Sunday, January 29, 2012

I Am a Christian, and I Do Not Tolerate Gay People.

The following post was written with love and grace.  I would love it if your responses came from a similar place.  It is long, and there are no pictures, but I believe it's worth the read.  Much, much love to anyone who makes it to the end.
If you’ve read anything of spiritual nature on my blog, you’ll know that I struggle with my relationship with the church.  I have built lasting friendships, felt nurtured and healthy, and participated in or witnessed miraculous, life-affirming things through the church, but I have also been hurt, angered, and disappointed in the church.
I have had moments when I have tried to throw in the towel, write the church off as a frustration I don’t need in my life, yet over and over again, I’m drawn back.  I try my best to fixate on the positive rather than the negative, and the main reason I keep going back is because I have this innate need to right wrongs.  It’s the thorn in my flesh (as the apostle, Paul, said).  No matter how hard I try to ignore it or justify walking away from the church by labeling it “not worth my time” or “someone else’s problem,” there’s something in my gut that whispers and sometimes screams, “DO SOMETHING.”
I shared in a recent post that I strive to live honestly and vulnerably.  Our parents taught us from an early age that honesty is the best policy, yet life teaches us that if we are honest about how we feel or think, there are people who will line up to hurt us, telling us we are wrong or that something is wrong with us.  In turn, we lose our ability or desire to be vulnerable.  We stop speaking up for fear of being hurt.  
Much of this process occurred for me within the confines of church buildings.  Throughout my upbringing, I had questions.  Lots of questions.  Sometimes, I was blessed with teachers and leaders who let me explore those questions, but most of the time, I was under the leadership of people who gave me stock answers, empty of personal conviction, because they were in a sense towing the party line.  It was a culture where thinking was not encouraged; in fact, thinking was often discouraged or feared.  It was a culture within which I felt like an alien.  With adult perspective, I realize that there were many who felt this way, but as children and teenagers, we learned quickly to conform.  Our adolescent minds yearned for answers to life’s toughest questions, and it was much easier to accept and move on than to wrestle.
When I was twelve, I was reading my Bible one day and came to a verse in Leviticus that read, “A man should not lie with a man as he does a woman.”  On the edge of the page in giant blue highlighter, I wrote HOMOSEXUALITY IS A SIN. Period.  I closed my Bible to pray and then opened it again to the same page.  I carefully tore the edge off the page, crumpled it, and threw it in the trash can.
That is my first memory of connecting homosexuality with sin.
Before that, homosexuality was not an abstract concept about which I knew nothing.  Homosexuality was a person.  My dad’s brother, Mike, or Mikey, as his nieces and nephews called him, was gay.  This had no meaning to me, of course, when I was really young.  He was my uncle who sent me strange postcards addressed to “Madame Binky” or “The Queen of Hip Hop.”  He was my uncle who showed up sporadically in his black t-shirts and Doc Martens, the one who let me listen to loud music on his Walkman.  He scared the bejeesus out of me when I found him moshing in the back bedroom, sweat dripping from his face (and even then I knew whatever he was doing was nothing short of awesome).  As I got older and more observant, he was the uncle who was difficult and distant at times, the one who caused considerable frustration for some of his family members, the one who refused to have his picture taken.
Mikey was the epitome of what uncles are supposed to be.  He was kind and indulgent, exhaustively fascinated by my little person life.  As I reached adolescence, he pushed the boundaries my parents had created for me.  He is the reason I fell in love with Kurt Cobain in fifth grade, and on some level, he’s one of the reasons I ever felt that it was okay to ask questions.
When he died, we travelled to his house in Albuquerque, where his good friend, Bob, had cared for him in the last days of his life.  Even in death, he was a character, like something out of a book or movie.  Their house was decorated with vintage lunch boxes and thrift store furniture.  As we sifted through his stuff, which didn’t amount to much, I wore his tinkle bells around my neck and his Doc Martens on my feet.  He had a box of mix tapes under his bed, filled with songs from Nirvana and R. E. M. and L7.  I claimed those as mine, too.  I also took home Kekaw, Mikey’s cockatiel, who beeped like a microwave and danced to “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
When the guests arrived for his funeral, the room was filled with our family, a few sharp-dressed men, and one woman on whom I became fixated as she was wearing a slightly provocative skirt and top, her outfit finished off with a coonskin cap.  In Albuquerque.  In April.  I kept thinking she must be hot.
By then, I was in eighth grade, navigating the world of adolescent sexuality and well-aware of what the word homosexuality meant.  My uncle preferred relationships with men.  I didn’t completely understand it, but I accepted it.  I recognized this quality in some of my friends, boys and girls who fit stereotypes of fags and homos and lesbos.
Some of these friends were Christians like me, my friends from church or friends who went to other churches, friends I met at church camps or city-wide gatherings of teenagers, looking to connect with God.  And no one talked about it.  Ever.  Unless you count the service I attended at a summer camp, where the minister held us in the auditorium for four hours asking anyone struggling with same-sex attraction to come forward for prayer and deliverance.  No one went forward, and finally at 11:00, the youth leaders ushered us back to our rooms.  Where no one talked about it.
Here is the church’s argument that homosexuality is a sin.  I can rattle this off from memory because I have, in fact, hidden the word in my heart as the writer of Proverbs admonishes me, and this is what is taught in churches on a regular basis.  The argument begins with these two Bible verses:
  1. Leviticus 18:22 (NIV): “Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does a woman; that is detestable.”
  2. Romans 1:26-27 (NIV): “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.”
These two verses are the verses that specifically speak to homosexuality, and not general sexual sin.  There are two more verses that speak directly about homosexuality, but I will get to those later.  Many of the websites and books about this subject say things like,
The Christian point of view is based solely upon the Bible, the divinely inspired Word of God. A truly Christian standard of ethics is the conduct of divine revelation, not of statistical research nor of public opinion. For the Christian, the Bible is the final authority for both belief and behaviour. (Lehmann Strauss,
This is representative of how a lot of Christians view this subject, as well as how they interpret the role of the Bible in the Christian faith.  The language in it reflects something that has not sat well in my spirit from the moment I identified myself as a Christian.  It’s this one word: truly.  That one word suggests that if you do not adopt this line of thinking, then you are not really a Christian.  If you believe something outside this prescribed notion, you are something else, something that is not Christian.  Christians MUST be guided by “divine revelation,” specifically the revelation that fits with a specific opinion.  And here is the other thing that puts my spirit on edge--that Christian ethics are guided solely by the Bible and not based on “statistical research or public opinion.”
Now, let’s be real.  Even the most evangelical of my friends can not possibly live this out.  We put it in our creeds, we teach it to our children, and we nod our heads the whole time.  Yes, yes, yes.  That’s true.
But let’s take an example that is completely unrelated to the issue of homosexuality.  Look what the apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:5-9 (NIV): “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ...And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.”
To apply these verses to your life in a literal way either means you are a slave or you own slaves.  How many of you, readers, are slaves or own slaves?  Zero.  In fact, I would venture to guess that exactly zero of you condone the practice of slavery.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that if asked about the subject, you would not even hesitate to say, “I believe slavery is wrong.”
But if you rewind history to the mid-1800s, you will find church leaders defending slavery with these exact verses.  If you rewind history to the 1950s, you will find church leaders who defended segregation just as fervently.  Their claims were based in literal interpretations of the Bible, but also in what has proven to be faulty science (i.e. black people were inferior, comparable to animals).  So, why do we not use these scriptures to justify slavery or segregation now?  For one thing, there were people in the church who stood up to the status quo and fought for the rights of black people based on their spiritual conviction, but we also have to take into account drastic shifts in “statistical research [and] public opinion.”
Even the strictest interpreter of scripture allows life experience to shape how they view the world (and whether he wants to admit it or not, how he interprets Scripture), which brings me to those verses that the church uses to “prove” that homosexuality is a sin.  The first verse from Leviticus 18:22 seems pretty straight forward--homosexuality is detestable.  Other versions say it is an “abomination.”  This is probably the single most quoted verse about homosexuality that helps Christians see it as a black and white issue.  However, in these arguments, Christians are less likely to bring up a verse that shows up just two chapters later (one that I told you I would bring up later) in Leviticus 20:13 (NIV): “If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable.  They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”
Record scratch.
Did you get that?  Gay people are to be put to death.  PUT.  TO.  DEATH.  Black and white.  Straight from the same writer who said they were detestable.  And to add insult to injury, those of us who do the killing don’t even need to worry about their blood being on our hands.
So, you know where I’m going here, right?  Why don’t we put gay people to death and wipe our hands clean?  Because of changes in “statistical research [and] public opinion.”  And because when God gave us hearts and minds with which to navigate the world, part of the package was common sense.  I could write pages and pages about the Levite laws and how many of them good Christian people do not live out in their daily lives (especially the parts about how we dress or what we eat), but this post is clearly already too long, and I need to stay on point.
So, let’s move on to the New Testament, the portion of the scriptures that most Christians find more inspirational for its applicability to real life.  (Sidenote: I love and appreciate the Old Testament just as much as the New Testament, but I recognize why people identify with the NT more easily.)
In the verse from Romans, the apostle Paul is speaking about new Christians who were drawn into Pagan rituals.  The early church viewed the Pagans as a danger to new converts.  Many converts fell to the temptation of the old way of life that Paul preached so stridently to avoid.  The new way of life in Christ is a path of grace.  If there was a theme to the collective letters of Paul, it’s this: out with the old, in with the new!  Grace is defined by loads of theologians as “God’s unmerited favor.”  In adopting the theology of Christ--this grace-centered theology--we are new creations, Paul says.  So, it makes perfect sense to me that Paul would be frustrated with Roman converts for taking part in Pagan rituals.  That was the OLD!  In Christ, people did not need to rely on ritual to communicate with God.  Why would these people feel the need to fall back in to their old habits?
I don’t need to look any further than a day in my life to answer that question.  There are days when my behavior is not at all graceful or Christ-like.  I yell at my kids.  I shut out my husband.  I ignore my friends.  I gossip about my friends.  I lie.  I feel hatred and bitterness and regret about the church and humanity in general.  It is not graceful.  It is not loving.
