Boy Erased: An Open Letter to the Gospel Coalition (Guest Post)

Last week, the Gospel Coalition published a review of Boy Erased, a movie depicting the true story of Garrard (Jared) Conley’s experiences at a conversion therapy facility called Love in Action. I’d encourage you to read the review by Brett McCracken before reading the response below. I have much respect for the Gospel Coalition and frequently link to their articles in my blog. However, even respected Christian outlets have blindspots. My prayer is that Brett McCracken and others at the Gospel Coalition would be willing to exercise humility in recognizing their need for growth when it comes to responding to LGBT+ topics and issues. We are all on the same team, and we can all learn from each other. I pray the Gospel Coalition is willing to learn from my friend Henry in his letter below. 

Check out these links for additional resources on Boy Erased put out by organizations run by LGBT+ people dedicated to supporting LGBT+ people in life-giving ways:

The Gospel Coalition's review of Boy Erased missed an opportunity to weep with those who weep in the LGBT+ community.

 

Dear Brett McCracken/The Gospel Coalition,

I am writing this in response to the article you wrote last week about the film “Boy Erased.” My name is Henry, and I am a gay/SSA celibate man who believes in and adheres to the traditional teachings of the church as it relates to sexuality based on scripture. I don’t know you, but I am familiar with TGC and some of your work. I read your review the day it was published, and while it had several strong points, there were key parts that felt very off to me. A discussion was started on a forum I’m involved with, and I quickly realized that I was not alone in my assessment of the article. I would like to share those thoughts with you now, not as an attack, but as a means for dialogue and deeper engagement on a topic that I think TGC (and the church) could do more work on. I aim to be charitable and graceful with my words, and I pray that this is beneficial to you and anyone else reading it. more “Boy Erased: An Open Letter to the Gospel Coalition (Guest Post)”

The Love Language of Physical Touch in a Sexualized World

Speaking the love language of physical touch in a sexualized world is becoming increasingly stigmatized, especially for gays and lesbians.

In my recent post on physical touch between members of the same-sex, I mentioned something that deserves a bit of clarification. I said, “It might be easy for heterosexuals to rein in their affection and keep their ‘personal boundaries.’ But it’s hardly healthy. And for a gay person, it’s painful.”

Unfortunately, I didn’t do the best job at explaining what I meant. So let me see if I can explain my thoughts a little better. The obvious question is why would it be easy for straight people to forego same-sex physical affection but painful for gay people? If physical affection is a critical part of healthy same-sex friendships, shouldn’t it be painful for both?

To understand what I was getting at, you’ve got to put yourself into the shoes of a gay Christian and consider the requirements of traditional Christianity upon their life. Unless gay believers are willing to endure a heterosexual marriage and/or subject themselves to harmful conversion therapy techniques (which don’t work), they must completely forgo sexual affection. Period.

That’s the sacrifice that biblical celibacy demands. On the flipside, biblical celibacy should not demand a relational sacrifice that is greater. The celibate life is a life without sex but not a life without affection.

And therein lies the problem. more “The Love Language of Physical Touch in a Sexualized World”

Where Have All the Celibates Gone? The Crisis We Face

I’d like to spend the next few posts talking specifically about marriage, celibacy, and singleness. I don’t plan on doing a series, but I do want to zero-in on issues related to celibacy. Please feel free to comment! Or if you prefer something private, send me an e-mail through my contact page. And if you’re interested in keeping up, please subscribe!

Also, I want to just clarify that I’m not trying to tear down marriage in this blog post. What I’m trying to tear down is the unhealthy degree to which marriage is prioritized at the expense of celibacy. Hopefully this comes through, but if not, I want to make sure it’s clear! I think marriage is a beautiful relationship. I also think it needs to be put in its proper place.

Celibacy is valuable. More Christians need to pursue the celibate life. Gay Christians shouldn't be the only ones.

Putting All Your Eggs in the Marital Basket

Right now we face a crisis in the church. The result of blind exaltation of concupiscent love in the form of marriage. The product of children raised to think, “When I get married…” instead of, “If I get married….”

Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at the relational condition of the church:

Single women turn 30 and wonder when their life will start.

