Coming Out: Why Jesus Delights in LGBT+ Stories

 

Coming Out: Why Jesus Delights in Your LGBT+ Story

We are the people who hide. The ones who slouch our way through Bible studies and small groups. The ones who cling to Christian respectability and mask our stories beneath a facade of normalcy.

We are the people who, rejected by the church, hide again in the queer community, deflecting questions about our personal lives, evading talk about our faith, lest we be rejected here too. Alone once again.

We are the stories that challenge the status quo in every battle of the culture wars. The POWS of every camp. We are the ones with nowhere to stay and nowhere to go. So we hide. We make peace with our prisons to survive.

But it’s in that place that the voice of the Father calls to us, “saying to the prisoners, ‘Come out.’” (Isa. 49:9). Come out, he cries. Step into my light. more “Coming Out: Why Jesus Delights in LGBT+ Stories”

Revoice: The Conference We Need

This post is a review of Revoice, not a defense. I really have no interest in the debate currently raging online over the merits of this conference (and I think people far more qualified than me have already responded). While I obviously support the conference, my goal in this review is not to defend all my reasons for supporting it. Instead, my goal is to hopefully give you a picture of why the conference is so important. And what the conference is changing. Whether you support it or not, there’s no denying that Revoice made a splash. And there’s significant reasons for why. Hopefully, I can get at a few of those reasons here.

Revoice provided support, encouragement, and empowerment to LGBT+ people within the traditional sexual ethic
Photo Credit: Gregg Webb

I remember a time when the grace of God seemed eternally distant. A gift he designed for everyone but me. I remember the fear of being unsavable. A “vessel of wrath fitted for destruction.” My feelings a sign that I was “given over” into sin. I remember sleepless nights where I couldn’t bear to close my eyes lest I wake up in hell

I remember listening to the voice of the church toward LGBT+ people, and it wasn’t the voice of life. And when I think about the countless sexual and gender minorities who share experiences similar to mine, I recall the words of Jesus when he said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). But the voice of the church was death to us. It wasn’t the voice of Jesus more “Revoice: The Conference We Need”

LGBT+ Christians: When Unlikely People Are God’s Champions

This is the final post in a month-long series on “celibate gay pride,” exploring the glory of God as revealed in the lives of celibate gay Christians. If you’d like to read the full series, check out the links below!

Also, I’m specifically talking about and for celibate gay Christians in this series. To be clear: this is not an argument for why gay Christians ought to be celibate. I want to clarify this at the outset, because I often receive various criticisms from non-celibate gay people who tell me that my arguments aren’t convincing. But there’s a reason for that. I’m not trying to make arguments for or against any particular sexual ethic in my blog. This blog is simply for LGBT+ Christians who believe in the traditional sexual ethic. It’s not a blog for convincing LGBT+ Christians to accept a sexual ethic they don’t believe in, and I do not believe that all LGBT+ Christians must accept this ethic. However, many LGBT+ Christians nevertheless do live by the traditional sexual ethic. So if you’re interested in learning about celibate gay believers (and/or the larger LGBT+ community that believes in the traditional sexual ethic), then by all means read on. 

For more posts in this series:

  1. Are Celibate Gay Christians Allowed to Have Pride?
  2. Take It From an Expert: Same-Sex Attraction Is More Than Just Sexual
  3. Gay Attractions Create the Context for More Than Just Sin
  4. Gay People Are Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
  5. Same-Sex Love is Good and Beautiful
  6. God’s Unique Blessings in the LGBT+ Experience of Christians
  7. LGBT+ Christians: When Unlikely People Are God’s Greatest Champions

God is glorified in the lives of gays, lesbians, SSA, and other LGBT+ people

One of the most beautiful things about the Christian faith is that God uses the most unlikely people to champion his cause. Consider Rahab. A woman forever known in the annals of church history as “Rahab the Harlot.” A woman whose inclusion in the Hebrews “Hall of Faith” would be significantly less powerful if she had not been a prostitute. Or how about “Zacchaeus the Tax Collector”? A man whose story of radical generosity would mean very little apart from the well-established greed of ancient tax collectors.

