May 23, 2017

My Highest Recommendation: Love Is An Orientation by Andrew Marin

Here’s a previous IM essay on this topic: “What Do Gays and Lesbians Hear? (When They Are With Evangelicals.)”

UPDATE: I appreciate Andrew’s kind words in the comments. I have to confess that I’m a little disappointed that the emphasis of Andrew’s book- relationships and conversations- seems to be lost, and the discussion is drawn immediately toward “what should churches do to those people?” As I said, this book will not be the normal reading experience. Andrew is trying to do something- in his own experience first- that is incredibly difficult: pay the price to love those who are very angry with us.

This book has been as profoundly unsettling as Sara Miles’ Take This Bread. It’s Jesus shaped Christianity, and it does not leave you alone. It is not what you’re prepared for. It will hit you like Jesus’ love for the unacceptable hit his world..

Love is An Orientation. Andrew Marin. “Elevating the conversation with the gay community.” Inter-Varsity Press.

I’m hoping to write a book in the next few months. I have something I want to say and I think it’s important. I hope all of you buy it, and I wouldn’t mind if a few million people bought it and I could change my life accordingly.

But I want you to hear what I am about to say: If you had two books to choose from, whatever I will write and what Andrew Marin has written in Love Is An Orientation, I would want you to buy Andrew’s book.

What Andrew Marin has written in this book isn’t just interesting. It is absolutely vital that evangelicals hear what Marin is saying about the state of things between Gays and Evangelicals. This is a message that may be more important than any issue evangelicals are currently discussing short of the content of the Gospel itself.

Love Is An Orientation is a must buy. In fact, buy two or three. You are going to do some good with this book, despite the fact the people who most need to read it may be less than inclined to do so. Don’t just read it; get someone else to read it. Awaken the sleepers. Start a revolt.

It is a book that will put most of you into an immediate struggle. You are going to read what Marin says about the situation between Evangelicals and the Gay community with intense appreciation, but part of your ingrained evangelical training will be talking to you the whole time, telling you to stop thinking about anything other than the abomination of Gay sex and the verses that apply. You’ll want to shut it and you’ll want to keep reading. You’ll know you need this and you aren’t hearing it anywhere else, but part of you will say you’re slipping into squishy, emerging liberalism.

You aren’t. You are applying the Gospel.

One of my preacher friends wrote me the other day and confessed that he has trouble with the application part of his sermons. Seminary trained, smart, devoted to Christ, the church and its mission, he was struggling with how to leave the text and walk his hearers into the real world.

That is the recent story with evangelicals. We have lots of Bible, but when we’ve finished the exegesis and the explanation of the text, we have the challenge of walking with the God we’ve talked about back into the real world. We have the challenge of applying Jesus to our own lives and living like him in relationships with others.

We’re pretty bad at it. We prefer to walk into our families, into Christian culture, into the evangelical ghetto. Our engagement with the world is much like those currently on the run from their fears of swine flu: masks and ignorance. We build walls and we live behind them, telling ourselves what we believe is the truth.

When it comes to our interaction with the Gay community- and the Gay Christians in our midst- we have made a five-star mess of things. To make it worse, it’s a mess we’re either ignorant of or proud of.

We’ve invested hours and dollars in hearing over and over the assurance that these particular sexual sins are condemned in scripture. We’ve insured that our default idea of conversation with gay persons is being shouted out by angry advocates of hate. We’ve given the culture warriors the floor to say whatever they wanted in whatever way they wanted.

We’ve avoided the subject when it wasn’t on our turf. We’ve made sure that our sources never came at us from a side of the subject we weren’t prepared to hear. We controlled the stories that came to us so they were always properly scripted.

We’ve treated gays with almost no appreciation for their real situation. We’ve obsessed on sex, forgotten how painful it is to be human, minimized the pain of exclusion and become apologists for the worst among us because they believed the same Bible we do.

God didn’t leave Andrew Marin where the rest of us prefer to dwell. He shattered his world of Gay stereotypes. He demolished his knee-jerk evangelical prejudices. He called him on a mission to the Gay community and he made him into a missionary of listening and friendship.