Young men prematurely rush down the aisle to take their vows, as if doing so will protect them from “sexual sin,” but the rate of porn addiction in the church is higher than ever.

Pressured by an atmosphere intoxicated by romance, people who shouldn’t get married nevertheless do get married, and we bemoan the rate of divorce in the church.

Even those who really should get married nevertheless prioritize their marriage over relationships with anyone else but God, and we wonder why loneliness continues to grow.

LGBT+ Christians see marital love elevated to the top of a man-made relational hierarchy, and we act surprised when they want to get married like everybody else.

The church’s alternative to “hookup culture” has created a flood of people rushing to get married and barely anyone trying to be celibate. All this, ironically, as marriage rates steadily decline among evangelicals. more “Where Have All the Celibates Gone? The Crisis We Face”

LGBT Words Are More Precise than the ‘Same-Sex-Attracted’ Umbrella

This post is the 6th in a 7-part series called “Gay or Same-Sex-Attracted?” Each post covers a reason to use the words “gay” and “lesbian” as a Christian. On Friday, we’ll conclude the series by addressing a few lingering questions that still remain. So if you have a question, please shout it out! Either in the comments or through my contact page. I look forward to hearing from you!

To check out other posts in the series:

  1. Gay or Same-Sex-Attracted? Navigating the LGBT Language Police
  2. Christianese Like Same-Sex-Attracted Pushes Away the LGBT Community
  3. Gay Doesn’t Mean ‘Sin’ And Neither Does Same-Sex-Attracted Mean ‘Holy’ 
  4. Why Gay and Lesbian Identities Don’t Undermine Identity in Christ
  5. Why Homosexual Christians Are Called To Identify With Gays And Lesbians
  6. LGBT Words Are More Precise than the ‘Same-Sex-Attracted’ Umbrella
  7. Gay or Same-Sex-Attracted? Answering Some Lingering Questions

Or to read the full article:

Also, I feel the need to clarify that I am a celibate lesbian and fully committed to a traditional sexual ethic as outlined by Scripture. If you haven’t read my About page or previous posts, this could get lost in the conversation. I want to avoid misunderstandings as much as possible, so hopefully this information is clear!

LGBT words like gay, lesbian, and bisexual and more precise than same-sex-attracted for the Christian.

Seeking Clarity on Sexuality but Getting Confused

One smaller but influential reason why some Christians prefer to use “same-sex-attracted” over “gay” comes down to accuracy. They believe that “same-sex-attracted” fits them better and avoids misunderstanding.

And I get where they’re coming from. Accuracy is important when it comes to language. You definitely shouldn’t call yourself gay if you’re not gay! But on the other hand, if “gay” doesn’t fit your experience, “same-sex-attracted” is unlikely to do any better.

For example, when I ask a person for their ethnic background, I’m usually asking for more than just “I’m a minority,” or “I’m a non-minority.” I want to actually learn something, something that helps me understand them. Something like, “I’m Hispanic,” or, “I’m Polish on my dad’s side.” I’m asking for something specific.  

And it’s the same thing when it comes to sexuality. I want to know more than just “I’m heterosexual,” or, “I’m non-heterosexual.” And “same-sex-attracted” doesn’t do that. It’s a catchall term for a vast array of non-heterosexual experiences that are tremendously different from each other and require tremendously different responses. more “LGBT Words Are More Precise than the ‘Same-Sex-Attracted’ Umbrella”

Why Homosexual Christians Are Called To Identify With Gays And Lesbians

This post on Christian identity is the 5th in a 7-part series called “Gay or Same-Sex-Attracted?” Each post covers a reason to use the words “gay” and “lesbian” as a Christian. This Wednesday, we’ll examine a few problems of practicality when it comes to using the term “same-sex-attracted.” On Friday, we’ll conclude the series by addressing any lingering questions that still remain. So if you have a question, and it hasn’t been addressed yet, please shout it out!

