Trigger Warning: homosexual hate speech. I wrestled with whether to use the words exactly as we used them and finally decided that hiding the ugliness would be counterproductive since the point of the story is to show the ugliness for what it is. This is a true story and those are the exact words used. I do not share them to be shocking or offensive, though the words themselves are both.

***

The calendar said it was spring, but we had driven several hours north to a conference in Toronto, where winter didn’t obey the calendar. After a day of trying to appear professional while quietly snarking our way through sessions on technical writing, we were ready to let loose like the college students we were. We bundled up and headed out into the gray dusk to find food and fun. We teased each other and barely veiled the flirting as we walked past dirty half-melted snowdrifts on our way to the Hard Rock Café in the SkyDome.

Someone, I don’t remember who, mentioned a rumor they had heard – that Toronto had a high concentration of fags. One of the guys started cracking jokes about fudge-packers. I didn’t exactly know what he meant by that term (though I had a guess), but I did know it was derogatory.

Everyone else was laughing, or so it felt to me. I didn’t know what to say. None of us did, so we all laughed to mask… what? Revulsion? Fear? Confusion?

As I laughed, I caught a manic look in one guy friend’s eyes. It didn’t quite match the laugh on his lips. I could almost taste his frantic fear, and it made me wish I could grab my laughter and cram it back inside my mouth.

***

marriage equality symbolTuesday of Holy Week, I decided I needed to spend the rest of the week away from Facebook and Twitter. I needed to do some heart work on myself, and I knew my tendency to hide from soul-searching on social media.

Before I left, I changed my Facebook profile photo to show support for those arguing against California’s Prop 8 in front of the Supreme Court. I also shared a link to a book released that week by Jeff Chu, a man who I respect both as an incredible writer and as a Christian. His book is called “Does Jesus Really Love Me? A Gay Christian’s Pilgrimage in Search of God in America,” and I knew that he could use all the encouraging positive support he could get. Then I signed off Facebook until after Easter.

***

Easter isn’t a transcendent holiday for me (nor, for that matter, is Christmas). I hadn’t even heard of Maundy Thursday until 8 years ago when we began attending a church that held a Seder. While I very much appreciate learning more about our Jewish roots, those Seders were extremely stressful. The church always decorated the basement with tablecloths and lit candles, which meant I had to run interference between my kids, the fabric, and the open flame all night. The services dark and gloomy, the message aimless and long, the basement hot and muggy, and both me and the kids cranky and restless. I couldn’t get into the mood of the thing, let alone really participate.

My attitude stunk then, and it still isn’t the greatest. Every year I think, “Maybe this year I will have a personal experience with the Infinite,” and most every year I’m disappointed.

These days, Easter is fraught with discomfort, doubt, and growing disillusionment with the idea that God killed Jesus to satisfy God’s own wrath on us (an interpretation of Easter called “penal substitutionary atonement”). The questions come harder and faster at this time of year than any other. And because I am not caught up in a frenzy of emotion – grief on Good Friday and joy on Easter Sunday, I’m haunted by guilt, too.

***

So much for Internet fasting and soul-searching during Holy Week. The emails and private messages began pouring in almost immediately.  I didn’t expect my one little link and profile picture to capture so much attention in the flood of angry posts that day. I was wrong. All day, my phone buzzed and my heart ached as I watched the people of God debating laws and creating slippery slopes and toppling straw men and prophesying dire consequences for this thing or that thing.

Once again, I didn’t know what to say. I don’t want to argue these things. At several points I asked myself what compels me to make such public statements. Why do I do this to myself?

But then other messages reached my inbox, messages from friends who needed a safe person to confide in. And I wondered, how many of the loud and angry received messages like this? Who do I choose when I need to confess something and ask for help?  Jesus-followers should be the safest people on earth, yet they are often the ones I hide from the most. They are some of the ones with whom I’m most afraid to be me.

***

The soul-work I need to do is slowly getting done, in spite of myself. I stumbled across some posts and videos on vulnerability, gratitude, and joy. One friend sends daily prayers that move me to tears. Another shared a story about the kind of undeniable personal transformation only God can do. A writer sent an entire book about Christians being misunderstood, judged, and rejected by other Christians the same way Jesus was and reminding me that in the midst of my own weakness and failures, that’s when God does amazing things.

Then I found a story Rob Bell shared in his new book “What We Talk About When We Talk About God,” about how a visit to an AA meeting changed his life.

