including gay couples who live in committed monogamous relationships in the same category as people who engage in group sex is fatuous and downright insulting.  If a straight person commits adultery, that person commits a sin but that doesn't mean all heterosexual sex is sin. The same standards should also be applied to gay people.  Also, Down syndrome, alcoholism and cancer are all identified and treated by the medical community as diseases.  Gay people are not suffering from gay disease - they are just gay.

I recently read an article by a former lesbian where she stated that we are all 'born like that'.  It's called 'original sin'.  Just because we desire to do something, no matter how strong the desire is, it's not an excuse to sin.

Leviticus 18

22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.

23 Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion.

Will bestiality be the next be(a)st thing.  Then will we also hear bleeding heart liberals saying we should be showing compassion to those who are 'born like that'?

See: http://www.vancouverobserver.com/real-estate/trump-coming-vancouver-celebrates-insane-website

and:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2184059/Skittles-accused-bestiality-commercial-woman-kissing-walrus.html

Nykamp above made this statement:  "...a culture that tells some people that they are less, while others are more..."    It is important to realize that this is false.  This statement or thought is often made to shut down comments on homosex.   But christians are not saying that sinners are "less", while others are more, since everyone is a "sinner", either a saved sinner (saint), or an unredeemed sinner.   Struggling with homosex does not make anyone "less", anymore than struggling with lack of patience makes anyone "less".   Jesus saved the thief on the cross as much as He saved Peter the apostle (the denier).   It is not about being less or more;  it is about discovering how God wants us to be obedient to Him. 

Mr. Zylstra, What irritates me more than anything else is that some involved in this discussion presume to know the mind of God and make statements as though they speak on behalf of all christians. Many christians disagree with your understanding about God and your interpretation and use of scripture concerning this issue.  The present discussion is not christian vs. others.  It is instead christians who hold certain views vs. christians who hold different views.  Those who disagree with the CRCNA's position on the issue of LGBT inclusion are not less christian than you.  They/we simply disagree with you on one issue. 

Yes, John S. that would be irritating.  I would however suggest that this is not about christians vs christians.   It is about what God wants from us.  And we get that from scripture.  It's more about scripture vs human desire.  Scripture vs what we imagine to be right.  Are you suggesting that you would not claim to know the will of God, and yet would believe what you do?   On what basis?  I suggest that you either think you know the will of God, or you desire not to know it because it might be against what you really want. 

2 Timothy 4: 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

Romans 1:18b ...unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.

See: Cure for Culture in Crisis ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RtmMIM9e7ss )

Cure for Culture in Crisis Part 2 ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENDp-d4A8MA )

Cure for Culture in Crisis Conclusion ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOpE4x2lF_8 )

My final contribution: One way to discern God's will is to pay attention to which doors he opens and which doors he closes.  Exodus has been closed with an apology.  Don't Ask, Don't Tell has been repealed.  The Defense of Marriage Act has been struck down. More and more, churches are changing in favor of LGBT inclusion.  Prominent theologians and scholars have explained how traditional interpretations of scripture may have been erroneous.  Half the population now supports marriage equality and the trend is growing among young people. All of this was unimaginable forty years ago. Clearly, God continues to lead his people toward truth and justice. 

Amen, brother!

Some of the comments here are hard to imagine.  Whether I understand or accept all of what she is saying, the fact remains that Merrill is pouring out her heart in this article. She seems to fully realize that her unnatural attractions are not in accord with God's will or His Word. But instead of "walking alongside of her" and trying to help her in her struggles, some of you are suggesting that her "desires" are ok with God and to go ahead and indulge. You accuse those who show that in Scripture God condemns homosexuality and homosexual relations, of being unloving.  However to suggest to Merrill that she should go ahead and fulfils her desires in a lesbian relationship and to even have the audacity to suggest that God would approve of such a relationship is the most pernicious form or hatred I could think of even if it is not intended or realized. Bottom line is that what you think does not matter in the slightest, but what God says does matters.  One post even stated that God is opening doors for homosexuals through ways such as Exodus closing down, Don't ask Don't Tell and the Defense of Marriage act being repealed, churches supporting LGBT relations, the changing view in society and "prominent" theologians explaining that traditional reading of scripture on homosexuality has been erroneous.  This is really blasphemous! This would be the same as saying that because the right to have an abortion is allowed by law, God has opened the door to abortions and blesses them. What a ridiculous statement to make. An accurate rendering of events would be that "God gave them over...." Romans 1:26