To check out other posts in the series:

  1. Gay or Same-Sex-Attracted? Navigating the LGBT Language Police
  2. Christianese Like Same-Sex-Attracted Pushes Away the LGBT Community
  3. Gay Doesn’t Mean ‘Sin’ And Neither Does Same-Sex-Attracted Mean ‘Holy’ 
  4. Why Gay and Lesbian Identities Don’t Undermine Identity in Christ
  5. Why Homosexual Christians Are Called To Identify With Gays And Lesbians
  6. LGBT Words Are More Precise than the ‘Same-Sex-Attracted’ Umbrella
  7. Gay or Same-Sex-Attracted? Answering Some Lingering Questions

Or to read the full article:

Also, I feel the need to clarify that I am a celibate lesbian and fully committed to a traditional sexual ethic as outlined by Scripture. If you haven’t read my About page or previous posts, this could get lost in the conversation. I want to avoid misunderstandings as much as possible, so hopefully this information is clear!

UPDATE 4/23/2018:  As this series has been getting read by more people, I’ve realized that there is an important background post on Christian identity that I wrote earlier on. If the topic of identity interests you, check this post out in order to get a fuller picture of where I’m coming from:

 

Homosexuals Christians are called to identify with gays and lesbians.

 

Identifying With People And Fulfilling the Great Commission

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, and being born in the likeness of men.” – Phil. 2:5-8

Learning the language and ways of the people you’re trying to reach is one of the most fundamental laws of missionary work. Ignore this law, and you might find yourself etched into the margins of The Poisonwood Bible one day. But follow it, and you’ll be joining a 2,000-year-long history of imitating the example of Christ.

Christ remains the single greatest missionary of all time, our ultimate example of delivering God’s truth to the world. He did it by giving up his divine power and becoming like one of us. By speaking our language and using our words. By choosing to identify with a broken race. With you and with me.

And he calls the Christian to do the same. He calls us to identify with everyday people using their everyday language. Everyday people like gays and lesbians. more “Why Homosexual Christians Are Called To Identify With Gays And Lesbians”

Why Gay and Lesbian Identities Don’t Undermine Identity in Christ

This post on Christian identity is the 4th in a 7-part series called “Gay or Same-Sex-Attracted?” I’ll be publishing every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday over the next two weeks, and each post will cover a new reason to use the words “gay” and “lesbian” as a Christian. Please feel free to share your thoughts. I love having dialogue and feedback!

To check out other posts in this series:

  1. Gay or Same-Sex-Attracted? Navigating the LGBT Language Police
  2. Christianese Like Same-Sex-Attracted Pushes Away the LGBT Community
  3. Gay Doesn’t Mean ‘Sin’ And Neither Does Same-Sex-Attracted Mean ‘Holy’ 
  4. Why Gay and Lesbian Identities Don’t Undermine Identity in Christ
  5. Why Homosexual Christians Are Called To Identify With Gays And Lesbians
  6. LGBT Words Are More Precise than the ‘Same-Sex-Attracted’ Umbrella
  7. Gay or Same-Sex-Attracted? Answering Some Lingering Questions

Or to read the full article:

Also, I feel the need to clarify that I am a celibate lesbian and fully committed to a traditional sexual ethic as outlined by Scripture. If you haven’t read my About page or previous posts, this could get lost in the conversation. I want to avoid misunderstandings as much as possible, so hopefully this information is clear!

UPDATE 4/23/2018:  As this series has been getting read by more people, I’ve realized that there is an important background post on Christian identity that I wrote earlier on. If the topic of identity interests you, check this post out in order to get a fuller picture of where I’m coming from:

Gay and lesbian and other LGBT+ identities don't undermine Christian identity. Identity is more complex than we think.

Identity Is Not So Simple

Last year, I boarded a flight to South Korea and said goodbye to the U.S.A. Now, about 11 months later, I am a different person because of that choice. Moving abroad led to a variety of foreign experiences that left their mark upon my life and, as a result, I’m different than before.

If we could do a timey-wimey experiment and split my life into an alternate reality versus the current reality, we’d see the impact of my choice. The “Bridget” that never moved to South Korea but stayed in America would be a slightly different “me” than the “Bridget” who actually moved. The identity of one would differ from the other.

