Coming Out * guest post*

This is an anonymous post written by an anonymous friend of mine. Thanks so much to my friend for their willingness to share their heart here on my blog today.


I am getting closer and closer to coming out.

Yup. That kind of coming out.

I'm really tired of carrying this secret and this is the first place I thought I could maybe say it aloud. I thought maybe if I start saying it anonymously, when the time comes to tell people face to face, I'll have more nerve.

It would be fair to tell you, at this point, that I'm not actually gay, I am just tired of the attitude the Christian church generally has towards gay people. I am tired of keeping my mouth shut. I am tired of seeing gay people that I know and love shut out of the church, and certainly shut out of full communion in many churches.

I know all the verses, so you don't have to quote any of them to me. I also believe that there are several ways to interpret those verses, just as I believe that there are several ways to interpret verses that encourage women to refrain from braiding their hair.

"Love the sinner, hate the sin." Oh dear God, I am so tired of that trite phrase.

I am born and bred in the church, a conservative one at that. I have a husband and several kids. I wouldn't look out of place at your average Southern Baptist Convention, provided most of the people there were white and average. I'm average in just about every way--weight, height, income, education--I almost have 2.5 children. Isn't that the national average now, or is it down to 1.6? I'm not sure.

Anyway, I have friends. Friends who are both openly gay and friends who are still at the stage where they feel they need to hide it. Friends who have left the church and friends who are struggling to find a place. Friends who feel they need to hide. Afraid that if they come out to their brothers and sisters, they will be singled out, condemned, stoned.

They have great precedent for believing this could happen. We are quick with the platitudes but afraid of real love. Afraid of the potential messiness. Afraid, perhaps, of our own sexuality.

My own fear of coming out, of saying that I no longer believe that homosexuality is a sin, is that I will be condemned for this. That people, my people, my church people, will shun me, label me a liberal, question my belief in Jesus and in the truth of God's word.

And my own fear makes me realize how frightening it must be for my dear friends who have come out to me, told me they were gay, waited for my response. So to honour them, to honour their journey and their courage, I know the time is coming for me to come out.

I just pray that none of you will throw stones.

This is Tara: Unkind comments will be deleted so if you can't say anything nice you are invited to say nothing at all. Seriously. Don't be a jerk. No fighting allowed on my blog. And thanks again to my wonderful friend for writing from the heart- love you!!! And I'm with ya!

Comments

Leslie M. said…
Praise God! I am a Born again Christian, my nephew is gay! The most offensive comment (to me) that my Pastor repeats over and over again is "It's not Adam and Steve, It's Adam and Eve." Maybe it's just the way he says it with that sneer in his voice and that look in his eye.

I have been an advocate for my nephew and gay friends since I was a teen. I feel that if I keep my mouth shut, I am advocating narrow mindedness and hatred. (Just my opinion.

There are times when I feel that the Christian church thinks there will be no gays in heaven. For that matter I sometimes think they think Heaven will be filled with white American cookie cutter Christians. This thought sickens me. How sad.

Thank you for a wonderful post!!!
Leslie
Corrine Owen said…
I have many homosexual friends. I look to God's word and I see (especially in the new testament) teaching that says "love thy neighbor". Nowhere do I ever see Jesus say "except if they are gay". Love and grace and mercy and tolerance for the most in need of HIM, that is what I see. That is what I KNOW Jesus wants from us. And I pray that GOD gives Anonymous the boldness needed to say what he/she needs to say.

Praying for you,
Corrine
Katy said…
What a great way to start out our day- hearing about love and tolerance. I, too, have had a very difficult time with people being shunned from churches. I feel it's the one place that should be over-welcoming (if that's a word).

It's almost like gay people are the modern day lepers.

Christianity has taught me how to love and I commend you for being open, honest and brave.
There are any number of things that are troubling about the way that the North American evangelical church approaches the question of homosexuality, but this post strikes one of those problems squarely and soundly, and that is the problem of fear.

What frightens me most about this conversation is how scared everybody is to have it. It's not just that we're afraid of the conclusions, we're afraid of the very questions. And fear is all wrong for Christianity. Fear doesn't fit for us.

Maybe we should start with the question of why we are so afraid to have this conversation. If we can deal with our fear first, I wonder if the conversation itself won't become much, much easier to have.

Given that, I applaud whoever wrote this (even anonymously it's gutsy as all hell), and I applaud Tara for posting it.
Connie Walsh said…
This is a hard one.

This is the one I struggle with. I have always figured I will find the answer in heaven.