 

There are a lot of things that that are not right in our world and they are the result of SIN. It all started in the garden where Satan first asked "Did God really say...?" We can read about it in Genesis, where by the way we also read that God created marriage between a man and a woman. This would be the same passage Jesus refers back to when He speaks in the New Testament. Satan has been tempting mankind with that same question ever since and continues to use it today.  And why wouldn't he? Sadly this tactic has been working quite well for him. Merrill struggles with a sin that is particularly in the forefront in our time, but we all are sinful humans in need of forgiveness and transformation. Acknowledging that her homosexual desires are sinful and not in accords with God's will is commendable and a step in the right direction. For others to agree that in Scripture God has made this extraordinarily clear is not intolerant, unloving or condemning.  It is certainly more loving than telling her that God would bless a relationship which He has clearly stated is sinful.  Romans 1:32 "Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them."  The power of Jesus blood can transform anyone of us, but while on earth we will have struggles. Yet, through a relationship with Him, Jesus does fulfill our deepest desires. 

Well said, Arnold!

This is a small excerpt of a story in one of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books, regarding 'Grace' (not her real name) who was struggling to stop drinking alcohol.

"On her way to the bar in the airport, Grace had a moment of sanity. She stopped, picked up the airport paging phone and said, "Will you please page friends of Bill W., “ she paused, quickly looking around for an empty gate, “to come to Gate 12?"

Within minutes, over the paging system in the LA International Airport came, "Will friends of Bill W. please come to Gate 12. Will friends of Bill W. please come to Gate 12." Most people in recovery know that asking if you are a friend of Bill W. is an anonymous way to identify yourself as a member of AA."

Fifteen people showed up at the gate.  A couple even missed their flight to come to the aid of someone struggling with alcohol, to help her successfully fight the temptation to drink.

Surely that is the more loving of the two possible approaches, i.e. help the 'Grace's of the world to fight temptation, rather than encourage them to succumb to temptation and perhaps be denied eternal life.

It's right in the 'Lord's prayer': "Lead us, not into temptation but deliver us from evil"  Sin is evil.  Therefore let us be 'friends of Bill W.', whether 'Bill' (or Jill) is struggling with the temptation to drink, commit sexual sin such as adultery, homosexuality etc.

9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

Arnold, I agree with what you have to say for the most part, and maybe this is a little foggy, but the author does not seem to indicate that her hearts desires are sinful and not in accordance with God's will.  Only that she believes the physical acting out on those desires is sinful.  In fact, she identifies herself as a lesbian and by her own admission, believes her desires cannot change or, maybe she does not want them to change.  Again, this reflects the CRCNA's failed teaching of basically saying, it's okay to be a homosexual, just don't act out on it.

This is where ministering to homosexuals in the CRCNA breaks down because the root of the problem lies not just in modifying one's outward behavior, although that is good and right, but as with all sin the issue lies in the heart.  Unless the CRCNA deals with purity in the heart, it's ministry to gays will be empty platitudes, applause, and appeasements.  If hell were not at stake, this path looks like love and seems acceptable...but it is at stake!  "Do not be deceived...neither the sexually immoral...nor homosexuals...will inherit the kingdom of God." (1 Corinthians 6:9)  The Bible tells us and the church should be teaching us that, "Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness." (2 Timothy 2:19)

The CRCNA needs to be leading us to the very epicenter, the heart.  We should be weeping over the depravity of our own hearts through repentance and faith.

Kevin, you have made some very good points.  But I wonder still if you compared this to alcoholism, that an alcoholic who doesn't want to be alcoholic, but still refrains from alcohol because he understands his addiction,  is in that way doing what his heart desires.  I am remembering what Paul said, when he said that he did the things he did not want to, and didn't do what he wanted to.  His hearts desire was to serve the Lord, but apparently not all his inclinations were always pure.  In fact not even all his actions were pure.  At least this is how I would understand it. 