Our need to control how others see us is like a god we’ve been bowing down to for so long we don’t even realize it. But in an AA meeting, no one has energy left for that sort of thing. You come face-to-face with yourself as you truly are.

And now here’s the twist,
The mystery,
The unexpected truth about admitting that takes us back to the counterintuitive power of gospel:
When you come to the end of yourself, you are at that exact moment in the kind of place where you can fully experience the God who is for you.

So many pieces, falling into place…. I need to come to the end of myself, even though it is terrifying and embarrassing. I need to help make safe places where others can do the same.

And that’s when I finally realized why I say the things I say and post the things I post. We all need a person we can trust to sit with us and hear our story, to ache with us, and to who we are underneath all the ways we’ve screwed up. We need a person to wrap their arms around us and whisper in our ear that God loves us just the way we are, and that they do too. This is my call: to be that safe person, that maker of safe places.

***

two dads and a child

Rachel Held Evans wrote last week in Jesus Started with the ‘Outliers,’ “If the gospel isn’t good news to the so-called ‘outliers,’ then it’s not good news at all. And, in fact, if our theology doesn’t start with the ‘outliers,’ then maybe we’re doing it wrong.”

This is my Easter resurrection story this year. I am rising from the muck of cynicism and standing with the outliers. I am proclaiming the good news that God is for us: for me and for you. I am choosing to see and love you for who you are, even in the midst of our weakness, our failures, our hatefulness, our ugliness because I am all of those things too. I will do this imperfectly, and sometimes I will fail utterly. But that is when God will step in and make something beautiful.

I will never forget the look in my friend’s eyes that evening in Toronto. I will never forget how hard I had to work to earn his trust again, or the day he came out to me, or the day I sat and absorbed the agony of reaching that place. I will not forget the many messages I’ve received, thanking me for being a safe person to confide in.

(Here’s the part where I let you know that this entire essay is my conviction only and represents me, no one else associated with me.)

Listen, I do not know whether God believes homosexuality is a sin. If you find that hard to believe, may I recommend the documentary “For The Bible Tells Me So” (also available on Netflix)?

I do not know what God would say in a doctrinal statement. The Bible is not such a statement.

I do not know that I have the definitive Truth, for Certain. I know that I will get things wrong.

But this I know: when we argue over whether a couple should be granted legal married status, we are arguing about the lives and love of two human beings, along with their children and families.

I know that “gay Christian” is no more bizarre a term than “gossipy Christian” or “female Christian” or “stingy Christian” or “foodie Christian.”

I know that God loves each sinner, and each one of us is a sinner.

I know that Jesus reached out to the outcast, the outliers, the ones the rest of society shunned.

I know that you would shun me if you knew how ugly my heart is, how faithless and deceptive and self-loving I am.

I know how wretched it feels to know that if people saw the real me, they would hate me, and thus how desperate I can be to hide the real me.

I know that Jesus knows the real me, and somehow, He still loves me. And when I remember that, it makes me sob huge relieved body-wracking tears.

I know that I will do my best to show that love to you, no matter how ugly the real you is, no matter how many other people shun you. I will be your safe person.

This I know.

When is the last time someone thanked you for being safe? If it hasn’t ever happened, I challenge you to consider the possibility that you’re doing this Christian life wrong.

73 comments

  1. Brave, beautiful and true. I stand with you – I don’t know for sure, but I know to love for sure, to be a safe place for sure.

    Reply
    • Yes, this. Thank you, Joy. Thank you, Kelley. Love has to show up – how can it be the gospel without it? I don’t know, either. But I know God loves us. All of us.

      Reply
  2. Kelley’s response is just perfect. I am pleased you choose to be a safe place for the outliers

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  3. Adele

    Powerful and challenging, Joy. Thank you for your courage.

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  4. “I know how wretched it feels to know that if people saw the real me, they would hate me, and thus how desperate I can be to hide the real me.”

    I have to think that we all know that feeling, at least a little bit, and that some of us try to assuage that fear by turning on each other. It’s infuriating and heartbreaking all at once to watch that happen among fellow believers; how little love must we feel from God in order to have so little for the world around us?

    Thank you for being a safe place for the outliers despite the pushback. We can never put too high an emphasis on love, and the hateful retorts only reinforce our need for it.