But I keep reading the bible and it seems pretty clear. Homosexuality is a sin according to the bible. I cannot read it any other way. I want to. I really realy want to but I cannot make it say that homosexuality is not a sin.

How do you interpret the scriptures so that they do not say that homosexual acts are not a sin? I'd really love to know because it bothers me.

What would make sense to me is that sleeping around is a sin but as long as you are married then it is not...
Connie,

The problem is not with whether there are passages in the Bible that condemn homosexuality. That there are is beyond dispute. The question is, how do we interpret and apply those passages today?

There are many, many passages in Scripture (both OT and NT) that we either ignore or adjust in our contemporary application (e.g. usury laws from the OT, or head-coverings from the NT), it's just that most of those issues aren't as politically and culturally loaded as this one.

All of our readings of the Scriptures pass through a theological filter that allows us to make the necessary cross-cultural application. The problem is, the evangelical church does not have a considered and careful theology of love and sexuality (as far as I know at least). What we need first is just such a theology, and then we can perhaps reflect on if and how passages like Lev 18 or Rom 1 apply in the contemporary Church.
Anonymous said…
Hello,

a friend of a friend of a friend (sort of thing) told me about this post and thought that I should check it out for myself. Thank you for posting, both the author and blogger.

Let me start by saying that this is a question that I have wrestled with for some time now. While for a long time I fell on the condemn side of the fence I have matured to a place where I can look at gay friends and genuinely love them. In regards to how we deal with this question as the Church, however, I appreciate with what Colin stated above, about being more afraid to talk about the question and issue of homosexuality, than the conclusions we will come to.

HOWEVER, having stated that I don't see homosexuality suddenly becoming a biblical grey area, just because the discussion is in vogue. Biblically homosexuality is a sin. And as far as "Hate the sin, love the sinner" that's not even biblical, that was Ghandi.

I feel that in the pluralistic, relativistic society in which we find ourselves when it comes to the Bible we have often traded one "t" for another; namely we have traded truth for tolerance. We have come to believe this sick idea that love somehow equals tolerance which is completely unbiblical (for an example just look to the Old Testament and what God allowed to happen to Israel because of their sin. Love? Yes. Tolerance? No.) and view Jesus as this groovy hippy who went around flashing two fingers and stating "Peace and love, man" (tolerance) rather than "Go and sin no more" (John 5 and 8)(truth).

Yes, Jesus hung out with the "sinners", yet I never read in Scripture that he ever affirmed the sinful lifestyle; to Jesus sin was still sin. THANK GOD FOR THAT because if it hadn't been, and Jesus was just okay with sin being sin, then there was no need for him to die to atone for that sin. The novel idea of Jesus, which we have such a hard time wrapping our heads around, is that Jesus loved without judging (John 12:47-48), something we seem to take either one side or the other on; for or against, condemning or affirming.

Lately I have been learning that we need to start completely rethinking many of our presuppositions regarding all kinds of issues (including Church and homosexuality) most of which seem to fall into one of two categories. Either (for lack of a better term) right-wing, conservative, condemning-the-sinner, self-righteous "Christianity" OR the left-wing, liberal, completely toletant "Christians."

We have forgotten that God is both a God of vengance and love. And we need to (re)capture the mind of Christ: loving people without affirming their sinful lifestyle.

I apologize for the length of this comment but appreciate your willingness to let me. Perhaps this was just me needing to write this out for my own sake.

Thank you again to both author and blogger for posting.

In Christ,
-The Big Turk
It's more like whoever wrote the Bible was a homophobe along with anyone that agrees with the ridiculous notion that ones sexuality is a sin.

If you believe that all people were created in gods image than you should be accepting of them regardless of how different they are from others.

I suppose it's one of the many reasons I will never be a Christian.
Yuki said…
I'm always sad to hear that homosexuality is considered a sin because I'm atheist and I live in a pretty non religious area and homosexuals are shunned as well!

I went to a Catholic school and they never thought us that homosexuality is a sin, in fact I've never heard that before I had internet... but it's like it's innate for people to hate the people who are different, who are outside the "norm".

I think there should be more initiative like you did. I think we must talk about homosexuality more often. I think we should teach everybody that everybody has the right to be loved, be they another sexual oriention, another race, another religion or anything!

Thank you!
Emily B said…
For me, it's hard to reconcile the idea that any religion that prides itself on being about love, kindness, charity and selflessness can be so full of smug pride and hatred. I know this is just another example, though, of religious intolerance (take the last 2000 years of history and think about how many people have suffered at the hands of religious fanatics... it's sickening).