And then I thank God for Lamentations 3:23.  God’s mercies are new every morning.  And I start over.
The last passage (the other one I said I’d come back to) that is used to call homosexuality a sin is 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (NIV): “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  And that is what some of you were.  But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
This is the one used by Christians who are, I believe, genuinely well-intentioned.  It’s what births such catchphrases as “Love the sinner, hate the sin.”  There is a growing number of Christians who live their daily lives by this maxim.  Many of them have gay friends.  Many of them are motivated to reach out to the gay community to show gay people that the church is not solely made up of people like the hatemongers at Westboro Baptist Church.
Bravo, Christians, for moving in what I believe is the right direction.  It is a far cry from the way the church has addressed gay people in the recent past.
But there is another segment of people within the church who have taken this issue to heart and are headed in a slightly different direction.  I am part of this segment, and I want to address briefly a different but related debate.  I believe people are born gay.  Most of the Christian argument hinges upon the idea that being gay is a choice.  If it is a choice, it can change.  It can be prayed away.  If one can choose to be gay, one can choose to not be gay.  Based on this assumption, the traditional Christian argument that homosexuality is a sin makes sense.  It could be compared to the idea that human beings are not naturally monogamous, but when in a committed relationship we choose to be monogamous (a choice that many struggle with, Christian and non-Christian alike).
But what if it isn’t a choice?  What if God creates gay people already gay?  What if it is who they are?  If we are created in God’s image, what does this mean?  Can a gay person be holy--set apart for God’s purpose?  I think yes.
Based on this second assumption, gay people are free to live as new creations in Christ in the exact same way that straight people are.  It seems as if maybe this is what Paul meant when he said in Galatians, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  What is the point of this verse?  Is it to point out distinctions, or is it to point out the inclusivity of God’s grace and love?  What is the point of all scripture?  Is it to point out distinctions or to point out the inclusivity of God’s grace and love?
My husband I briefly discussed whether I should post this.  When I was almost finished, I started feeling nervous and fearful.  I told him, “If I post this, we might lose friends.”
He responded, “What friends?  Who cares?”
I understand the root of his response, and it’s part of the reason I love him, but the reality is that I don’t want to lose friends over this.  I don’t.  Because I don’t think sharing my opinion on something warrants the end of a relationship.
In the past, I have shared my opinion on the subject and been told to my face that it was heresy.  I have been told that I am a false prophet, that I was spitting in the face of God.  I have been told that I shouldn’t say these things because if people agree with me or change their opinions based on my opinion, it is like the blind leading the blind.  I have even been told that I will be held accountable on Judgment Day.  (I know some of you probably are saying some of these things in your head, while others of you are trying to pick your jaws up off the ground because you can’t believe people would say these things to me.)
But let me let you in on a secret, I’m not worried about talking to God on Judgment Day about this because I talk to God about this every day (well, not every day, but often).  I think the reason this issue is so divisive is that many people feel conflicted when they are told one thing, but their spirit tells them something different.
I decided to finally post something very public because someone needs to.  There are more of me out there than we all think.  In more progressive churches, gay people are already leading our congregations.  In congregations that don’t want to rock the boat but also support the gay community, their gay members are deacons and elders.  And I hate to break it to all my evangelical friends, but there are gay people all over your pews (and especially your choir benches!).  And you know who else is sitting in those pews?  People like me.  People who have been silenced by statistical research and more often public opinion, but that is changing.
That is changing, friends.
Some of you may be thinking why does this matter?  It matters because one of the parts of the Bible that SCREAMS at me is when in a parable, Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these, my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!” (NLT)  Who are the least of these?  In that particular scripture, he mentions people needing food or drink or shelter or clothing or a friend.  
The least of these includes anyone in need.  And right now, our gay brothers and sisters are in deep need of our love, grace, understanding and acceptance.
I titled this post the way I did because I knew it would make people read, but I also used  that title because I don’t “tolerate” gay people and “their lifestyle.”  I tolerate the smell of my husband’s breath after he eats onions.  I tolerate people who talk loudly in movie theaters.  I tolerate long lines at the DMV because all of those uncomfortable things are necessary for me to get something I want--a kiss, the latest Ryan Gosling flick, or a new license.
I accept gay people.  I accept them for who they are--friends, children of God, and human beings capable of loving and extending grace to me despite my faults and shortcomings.
My prayer is for forgiveness for any part I have ever played in making someone else feel less than.  My prayer is that this does not fall on deaf ears in the Christian community.  My prayer is that this will encourage others to read, think, and pray for answers about how they are to address this issue in their lives.  My prayer is that this instills hope in the hearts and minds of my gay friends.
Thanks for reading.  I welcome your thoughts.