Now he’s sent Andrew to us, with a book so unlike any book you’ve read on the Gay-Evangelical issue, that it’s dangerous. Andrew will take a lot of criticism for this book, and people who have been writing books about Gays and posing as experts on the Gay community are going to be embarrassed, irritated and infuriated with this combination of compassionate listening, repentance, passion for the Gospel and insightful analysis of the evangelical failure to love the Gay community as Jesus would.

We aren’t supposed to have this book or read this book in most circles of Christian influence, but that hasn’t stopped Andrew Marin from writing a book that, without a word of snark, wise-acreage or finger-wagging, succeeds in taking the evangelical conversation about how we respond to gay persons and gay Christians to an entirely different level.’

Marin’s book isn’t about exercising an agenda. It’s a book that grows out of the Gospel, out of the incarnate God’s love for all persons, out of refusal to be torn apart on the usual talking points and out of ministry to people who need Christ.

Inter-Varsity Press is often the subject of a fair amount of snark for not towing the predictable conservative line consistently enough to suit the Knights of Reformed Orthodoxy. In fact, IVP has a history of publishing brave, ground-breaking books that push scholarship, challenge predictable stereotypes and allow us to hear voices you won’t hear almost anywhere else in evangelicalism.

I don’t agree with everything Andrew Marin says, but Jesus was everywhere in what this book is all about. It made me think of dozens of conversations with Gay persons down through the years of ministry where the wisdom and challenge of this book would have been life-changing for me and those I talked with.

I read so many Christian books that leave me cold, if not turned off, to being a Christian. This one made me want to be 20 again and start following Jesus all over again. It’s a painful inventory of mistakes, but it’s a wonderful model of throwing open the doors and letting the light of God’s love in.

It is largely too late for many of us in evangelicalism to change what is an intolerable and embarrassing failure to love fellow human beings and fellow believers as Jesus calls us to. But for many younger Christians, this book is, frankly, astonishingly hopeful. Grab it, read it, engage it, practice it.

I never approved receiving this book, so I usually don’t write a review I didn’t agree to do in advance. But this book blew me away. Unhesitatingly recommended in the highest possible terms.

Comments

  1. How is flag waiving, SUV driving, expensive appliance buying American capitalism any less of a life style that homosexuality? I wonder how us straight upper middle class people would react to churches trying to change our orientation from capitalism to Jesus. But hey, supporting the torturing of al qaida detainees and buying LCD TV’s is less icky than gay sex…

  2. There are many opinions on this subject and i don’t have time to read them all now. I only wanted to comment because of my status as a Christian lesbian.
    I was raised by a preacher, have grown up hearing the Bible preached, have read the Bible myself several times over the years. I knew all the arguments when I realized when I was 21 that I was gay, so I said goodbye to God and headed toward destruction.
    What I discovered was the truths I had read in the Bible applied to all…even me…”Nothing can pluck you from the hands of my Father” (loose translation..no access to my Bible right now), and many others besides that. I found out that God would pursue me to the ends of the Earth because He loves me. I tried to “take up my cross and follow Him” as the tortured Paul recommended. I begged for this “thorn in my flesh” to be removed. I tried this for years…begging, pleading for redemption and release from this life of sin.
    Needless to say, that wasn’t the answer God had in mind for me. Instead, He led me to a MCC church on a Sunday night where a gay preacher was teaching from passages I could recite from childhood. I met with him afterward and we talked about scripture and how when read within the historical context of the time, we are not condemned by God, only by man’s interpretaion of God. I was able to move forward in my life with the knowledge that It Is Well with my soul, and nothing can ever separate me from the love of God. I have never been closer in my relationship 8 years removed from that Sunday night. I live a life of constant awareness of God’s presence in my heart, and i do so with my partner of 6-1/2 years. I know the rest of humanity will catch up eventually because I know with my knower that this peace in me comes directly from God, Jehovah God, Creator of the Universe, and he is not the author of confusion. All will be made clear in His good time.
    In the meantime, I keep the faith, I pray for others and I love you all.

  3. Neither homosexuality or prostitution exist as separate, independent sexual destinations. Nobody ever woke up in the morning and decided to be either. Both have elements of loneliness and desperation, self image , sin and confusion. Both lifestyles are very painful, despite the positive press each receives. It is fortunate that in working with prostitutes the bible has so much positive material.

