Continuing my list from yesterday, here are some characteristics of the kind of ministry that has most helped me navigate life as a gay, sexually abstinent Christian. The ministry that has proved most important for me has been:
- ministry that shows a passion to engage Scripture and Christian theology in a deep, rigorous way.
Talk to virtually any gay or lesbian believer, and I predict that within five minutes you’ll be hearing a tale about long, anguished wrestling with Scripture, with church tradition, with books of exegesis and psychology. Unlike some of our straight peers, we same-sex attracted folks don’t have the luxury of remaining neutral on “the issue.” We’ve had to make concrete choices about how to “glorify God in our bodies” (1 Corinthians 6:20). And many of us have therefore learned to crave serious, deep, searching engagement with Scripture and Christian theology. We’re impatient with hasty arguments and shallow Scriptural reasoning. We’re frustrated when our fellow Christians want to slap a quick answer on our questions. We want to know if the church’s historic opposition to gay sex is just about cultural prejudice or whether it really is rooted in the Bible’s basic view of human nature and redemption.
A while ago Rod Dreher published a letter from a millennial who left the church because of her church’s refusal or inability to offer a serious theological case for its ethical stance:
In all the years I was a member, my evangelical church made exactly one argument about SSM [same-sex marriage]. It’s the argument I like to call the Argument from Ickiness: Being gay is icky, and the people who are gay are the worst kind of sinner you can be. Period, done, amen, pass the casserole. When you have membership with no theological or doctrinal depth that you have neglected to equip with the tools to wrestle with hard issues, the moment ickiness no longer rings true with young believers, their faith is destroyed. This is why other young ex-evangelicals I know point as their “turning point” on gay marriage to the moment they first really got to know someone who was gay. If your belief on SSM is based on a learned disgust at the thought of a gay person, the moment a gay person, any gay person, ceases to disgust you, you have nothing left. In short, the anti-SSM side, and really the Christian side of the culture war in general, is responsible for its own collapse. It failed to train up the young people on its own side preferring instead to harness their energy while providing them no doctrinal depth by keeping them in a bubble of emotion dependent on their never engaging with the outside world on anything but warlike terms. Perhaps someday my fellow ex-evangelical Millennials and I will join other churches, but it will be as essentially new Christians with no religious heritage from our childhoods to fall back on.
The upshot? Theology matters. Serious, sustained reading of Scripture is vital to those of us who are trying to figure out what to do with our baptized bodies. We need ministry that recognizes that.
- ministry that tries to imagine the difficulty of being gay (regardless of one’s “position” on the issue) and the costliness of staying single.
The ministry that has meant the most to me is ministry that doesn’t try to whitewash or downplay the sheer difficulty of the discipleship I believe I’m called to. Sometimes straight Christians have tried to comfort me in my loneliness by reminding me that marriage is no cakewalk either—and, in many cases, marriage can exacerbate loneliness. “I’m in a very good and happy marriage,” a friend once said to me, “and I still battle loneliness.” I appreciate that perspective very much, and I need it, since I have an inveterate romantic streak that I’m always trying to temper. But, frankly, the more lasting consolations have come from people, like my friend David Mills, who are willing to say things like this:
We ask our homosexual brethren, and our divorced brethren without annulments, to deny themselves something almost everyone else can have: a marriage, two people forming a haven in a heartless world, with someone they actively desire, with all the pleasures of romance that sexual desire brings. We ask them to live as celibates in a sexually-sodden culture where they may never find the alternative of deep, committed friendships. We ask them to risk loneliness we don’t risk.
Naming and honestly facing the depths of the risks and the burdens I’m asked to shoulder is a hallmark of the ministry that’s meant the most to me. The way I’m trying to live often seems very hard, and I appreciate it when my fellow Christians acknowledge that.
- ministry that seeks to imagine and implement creative avenues to spiritual kinship and friendship.
The kind of ministry that has most consistently given me hope is ministry that doesn’t end with bemoaning the difficulty of celibacy, though, nor with a negative. It’s been ministry that majors on the positive: what kind of life, what kind of future, what kind of relationships am I being called towards? We’ve beaten this drum a lot here at SF, and no one has said it better than Eve Tushnet. “[I]nitially,” she’s written, “I conceived of my task, as a lgbt/ssa Catholic, as basically a) negative (don’t have gay sex) and b) intellectual (figure out why Church teaching is the way it is). I now think of it much more as the positive task of discerning vocation: discerning how God is calling me to pour out love to others.”