Consider “Naaman the Leper,” the “Samaritan Woman,” “Doubting Thomas,” “Ruth the Moabite,” the “Prodigal Son,” the “Woman Caught in Adultery,” or the “Thief on the Cross,” among a great many people in Scripture named by their sin, imperfections, and shortcomings. The story of David and Goliath may be the most famous among them. God’s champion against a ten-foot giant was a young shepherd boy with no training, no experience, and no weapons for battle! But that’s what God does. He uses the lowly and despised of this world to shame the strong and the mighty. What made these people “weak” in Scripture made them perfect conduits for a grand display of the power of God. more “LGBT+ Christians: When Unlikely People Are God’s Champions”

God’s Unique Blessings in the LGBT+ Experience of Christians

This is the sixth post in a month-long series on “celibate gay pride,” exploring the glory of God as revealed in the lives of celibate gay Christians. I’d like to publish about 1-2 posts every week over the month of June. But I need your help! The more feedback I get, the more I can make things relevant. As the series progresses, please comment below or share your thoughts via private message. Any interaction will be a HUGE help as I tailor the content. Suggestions and requests are 100 percent welcome!

Also, I’m specifically talking about and for celibate gay Christians in this series. To be clear: this is not an argument for why gay Christians ought to be celibate. I want to clarify this at the outset, because I often receive various criticisms from non-celibate gay people who tell me that my arguments aren’t convincing. But there’s a reason for that. I’m not trying to make arguments for or against any particular sexual ethic in my blog. This blog is simply for LGBT+ Christians who believe in the traditional sexual ethic. It’s not a blog for convincing LGBT+ Christians to accept a sexual ethic they don’t believe in, and I do not believe that all LGBT+ Christians must accept this ethic. However, many LGBT+ Christians nevertheless do live by the traditional sexual ethic. So if you’re interested in learning about celibate gay believers (and/or the larger LGBT+ community that believes in the traditional sexual ethic), then by all means read on. 

For more posts in this series:

  1. Are Celibate Gay Christians Allowed to Have Pride?
  2. Take It From an Expert: Same-Sex Attraction Is More Than Just Sexual
  3. Gay Attractions Create the Context for More Than Just Sin
  4. Gay People Are Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
  5. Same-Sex Love is Good and Beautiful
  6. God’s Unique Blessings in the LGBT+ Experience of Christians
  7. LGBT+ Christians: When Unlikely People Are God’s Greatest Champions

The LGBT+ experience has been a unique source of blessing to Christians who are sexual minorities and/or gender minorities.

Far too often within conservative Christianity, the dominant narrative about LGBT+ people centers upon sin and shame. For many of us in the church, it can feel suffocating. As though the only way we can talk about our sexuality and orientation is in the context of repentance and anguish over being “broken.” As though queerness can only be understood through the lens of suffering.

But there is far more to the LGBT+ experience of Christians than struggle. Sure we struggle. All people struggle. But all people experience joy and happiness too. I affirm the historic understanding of Biblical sexuality, and I affirm that sinful desire tempts us to forsake God’s created design for humanity. But I also affirm that LGBT+ people are not defined by sinful desire, and I affirm that God works through the LGBT+ experience for his glory and for the good of his church. For me, as a celibate lesbian, my sexuality and orientation has brought about so many tremendous blessings (to me as well as to others) that I wouldn’t trade being gay for the world.

So with this in mind, I reached out to some fellow LGBT+ Christians to get their perspective. My main question was pretty simple: “How has your experience as an LGBT+ person been a unique source of blessing in your life?”

The responses were pretty incredible. All of these people affirm the Bible’s historic teaching on gender and sexuality. Some use their names; some remain anonymous. And all describe specific ways in which their non-straight and/or non-cisgender experience brought about profound blessing to their existence.