  4. We are to love both.

  5. Recently, when we were with a group of gay friends, my wife said something about church. One of the people in the group said, “You can’t be Christians. They’re mean and hate us. You actually like us.” Everyone in the group agreed.

    For some reason, some Christians think that God has appointed them to the position of “sin inspector”, of other peoples’ sins, that is. Actually, Jesus told us to love our neighbors as ourselves, and focus on our own sins (the log in our own eye).

    Most people, including gays, have a pretty good idea what the Bible says about how they live. Whatever I say is unlikely to convince anyone to accept or live by my interpretation of what the Bible says. My job is to love my neighbor. It is the Spirit’s job to convince, convict and convert.

    Yes, there are those Christians who are kind and loving to their neighbors, including gays. During the recent battle on Prop 8 here in California, however, those Christians certainly appeared to be in the minority.

    Christians regularly love and accept all kinds of people, and even want those people to be part of the church, teach their kids and even be leaders in their churches, even when they know that those people regularly “sin”, according to the Bible. Would this not amount to “affirming their lifestyle”? Yet this is acceptable in most Christian circles as long as the “all kinds of people” do not include gays.

    Isn’t it just possible, even probable, that all of the time, money and effort spent opposing gays could be used to do what the Bible actually tells us to do – love our neighbor? Think of the good the millions spent supporting Prop 8 could have done paying for vaccinations for poor children in third world countries, for digging wells for villages without a source of clean water, and so on.

  6. Christopher Lake says:

    I am currently going through a spiritual struggle which is revealing to me the extent of my own utter weakness, in and of myself. I want to trust and obey God in the midst of the situation, but doing so is anything but easy for me. Put simply, it is a war.

    What would I do if someone told me that my struggle disqualified me from being a Christian? I might well fall into despair. No one has said such a thing, but I have gotten the impression that some Christians are struggling with *my* struggle, and they don’t know what to say about it (not that that makes them terrible people or anything… it just makes the situation awkward). I am even afraid to *talk* to many Christians about my struggle, for fear of they might react.

    What I’m getting at with all of this is, Christians should not ask, or silently expect, gay people to have all of their struggles resolved before they come to Christ. We *should* love them before they come to Christ– not just theoretically but in our words and our actions.

    What does this look like? At a most basic level, it means seeing gay people as fellow image-bearers of God, made by Him and loved by Him, and in that light, loving them ourselves. It does *not* mean saying that active, practiced homosexuality is not sinful, but it does mean loving people who do “practice” their homosexuality– and *not* just by telling them that what they are doing is sinful. My lack of trust (sometimes) in God in the midst of my situation is sinful, but my brothers and sisters are still called by God to love me through it. So are we called to love active homosexuals.

    There is still the question, though, of how to *best* love professing Christians who are unrepentant about actively living as homosexuals. That is a tough one. I know that part of *my* struggle stems from my own sin, and I am fighting it– not always very well or successfully, but by God’s grace alone, I am fighting it. How do we best love gay professing Christians who are not fighting their sexual temptations and who want us to affirm their acting on them?

    I’m not asking *whether* we are to love people in these situations, but how are we to *best* love them. I do not see Scripture affirming homosexual relationships or sex, just as I do not see it affirming my lack of trust in God.

  7. Christopher Lake says:

    I meant to write, “I am even afraid to *talk* to many Christians about my struggle, for fear of *how* they might react.”

  8. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    Two words for you: AIDS HOSPICE.

    A much tougher question: why didn’t you think of that? — Patrick Lynch

    Because my brains have been like swiss cheese since I landed my current job.

    Tell me this: is our complete failure of imagination when it comes to loving one another not the sure Earthly proof that God DOES NOT KNOW US? — Patrick Lynch

    American Evangelicals have demonstrated failure of imagination in lots of areas; why should this one be any different?

    Christians have cast out lots of demons, prophesied endlessly, claimed an infinite number of ridiculous miracles – and it’s gotten us basically nowhere… — Patrick Lynch

    You forgot “set date after date for the End of the World”. I got “prophesied to” to the point I assume ALL “prophecies” are bogus until proven otherwise. (i.e. Burden of Proof on them, not me.)