There’s lots of things that shape my identity. Take for example my intense attraction to ice cream. Why do I love ice cream so much? I don’t really know. I just do. And this fact alone has shaped my life in big and small ways. Without it, I would’ve never eaten ice cream for breakfast on a daily basis during middle school (and early high school). Even today, I wouldn’t so effectively convince my friends to get ice cream instead of popcorn for a movie.

Without my love for ice cream, I’d be a different person. Put another way, my attraction to ice cream shapes my identity. And the same can be said of our attractions to people. more “Why Gay and Lesbian Identities Don’t Undermine Identity in Christ”

Gay Doesn’t Mean ‘Sin’ And Neither Does Same-Sex-Attracted Mean ‘Holy’

This is the third post in a 7-part series called “Gay or Same-Sex-Attracted?” I’ll be publishing every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday over the next two weeks, and each post will cover a new reason to use the words “gay” and “lesbian” as a Christian. Please feel free to share your thoughts. I love having dialogue and feedback!

To check out other posts in the series:

  1. Gay or Same-Sex-Attracted? Navigating the LGBT Language Police
  2. Christianese Like Same-Sex-Attracted Pushes Away the LGBT Community
  3. Gay Doesn’t Mean ‘Sin’ And Neither Does Same-Sex-Attracted Mean ‘Holy’ 
  4. Why Gay and Lesbian Identities Don’t Undermine Identity in Christ
  5. Why Homosexual Christians Are Called To Identify With Gays And Lesbians
  6. LGBT Words Are More Precise than the ‘Same-Sex-Attracted’ Umbrella
  7. Gay or Same-Sex-Attracted? Answering Some Lingering Questions

Or to read the full article:

Also, I feel the need to clarify that I am a celibate lesbian and fully committed to a traditional sexual ethic as outlined by Scripture. If you haven’t read my About page or previous posts, this could get lost in the conversation. I want to avoid misunderstandings as much as possible, so hopefully this information is clear!

Words like Gay and Lesbian Not Any Less or More Holy Than Same-Sex-Attracted

 

Korean’s despise Donald Trump. And I mean really, really despise him. (Having lived in South Korea for a year, I can reliably confirm their disdain with some level of accuracy.)

Knowing this about the country, let’s imagine that you visit South Korea and go out to dinner with a group of locals. Everyone thinks you’re Canadian, but you’re not. You’re American. You awkwardly find a way to clarify your nationality, but when they realize their mistake, things get weird. The first thing that crosses their minds is, “Hmph…voted for Trump.” They smile stiffly, finish their meal, and politely say goodbye.

Now, whether or not you voted for Trump is completely irrelevant. The point is: Would you appreciate being judged like that? Based on nothing more than your nationality? Or would you rather they thought something nice? Maybe something like, “An American! Must be friendly!”

I can’t speak for everyone, but I generally prefer when people assume nice things about me. Thankfully, Koreans are usually good at that. But the same can’t always be said about Christians, especially when it comes to the LGBT+ community. more “Gay Doesn’t Mean ‘Sin’ And Neither Does Same-Sex-Attracted Mean ‘Holy’”

Christianese Like “Same-Sex-Attracted” Pushes Away the LGBT Community

This post on Christianese is the 2nd of a 7-part series called “Gay or Same-Sex-Attracted?” I’ll be publishing every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday over the next two weeks, and each post will cover a new reason to use the words “gay” and “lesbian” as a Christian. Please feel free to share your thoughts. I love having dialogue and feedback!

To check out other posts in the series:

  1. Gay or Same-Sex-Attracted? Navigating the LGBT Language Police
  2. Christianese Like Same-Sex-Attracted Pushes Away the LGBT Community
  3. Gay Doesn’t Mean ‘Sin’ And Neither Does Same-Sex-Attracted Mean ‘Holy’ 
  4. Why Gay and Lesbian Identities Don’t Undermine Identity in Christ
  5. Why Homosexual Christians Are Called To Identify With Gays And Lesbians
  6. LGBT Words Are More Precise than the ‘Same-Sex-Attracted’ Umbrella
  7. Gay or Same-Sex-Attracted? Answering Some Lingering Questions

Or to read the full article:

Also, I feel the need to clarify that I am a celibate lesbian and fully committed to a traditional sexual ethic as outlined by Scripture. If you haven’t read my About page or previous posts, this could get lost in the conversation. I want to avoid misunderstandings as much as possible, so hopefully this information is clear!