Part and parcel of this kind of ministry is a refusal to look down on celibacy as “second best.” Too often the possibility of chaste, committed friendship has gone unexplored because of our determination to get as far away as possible from singleness. If we’re on the left side of the spectrum, we want same-sex marriage rather than celibacy, and if we’re on the right, we’re often interested in ex-gay approaches that hold out the promise of opposite-sex coupling rather than celibacy. But ministry that has been the most helpful to me over the years is ministry that, without dishonoring marriage in the least, has encouraged me to imagine a single life overflowing with familial ties and hospitality and “thick” kinship commitments.
- ministry that seeks to recognize and nurture the gifts of gay and lesbian believers.
One of the dangers of the whole notion of “ministry to LGBT Christians” is that it neglects to talk much about the “ministry of LGBT Christians.” The kind of ministry that has been most important in my life has been ministry that doesn’t simply look on me as pitiable or “broken” or the perpetually needier, more fragile party in the relationship. Rather, it’s been ministry that sees me as a complex, in-the-process-of-being-redeemed person—a “glorious ruin” (in Francis Schaeffer’s fine phrase)—whose experiences of temptation, repentance, grace, and growth have equipped me with unique perspectives and have forged a certain sensitivity in me that can be drawn out for the good of the church.
Honestly, my gay and lesbian Christian friends are some of the deepest, most thoughtful, most compassionate believers I know, and the ministry I’ve received from them has been some of the most caring I’ve experienced. As Misty Irons has written,
So many times when I encounter a song, a performance, or a piece of art [or, I would add, an act of service or kindness in the church] that strikes me as so true and subtle and poignant and uplifting I feel almost a spiritual connection with it, I later learn the artist behind it is gay. It’s happened so often I now take it for granted. Maybe there’s something about being gay that enables an artist to see more clearly what it means to be human, to identify certain truths about us all. Maybe it is the ones who are forced to the margins who truly understand what it is we all have in common.
Maybe, as C. S. Lewis has said, there are “certain kinds of sympathy and understanding [and] a certain social role” that only gay people can play in the church. Maybe we are “called to otherness,” and the church’s ministry to us is in large measure about cultivating the ministry we can offer to the church.
- ministry that revolves around the basics of the gospel and the “normal means of grace.”
I often tell people that the best “gay ministry” I have benefitted from has been ministry that only rarely mentions anything “gay” at all. It hasn’t been a gay small group or support ministry or gay-themed Bible study or anything like that (as good as all those things may be for some people!). Rather, the ministry that has proved most stabilizing and encouraging has been garden-variety gospel preaching that has held the Cross and Resurrection constantly before me.
When I was in the throes of the coming out process and struggling with more loneliness than I felt before or since, I belonged to a church that emphasized, over and over again, how suffering and tears and struggle were normal parts of the Christian experience. As the New Testament scholar Richard Hays has written, commenting on Romans 8:23 (“not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies”), “Anyone who does not recognize this as a description of authentic Christian existence has never struggled seriously with the imperatives of the gospel, which challenge and frustrate our ‘natural’ impulses in countless ways.” More than anything else, it was that kind of ministry that provided the framework, the plausibility structure, if you like, that made my own frustration and struggles seem bearable and maybe even beautiful.
As I’ve gone on in this “gay Christian” life, I’ve come to see that the kind of ministry I most crave, the kind that most helps, is the regular, bog-standard ministry of Word and Sacrament. Sitting under preaching that points me to Jesus and receiving Communion (which is “Jesus placing himself in our hands so we know exactly where to find him,” as one of my Lutheran colleagues has put it)—that’s the kind of ministry I need. Kneeling at the altar rail is where I receive the strength I need to keep going on this journey.
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immeasurably helpful, Wes. Thank you.
Is it expected that homosexual persons either suspicious of or resistant to the Church’s traditional sexual ethic will respond as favorably to the implementation of these points as those at least attempting to live by that ethic?
All good points. But what is the probability that any of this can happen in an evangelical church context in North America? I’d guess that it’s near ZERO.
Point #8 strikes me as the one that presents the biggest challenge. Yes, prior to the 1950s, about 10-15% of the adult population never married. That had actually been the case for centuries in the Christian West. But, within the past 70 years, we’ve moved in a direction of normative coupling. It’s not just the church that revolves around coupling, our entire society does. And it has for 7+ decades. This is precisely where the SF narrative frustrates me: Its viability largely depends on a complete reworking of the way that our society functions.