    “I believe the answer is you cannot. I do not see any way for the Israelite community to bridge the divide with the leper community without affirming their grievous sins against God.” — Patrick Lynch

    There are a LOT of “leper communities” out there, not just sexually-defined. I belong to two of them.

    (You’d never know, because she looks like the “church lady” from the old Saturday Night Live) — Joseph

    Better that she looks like The Church Lady than acts like her.

  9. ProdigalSarah says:

    “Maybe you’ll think this is a stupid question, but…why is everybody so sure that St. Paul is right about homosexuality?”

    I am not at all sure the concept existed as it does now. In Paul’s time children, boys and girls, were sold into slavery. They were used at the whim of their owner. Slaves were used as male prostitutes. I question whether the concept of two consenting same-sex adults falling in love and choosing to share their life would have even been comprehensible. Same-sex relationships were typically not of equals in that day. They were owner and slave, teacher and student, military superior and young recruit. There were probably exceptions, but when Paul was in Rome, he must have heard about orgies where men freely indulged with young slaves of both sexes.

  10. I have a few more thoughts after reading all of the comments. Since leaving all forms of organized religion several years ago, I have observed from the sidelines and headlines the actions and attitudes of the evangelicals in particular. They are the ones making headlines with the current debate on same sex issues it seems…along with the Mormons.
    The big nagging question for me has been, I wonder if these churches would allow Jesus to attend and worship “as is” if he were to choose now to appear in human form before us? The answer I repeatedly come to is a resounding No. As a matter of fact, the more I study and watch, it would appear that they are the anti-thesis of all that Jesus taught….that is to say, the AntiChrist.
    The debate has taken on a decidedly partisan tone, R vs. D vs. I it seems. Conservative, Progressive, Liberal. How is it that politics have hijacked this conversation? The big trump card of gay marriage is trotted out each election cycle, alopng with the other hot button issues and so it begins again. The difference now seems to be that the youth have awakened and see the folly in this. What part of “Judge not lest you be judged”, and “Do to others as you would have done to you” is being misunderstood and by whom?
    The bottom line for me is and always will be, what does God say to me? When I get alone and seek His direction what does He say to me? I hear Him say “Debra, be nicer to the strangers you meet in your life, be more giving of your time, love your enemies”, etc. Never once has he said to me anything about the love I feel for my partner being an abomination to Him. As a matter of fact, He continues to bless us daily as we continue this journey to love Him more, to seek His will and to love our fellow humans as He loves us. That’s where I rest assuredly this and every minute of my life.

  11. fishon says:

    ProdigalSarah said: I am horrified that you would compare being gay with prostitution and drug use. Wow! No wonder so many parents are slamming the door on their children, if they are listening to pastors with your views.
    My gay son is the same person today as he was as a smiling little kid who loved to help me bake cookies.
    ————Sarah, I do not want to get into a slam contest with you. But I need to address a couple of things you intimate.

    1. My X-prostitute daughter is now a leader in a church, directing a huge urban youth center for underprivileged inner city kids. She is the same smiling person she was when we would go fishing together.

    2. Where did you get that I would teach: “slamming the door on their children”? YOU JUST ASSUME THAT.

    3. So you are horrified that I compare a sin my daughter was engaged in with the sin your son is engaged in. Was my daughters sin somehow greater than your son’s sin?

    Sarah, you asked this fair question::”Can you seriously believe that any person would choose this pain for their life?”
    ————My personal experience says “yes,” I seriously believe that any person would/does choose pain for their life.

    How much do you know of street prositution? Do you think my daughter was born to be one or did she choose it/ I am guessing you would say she chose it, and you would be right. She chose the pain of beatings, drug stuppers, left to die in a gutter, health issues that will be with her the rest of her life, etc. Yes, Sarah, millions of people choose pain for their life.

    Sarah, please do not hear my thoughts, statements and questions as screaming at you. Please see our talking as two people with different positions having a dialogue. Believe me, please, I am trying to be respectful–and if it seems I am not, please give me the benefit of the doubt, as I give it to you.
    jerry [fishon]

  12. We have many gay friends, so all of the comments about “affirming” their lifestyle make no sense to us. None of our gay friends have ever asked us to affirm their lifestyle. They do know whether or not we accept them as people and whether or not we like them. But they do not ask us to affirm their lifestyle.