Joy, your vignette story, virtually brought tears to my eyes.  The ability and desire of those who wish to resist their addiction, and especially to help others to do so, wow!  May we be like that. In Christ's name. 

The third tradition of Alcoholics Anonymous says that the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.  Under this tradition, LGBT people welcome in the fellowship.  AA adopted this tradition way back in the 1930's.  Yes, the CRCNA could certainly learn something from AA. 

 

Mr. Slagter, your point escapes me. The sole membership requirement in the Kingdom of Heaven is an acknowledgment that we are sinful and a genuine desire to stop sinning.

The CRCNA is charged with the challenging requirement to judge just how genuine a member's desire to turn from his or her sin is - something only the Lord can do perfectly. That said, I would argue the church errors most often on the side of believing the repentant sinner as opposed to in-discriminatory excommunications.

I'm fairly certain that AA does not welcome members who try to tell them that there is nothing wrong with drinking after all.

As for your previous comment suggesting that a plurality of modern persons more accurately reflects the will of God vs. historically understood scriptural revelation - that is one of the most dangerous arguments I have ever heard! Wow, just wow. God runs a democracy - I can't believe I never knew that!

 

David, There is plenty of evidence that historical understandings about what scripture has to say on this subject are erroneous. Books written by christian scholars from the reformed tradition that may help readers understand my position include:

"Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing the Church's Debate on Same-Sex Relationships," written by James Brownson, published by Eerdmans, 2013, and

"What God has Joined Together: The Christian Case for Gay Marriage," written by David Myers and Letha Scanzoni, published by Harper San Francisco, 2005. 

 

Here is a couple of perspectives on the topic from clergical authors: (1) The Bible and Homosexuality: Part One by Steve Chalke, the founder of Oasis Global and Faithworks, the network leader of church.co.uk, and founder of the Stop the Traffik coalition; and (2) Clobbering “Biblical” Gay Bashing by Mark Sandlin, an ordained PC(USA) minister currently serving at Vandalia Presbyterian Church in Greensboro, NC. Also, if you haven't seen this, a video on the topic: The Gay Debate: The Bible and Homosexuality by Matthew Vines.

Yes, this is a refreshing article..what a heart to want to do what GOd wants and not her own desires..I had a friend who God delivered from this...What I caught in this article was at age 13...then the word "thought"...Like Joyce Meyer's book...THE BATTLEFIELD of the MIND...says...that most sins...begin in the MIND...as books teach couples...SEX begins mostly in the MIND...In these last days we are so being deceived...the Bilbe says this willl happen...COULD this be the answer...AS SOON as we begin to THINK things of sin..WE SAY NO TO SATAN...and dont let that seed take root...SPIRITUAL WARFARE is something the REFORMED churches have so NEGLECTED to teach!

 

 

Merrill,  I appreciate your article in the Banner, but I believe you need to dig deeper into the Scriptures. God created you just the way you are.  He knows the numbers of hairs on your head, He knew you before you were formed in the womb and God loves you and wants the best for you.  You do not need to live a celibate life if you are not called to that.  Very few individuals are and according to scripture, that calling generally isn't a life long  calling. For those of you who are gay or lesbian and feel called to having a life partner and a family, by all means, follow that call.  Don't spend years or even decades wallowing in lonliness.  Put the pieces of your personal life together the way they need to be for YOU and then you will be free to go out and do the work the Lord has intended for you.

One more note.  Merrill says she lived a "gay lifestyle." There is no such thing as a gay lifestyle.  There is as much difference between the lifestyles of straight individuals as ones who identify as GLBT.  Lumping all gay people together is just as offensive as saying all black people are alike. 

There is a group in the CRC working for full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals called All One Body.  Paul tells us that all the parts of the body are important.  Sure, the CRC will be ok if it just cuts off a finger or a toe, but it will be far from working at it's highest potential if it does. I would invite all of you to read more at the website www.a1bcrc.org or go to Facebook and read the article posted there.  Search All One Body on Facebook.

Merrill, you said you had been an atheist and were transformed. Though hesitant at first, but with the help of some people, you transfered trust from yourself to trust in God. So then, what you basically did was repented (which means turn away from sin, in this case the lie of unbelief, and did a 180) and you stepped out and put your faith in God.