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  5. This is one of the most meaningful posts I have read in a long time. I love and am close to many gay people who have been so wounded by Christians. I love the calling to be a safe place. Beautiful and so timely. Thank you.

    Reply
  6. Brian Jonson

    I have a question for Joy.

    She says she “doesn’t know” if God views homosexuality as a sin. Shortly after, she lists things she DOES know.

    Joy – if you don’t know God’s view on something that is clarified in the scriptures, how do you “know” anything else you affirm?

    Reply
    • Hey Brian. I disagree that God’s view on homosexuality is clarified in the Scriptures, at least in the way you mean. It is a similar situation to the literalism that leads people to understand Genesis 1 and 2 as speaking of 6 24-hour days. Again, I refer you to the documentary “For the Bible Tells Me So” for more on this. Other things, such as God’s call on us to keep our promises and to care for the widows and orphans, are very clear.

      Reply
    • Also, here’s an excellent blog post on your question: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2013/04/tim-keller-on-homosexuality-and-biblical-authority-different-crisis-same-problem/

      Leaving aside the specific issue of homosexuality, Keller’s observation about evangelical notions of biblical authority is correct but also concerning. In my opinion, Keller has, perhaps unwittingly, put his finger on the entire problem evangelicals face when confronted with any issue that runs counter to evangelical theology: “You’re asking me to read my Bible differently than my tradition has prescribed, and so I can’t go there. If I do, my faith is kicked out the door.”

      What drew my attention to this comment is the fact that I regularly hear the very same response with respect to many other issues–like evolution. The big impasse for evangelicals is that accepting evolution requires them to rethink how they read their Bible, specifically the story of Adam and Eve. Reading that story as fundamentally historical is “the way in which [evangelicals] read the Bible” and to ask them to do otherwise “complete dissemble[s] their whole approach to biblical authority.”

      Reply
      • I wanted to comment on this, but I feel my tone would come across too sarcastic right now. So, maybe later.

        But, yes, I do think the issue comes down to Biblical Authority.

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  7. Kagi

    I don’t have all the answers either, but as a gay Christian, I know that I am loved, and that my faith and my identity are both such deep parts of me that I can’t have one without the other. I believe there is room in scripture for people like me, and I am so grateful for people like you who are willing to at least listen as we struggle to hang onto our faith in a world that believes our existence is antithetical, impossible.

    I was able, eventually, to reconcile my faith with the rest of me, but not everyone is so lucky, and the ones who have been driven away – the ones who truly loved God and wanted to follow him but could not find a safe space to exist within the church – when they have left, I can assure you that they went in tears and pain and grief, and more than anything they wished they could stay.

    Even if you disagree about what, exactly, the Bible says on the subject, it shouldn’t be such a big issue that we are actively causing people to lose their faith altogether. The Message we have been given is first and foremost about love – for the broken, the hurting, the downtrodden, the least of these. The kind of disdain, even hate, and prejudice that makes our churches unsafe for people like me is not love, and not God. It’s his job to convict sinners, if indeed they are sinning. It’s your job only to love them, and share the hope.

    Thank you, Joy, for being a safe space. It is so desperately needed.

    Reply
    • The kind of disdain, even hate, and prejudice that makes our churches unsafe for people like me is not love, and not God. It’s his job to convict sinners, if indeed they are sinning. It’s your job only to love them, and share the hope.

      YES. THIS.

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    • Ed

      Thanks for your comment Kagi. That is exactly the kind of challenge we need. It is not anyone’s job to condemn. Blessings to you.

      Reply
    • Wow, this. Everything you said–exactly how I feel inside about it all, and most of the time I’m so afraid to say it–and I’m heterosexual. *Thank you* for sharing with us.

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  8. Well done, you. <3 <3 <3

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  9. Lori

    Joy, this post has touched the deepest part of me. It is one of the best posts I’ve read in a long time. What you express here is how I feel and I do try to express this but surely it doesn’t come out as good as this. I so agree when you stated ” Jesus-followers should be the safest people on earth, yet they are often the ones I hide from the most. They are some of the ones with whom I’m most afraid to be me.” So true. I fear them because not only can they be the meanest but they seem to refuse to hear any other point of view even when I bring up interpretation of scripture when it talks about homosexuality….it’s like they are afraid of it and afraid to think that just maybe they and the rest of the so called “church” have maybe been wrong.