    I suppose someone might think that being friends with someone affirms their lifestyle, or makes that person think we are affirming their lifestyle. If that is the case, then I could not be friends with many of my neighbors, co-workers, relatives and church people I know. They all sin. I do not have a need to name their sins here or to them. I’m sure they know them far better than I.

    Who came up with this idea that if we love and accept people, regardless of how they live, and whether or not we agree with how they live, that we are affirming their lifestyle? Would that not mean that Jesus affirms their lifestyle?

    Why is it that certain arguments, such as “affirming their lifestyle” rarely, if ever, come up unless the topic of discussion is gays? If I love and accept people who are mean and nasty to certain people based on the color of their skin or their sexual orientation, does that mean I am “affirming their lifestyle”, even if they do go to church every Sunday and are very religious? – I hope not, because that certainly is not my intention.

  13. Thank you Sam. Apparently Jesus “affirmed” about every sin on the big list.

  14. Teenage Mutant Ninja Tertullian says:

    Anna A asks me to consider a “thought experiment,” namely:

    “If [homosexuality] were an innate good, then good things would come out of it? Right?

    “So just consider mental health, physical health and stable relationships.

    “Are they, in either North America or Europe, about the same or better than heterosexuals?

    To which I reply:

    On average, you could be right. Let’s say you are (though we’d really need to look long and hard at the stats for these, if any. Also, I think they have more money.)

    But the same line of reasoning could also be used against left-handedness. (Lefties have a life expectancy of about seven years shorter.) Or various other traits (race, gender) that most would not be willing to call innately bad.

    Also, much of the difference could be attributed to discrimination by society. If that were gone, then they might have better mental health, for example.

    One key issue is the extent to which these things are changeable. Today, few outside the “Christian community” entertain much hope that gays can be “cured” (though in my experience, lesbians are more likely to lean bi). So given that they are here, with this orientation, is it reasonable to expect celibacy out of them? Sure, some people accept it voluntarily, and even manage to follow it, but most (hetero and homo) yield to love and passion. So we can either accommodate these natural human desires, or suppress them (but not very well).

    Or we can try to find a cure, perhaps through genetic research. (To the extent that homosexuality has a genetic basis–I think it’s a mixture.)

  15. ProdigalSarah says:

    “2. Where did you get that I would teach: “slamming the door on their children”? YOU JUST ASSUME THAT.”

    I get that impression because in comparing being gay with being a prostitute you are saying that gay people choose to be gay. Telling any gay person that is slamming the door in their face because it is refusing to accept them for the person they are. I was born left handed. My son was born gay. I bear responsibility for what I do with my hand, just as my son has a responsibility for what he does with his body. The exact same would be true if I were born right handed and he a heterosexual male.

    We are all sinners. We have no right to say that my sin is any less than your sin or less than your daughter’s sin or than my son’s. We are all sinners.

  16. That Other Jean says:

    “Affirm their lifestyle?” Well, my gay friends are faithful to each other, would get married if my state permitted it, hold steady jobs, have bought a house together, love their families, appreciate their friends, are kind to their cats. . .Their sins are no worse than mine.

  17. Andy D says:

    As an Atheist I’m pretty confused about why this is such a big issue at all. There are a LOT of laws that Christians ignore from the OT (where most of the rules against homosexuality come from). I know that there’s a few things about it in the NT (been a while since I last read the Bible), but isn’t that all from Paul? Why can’t this be chalked up as something that probably made sense at the time, but knowing what we do today isn’t it time to move past this?

    I know many of you believe that the Bible is divinely inspired, but there is a distinct human presence in it’s writings, and we are very prone to error.

  18. greg r says:

    I agree with and applaud SAM’s post, well said. “Friends with…” is just that . I’d note that his post has (to me) NOTHING to do with Prodigal Sarah’s post where gay and left handed are inter-changeable. To say that this is a stretch is quite the understatement.