In the very same way God wants to deliver you from the lie of lesbianism, that you embraced while a young atheist. God can transform your heart through the same process of repentance and faith. Perhaps a trusted Bible believing pastor or friend can help you like before. God wants all of your heart. God can change your feelings. What seemed like an impossiblity before with unbelief, He can do it again. 

The Bible tells us to, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path." (Proverbs 3:5) David prayed, "Teach me your way , O Lord; and I will walk in your truth; give me an UNDIVIDED heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86:11)

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will  give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)

"So flea youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart." (2 Timothy 2:22)

 

 

As the mother of a gay son who loves the Lord Jesus, I understand what it took for you to write this. I watched my beautiful, creative, loving, intelligent son go through years of bullying (yes, in the Christian school), years of subtle rejection by some family and church members, severe depression, and the isolation of a church that wanted to believe that "those gays out there are going to corrupt our kids and our schools and our churches." What many don"t realize (or want to admit) is that "those gays" ARE our covenant kids and are already in our schools and churches. Jesus said a good tree cannot bear bad fruit. Any organization--including a church--that is driving our kids to depression and even suicide is not bearing good fruit. 

I applaud you Merrill for having the courage to bring a well needed conversation to the forefront. However, I'm saddened by the constant internal turmoil that you place upon yourself by acknowledging you were born gay yet feel as if you can't express the desire to love another human being the way that straight people can. Love is love, no matter what your sexual orientation.

I think what saddens me and disturbs me more are the comments that my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ make towards this subject. Some of the comments are being made without fully comprehending the subject matter and are quick to dismiss homosexuality and the "lifestyle" as being sinful. That your claims are being made on personal opinions with Bible verses to back your opinion. How many of you have actually entered into conversations with a gay person to understand what life is like for them? When we make statements like "I read/heard a testimony where a gay person changed and is now happy within a heterosexual relationship" we further lose credibility. When Christians tell gay people that "being gay" or "practicing being gay" is a sin, we further distance them from knowing our Savior. We are too quick to label this issue as a sin and frankly we are too comfortable in doing so. By labeling homosexuality or practicing homosexuality as a sin, Christians are able to deal withh it in a way we deal with other sins. And the simple solution for someone who is in a sinful lifestyle is to tell them to turn from the thing or things that cause them to sin. My brothers and sisters, we cannot take this approach when it comes to homosexuality. We hear a testimony that a gay person has changed and we fully support it but what we fail to do is go up to that person to gain insight on their continual conflicts. Humans often times are really good at hiding our true feelings and "putting up a front" if we know we need to. I am all too aware of gay men and women that are in the CRC but hide behind a veil that is accepting to those in the church who are completely unaware of what's behind that veil. When I hear stories where someone has changed from gay to straight and is "happy" what I ultimately hear is immense emotional fear and burden of further rejection and isolation. This is where the church is the active party in distancing itself from the gay community, not the other way around. Gay people aren't turning their back on the church, the church is turning their back on gay people. Before you speak your words, know that gay people (both inside and outside the church) are listening and you're hurting them.

I speak not just from a less reformed perspective, but I speak as a gay Christian myself. I grew up CRC, had a great loving family that taught me all about God, and went thru the Christian education system. I was baptised as an infant and professed my faith as a high schooler. There was a point in my life where I was severely damaged by the very comments that some of you make. The turmoil was immense and actually caused great tensions in my relationship with God. Thankfully, God grabbed ahold of me again and brought me back into His arms. God showed me how He views me thru His eyes and never desired for me to change His perfect design. I know how Merrill feels, but unlike Merrill I know God does not desire a life of pain, loneliness, rejection, and isolation for myself or any of His children.

My decision to even comment on this article and it's posts was not to challenge the CRC's doctrinal position but rather to ask those in opposition to step out of your comfort zone to truly understand such a complex topic. Quoting blanket testiomonies or snippets of Bible versus is damaging. And I shudder anytime someone says being gay is unnatural. Everything about my personal testimony is nothing but unnatural. Some of you may feel differently, but I challenge you to then take the time to listen to my testimony. 