I find it far more likely that people will enter into bilateral, committed same-sex “spiritual friendships,” which will look outwardly very similar to same-sex marriages. In the end, I suspect that the SF narrative will largely succeed as a coupling narrative. The moment when I feel the most lonely is when I come home on a Thursday or Friday evening from a week on the road, hand off the tip to the livery driver, ride the elevator up to my condo, and enter an empty space where there’s nothing to welcome me home but the dirty plate on which I sliced the pear I ate before I headed to the airport on Monday morning. The “frat house” approach to spiritual friendship just isn’t going to cut it in our society. Once people move beyond the age of 25, they couple. Period. I wish that it were different, but it’s not. And it isn’t going to be. At some point, we probably have to start thinking of alternatives that don’t run squarely against the grain of the way that our entire culture operates.
I’ve been writing some variant of the same comment here for about a year, as I’ve slowly drifted from Side B to Side A. I’ve done so in the hopes of receiving some cogent push-back from a Protestant perspective. And I’ve received nothing.
I like the SF project a lot, and Wes’s writing helped me immensely in deciding to come out of the closet. It was an immense aid, as I was pushed out of my church (a now-defunct PCA church) and watched as several close friends drifted away (because they didn’t want to expose their kids to gay people).
This website helped me think through what it meant for me to say that I was gay. After all, when I contemplated what I was longing for, it looked an awful lot like “spiritual friendship” rather than the hyper-sexualized narratives of the Grindr culture. After all, I would likely describe my being gay as having more to do with an absence of attraction to women (coupled with an aversion to the myriad of default rules that weigh down opposite-sex coupling in our culture). I would probably say that I’m graysexual, but have an emotional preference for other men who also have an emotional preference for other men. Otherwise, I’m a fairly straight-seeming guy whose interests (outside of women) aren’t too different from those of other professional guys (beer, sports, abs, making money, etc). Truth be told, I think this describes a fair number of guys who identify as gay. We’re just guys who have no interest in settling down and doing the “domestic thing,” and who have an emotional and aesthetic preference for masculinity. A drive for gay sex isn’t really at the top of the list. In fact, for me, a lot of other things have to fall into place before the desire for sex starts to emerge. (But, under the APA guidelines, sexual orientation encompasses emotional and romantic attraction as well.)
At a theoretical level, the SF narrative provides exactly what I’m looking for. But I keep wondering how the theoretical become practical. From what I can tell, the SF writers are still largely hesitant about embracing bilateral committed same-sex “spiritual friendships,” likely because that would get them written off immediately by groups like TGC, CBMW, and ERLC. But if such arrangements are off the table, what does the SF narrative look like in practical terms in an evangelical space? I have no idea! And I’m not sure that y’all do either. It strikes me that the SF narrative largely occupies a theoretical space that has no corresponding practical embodiment within evangelical church culture, or within the culture at large. We live in a culture that revolves around coupling. That’s just the way it is. Nearly everything from dining experiences to vacation packages are marketed to couples! And doing things in groups of friends gets cumbersome, especially when there’s a wide gap in income.
There’s one place where I see the SF narrative working practically: in an academic environment. I grew up a few hundred feet from an evangelical liberal arts college, and, after getting my PhD, came back and taught there for several years. I chose that environment because it provided me with a place in which I could nurture close “spiritual friendships” without cutting against the institutional grain. It was a refuge from a culture that otherwise emphasized coupling. But I grew bored quickly, as teaching just wasn’t intellectually demanding enough to retain my interest. In leaving that cocoon, I had to walk away from the only environment where I stood much chance of being able to live out the SF narrative in any practical way. I think it’s no accident that most of the SF writers operate in similar such environments. But we can’t all be professors.
On top of that, I’ve become increasingly convinced that evangelical objections to same-sex coupling are often not held in good faith. It strikes me that many evangelicals have arrived at certain judgments concerning same-sex coupling without even weighing the evidence (or even bothering to collect it). Moreover, I’ve become increasingly frustrated by evangelical unwillingness to engage well-adjusted, normal-seeming gay Christians, instead of chasing after basket-case screw-ups like Christopher Yuan. Guys like me get pushed aside because we threaten to upend the negative–and inaccurate–stereotypes that often loom large in the minds of evangelicals when they think about gay people. Further, I’ve been disturbed by the graceless way in which certain evangelicals have engaged affirming evangelicals. By in large, conservative evangelicals have forsaken the Gospel for a pile of sub-Christian Freudian social theory. Such teachings may reflect a measure of godly wisdom, but they hardly define the outer periphery of what is ethical.