(After an overwhelming response, I posted a follow-up HERE.)


  1. I guess my biggest question for you would be, where do you feel we draw the line, then? I'm not sure I would argue against gay people being "born that way" but we are all born into sin. We were made in His image before sin entered. So can we write off every "sin" if we were born with a predisposition for that? If the bible says, don't be anxious and anxiety is an ICD-9 it okay? Materialism, anger, greed, selfishness, idolatry...the bible says no but we were definitely born with these characteristics. Adultery caused by a natural desire...lust which we were born with. So why separate homosexuality as the thing that the bible says no to as something to accept? And if choosin which sins we are going to accept is acceptable to God, then why did Jesus have to die for our sins? Why did he suffer crucifixion if we were made in God's image and could just love each other to acceptance?

    Sorry for the typos, D has our laptop and Im trying to type on my phone.

    With LOVE and respect,

  2. Megan, as you know, you are one of the reasons I posted this (because of your thoughtful response to the picture on my FB wall). I'm going to try to answer your questions, but usually with things like this, it just opens up more questions (and I'm totally okay with that). So here goes.

    I think there are two different debates. The first is whether or not gay people are born that way. If you think it's a choice, then it opens up the idea that it is a sin. If it's a sin, then I am of the camp that it all goes in one big basket. Anything that separates us from God's love is sin. Let me be completely clear--no sin is acceptable to God, and all sins are forgiven in Christ--that's basic Christian theology.

    However, because I'm working off the premise that it's not a choice, I'm saying that God created gay people gay and sexual orientation is in itself not a sin. Now, if your husband or my husband engaged in homosexual relationships, that would, in fact, in Biblical terms be "unnatural," not to mention hurtful to the people in their lives who love them.