People of any religion who are able to say with honesty and pride that they love their neighbours without judging them - way to go.

The others should be ashamed for promoting hatred and hurting people who love differently. How it can possibly be anyone else's business to judge what goes on between consenting adults is beyond me.

A holier-than-thou attitude doesn't win you any points with God... If you believe He sees all, you better believe He sees the hate, prejudice and fear that are the source of hurtful comments and condemnation.
Shash said…
There is one thing that has bugged me to no end with this discussion and various groups deeply involved in these discussions... They have equated disagreement as hatred.

If I say, "I disagree with your how you are living your life", they interpret that I've said and repeat that I've said, "You hate me". I never said that - I do not think that.

Seriously... I'd like to know, since when has having a difference of opinion tantamount to hate?!
Jam said…
I have never commented on a blog before but I feel compelled to comment on this one. I really appreciate the post. I am gay and it took me a long time to be comfortable with myself and I believe the non-acceptance by people and groups (including some Christian churches) that leaves young gay people uncomfortable and ashamed of who they are.

I really appreciate what this post stands for. The bottom line is that the only difference between me and and a non-gay person is that I am attracted to people of the same gender rather than the opposite. That is not a valid reason in my mind to condemn me or believe I am a sinner. I am a human being with feelings like anyone else.

I think to use passages from the bible to judge people who are gay is opposite of the spirit of Christianity. It is about accepting people as they are and not judging them for who they are attracted to. It would make the lives of gay and lesbian people so much better if they were simply accepted as they are by all Christian churches and Christian people.

As a final note, I have to say the statement "loving people without affirming their sinful lifestyle" makes me sad as it is judgmental and it devalues the relationships of gay people. To the poster of that statement, I would argue that you do not love a person if you would refer to anything they do as a "sinful lifestyle". Being gay is not a lifestyle and it is not sinful. It is simply a way of being that is equally deserving of acceptance and respect as that I give to people who have a heterosexual "lifestyle".

Thanks.
mapsgirl said…
I'm so happy to be a part of a church that openly accepts gay people. The organist at my mom's church is gay and his sister who is a minister at another church is lesbian. We marry gay people and love them all equally!

For me, the bible is not a rule book, it's a guide. It helps me understand my God and Jesus. I challenges me to be a better Christian.

I have friends who are gay and could not imagine having to think of them as sinners.
LindsayDianne said…
I'm not sure if you had seen or heard about Doctor Laura recently saying (something stupid, but what else is new??!?) That because she is a practicing orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination in accordance with Leviticus and so she could not support or condone the lifestyle.
Someone wrote her the BEST letter ever. It really is great because it's obviously tongue in cheek, but allows one to see how ridiculous it would be to try and live by even ONE small book of the old testament. And how silly it is to pick one thing out of that book and cling to it so steadfast, while completely ignoring so many other things said in the same place.
I think you'll find it about as entertaining as I did. Especially given the general mindframe and intelligence level of the typical internet homosexuality troll:

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that
knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend
the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that
Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination ... End of
debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other
elements of God's Laws and how to follow them.

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and
female, provided they are from neighboring nations. A friend of mine
claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you
clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in
Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair
price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her
period of Menstrual uncleanliness - Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is how
do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a
pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors.
They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus
35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated
to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an
abomination, Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than
homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this? Are there
'degrees' of abomination?

7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I
have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading
glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room
here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair
around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev.
19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes
me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two
different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments
made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also
tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go
to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them?
Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family
affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)
I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy
considerable expertise in such matters, so I'm confident you can help.
Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Your adoring fan.

James M. Kauffman, Ed.D. Professor Emeritus,
Dept. Of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education
University of Virginia PS (It would be a damn shame if we couldn't own a
Canadian)
Jeff said…
Don't really feel a 'need' to comment on this but since Tara so kindly re-connected with me I feel that maybe it's the right thing to do. :)

All my young life I struggled with my sexuality, praying desperately that the feelings I had would disappear and clinging to the hope that one day, when I found 'the right woman' that everything would be just fine. Nobody in the church directly made me feel bad about myself but indirectly, the sense that I was a sinner was immense.

Though I struggled through many other big theological questions, the 'issue' of my sexuality is what ultimately led me to make the decision to package up my evangelical experience and put it in a box marked, "part of my past".

I miss the community aspect of my faith and the connection I had with some wonderful people but I never felt more saved than when I came out. If people feel they need to have a disagreement on who I love then they really have too much time on their hands!

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