Technology is amazing. Even as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Azerbaijan, I am able to periodically see the comments here. I am currently volunteering in a fairly conservative Muslim country and as you can imagine, if someone here is suspected of being gay they may lose their jobs, families and in extreme cases their lives. I really appreciate being an American and living in a country where we can have these conversations without demonizing people and openly show Christ's love.  I am glad for the open and kind conversations going on about this controversial topic.I have one question for Joy because I do not want to misunderstand. Are you comparing homosexuals to pedophiles?

I am so sorry to hear people say that "God created you gay".  That is not in the Bible and it is one of the biggest lies believed today...Satan is so good at deceiving and many have fallen for that lie. Every time I hear that I could say back..."OH God made me with the desire to steal...I think I will steal your nice car"...He made me that way I could say.....NO He did not...when I first get such a thought that goes against what God says...I say NO...  The "Battlefield for the MInd" by Joyce Meyer is a big help,  Teaching about Spiritual warfare to learn how Satan works and how to respond is also good...Your mind is where it all begins....SAY NO over and over...could be 100 times a day!  Get someone to be accountable to and PRAY with and walk with you thru this battle...GOD and you can win!

Marj...you clearly have never come in contact with a gay person, let alone a CHRISTIAN gay person. I suggest you sit down and talk with a gay Christian before you ever tell them that it's all a choice and that they can change. To tell someone that they are a product of Satan is so absurd and wrong. And thank you very much for calling those of us that were BORN gay, liars. This is not a choice. Do you realize when I was younger how many tears I shed, how angry I was, how many countless hours begging and pleading God to make me straight? The guilt and the shame because of people like you telling me I was unnatural. Do you honestly think that a person (gay or straight) would WILLINGLY subject themselves to a life of immense turmoil? I begged God to take it away....yet He never did. WHY?!?!?! Because He created me in His image, I am His child created by His perfect hands that He wants no one to mess with. And thankfully God showed me what all of you failed to show me....LOVE! You, along with Joy, continue to prove my points and further spew hatred and rejection because of your own inabilities to simply listen. 

Merrill/David C. I am also disgusted at where this discussion has led. It is based out of fear and ignorance. Paedophiles, bestiality, incest.......really people!!!! Get educated and get out there and work with the vulnerable population who are sexually abused and you may be ENLIGHTENED. It is not the same. You may have your opinions about how the Bible speaks on homosexuality but do not compare this please!! It is beneath any educated person.

If you have a personal story to share on how God delivered you from your homosexual tendencies (Joy, Marg, John, Kevin etc.)  that would be very relevant right now, such as explaining how that  happened and what your life is like now. You seem to have answers so I would encourage you to share what you did to change. It could also be helpful to others in this discussion.

David...I had a gay friend who died of AIDS. He was in my home most every day..He became a Christian and GOD delivered him from homosexuality..He began a ministry to the gay community which I believe still goes on today...He had AIDS..and that was in the 80's when we did not know if AIDS spread...but we loved him..and his testimony was that it was because of our family's unconditional love to him that he accepted Christ in his life and asked God to heal him...GOD did heal him of his lifestype but not of Aids...He left behind his wife and child...His name was David also...and David I dont know where you get all your accusations for some of us...GOD did not create you gay...It is a sin issue..and like every sin issue it can be VERY hard to overcome as it becomes a STRONGHOLD in ones life..Please do not get angry with those of us who want to tell you and others the truth..YOU are not a product of Satan...but he can DECEIVE you...You are precious to GOd and HE hears your cry. He did not create you gay...that is one of the biggest lies Satan has gotten people to believe..Please find an organization that can help walk you thru this...AND dont take on shame..that is not of GOD...