If you’re a sexual and/or gender minority who affirms the Bible’s historic teachings, I hope that you will find their perspective as encouraging as I did. And if you have stories of blessing yourself, please share in the comments or send me a message! I would love to hear your story! On the flipside, if you’re a straight Christian struggling to understand the LGBT+ experience, I pray that you would find the following perspectives eye-opening. And ultimately, I hope that you can see LGBT+ people as a source of blessing to you and to the church as a whole. more “God’s Unique Blessings in the LGBT+ Experience of Christians”

Same-Sex Love is Good and Beautiful

This is the fifth post in a month-long series on “celibate gay pride,” exploring the glory of God as revealed in the lives of celibate gay Christians. I’d like to publish about 1-2 posts every week over the month of June. But I need your help! The more feedback I get, the more I can make things relevant. As the series progresses, please comment below or share your thoughts via private message. Any interaction will be a HUGE help as I tailor the content. Suggestions and requests are 100 percent welcome!

Also, I’m specifically talking about and for celibate gay Christians in this series. To be clear: this is not an argument for why gay Christians ought to be celibate. I want to clarify this at the outset, because I often receive various criticisms from non-celibate gay people who tell me that my arguments aren’t convincing. But there’s a reason for that. I’m not trying to make arguments for or against any particular sexual ethic in my blog. This blog is simply for LGBT+ Christians who believe in the traditional sexual ethic. It’s not a blog for convincing LGBT+ Christians to accept a sexual ethic they don’t believe in, and I do not believe that all LGBT+ Christians must accept this ethic. However, many LGBT+ Christians nevertheless do live by the traditional sexual ethic. So if you’re interested in learning about celibate gay believers (and/or the larger LGBT+ community that believes in the traditional sexual ethic), then by all means read on. 

For more posts in this series:

  1. Are Celibate Gay Christians Allowed to Have Pride?
  2. Take It From an Expert: Same-Sex Attraction Is More Than Just Sexual
  3. Gay Attractions Create the Context for More Than Just Sin
  4. Gay People Are Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
  5. Same-Sex Love is Good and Beautiful
  6. God’s Unique Blessings in the LGBT+ Experience of Christians
  7. LGBT+ Christians: When Unlikely People Are God’s Greatest Champions

Same-sex love is a good thing, and celibate gay Christians can pursue it

Unfortunately, far too many gay and lesbian Christians hear from the church that same-sex attractions have no purpose in the Christian life. Denial is their only end. But such thinking obscures the reality that gay, lesbian, and bisexual Christians actually desire a good worth pursuing. If you accept the historic understanding of Biblical sexuality, then same-sex love is not sexual. Even more, same-sex love is good.

Sadly, too many Christians accept the Freudian conflation of love and sex. The idea of men loving men and women loving women so offends the sexualized ears of many believers that merely suggesting such a thing could be good creates outrage. But as Wesley Hill observed in a recent blog post, “It’s not a sin for men to love men, or women to love women. On the contrary.”

On the contrary indeed. God commands it: “[F]or he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen… whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1 John 4:20-21). God brings people into relationship for the purpose of loving each other, and gay people are included in that purpose. more “Same-Sex Love is Good and Beautiful”

Gay People Are Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

This is the fourth post in a month-long series on “celibate gay pride,” exploring the glory of God as revealed in the lives of celibate gay Christians. I’d like to publish about 1-2 posts every week over the month of June. But I need your help! The more feedback I get, the more I can make things relevant. As the series progresses, please comment below or share your thoughts via private message. Any interaction will be a HUGE help as I tailor the content. Suggestions and requests are 100 percent welcome!