    It’s not like I don’t understand Christians that come off as mean, judgmental and throwing stones. I used to be one of them. After starting to go to a church after finding Jesus I stopped thinking for myself and let them, the “church” do the thinking for me until I was the one getting stones thrown at. My eye’s opened up to how very cruel the church can be. How quick we are to pick and choose our sins and sinners to stone with our self righteousness. I left the church but didn’t leave God. I studied scripture and began to think for myself. I started to see things much differently and my eye’s opened up to things I was scared of and knew nothing about. Like homosexuality. I learned that there are a lot more scriptures that talk about gluttony than homosexuality yet over eating, over spending, over acquiring aren’t addressed.

    The whole thing is this. Maybe I’m wrong now too. I don’t have all the answers. None of us do. But I do know that Jesus’ whole life on this earth and his message to us before his death was love. Living it constantly. Loving the least of these, whom ever they are. We watched the bible series as a family and during last nights conclusion, this message to go out and love was made so clear. It is God’s job to convict, not mine, not any of ours. It is our job to go out and love and to serve the least of these so that they might know the love of Jesus. That is the bottom line for me. I lived a lot of my life doing bad things…drugs, sex, stealing, divorces…ect.. and Jesus met me where I was at and he threw no stones at me. He saved my life.

    Thank you for writing this post. I will be sharing it!

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  10. “Jesus-followers should be the safest people on earth, yet they are often the ones I hide from the most. They are some of the ones with whom I’m most afraid to be me.” <—that right there is the reason I pretty much live my life feeling like a hypocrite. I am so afraid to post the things or comment on the things or support the things and people that would draw the ire of the "Christian" community. I feel like such a "trouble maker" when I finally do give in and let my real self out. "Oh look, there she is poking at the hornet's nest again. She just can't leave well enough alone."

    Thank you for your assertion that maybe that doesn't make us trouble makers after all. It makes it clear to those who need it most that we are a safe place for them. That we are willing to risk that ire and anger from the establishment so that we can be a safe harbor. Jesus wasn't worried about being called a trouble maker, was he? Thanks for your candor throughout this piece. I can imagine it took a lot of guts to share.

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  11. Heather

    yes. just… yes.

    ugh, i cringe when i think about how i used to be a stone-thrower, so convinced that i was right, that i had all the answers, that “it’s so obvious if you just read the Bible.”

    and then i ended my marriage.

    and i became one of “them.”

    i didn’t get it before. now i do. i have become the woman at the well, the hemorrhaging woman, the woman who anointed Jesus with her tears. and so i have learned that, at the end of the day, Grace trumps doctrine. and Faith in things i do not see but that i hope for, keeps me going. and Love is my theology.

    my prayer is that i would be given a ministry of listening, or as you call it, to be a safe place. for so long, i hid, because i thought i was unwelcome in the Church. and, ok, i still am in some churches, i get that. but i am NOT unwelcome before God. specifically because i feel like an outsider. specifically because i feel unlovable. specifically because i am “unclean” and shunned and a sinner.

    we need to remember that Jesus came, not for the “righteous,” but for the ones we scream and spit and hate at. “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers… For a great reward awaits you in heaven.” (matt 5:11-12) i want to know that truth, to extend that grace, to live in that blessing.

    Reply
    • “a ministry of listening” — That’s a GREAT name for it! I’m coming to believe that this is my calling. Or at least one of them.

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  12. You are a hero, Joy. I know you feel exposed and vulnerable, but you are the voice for those of us still in the process of finding our own.

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  13. Joy, this is beautiful. I really resonated with it, especially the part where it’s scary to come out and own what you really believe for fear of backlash from fellow Christians. I loved your point about the Bible not being a doctrinal statement. SO great. Most of these thorny issues that divide us come down to how we read the Bible and what we think the Bible actually is. Just wanted to say, Bravo to you.

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  14. Love this post. I’ll could only hope that my friends see me as a safe person. That would be the highest of compliments.

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  15. Rubi

    I just watched the documentary you recommended For The Bible Tells Me So….Wow! I commend Gay Christians. The fact that they have stuck around and fought for their equal right to pursue a relationship with Christ despite such hateful pushback is beyond me. My heart aches for the way the world is being deprived of the unconditional love of Christ because of this way of thinking. I’m right there with you, Joy. I know God loves the gays, and I will love them too. Thank you for this.