Marj & Joy, Please see Matthew 19:12 where Jesus said, "For there are eunichs (gay men) who were born so from their mother's womb;..."  [emphasis added]

For those who care about the research into sexuality, a quote from psychologist David Myers, Hope College. "We express the direction of our sexual interest in our 

sexual orientation—our enduring sexual attraction toward members of our own sex (homosexual orientation) or the other sex (heterosexual orientation). We experience this attraction in 

our interests, thoughts, and fantasies (who’s that person in your imagination?). Cultures vary 

in their attitudes toward homosexuality. In Chile, 32 percent of people say homosexuality “is 

never justified,” as do 98 percent of Kenyans and Nigerians (Pew, 2006). Yet whether a culture 

condemns or accepts homosexuality, heterosexuality prevails and homosexuality survives"

Here is the link to read more.  http://www.davidmyers.org/davidmyers/assets/SexOrient_10e.pdf

The article Cara recommended is excellent.  Research continues to show that gay men and lesbians are fundamentally different from straight men and women.  There are differences in the structure of the brain etc.  This science is consonnant with what Jesus said in Matthew 19.  Asking God to cure same sex attraction is as absurd as asking God to cure left handedness or to change the color of one's skin.  Better to be grateful and celebrate God's creation.

WOW John...YOU are sure "reaching".  God created you in His own image..not gay...  The eunuchs are not gay men...and brain research tells us a lot..does not mean God created you that way...Your brain may show it..it shows a lot.  I can't convince you of anything John...Please ask Holy Spirit what is TRUTH each day and ask him how you are deceived...I have done that for years and He shows me and gives me discernment and wisdom..Thanks

Joy, please update your list of resources. Quoting a book from the 1950's is like quoting several 1980's research articles to support an opinion that AIDS is a gay disease (which research data from decades have disproven that theory). The 1950's also was a time where physically and mentally challenged individuals were considered a threat to society and therefore thrown into wards only to be treated inhumanly. The 1950's also was a time where bathroom facilities and pubic areas were segregated because it was commonly thought that black people carried diseases that white people would catch. They too were treated inhumanly. You quote all these Bible verses to support your opinions but just know that when you play that game, you subject yourself to violating many other Bible verses with the same words you speak. I don't understand your pompus, demeaning attitude to support your views. You mock a transgender couple where both went thru a sex change and ended up being together because it doesn't make sense to you. I personally don't understand why some people think it's ok to be eating a quater pounder with cheese supersized meal from McDonald's every week. But would I ever mock them by calling them fatty or parade them around as an example to support my opinions? No, absolutly not. Just because I don't understand it doesn't mean that there may be a reason why they're going to McDonald's. Maybe that's all they can afford. You know, my parents both taught me to be sure I have my front yard, back yard, side yards, and every nook and cranny inside the house cleaned up before I point out faults of others and cast my stones. It's unfortunate that some people go thru life never learning that lesson. 

Marj, I'm glad to hear that you did know someone who was gay and I'm sorry to hear he was lost to AIDS. I can imagine how tough that was for all of you that loved him. I would like to however open your thoughts to a different perspective as I believe you're mistaking my saddnes with these comments as anger. I grew up in a Christian home and knew at a very early age of my attraction to the same sex. I obviously couldn't label it at that time and wasn't aware of the conflict until my teenage years. The CRC and other denominations have always supported conversion therapy. I went through conversion therapy on more than one occasion. I knew so many of my gay brothers that were a part of Exodus (a group that has now thankfully been defunct because they finally realized that they were doing more harm than good with conversion therapy). You see, what you think is the "cure" actually is poisen. There is no statistical significance that conversion therapy works but what is statisically significant is the failure rate. And this "therapy" has been around for quite some time now so there's a lot of data out there. Unfortunately what happens for folks that go thru conversion therapy is that they are unhappy and experience so much pain and guilt. They fail miserably (not surprising) and feel ashamed and demoralized but can't tell or just don't have the energy to tell those closest to them what they truly feel b/c they don't want to carry more pain, shame, and guilt. It gets even worse for Christian men and women because they then perceive themselves unworthy to receive God's love. Do you realize that most who have gone thru conversion therapy either suffer from chronic depression, attempt or commit suicide, or date/marry someone of the opposite sex just to passify to the rest of the the world that they're a "changed" individual when they're really not? One only needs to look at all the married men placing ads on craigslist to understand the ramifications of the latter. Now I don't know what your friend went thru and for me to tell you that your friend experienced otherwise would be wrong of me. However, I do know from my own experiences and countless other shared experiences that what you are suggesting does not work. Satan was at work in my life by telling me I was unworthy of God's love; seeds planted by those who believe in and taught conversion therapy. Planted by those who wanted me to turn away from my "sin" and thought that loving me was to hold my hand thru it all saying "God can heal you" as if i was sickened with an unnatural disease. Yes, Satan was at work because all of that made meturn my back on God. And I was just one of the countless men and women that this happened to and contiues to happen to. However, to your point, God did heal me. He didn't heal me however in the way that you (and others who think being gay is a sin) want to believe. God moved heaven and earth to reach me and call me back into His arms, He righted my heart and wept over my pain, He broke that chain of guilt and shame and washed the many layers of dirt that others and myself placed on me. I was cleansed by Him and I saw myself thru His eys. He healed me and my broken spirit, never "healing" my "sin" because that was never what was broken. 12 years later from that moment I'm sitting here telling all of you this. And what a blessing it has been for me to walk in His light and fully submit to His plan and direction for my life. My faith got stronger than at any point in "therapy" and I've experienced divine blessings that I cannot explain. That is what our loving God can do!!