Also, I’m specifically talking about and for celibate gay Christians in this series. To be clear: this is not an argument for why gay Christians ought to be celibate. I want to clarify this at the outset, because I often receive various criticisms from non-celibate gay people who tell me that my arguments aren’t convincing. But there’s a reason for that. I’m not trying to make arguments for or against any particular sexual ethic in my blog. This blog is simply for LGBT+ Christians who believe in the traditional sexual ethic. It’s not a blog for convincing LGBT+ Christians to accept a sexual ethic they don’t believe in, and I do not believe that all LGBT+ Christians must accept this ethic. However, many LGBT+ Christians nevertheless do live by the traditional sexual ethic. So if you’re interested in learning about celibate gay believers (and/or the larger LGBT+ community that believes in the traditional sexual ethic), then by all means read on. 

For more posts in this series:

  1. Are Celibate Gay Christians Allowed to Have Pride?
  2. Take It From an Expert: Same-Sex Attraction Is More Than Just Sexual
  3. Gay Attractions Create the Context for More Than Just Sin
  4. Gay People Are Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
  5. Same-Sex Love is Good and Beautiful
  6. God’s Unique Blessings in the LGBT+ Experience of Christians
  7. LGBT+ Christians: When Unlikely People Are God’s Greatest Champions

Gay people are fearfully and wonderfully made

Some important notes: I say this in the body of my post, but I want to say it here too. When I say that “nothing about me is a mistake,” I’m not referring to sin. Sin has nothing to do with the way God made me. So in discussing my queerness as a gift, I’m not talking about sin as a gift. I’m not even talking about temptation as a gift. One of the major themes of this series has been that “gay” and “sin” and “temptation” are not the same thing. All things can be distorted and become excuses for sin. But I am not talking about the distortion of my queerness. My experience of being gay has been primarily a vehicle of grace and goodness in my life, not sin and not even temptation. And so it’s within that context that I speak. 

Also, I intentionally limited my observations in this post to my story and only my story. Gay people are as varied and diverse in their experiences as straight people, and I don’t want anyone to think that I’m making generalizations about the “gay experience” with this post. My experience has been just that, my experience. But in sharing my thoughts and reflections, I know that many gay people will at the very least see overlap in their stories and mine. I hope that in sharing the ways that knowing God as maker has transformed my thinking, it will encourage other LGBT+ individuals to see themselves as created and, therefore, beautiful.

God as Maker Transformed My Relationship to Myself

As a girl of mixed racial, ethnic, and cultural heritage, I found a special sort of solace growing up in the knowledge that God made me. Every last inch of me. Down to the things that I disliked and the things that were mocked. My skin tone that never felt tan enough nor white enough. My Indian eyes that earned me the nickname “China girl” and “chinky” on more than one occasion.

Learning to see God as my maker changed my relationship to myself because it changed my relationship to God. I began to take pride in my differences. Not out of an imagined sense of self-worth, but out of an actual sense that God was a master craftsman. That God made every part of me, including those parts that were “different.”

“I praise you,” the Psalmist declares, “for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well” (Ps. 139:14). In a world of conformity, where being “different” often feels like being “wrong,” the words of the Bible offer hope to every misfit and outcast in the world. more “Gay People Are Fearfully and Wonderfully Made”

Gay Attractions Create the Context for More Than Just Sin

This is the third post in a month-long series on “celibate gay pride,” exploring the glory of God as revealed in the lives of celibate gay Christians. I’d like to publish about 1-2 posts every week over the month of June. But I need your help! The more feedback I get, the more I can make things relevant. As the series progresses, please comment below or share your thoughts via private message. Any interaction will be a HUGE help as I tailor the content. Suggestions and requests are 100 percent welcome!

Also, I’m specifically talking about and for celibate gay Christians in this series. To be clear: this is not an argument for why gay Christians ought to be celibate. I want to clarify this at the outset, because I often receive various criticisms from non-celibate gay people who tell me that my arguments aren’t convincing. But there’s a reason for that. I’m not trying to make arguments for or against any particular sexual ethic in my blog. This blog is simply for LGBT+ Christians who believe in the traditional sexual ethic. It’s not a blog for convincing LGBT+ Christians to accept a sexual ethic they don’t believe in, and I do not believe that all LGBT+ Christians must accept this ethic. However, many LGBT+ Christians nevertheless do live by the traditional sexual ethic. So if you’re interested in learning about celibate gay believers (and/or the larger LGBT+ community that believes in the traditional sexual ethic), then by all means read on. 