    As far as your example about anxiety goes, worrying about the future/your life (as referenced in Proverbs 12:25, Philippians 4:6-7, and 1 Peter 5:6-7 just to give a few examples) is completely different from having a chemical imbalance.

    We are absolutely created in God's image (my argument is that there shouldn't be a distinction between gay and straight people) and born into sin. We are neither angels nor animals, given the choice how to live our lives every day. According to Christian theology, we are new creations through Christ's sacrifice, and that is what aligns us with God.

    As far as loving each other to acceptance goes, I think it sounds like a fantastic idea. Do I condone destructive, hateful, or hurtful actions? Absolutely not. I do, however, accept that materialism, anger, greed, selfishness, etc. are part of the human condition, and it's not my place to judge.

    I know people say "judge not" is a cop out answer, but that's actually about as Biblical as Biblical gets.

    And based on my premise that homosexuality is not a sin, I'm not choosing a sin to condone, but I think the root of your question is really why choose to take a side on this issue when there are so many things to talk about. My answer to that question is that I feel like the gay community deeply needs a collective apology from the church, and that is never going to happen. I feel just as strongly about things like racism and women's rights, but I feel like those causes have a myriad of champions. This one doesn't, and like I said, I'm innately a righter of wrongs.

    Thank you for your love and respect!

  3. One more thing That Im pondering in response to your thoughts is....
    I've often agreed that conservative Christians really
    put a lot of weight on those scriptures that you mentioned. I've thought if God really cared about homosexuality that much then why isn't there a commandment about it or why doesn't Jesus give a monologue about it in NT? But then in one of my several 180 to 360 to 180 spins on this topic I remembered what he DOES teach us about marriage.
    We are able to rely in the bible for instruction in every part of oir lives. But, the way god's word has shaped my marriage and helped me understand who I was created to be surpasses all of it. Our marriage went from a bad episode of King of Queens (and they are all bad) to something that is so satisfying and complete. But I had to first understand what God intended for my marriage. He created us differently (man and woman) to complement each other. When I forget what to do as a wife...mostly when D has been TDY more days than I can count and I am picking up his laundryfrom the floor for the 80th time in a day...I seek scripture. And there it is in black and white. It is edifying and productive.
    Where though does a homosexual couple go for a Godly, biblical example of relationships? Does the absence of an illustration of a godly same sex couple in the bible mean that it falls outside of God's plan? The scripture given for marriage is so specific and unique.

    Once again, with love an respect and apologies for typos...I can't use my cursor in this comment window.

  4. I read a lot of your blogs so I guess you can say I blog stalk you ;) I want to let you know that 1 we are top secret top secret that we do not even realize it yet and 2 this is BEAUTIFUL....thank you for putting all of my feelings into writing... I admire you

  5. Phia, we can totally be BBFs if you want (best blogging friends). I will start blog stalking you to balance it out!

    Megan, you are cracking me up! I have to say this is better than any Bible study I've ever participated in. I love that you are in my life, even if it's just through the computer, and I love that you keep apologizing for typos when I SO don't care. You are opening up a million more questions with your questions. The only thing I can do is offer my opinion. I'm sure it won't surprise you when I say that I am pro-gay marriage (in a sense). I actually don't like the idea of gay marriage. I like the idea of everyone having civil unions--you and me and all my gay or straight friends. That grants people equal rights. Marriage is something that could be addressed within the confines of religious institutions. If your church, temple, or mosque won't marry gay people, fine. If mine does, then great. So, in that sense, the fact that the Bible doesn't address gay marriage specifically doesn't really matter. To me.

    Here's something to think about. I have a friend who is in a "domestic partnership" with her partner, a man. Her first husband died, and I don't understand the details, but there is a sum of money that she and her children receive as long as she doesn't remarry. She has been living with this man for over ten years. They share bank accounts, wear rings, attend church together, and are raising their children together. Their commitment to one another is no different (in my mind) to my commitment to Scott. We are married. They are not. Because of a legal loophole. I think God views their relationship as a good one, even if the church does not.