    Christians are tugged and pulled to the kind of extremes that take us away from GOD and HIS reality (Monk has an archive full of these). I don’t have to be mean or intolerant to show I have convictions (thank you SAM), but I dont’ have to equate my curly brown hair with sexual sin. I look forward to reading the book Mr.Monk touted, surely Marin avoids such glaring caricatures of what Jesus looks like and expects.

  19. Andy D says:

    Also another thing I would like to add. The young generation is very clear on how they feel about this. It’s not a matter of if but WHEN Gay marriage is legal.

  20. fishon says:

    The tremendous uproar over Miss Calif. by more than a few gay groups and individuals says much about the “affirming” issue. They put it right out in the open for all to see. She JUST answered a question she could not duck, and has been verbably beaten for it. Her transgression, not ‘affirming’ gay marriage.
    fishon

  21. fishon says:

    ProdigalSarah

    I get that impression because in comparing being gay with being a prostitute you are saying that gay people choose to be gay. Telling any gay person that is slamming the door in their face because it is refusing to accept them for the person they are.
    ——Yes, I am saying gays choose to be gay, just like my daughter made her choice. Just like I chose to be a drunk.

    And I heard the same arguement from my daughter to me–“You refuse to accept me for the person I am.

    And I used that very same arguement on my wife trying to get her to accept me as a drunk.

    Sarah, you said:”We have no right to say that my sin is any less than your sin or less than your daughter’s sin or than my son’s. We are all sinners.”
    ——I haven’t done that, nor do I remember anyone in this debate doing that.
    fishon

  22. frank sonnek says:

    Some of you will find this helpful:

    I make a distinction between ontological labels/categories and behavioral categories/label.

    Ontological: racial, gender, physical disabilities, sinner, saint, christian, and yes gay.

    Behavioral: alcoholic, drug addict, gossip, idolator, adulterer, pedophile, hero, hard worker, etc

    Ontological labels are labels about someone that remain true INDEPENDENT of behavior.

    Behavioral labels are labels about someone that are meaningless when disconnected fro behavior.

    The two categories are not exclusive. One can bear a label in both categories.

    I put sinner in the ontological category. But itis a very special ontological class. perhaps deserves it´s very own class. why? we sin because we are sinners, we are not sinners because we sin. The point of Romans is that we are ALL sinners. But human does not = sinner. ALL sinners are human and all humans are sinners. It does not follow that human=sinner. Why not? we can ONLY know this from the Incarnation: Our Lord was FULLY human, yet he was without sin.

    My Lutheran Church LCMS thinks they are more compassionate in that they say “sure we accept homos because we are sinners just like they are, homosexuality is no worse than drug addiction, alcoholism, even gossip.” Sounds compassionate, but there is a category error there, and be sure that gays do not miss that and feel the christians have drunk the haterade for both sin and sinner.

  23. Sharon says:

    I think you’ve nailed it Frank; for me anyway this is the heart of the problem. Yet it seems like so many Christians can’t get their heads round this at all.

    I volunteer with depressed & suicidal people. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve talked with young people from Christian families who want to die when they realise they’ve been brought up to hate themselves.

  24. Thank you for this post. In the past, my blogging circles were confined to “faith” blogs, but last year I started spending time on dailyKos, which is a political (Democratic) blog.

    Yes, there are evangelical Democrates (!) but on this site, have also engaged many people who speak freely about their faith (or lack of) — and you can’t help by cry when you hear about all the hurt and pain that has been caused “in the name of Christ”. Many topics, but sexuality right up there.

    I cried when Prop 8 passe in California, primarily because I did not see the fruit of the spirit… love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

    All that effort that went into defeating Prop 8 could have been spent spreading the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ. Personally, I know that my awareness of what is right and what is wrong in my life evolves as I grow in my relationship with Jesus. Let’s just focus our efforts on introducing people to the love that is Jesus and let the holy spirit take care of the rest.

  25. Irenicum stated “I know that in my own broken heterosexuality, I struggle with what it means to express Gods’ image through my life. It’s no different for those whose orientation is different. They’re just broken in a different direction.”

    Gays and Lesbians don’t consider themselves to be broken. I doubt that they believed that you “accepted” them. You really only “tolerated” them much as they tolerated you.

  26. Juan Martyme says:

    Wow. I hope this book changes the climate in the evangelical and charismatic church, at least among a few who can provide oasis for those who do struggle.