My original intent in even writing to this post was not to make others change their position about homosexuality or to even challenge the doctrinal beliefs of the CRC regarding homosexuality. What I do believe is that the Church is focusing on asking all the wrong questions when approaching how to deal with this topic. My brothers and sisters in Christ, we need not debate the CRC's (or any other denomination) stance on homosexuality. What we need to debate and focus on is the CRC's position on missionary work. There are so many gay men and women that are hungry to know God's love and want to have a spiritual relationship with Him. There are so many gay men and women that have been banished from the church or wounded by those in the Church that they then eventually turn their backs on God. There are many gay men and women that are non-believers and continue to be because they see and hear the hateful words of rejection. The gay community continues to be an area where God's light isn't being effectively seen and unfortunately it's caused by most of us Christians being unable or unwilling to be effective missionaries due to the opinions of the subject at hand clouding the ministry action. You want to talk about Satan at work? How about getting God's own children to actually alienate a large group of people worldwide so that they never hear or are never inclined to have a spiritual relationship with God? And I hope at this moment that last sentence either sent chills up your spine or brought tears to your eyes. Does a missionary in Africa tell people there that they are not Africans and to be an African is a sin? Or that God only blesses Americans? No, they do not. Being an African doesn't even come into the picture. Missionaries are able to spread the word to Africans knowing a cultural difference and identity, even when they may not quite understand it all. Missionaries actually take the time to understand the culture and their identity so they can be effective stewards of Gods work.

That is what the Church needs to evaluate it's position on. We need to stop witnessing by ojecting to a topic and start witnessing by showing God's love. We need to stop saying "being gay is a sin" and "you were not born gay" to gay men and women who undoubtly know and believe they were born gay and it is not a sin and start saying "I'm sorry we are hurting you, I may not understand it but that's ok." And then show them what it means to unconditionally love them, their partner, and their children, without judgement.

I believe God made me gay and never intended me to change. Yes I'm born into a sinful world and am a sinner just like everyone else. But being gay is not my sin nor is finding love. I believe my purpose for being EXACTLY who God created me to be is to go shine His light in an area where my brothers and sisters in Christ are failing or unwilling to go. I also believe my purpose for being exactly who God created me to be is to be an example for His children on how to shine His light in an area where most are failing or unwilling to go. God wants the hearts of every gay man and woman, the same as what He desires for all mankind. We can't accomplish His hearts desire if we continue to argue about what WE as Christians believe is right or wrong and then reject those that are dutifully watching us based on our opinions/beliefs. The CRC, other denominations, and all Christians in between have got to re-direct their focus on this topic from right/wrong or sin/not sin to truly evaluating the stance of what it means to be a missionary and witnessing church.

This will be my last entry as I believe I've said enough in this forum. However, I challenge ALL of you to move forward in a way that enables you to witness to all God's children (gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, white, black, asian, hispanic, latino, male, female, etc.) by showing unconditional love without passing judgement or expressing your views. You may not think you're in the presence of someone who is gay or has a friend/loved one that is gay, but you just may be. Everyone is listening and watching. Don't let your personal views and opinions cloud your ability to bring them to Christ. God will do the rest. 

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