    I totally understand what you mean when you say the scriptures bring you edification and make you feel more productive in your marriage. There have been times in our marriage when scripture has done the same for us. I don't know how gay people feel about the absence of a Biblical example. I'll have to ask my (married and non-married) gay friends.

  6. haha. Glad that I know you too!!! Wish I had spent more time with you and your family when we lived in Charleston together but I didn't really know anyone except my all consuming child and coworkers. Maybe we'll cross paths again and can pretend to be really philosophical in person. haha. night night.

  7. thank you for sharing this. I thought about chiming in to the above conversation, but frankly, these kinds of conversations usually leave me dizzy and frustrated so I'll just say I couldn't agree with you more and I'm proud to call you a friend. xoxo

  8. As always, I admire the fact that you go there. I agree with you 1000%. If my God is a loving God (and He is), then how could he condemn people for loving each other?

    When I was in grad school I met some nice girls who were new to College Station, but were old friends. They invited me over to a gathering, for which I was grateful. I was a stranger in a strange land and quite lonely.

    At this gathering one guy started talking about homosexuality using the most stereotypical garbage to slander all gays as promiscuous and generally evil. I am not always brave, but this was way way too much for me. I spoke up and pointed out that was an unfair stereotype. I asked if he actually knew any gay people. As is often the case when you hear such words, he did not know anyone who was gay.

    I never heard from those Christians again. Very Christian of them.

    I am no Bible scholar, but if we are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, then we can't hate gay people. And if we bother to get to know gay people, we'd find out that they are JUST LIKE STRAIGHT PEOPLE! Who cares who they kiss?

    And really, if God has a problem with it, He'll sort it out. Let's err on the side of love and compassion in the meantime.

  9. Erica, love you. As always.

    Jamie, you are one of my favorite people in the world. Yes, let's. Let's err on the side of love and compassion in the meantime.

  10. Hi Leia,
    Thanks for being brave enough to share your thoughts with all of the cyber world out there. You made some pretty valid points, and I often mull over the issue myself, trying to sort it out.

    About the time I reached my teenage years, I dabbled in dieting and eventually became obsessed with thinness. I've been in inpatient treatment twice (once as a teen and once as an adult), as well as various outpatient therapies. Even though I do not have a current diagnosis of anorexia or bulimia, I still have an eating disorder because it's just WHO I AM. This disease will never leave me. I can choose whether to engage in disordered behaviors, but I still carry these thoughts and impulses with me every single day.

    I am an adult. If I want to weigh 125 pounds instead of 135, who am I hurting? Or even 115 or 105. It's my choice. Right? Scripture says "Everything is permissible but not everything is benefical." I really think that even if I want to push the envelope just a little, God has set these boundaries because He loves me and wants what's best.

    Here's the can make an argument about consenting adults etc. etc. etc... And I agree. People should be able to make their own choices, but society is strongest when families are strong, and strong families have a mom and a dad who love each other and are invested in their children.

    I've seen a couple of different statistics on this, but 75-90% of prisoners grew up without a father in the home. And the first generation of sperm donors has finally grown up. What a mess that's created!

    At any rate...I do have friends who are gay. They are great people. I love them. We live in a fallen world, and often people are "wired" differently. I do believe homosexuality is a sin, but the bible speaks against gossip and greed and lying more than homosexuality, which makes me the worst sinner of the mix. So as Mark Lowry says, "Love the sinner, hate the sin? How about: Love the sinner, hate your OWN sin. I don't have time to hate your sin! Hating my sin is a full time job!"

    I'm about to push the "publish" button. It's late. I'm exhausted from being up at night with the teething baby several nights in a row. I didn't proofread. You're an English major. Don't judge me.

  11. Hey Marcie! So glad you responded. Obviously, we have different opinions on this, and one of the things I want people to take away from this is that the Christian faith is not a closed forum. There is room for discussion on any topic, even the ones that make us uncomfortable or set us up to disagree by the very nature of the topic.

    I think I've really already addressed how I feel about the things I disagree with you about, so instead, I'd like to say that I love this: Love the sinner, hate your OWN sin. I don't have time to hate your sin! Hating my sin is a full time job.

    Hope you get some rest soon. I don't miss those days at all!