For more posts in this series:

  1. Are Celibate Gay Christians Allowed to Have Pride?
  2. Take It From an Expert: Same-Sex Attraction Is More Than Just Sexual
  3. Gay Attractions Create the Context for More Than Just Sin
  4. Gay People Are Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
  5. Same-Sex Love is Good and Beautiful
  6. God’s Unique Blessings in the LGBT+ Experience of Christians
  7. LGBT+ Christians: When Unlikely People Are God’s Greatest Champions

Sin, Sex, and Shame Don't Define a Gay Person's Attractions or Same-Sex Attraction in General

Quick disclaimer: This post is a direct follow-up to my interview with Lauren Melissa on Tuesday and contains my thoughts and reflections from the conversation. If you haven’t listened to the interview (or read the transcript), then I highly recommend that you do so! It may be difficult to understand where I’m coming from otherwise. 

Gay Attractions Create the Context for More Than Just Sin

Freudian psychology would reduce human attraction to the outworking of sexual desire, and the church has allowed such thinking to flourish, whether we realize it or not. Human beings are more than sex, and our desires are more than sexual. But far too many Christians buy into a narrative that defines gay people exclusively by our potential for sexual activity (code: potential for sin). By doing so, they rob us of our humanity.

Same-sex attraction has thus become something for which LGB Christians must constantly apologize, even if those attractions have nothing to do with sex. Even if those attractions might create the context for godly living.

In response, my interview with Lauren Melissa last Tuesday gives a sharp rebuttal to sex-oriented thinking. Asexual people are walking, living proof that the vast majority of human attractions can and do exist apart from sexual desire. And this means something profound for gay, lesbian, and bisexual Christians who believe in the traditional sexual ethic.

It means we don’t need to apologize for everything we feel. more “Gay Attractions Create the Context for More Than Just Sin”

Take It From an Expert: Same-Sex-Attraction Is More Than Just Sexual

This is the second post in a month-long series on “celibate gay pride,” exploring the glory of God as revealed in the lives of celibate gay Christians. I’d like to publish about 1-2 posts every week over the month of June. But I need your help! The more feedback I get, the more I can make things relevant. As the series progresses, please comment below or share your thoughts via private message. Any interaction will be a HUGE help as I tailor the content. Suggestions and requests are 100 percent welcome!

Also, I’m specifically talking about and for celibate gay Christians in this series. To be clear: this is not an argument for why gay Christians ought to be celibate. I want to clarify this at the outset, because I often receive various criticisms from non-celibate gay people who tell me that my arguments aren’t convincing. But there’s a reason for that. I’m not trying to make arguments for or against any particular sexual ethic in my blog. This blog is simply for LGBT+ Christians who believe in the traditional sexual ethic. It’s not a blog for convincing LGBT+ Christians to accept a sexual ethic they don’t believe in, and I do not believe that all LGBT+ Christians must accept this ethic. However, many LGBT+ Christians nevertheless do live by the traditional sexual ethic. So if you’re interested in learning about celibate gay believers (and/or the larger LGBT+ community that believes in the traditional sexual ethic), then by all means read on. 

For more posts in this series:

  1. Are Celibate Gay Christians Allowed to Have Pride?
  2. Take It From an Expert: Same-Sex Attraction Is More Than Just Sexual
  3. Gay Attractions Create the Context for More Than Just Sin
  4. Gay People Are Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
  5. Same-Sex Love is Good and Beautiful
  6. God’s Unique Blessings in the LGBT+ Experience of Christians
  7. LGBT+ Christians: When Unlikely People Are God’s Greatest Champions

Attraction is not reducible to sexual desire

Today, I’m doing something a little bit out of the ordinary for my blog. I invited guest-contributor Lauren Melissa to do an interview discussing the various forms of attraction, and I’m excited to share it with readers! As an asexual person, Lauren has thought about attraction on a much deeper level than most. In a world where people equate attraction with sexual desire, she’s had no choice! Her life and knowledge shed light upon the various forms of attraction that all people experience and which exist apart from sex. In fact, my conversations with her over the years have played an instrumental role in helping me understand that human attraction is not primarily about sex.