In the end, we can’t live by theories; We have to live in the here and now. And while I can easily imagine social universes in which someone like me could be happily partnered with someone of the opposite sex or be happily single, the existence of such universes seems largely out of my reach. Moreover, I’m not convinced that all forms of same-sex eroticism are necessarily sinful. So, although I may not (yet) embrace same-sex coupling as necessarily equivalent to opposite-sex coupling within a Christian context, I’ve largely come to accept it as an reasonable accommodation for those of us who aren’t called to singleness and for whom opposite-sex coupling would be unworkable. That’s not to say that the church should condone all committed same-sex relationships. But the mere fact that those relationships involve two members of the same sex should not, standing alone, warrant condemnation.
As a Protestant, I believe in Christian liberty. That is, I believe that the burden of condemning any conduct as sinful rests on the party seeking to do the condemning. Thus, the church may condemn conduct insofar–and only insofar–as Scripture sets forth a clear and unambiguous basis for condemning that conduct. I trust that the church can sustain its burden when it comes to condemning the social scripts that have historically defined the gay male lifestyle. Even so, those scripts hardly define the lives of many gay men today. After all, it’s been more than a decade now since Andrew Sullivan proclaimed the end of something called “gay culture.” There is no longer any uniform social script that defines what it means to be a party to same-sex coupling. Thus, I’m unconvinced that the church can sustain its burden with respect to condemning committed same-sex coupling generally. I think that probably means that I’m on Side A now.
I thank you for giving me the space here to work these things out. I wish you well. I’m immeasurably grateful for this blog and its writers! I believe that much of Wes’s work provides practical insight into what committed same-sex coupling between Christians ought to look like, even if such advice was proffered unintentionally. But I want this to be a place for Side B people to discuss things among themselves, so I’ll cease from commenting here. Peace in Christ.
Great comments. I’ve grown tired of evangelical culture (and slipped back into my pre-Christian pattern of sarcastically dismissing/criticising it). Heck, the evangelical world is as boring as hell if you can’t commit to the coupling narrative.
SF offers a beacon of hope – but it’s all theoretical (suiting the scholarly outlook of the contributors). Until there are practical solutions in conservative churches, appealing to a much wider range of individual needs, very few SSA people will stick around when deeper, more worthwhile relationships can be found outside the TGC, CBMW, and ERLC family values echo-chamber.
Evan773 I always appreciate your comments and find myself connecting with your thoughts and process. Spiritual Friendship has been a soft place for me to land yet has not been the end of my journey. Unfortunately much of what is written here has not equipped me to deal with the realities of the world within most, if not all, evangelical cultures and the LGBTQ world around me of couples and working people who are hungry for the gospel and feel disconnected from church community and their peers.
Hey y’all. I think you raise some important points; I hope you won’t mind if I talk a bit about how I see some of these issues. I apologize in advance for how long this is.
It’s obvious that what we’re doing here is deeply countercultural. From my very limited vantage point, the pressure toward the nuclear family and lack of any support for alternative vocations is most severe in white Protestant communities, but it’s pretty intense everywhere. Part of what I try to do when I talk is point out how thoroughly that family model has colonized our ideas about love, devotion, commitment, and care, and suggest that in exalting the nuclear family above other models we are going against Scripture and damaging marriage itself as well as those who do not marry. But there is a long & hard road ahead before other vocations receive even a tenth of the social, economic, and pastoral support given to marriage. (Not that marriage has enough, or is easy! It’s sort of terrifying that there are vocations even *less* supported than contemporary American marriage….)
I also try to emphasize God’s love for all of us, for His gay and same-sex attracted children. A deep trust that God cherishes you and views you with tenderness is good in itself–and will also strengthen the confidence needed to call for change in our churches and communities.
As far as specific vocations, I do wish SF talked about a wider range of them, although since I don’t take on the burden of running this place it’s easy for me to run my mouth instead! When I speak & write I try to offer models of spiritual friendship, but also intentional community, celibate partnership, & other paths of love. Friendship is the one closest to my own heart but I have friends in celibate partnerships, intentional community, religious life, etc., and I know SF serves those vocations more poorly than we serve people called primarily to friendship and/or to mixed-orientation marriage.