    For the record, clearly, if I don't judge people for being gay, your grammar is safe with me. :)

  12. I agree with your post as well. One of my sisters is gay and we all thought she would be since she acted just like a boy from the time she was three! She is a Christian and I know God loves and accepts her. "Judge not" is one of the most important things Jesus said, in my opinion. The Pharisees of his time were guilty of this. They thought most people were horrible sinners and judged harshly and then they killed Jesus.

  13. Thanks for reading, Belle! I always enjoy your comments!

  14. Your blog was passed on to me by a friend, and I am so glad. I honestly skimmed most of the blog, but read every word of the comments.

    You are a kind soul, and I appreciate the way you respond to your friends. I also appreciate your friends feeling comfortable posting their differing opinions. I read and mulled over each one.

    When I read what you wrote about everyone having civil unions, I yelled, "YES!" because I feel the exact same way. Marriage is absolutely a biblical thing, but that marriage certificate you get after standing in line in an office under florescent lights and only from 8am-5pm, closed for lunch. Any two consenting adults should be able to get a piece of paper, and then let marriage happen wherever you choose for it to happen.

    I am a very strong ally of the LGBT community, and I guess I am always looking for other opinions and thoughts to make me reflect more and have more knowledge for the "haters". That said, I particularly appreciated your comments about how gay and straight is no different, and sexual orientation in itself not being a sin. I agree with that and it made me think even more, so thank you.

    I hope more people read this blog!

  15. Thank you so much, Kay. I try to be as kind and gracious as possible when responding to everyone--whether they agree with me or not. I especially appreciate hearing from people who don't know me because I know you aren't just saying nice things because you like me. :)

    I am going to post a part 2 to this to thank my readers because the response has been OVERWHELMING.

    I just keep thinking, "Aw, shucks. I'm just a mommy blogger." I am humbled and encouraged each time I hear from someone. Thanks again for your response!

  16. Interesting blog entry Leia. I'm sure you'll be shocked my this...but I don't agree with everything you say:-) Yes I believe that homosexuality is a sin, just as adultery, theft, murder and envy are sins. We are all born with a sinful nature...each and every one of us. So to say someone is born a homosexual may be true. I was born with a propensity to worry which is a sin. I almost hate to say this but some people struggle with a desire for children. I think we would all agree that even though they may feel that they are "born that way" that promoting pornography of children is NOT ok. I don't know why some people struggle with homosexuality. All I know is that God says that it is a sin. I don't think any less of anyone who struggles with this issue, the Lord knows I struggle with my OWN issues. Bottom line...not a single one of us deserves God or salvation. Every single person on this planet is a sinner. Whether our sin is murder, homosexuality, gossip or thinking a mean thought about someone...we all sin. And that sin separates us from a perfect and holy God. But thank the LORD for his amazing grace to send Jesus Christ as a sacrificial atonement from my sins. Glory!! The Lord has been teaching me so much about grace lately. Not one of us deserves it...but without it we are doomed to eternity in hell. As I look at his grace I realize how wretched I am and how amazing he is. And if I am truly saved by this grace....why would I desire to live in something that I know God sees as sinful. Sure I am going through the process of sanctification and will continually struggle with sin. But if Christ lives in me and is truly at work in my heart...I will desire to do the things of God. I think Paul says it best in Romans 6. Romans 6:12-14 says, "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments of unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments of righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under the law but under grace." So can someone be a Christian and be a homosexual? I don't think so. Can someone struggle with homosexual thoughts after Christ has redeemed their life? Of course. But the power of the Holy Spirit should convict them that acting on these passions is not ok. As Christians we become slaves to righteous instead of slaves to sin. If the Holy Spirit is truly living in someone they should desire to turn away from homosexuality. God's grace is truly amazing and is big enough to cover even me. But I think it today's church we arrogantly make it all about what we want instead of what God wants. God is big enough to forgive sins, change behaviors and redeem lives. But we have to come to a place where we recognize how sinful we are and how much we need a savior. Thank you Jesus for your grace that saved a wretch like me!!!!!!

  17. Fabulous! I must share and share and share!

    PS You aren't "just" a mommy blogger. You're a mommy blogger with a masters in creative nonfiction and lots of talent.