This conversation is particularly important for celibate gay Christians because mainstream Christianity often reduces gay desire to simply the desire for sex, thereby reducing gay desire to simply the desire for sin (amongst Christians who believe a traditional sexual ethic). But attraction is far more nuanced than sexual desire alone. more “Take It From an Expert: Same-Sex-Attraction Is More Than Just Sexual”

Redeeming Singleness: A Helpful Resource for the Unmarried Life

I’m in the process of reading an excellent book called Redeeming Singleness by Barry Danylak. While it can be a bit dense at times, I’m finding it to be incredibly helpful in developing a theological defense of the unmarried life as better suited for the kingdom of God. Here’s an excerpt:

“Did Paul have children of his own? Lots of them: Timothy, Titus, and Onesimus, to name a few, and whole churches of followers of Jesus Christ. We too, like Paul, are called to be spiritual parents. Not only in begetting children through the gospel but in raising them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord until they too are mature disciples. Paul’s letters to his churches are examples of his parenting of his young churches. And, like Isaiah’s barren woman, Paul’s legacy was greater than that of any physical parents, for Paul’s progeny were those begotten in Christ through the limitless power of the gospel for an eternal inheritance in heaven….

Jesus’ primary concern in his ministry is not to provide a prescription for living well in the land but to bestow spiritual life— a new life in the Spirit that is eternal life. Such new spiritual formation is the process of becoming Jesus’ disciple. Hence, though in the New Testament we are not given any explicit mandate to marry and procreate physical human beings, we are given a new mandate to create more spiritual human beings, disciples in the form of Jesus as we find in the words of Matthew’s Great Commission…”

As far as books about singleness go, this one’s a gem. It focuses on the theological underpinnings of the single life as opposed to the “self-help” style of most books about singleness these days. If you’re wanting a resource that’s heavy on theology, I highly recommend it!

Just Because You’re Celibate Doesn’t Make You Single

I’m digging a little deeper into the discussion of celibacy here, focusing on the question of love and intimacy in a celibate person’s life. I’ve found that intimacy is one of the biggest impasses that many people have when it comes to being celibate, but it doesn’t need to be. Hopefully this post begins to address that concern. Please comment or send me a private e-mail through the contact page — I’d love to hear your thoughts on this! And as always, please subscribe to follow future posts!

Celibate gay people can have intimate relationships. Celibacy is not the same as singleness.

When you’re a single, Christian woman committed to a traditional sexual ethic, sooner or later you reach an impasse: either get hitched to a guy or be single and lonely for the rest of your life. The predicament is hard enough when you’re straight. But as a lesbian, I found my situation to be far worse. I saw myself stuck between a rock and a hard place, and I couldn’t see any way out.

I couldn’t imagine marrying a guy. Just thinking about it made me sick to my stomach. But neither could I imagine being single. I couldn’t imagine lacking the relational intimacy that comes from sharing a life with somebody else. And while I’d read plenty of Christian articles on the blessings and benefits of singleness, I saw them as little more than lackluster appeasement. A half-hearted attempt to make single people satisfied with a way of life that isn’t satisfying at all.

I had bought into the modern hierarchy of relationships, with marriage sitting at the top. Unless I got married, I could never experience the greatest expression of love between people. I could be miserably married or miserably alone. A catch-22. And there was nothing I could do about it. Or so I thought. 

Fortunately, God’s vision for human flourishing looks very different. more “Just Because You’re Celibate Doesn’t Make You Single”