What I do disagree with in your comments is the undercurrent that “bilateral committed same-sex ‘spiritual friendships'” should be the normative or default vocation for gay/same-sex attracted Christians. (I’m also not totally sure why you think SF is against those friendships, given what Ron has written about e.g. David and Jonathan’s covenantal friendship, unless you are also adding in exclusivity, maybe something more like what I would consider a celibate partnership.) I pretty strongly disagree that there should *be* a default vocation, and I suspect that expecting what is actually in some ways an even weirder thing than devoted friendship will lead to a lot of disappointment. I also worry that what you’re talking about is “as much gay marriage as possible under the circumstances,” which will *never* be as good at being gay marriage as actual gay marriage is. One thing I think SF is doing is suggesting that same-sex love has its own integrity, its own beauty, and its own vocational forms that are not adaptations of opposite-sex or secular models. (And which are open to everyone regardless of orientation.) I apologize if I’m misunderstanding you though.
Your comments touch on several topics I wish we discussed here more, from class/economics to history. We are not the first people who have had to forge a countercultural vocation: The beguines, for example, not only invented a vocation but attempted to bridge the chasm of the Reformation, which seems like one model for what we’re trying to do here. I guess history can seem academic but I remember being a gay teenager desperate for any models, scouring Smiths songs and the local bookstore for any hint that I was not unprecedented, that I had a community and a history.
Most of us here are aware of how imperfectly we are living our vocations–how contingent and unfinished a lot of this feels for us. Wes’s most recent book gave a really personal and imo beautiful portrayal of what it looks like to *try* to live a vocation that you are still in the process of discerning, with real but very limited pastoral support. (Other ground-level portrayals of celibate gay life can be found in Tim Otto’s book and parts of my book, maybe esp the discussion of how my best friend helped me quit drinking.) I am trying to figure out where God is calling me–I don’t want to be living in a rooming house when I’m forty!–and the conversations here have helped me be more realistic about what I need and where I might find it.
OK, I think that is most of what I have to say. I have fallen in love with my Church and I need Her, and so I have got to do my best to live in accordance with Her teaching, and trust that where I fall short, God is merciful. God knows how hard this stuff is and He views all our flailing and scrambling with a lot of gentleness, I think.
Uh sorry to end on this note but your comments about (Ron’s? Wes’s?) motives, re sucking up to a bunch of acronyms one of which is Lutherans I think?, struck me as unnecessary, uncharitable, and not actually true. Similarly lol we are all basket-case screw-ups, yo, let’s not pretend otherwise. “Basket-case screw-up,” in ancient Greek, is “brother or sister in Christ.”
Thanks for the reply. I’ve always enjoyed your writings here and elsewhere.
I’m not that familiar with Ron’s work. Besides, he is not an evangelical, so I certainly have no expectation that Ron would address some of the gender-related silliness that predominates in the evangelical world.
As for Wes and other evangelical here, I do believe that they have an obligation to proffer a more direct critique of the prolific and well-financed efforts of certain evangelical “gatekeeper” groups that continue to promote compulsory heterosexuality as the only option for Christians. I’ve listed the key such groups: (1) The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), which is a Southern Baptist outfit that addresses homosexuality a lot (understatement), and continues to promote the ex-gay narrative as the only acceptable path for non-heterosexual Christians; (2) The Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) and the Gospel Coalition (TGC), which are both para-church projects, but are chiefly efforts of the Southern Baptists and the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), and which hold that the mere experience of same-sex attraction (whether sexual, romantic, emotional, or aesthetic) is sinful, that males and females must respectively conform to rigid social scripts of “biblical manhood” and “biblical womanhood,” and that often question whether celibacy is an acceptable option for Christian men.
Most of the attacks against this rigid gender-role theology have come from evangelical women, who are often reduced to second-class roles in their marriages and church context. But this theology rigid gender-role theology is equally as damaging to men. These groups often hold that the mere expression of male effeminacy is sinful. Many of them even believe that men have a Christian duty to marry and have sex. Tim Bayly, one of the scholars who’s led this effort over the few decades, once wrote: “Sex is a calling from God and is foundational to Christian discipleship, so the man who says he’s a celibate effeminate is a rebel against God.” (See his 12/25/2014 blog post criticizing the SF project.)
I spent about 15 years in the PCA, and this teaching is rampant within that denomination. Moreover, in the PCA, the pronouncements of groups like ERLC, TGC, and CBMW are treated as a kind of functional Magisterium. When I was booted from my PCA church, I was kicked out for not being heterosexual and for refusing to believe that I had a spiritual need to become heterosexual. The sources that were used against me were various posts that were printed off from these groups’ blogs or from the blogs of people associated with them.