Same-sex-attracted is Christianese. Christians should use the word gay.

 

Imagine you’re with a group of acquaintances. You’re getting along just fine, when suddenly the person next to you says something about celloflake. You’ve never heard of celloflake, but you decide to nod for the sake of pleasantry.

However, it appears that everyone else in the group knows exactly what celloflake means. And to your dismay, the conversation continues, flowing into something about nitrogen kickoffs, flanges, and DPUs. It doesn’t take long for you to realize that you don’t belong, and you graciously excuse yourself, hoping to find a better crowd.

The Power of Language

If you’re placed in a situation with unfamiliar vocabulary, you’re bound to feel uncomfortable. Or you might even find yourself in a situation where you do understand the words — it’s just that the language happens to be straight out of a Jane Austen novel, and you don’t talk like that. Sure, maybe you’d be friendly and try to connect. But it would be difficult.

Trust me, there’s nothing like a language barrier to make relationships a challenge. I’ve lived in South Korea for a year, and I know. Without language, we can’t understand or connect with people. And even with a shared language, relating is difficult when you don’t have the same dialect, vocabulary, or even accent. more “Christianese Like “Same-Sex-Attracted” Pushes Away the LGBT Community”

Gay or Same-Sex-Attracted? Navigating the LGBT Language Police

This is the first post in a 7-part series called “Gay or Same-Sex-Attracted?”

To be honest, it didn’t begin as a series. In fact, it began as something of a “listicle” that I thought would be short and sweet. But as I began writing, I soon realized that I was trying to pack way more content than would fit into a manageable piece. So I’ve spread things out over the next two weeks instead. I’ll be publishing every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and each post will cover a new reason to use the words “gay” and “lesbian” as a Christian. Please feel free to share your thoughts. I love having dialogue and feedback!

To check out other posts in this series:

  1. Gay or Same-Sex-Attracted? Navigating the LGBT Language Police
  2. Christianese Like Same-Sex-Attracted Pushes Away the LGBT Community
  3. Gay Doesn’t Mean ‘Sin’ And Neither Does Same-Sex-Attracted Mean ‘Holy’ 
  4. Why Gay and Lesbian Identities Don’t Undermine Identity in Christ
  5. Why Homosexual Christians Are Called To Identify With Gays And Lesbians
  6. LGBT Words Are More Precise than the ‘Same-Sex-Attracted’ Umbrella
  7. Gay or Same-Sex-Attracted? Answering Some Lingering Questions

Or to read the full article:

Also, I feel the need to clarify that I am a celibate lesbian and fully committed to a traditional sexual ethic as outlined by Scripture. If you haven’t read my About page or previous posts, this could get lost in the conversation. I want to avoid misunderstandings as much as possible, so hopefully this information is clear!

Should LGBT Christians be allowed to use words like "gay" and "lesbian"? Or should they stick to same-sex-attracted?

 

Here it comes. It always does.

I finish coming out, establish that I’m celibate, and reiterate that I uphold the traditionally biblical understanding of marriage. I cross every “t” and dot every last “i” — and then they ask. They always ask.

“Why choose to identify as gay?”

I look at them warily, wondering if their question comes out of genuine curiosity or out of a desire to “set right” the one flaw in my thinking. When I begin my response, I hardly communicate a fraction of my thoughts before we get lost in the crossfire of counter-arguments for all the reasons why “gay” and “lesbian” are unacceptable terms for the Christian.

I usually give up. I say something to the effect of, “Let’s agree to disagree,” and move on. But the expression on their face betrays… what? Disappointment? Or is it frustration? Frustration that I started the conversation by coming out as a lesbian and ended the conversation by remaining a lesbian. Yes, a lesbian. I don’t primarily call myself a “same-sex-attracted Christian.” more “Gay or Same-Sex-Attracted? Navigating the LGBT Language Police”