  18. Hey, Carlin! Thanks for reading, and thanks for sharing your opinion. I don't know how much of the responses (here and on FB) you've read, but to say the response has been monumental is an understatement. I feel honored that people feel comfortable enough to have this discussion, even though we are coming from completely opposite directions.

    Beth, thank you for being so supportive. From the beginning. You have literally been around in my writing life as long as my real writing life has existed, and your friendship is invaluable. Share and share and share, like you said. I think, at least in terms of mommy blogs go, I've gone viral!

  19. A friend shared this with me via Facebook and I just finished reading it while on the train to Amsterdam. I must say, I'm a bit upset, only because your kind words brought tears to my eyes and I have an early meeting. When I realized I was gay at seven years old, I was terrified. Like you, I'd been raised in a religious household and the church had taught me that people like me were less than the foulest thing on this Earth. By the time I told my parents, I had already asked many of the questions you pose in this post.

    I will forever be thankful to my family and especially to my priest, an incredibly forward-thinking man who sat with me for 5 hours to reassure me that in his eyes, my character far outweighed any perceived sin and that in the end Christ wants us to emulate His teachings and not persecute others because their differences make us uncomfortable. Were it not for him, I would have turned away from God completely. He helped me believe in an inclusive and loving God and Christ, not the vengeful and segregationist God and Christ that hatemongers (like Westboro) promote. They do more damage to the moral fabric of humankind than they realize, I think. I do my best to live as Christ asked us to live...I volunteer, I counsel, I help where and however I can, and I am so truly blessed in my life, in everything that I do, that I could now never comprehend how anyone could have convinced me that I was hated by God. And I am in complete agreement with your civil unions comment by the way!

    This comment looks like it's about to become a short-story, so the takeaway here is this: thank you for this post, for your thoughtful, curious and kind discussion, and thank you for even being willing to have a discussion. So often I think both sides get caught up in yelling and pontificating, that no progress is made, when if we could simply sit as Christ did with Zacchaeus and just TALKED, we might find that we're all way more similar than we are different. At the risk of sounding stereotypical, you are fabulous! :)

    1. Thank you so much for reading and even more for sharing your story. I felt like I needed to join this conversation for a myriad of reasons, and the unintended consequences (posts from lovely people like you) have been astounding! Blessings to you, and know that I'm a wee bit jealous (a by wee bit, I mean TREMENDOUSLY) of you for being on a train to Amsterdam right now.

      I posted a follow-up to this because of the overwhelming response if you need something else to read on your next train ride.

      I have two boys demanding that I jump on the trampoline right now, but I look forward to checking out your blog, too!

  20. Oh Leia, how I love you :-) There has been some debate on whether you are born gay or not; and honestly I've never really seen it as a choice and here is why: I have many gay friends and almost all of them were tortured in school for being gay. Do people really believe that they could have stopped the torture with the flip of a switch? After being there for them and seeing what kind of pain they were in, I believe that it's not a choice.
    Now, here is the million dollar question: Is it a sin? There is scripture that says it is, so let's say that it is. Who am I, or you, or anyone else to say it's wrong and treat them differently? I live in a BIG glass house...I'm not about to start throwing stones. How is their sin any worse than mine or yours? Where is the list of sins in order of worst to best? I want this list printed and posted on my wall so I make sure to stay away from the big ones. Lying is ok as long as you're not gay. Having an affair with a married woman is ok as long as your not gay. Finding loopholes in your taxes (aka stealing) is ok as long as you're not gay. It doesn't matter, a sin is a sin. so why is being gay such a huge deal? Why are there so many people that are up in arms about it? If gay people aren't allowed to get married, ok, so now let's make divorce illegal. Jail time for those who commit infidelity. My hope is that everyone can look inside themselves and see the things they need to work on. Stop looking at others and pointing out their sins, love them and get to know them as people. They might just show you something you've been missing.

    Thank you for opening up and sharing your thoughts.

    1. Thanks so much for your response, Jenn! I am so encouraged every single time I see that someone is asking these questions and trying to work it out. And you are so right--I try to focus on fixing the things that are wrong in me, which gives me very little time to worry about the wrongs of others. :)