In my opinion, living out the SF narrative in an evangelical setting is hopeless, unless one elects to pursue a mixed-orientation marriage and conform outwardly to a narrative that doesn’t directly challenge the movement’s obsession with patriarchy and male-initiated sex. So, I wonder what the end-game is for evangelicals like Wes, Kyle, and others. If you’re not going to challenge your critics in as direct a way as they challenge you, what is your strategy when the rubber meets the road? If you won’t punch back against bullies like Tim Bayly, Owen Strachan, and Denny Burk, then you’re simply leaving that task to your non-heterosexual readers.
Since writing the above comment, I’ve made some changes. I finally made a mental and physical break with the evangelical church. Even though I remain a follower of Jesus, I decided to stop attending church and not to feel guilty about it. I remain committed to the basic principles of big-tent evangelicalism, but I have disabused myself of the evangelical church. I’ve also begun dating, and have dated both men and women, and, to my surprise, have actually found that I connect better with women. I’ve even felt attracted to several of the women I’ve dated. I think symbolic interactionism probably sheds some light on my experience. Within evangelicalism, the opposite sex held a social meaning that was thoroughly unattractive to me, as it was tied to adoption of the oppressive, hierarchical social narrative of “biblical manhood.” Now that I can interact with women as potential partners on a journey that we can plan together out of mutual respect and shared authority, women are much more attractive to me than they were in the past. I find it slightly ironic that, at least for me, the ex-gay narrative rings a bit true, except that I discovered my attraction to the opposite sex by ditching the evangelical church and freeing myself from its oppressive gender-role theology.
And the church that kicked me out has recently shut down. I never received the paperwork concerning my heresy trial. I guess there won’t be one now. And evangelical leaders wonder why, among people 18-34 years old, dechurched evangelicals outnumber churched evangelicals by more than a 2:1 margin. That’s especially true among educated professionals. About ten of my colleagues grew up in evangelical churches. All of us still claim to be Christians, but none of us goes to church regularly. Evangelicalism is a fixture of the world of classical liberalism, as Molly Worthen notes in her recent book. But it is not well adapted for survival in our present neoliberal world. Even so, my basic spirituality is evangelical, and I can’t imagine worshiping in any other way. Hopefully, someone can figure out what a neoliberal evangelicalism looks like before the movement just dies altogether.
Good for you evan773 (sorry, I’ve forgotten your real name). I hope it all works out well for you.
The evangelical Magisterium are still too enraged by / fixated on Trump to care about the gays at the moment. We have about six months of breathing space before they start bashing us again. LOL
Evan–I have lost the ability to thread comments! But I just wanted to say that I am so sorry that you had to confront such a damaging church culture. I trust that God is calling you to an ever closer walk with Him. Thanks for commenting here.
“what is your strategy when the rubber meets the road”
Luk 6:29 If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also
I think the next generation are definitely becoming more open minded on issues like this. I still feel that homophobic undertone and hard line christian approach will still exist. Though times have changed and we are not in the bronze age our world is different now. I still feel we need a higher power to look towards. BUT. I mean there was like a cartoon not long ago aimed at young children “one man one woman” that was directed at young ones to show them marriage is between man and woman (its on youtube). I’m always concerned about young people struggling with their sexuality within the church. No one deserves to suffer in silence. I think when the older generations pass away there maybe a shift. But for now providing support and a back up are essential. Telling the young people they are not alone and that they are worthy of gods love is essential.
Thanks for posting this, Wes. A trait of helpful ministry (whether from individuals or churches) that I have experienced is a ministry whose commitment is uninfluenced by my sexuality. When I started talking openly to my friends and church family about my sexuality, I often anticipated that the disclosure would somehow change the friendship, change the nature of the relationship to something less committed. When the response was “Okay. That doesn’t really change anything. I still love you. I still want to know you and walk with you,” it reassured me that I could be honest without losing the depth and importance of those relationships. When the Church remains faithful to walking with people through the easy and the hard, it speaks to the faithfulness of our Father.
It is also very good to find faithful gay people. To me it provides encouragement to follow the narrow path as Christ told us. I’m not gay but Spiritual Friendship has been a blessing to me and I can not say thank you often enough.
I agree with you that I’ve been encouraged by relationships that don’t change. However, I’ve also experienced this in ways that aren’t helpful. In my previous church no one said anything to me afterwards when I asked for prayer about having optimism for the future in light of my sexuality. I felt like everyone was afraid to bring it up. I let the cat out of the bag, and then it jumped right back in. That wasn’t helpful, and people treating me no differently felt fake in that instance.
And I agree with you, rosamim, that friendships with other faithful SSA Christians have been super helpful for me, and especially with people of the opposite sex. 😀
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