Last week I had the privilege to share some of my life’s story at a gathering in Iowa for Christians who wanted to learn how to more effectively connect with and dignify queer people. I was on a panel with one of my favorite authors, and we were interviewed by my absolute favorite podcast host. Needless to say I was über nervous going into it! That is, especially because I wasn’t sure if my voice condition (spasmodic dysphonia) would interfere. Thankfully, everything went smoothly and the crowd gave fantastic feedback on that part of the event.
As any statistics you look at will make abundantly clear, the Church historically hasn’t been a super hospitable environment to people who don’t conform to heterosexual norms. Over the last year or so, that reality came a bit closer to home for me. It increasingly seemed to me that a lot of Christians I knew were disinterested in developing a more open-hearted, missional approach to relating with queer persons. To be at this conference though in the middle of rural America… filled with hundreds of believers who were sacrificing time and finances to try and rethink how they navigate these relationships… it was such a breath of fresh air.
Many of the people in the room were over the age of 60, leading and participating in very conservative evangelical churches. When they spoke with me it was clear they had truly tender, humble hearts. It gave me a boost of hope for the Church to be surrounded by hundreds of individuals who were actively and intentionally learning to embrace Christ’s own posture toward those who have been misunderstood.
The next day when I returned to St. Louis I went to a prayer meeting. In the meeting one of the men present received a phone call from his wife that he decided to answer. She was calling to tell him about a dream she’d just had that morning. In the dream, God spoke to her and said that a significant part of the Body of Christ is hidden within the gay community – carrying gifts of joy and freedom that the rest of us really need. And, the Lord added, “they have a greater revelation of their true identity than a lot of other believers actually do.”
Needless to say, the whole week was a great reminder that there really are people with “eyes to see” and “ears to hear” the Father’s own perspective over His children. Despite our slowness to respond, He is committed to – one way or another – helping us rightly recognize, esteem and care for one another.
May we too be committed to His reconciliatory work, for the long haul.
Shoutout to the Center for Faith, Sexuality & Gender for all you do for the Kingdom!
My Theological Evolution
My theology has shifted in different directions several times over the years. When I was a teenager and stopped believing in the pretribulational rapture, it was because I was convinced by scripture that my previous perspective was not what the apostles actually taught. In my early adulthood, when I dramatically changed my theology of identity and sanctification, it was because I became convinced that my own Protestant tradition was articulating those doctrines in a way the Bible itself does not. When I went through deconstruction in my late twenties, I re-examined the notions I had about fundamental doctrines like original sin, atonement theory, Hell, and even the nature of scriptural authority itself — precisely because I was trying to more seriously wrestle with the Bible and be honest about the conclusions its authors intended to lead me towards.
Throughout this whole, ongoing process, I feel like I have grown more confident not only that my theology is more properly grounded in truth than it used to be, but that it has become something filled with beauty. It has become more Jesus-centered. It has become something I actually want to share with people — and not just because I’ve been told it’s my moral responsibility to do so.
In my 30’s, I started more deeply rethinking my theology as it relates to my own sexuality. I committed to follow the same pattern that I’ve always followed. I looked at the scriptural texts. I learned everything I could about how they were translated and what they communicate when pieced together. I did my best to acknowledge where the authors confirmed or challenged the perspective I already held, asking the Holy Spirit to help me discern the Lord’s will through it all. Continue reading Taking the Bible For What It Is, As It Is
For those of us who seek to honor the authority of Scripture in our decision-making processes, we know we shouldn’t be sloppy in how we interpret its words. I’d say that is especially true when it comes to issues that drastically affect peoples’ wellbeing and the trajectory of their whole lives.
With that conviction held tightly, I’ve been studying how to best interpret Scripture’s guidance on LGBTQ issues for several years. I continually find that there is more to learn about all of this than I previously realized. My older theology was often massively simplistic and shallow, and sometimes poorly reasoned. Nevertheless, it was all I was exposed to for a very long time in the circles I swim in.
Because my studies had only gone to a certain extent, I simply didn’t know what I didn’t know. The supposedly “plain reading” of the text could only get me so far. To my own detriment and to the detriment of those I sought to influence, I was responsible for my own lack of interest in actually taking a deeper look at what the Good Book really says and means.
In the past couple weeks I decided to revisit this subject once again and go another layer deeper in my own research. So I read these two books, both about how to discern what approaches Scripture actually calls us to take on navigating LGBTQ controversies. Continue reading Perspectives to Consider
I thought I’d give a little update on life since I came out and subsequently got fired from my job:
Originally, I thought I’d feel embarrassed after coming out. I figured I’d “recoil” — wanting to hide from the world for a while. I assumed I’d have to push fairly hard for a while to get past my insecurity, wishing I could still cover that part of myself (particularly around other guy friends who I want to try extra hard to fit in with). I was bracing myself to face some difficult emotional work to move through.
When I made my original post though, I felt surprisingly self-assured about it. I went to bed that night filled with the most tangible joy — but expected I’d regret my decision later after the dopamine high faded. Continue reading a (semi-)quick update
“The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it!”
“You do you – live your truth, babe!”
These are exemplary of the sentiments I often hear when I discuss faith & sexuality with others. Honestly I find both of them to be pretty reductionistic. Neither go a super long way in actually helping one make responsible life choices or grow in wisdom and discernment.