    As a sometimes post-evangelical, now Anglican (as of ’98) and one who deeply attends to biblical orthodoxy on this subject, it has come at a great price.

    As a “same-sex attracted” man, I have gone back and forth between carefully guarding my struggle to being more open in my church(es), friendships and in the workplace. As an athletic and “straight-appearing” guy (according to stereotype), I could have opted for silence, but have at times attempted authenticity.

    Having experienced both shunning and vigorous Bible-quoting from my spiritual counterparts, the most painful aspect of this was the relegation to “second-class” Christian status, amounting to disqualification from leadership or ministry.

    That’s all I’ll say for now.

    Appreciate the dialogue here. Even seeing the closed hearts along with the open ones was somehow redemptive somehow. I am glad there is still grace and peace offered to all regardless of our struggle.

  27. As a Christian, I have to agree with the atheist. If this is a sin, it certainly isn’t the worst.
    I never felt that way & don’t understand why it is considered almost as bad as abortion to some believers. But, please don’t stereotype us. There are many evangelicals who are very accepting.
    I’d like to make another comment. Why did they not allow gays in the military, but seemed to encourage heteros to go to prostitutes & live wildly!?
    Now that there is no stigma in being gay, allow everyone in the military, but no sex for anyone on duty, especially those profligate heteros! What ever happened to military discipline? He Heee
    (BTW, I am a hetero woman.)

  28. Gay Christian says:

    I managed to read through half of the 127 comments here. Am touched by the empathetic and compassionate responses and somewhat exasperated by some debates over the morality of sexual orientation.

    I thank iMonk for the review of the book, and for trumpeting a call (along with Marin and others) to start building bridges with the GLBT community. I am over 30 years old, have spent half my life in counseling and deliverance ministry in an attempt to be healed of my ‘sexual brokenness’ that is homosexual orientation. I have cried with friends, I have had demons cast out of me, I have had generational strongholds named and broken, I have dated amazing godly women whom I never quite loved sufficiently to take them down the aisle.

    I repented of every thought or feeling of attraction toward another man. I second guessed and over-analyzed my own intentions to build genuine friendships with other Christian brothers. When my Christian friends passed insensitive remarks about gays, I laughed along with them to mask my own pain. When small groups come together to share about what go on in their lives, I could only share the peripheral concerns because the one most preoccupying issue in my life was so often misunderstood and frowned upon by other Christians.

    I am most amused by this Christian obsession to “make a stand” on the issue. I think I have known very well what the evangelical stand is. It baffles me why there is a need to keep reiterating the belief that “homosexuality is sin”. Does that help me? Does that propels me to love God more as a gay Christian? Does that make my own struggle any easier? Or are Evangelical Christians obsessed with “making a stand” because there aren’t much else to say beyond “love the sinner hate the sin”?

    Well I thought that I would never embrace the “homosexual lifestyle” either. But then I just realized that there isn’t ONE homosexual lifestyle, just as there isn’t ONE heterosexual lifestyle. There are promiscuous straight folks and there are monogamous, chaste straight folks. Likewise, there are promiscuous gays and there are monogamous, chaste gays. To apply a blanket label of “the homosexual lifestyle” to all gays and lesbians is to have an intellectual discourse in a vacuum, without any real life knowledge of what really goes on in the world of gays and lesbians.

    The gay men I have met always want to delay sexual intimacy until emotional bonds are cultivated. They are looking for ONE person with whom they can share their lives. And yes, they are more tolerant of Christians than Christians are of them.

    And for those who argue that the orientation itself is a sin, should really read the Bible more carefully, and have a more cogent understanding of what constitute moral accountability. To hold on to a conservative position doesn’t make one more biblical.

  29. To Gay Christian: it is unfortunate that your comment came so late in the discussion that Michael initiated, because I fear not many people will see it. I have my computer set to get new comments from this site, so I saw your comment.

    You have made excellent points here and I think you have much to teach other Christians about the journey a gay or lesbian Christian may have to walk if they want to stay within a Christian faith community. Have you been able to happily stay within or find a faith-community that allows you to be yourself? I do hope so.

    Thank you for your post and I hope folks see it here.