For those of us who follow Jesus, we do not dive headlong into letting our fickle emotions drive our biggest life decisions. Neither do we throw our internal compass out the window and robotically comply with the modern evangelical standard of biblical interpretation. Rather, we give our allegiance to a living Person — who is very relational, respectful, dignifying, and process-oriented. That being the case, I generally think it is good to develop a deeper and more nuanced approach to sorting through decisions concerning things like our identity and destiny.
In light of the lively discussion some have had since I came out online, I thought it might be good to re-share this post I wrote back in early 2020. Hopefully it will give a good window into how I’m trying to navigate my own approach to life. Maybe it will even give someone else some food-for-thought in their own process… Continue reading Repost: “Yield”
Since coming out to the world of social media the other day, I have observed a lot of people discussing what my theological and ethical stances are on sexual desire and expression. Some folks have asked me questions about this directly, and others have simply affirmed and honored me for stances they perceive I am holding. I generally welcome the feedback and conversation.
Nevertheless — as much as I think it is important to weigh our beliefs and practices against scriptural teaching, and to discern how to humbly follow Christ’s leadership in these areas — I want to be clear that I was intentional about avoiding the opportunity to define all my stances in one post. I have PLENTY of opinions related to all things at the intersection of LGBTQ issues & faith… There are a couple of those opinions I’m sure I won’t be quiet about forever. But all of that ultimately is not the hill I want to die on.
For one, I don’t want to always play into the silly culture war — if I can avoid it. Secondly, I simply don’t need to tell the whole world what I think is right. I’ll more likely share about that with folks who share in common with me some fundamental assumptions about the very nature of truth. I can’t expect everyone to live the way I live when we don’t have the same core values or give allegiance to the same sources of authority.
Beyond that though, I could also just say this: It wasn’t an ethical or moral stance that made me fall in love with Jesus in the first place. And it wasn’t the tossing out of an ethical or moral stance that helped me figure out how to get more free from shame or how to grow more integrated as a person. I’ve long wanted far more clarity and resolution about all my “stances” than I’ve been able to find. But that has apparently never been a big priority to Jesus, in comparison to His own insistent pursuit of my simple trust. Our connection is thriving, and that doesn’t rise and fall on what an amazing job I do at managing my sexuality, coming to correct doctrinal conclusions, or identifying myself according to any expected criteria. Our relationship is covenantal, not contractual.
For the record, if you want to know if I’m “pure” or not, I can answer that in two ways: Continue reading RE: coming out
I’ve gone back and forth a few times about whether or not I want to talk about my sexuality much in public. I planned on making a post about it back in November of 2019, and I even had a specific date picked to do so. It was going to be a Sunday. The night before, the pastor of my church randomly called me out of the crowd and prophesied over me that the trajectory of my life was going to be forever different because of that weekend. That seemed like exactly the kind of overly-dramatic boost of encouragement I thought I needed. So I wrote an article, posted it on my blog… and shortly thereafter removed it, without ever publishing it to social media.
My life went on as usual.
All that said, I’ve shared this with a number of you in person or in my home group already. Nevertheless, I’ve recently come to terms with the fact that I still need to be more open about it. Especially with some of you that I’ve only come to know in the last couple years. God’s Spirit has seemed to be haunting me lately, regularly impressing upon me to more thoroughly address this subject. So rather than continuing to resist His clear prompting, I’m going to course-correct a bit before entering into 2022.
Here is the long and short of it… Continue reading A Bit About My Faith & Sexuality
Once again, I’m feeling challenged to write more regularly… It’s a skill I need to constantly sharpen and a discipline I need to maintain with more dedication. I’ve mostly been writing for the Divulge ministry website lately, but I am going to try getting back to posting on this personal blog more consistently too.
All that said, I thought I’d share with my readers today some resources that are fresh on my mind. A couple gay friends of mine suggested these to me, and I found both of them very insightful. One is a podcast interview and another is an article from the Huffington Post. Both give a lot of interesting and enlightening perspective on issues related to people’s sexuality. Since I have had so many great conversations lately about these subjects with so many of my friends (who I assume make up most of my readership), I thought some of you might be intrigued as well to look into these resources.
First, take a listen to this discussion between David Bennett and Justin Lee. Both are devout, sincere followers of Christ. Both are also attracted to members of their own sex. David is (very joyfully) committed to celibacy (in order to follow his understanding of biblical ethics), while Justin is open to the idea of marrying a man someday.
I was impressed with the genuine respect and civility these two spoke with on a topic that is often so divisive and contentious. David also really struck me as carrying a ton of hope and conviction when he spoke — even sounding grateful when talking about living a lifestyle of serious self-sacrifice. Together both he and Justin did a great job at introducing and helping to define the “Side A, Side B, and Side X” perspectives on sexuality within Christian circles.
The second thing I wanted to share with you is this piece about the unique nature of mental health issues in gay communities. The author goes beyond a shallow understanding of gay suffering that suggests “if people would just accept homosexuality everything would suddenly be all better.” He suggests that emotional, relational and even physical hardship is more intense for gays than for straight people in virtually every context, including those where queerness is considered socially acceptable and celebrated.
I think this piece has a LOT to offer in deepening everyone’s empathy for gay people (gay men in particular). It’s long, but I’d say it’s a very necessary read for those seeking to really understand the complexity of the pain gay people live and often die with.
When it comes to figuring out how we as the Body of Christ can approach the confusion and difficulty our gay/same-sex-attracted loved ones wrestle with, there’s a lot to process. I hope you find these two links as thought-provoking and helpful as I did.