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  16. I don’t think there is any doubt what the scriptures say about homosexuality. I don’t think there is any doubt what the scriptures say about divorce. I include myself in saying that our culture has become so far removed from God we don’t know up from down. This whole issue has so troubled my spirit because I want the right response. I know we are all fallen. We are all messed up. And that’s where I am. Our culture is going to do what is going to do. I can just approach each person I meet and try best to serve their deepest need at the moment. All we can do is love with the supernatural love of Christ. Heck most of us can’t feel that for ourselves much less someone else. And Joy my hope for you is that one day, you don’t associate Easter with sin, pain and Christ’s suffering. But of the joy of death being conquered. Maybe because I’m older. Maybe because I have seen what age and decay and disease does to our young beautiful bodies — but the promise of everlasting live basking in that perfect love of Jesus shakes me to my very foundation every Easter morning.

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  17. I’ve read several posts over the past week that have addressed this issue thoughtfully and gracefully, but none have driven home a point that resonates with me more deeply than your point about being a safe place, Joy. Thank you for naming and thus helping me realize exactly what I’m longing to be.

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  18. Jeffrey

    I read this post as a friend “shared” it on facebook.

    The truth is this, God hates sin (Psalm 5). End of story. Joy the Bible is pretty clear homosexuality is a sin (but before you rip into me) the Bible is clear that slander is sin, and gossip to and lying. Read 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.

    How do you justify Paul’s words in that passage?

    Maybe it’s time for the church and Christians to start calling sin sin. Let’s all start realizing that we are all sinners. Let’s be Christians who don’t just pick on one sin, but lets be a holy community devoted to God that aims to rid all the sin from our own lives – whether that’s lying, coveting, lusting, adultery or idolatry.

    Reply
    • Nanci

      Two things: this moved me to tears, and I know in my heart of hearts that no matter what the Bible says or doesn’t say, it was written by human beings, capable of error, and that God loves us all. Second, I too have trouble with Penal Substitutionary Atonement theology, and I think of Good Friday and Easter as the combination of events that defeated death and hell, once for all. As my pastor points out, Jesus came for two reasons: to die for our sins, and to show us what God is like. As I get older, I emphasize the second more and more. And any picture of God that isn’t consistent with what we see in Jesus simply isn’t accurate–even if it’s in the Bible!

      Reply
      • Jeffrey

        Nanci,

        You said “Any picture of God that isn’t consistent with what we see in Jesus simply isn’t accurate.” That is an accurate comment.

        God hates sin. Jesus hates sin.

        For you to claim that Jesus does not hate sin, is really calling into question all of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus came to redeem humanity because of sin! Jesus did not enjoy dying on a cross, but did so because he hated sin and how sin affects all of humanity. Jesus immense love for humanity is seen in his immense hatred for sin, in that Jesus gave his life to conquer sin. To deny that, is to deny the gospel.

        Furthermore to suggest the Bible is filled with fallacy is to logically call into question all of the Bible…if one part is false and fallible (ie. God hates sin) then can we logically conclude that another part of the Bible (God is Love: 1 John) is true.

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    • Jeffrey, I understand what you are saying because I grew up in a conservative evangelical background. The bottom line truth was that the Pharisee was our brother. Sin is sin. That was the whole point of being a Pharisee. To call sin sin. I have come to believe that, although sin is sin and serious, most folks that identify with christianity as a religious system have a veritable shopping list of sins that they call sin. They say they are loving the sinner but hating the sins on their lists (they say they’ve gotten from the Bible), but it ain’t so, Joe. They very much dislike the sinner, as well. The Jesus Follower’s call is not so much to call sin sin, in my opinion, but to embrace the sinner so that he/she will stick around long enough to be exposed to God’s love for them. Look at see for yourself: In the New Testament, the rebuke of Jesus was always leveled at the Pharisees. He had different treatment for the sinner.

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  19. Tracey

    Thank you for this post.

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  20. Nanci

    One more thing, if you haven’t read “Sacred Word, Broken Word” by Kenton Saunders, I highly recommend it. His premise is that the Bible was wiritten by fallible human beings, therefore there are parts that are “broken, and must be redeemed.”

    Reply
  21. Joy, this was beautiful and brave of you to write. I had a similar friend in youth group that came out to me after high school and my love for him hasn’t changed one bit all these years. Thank you for speaking up.

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  22. Rachel

    Joy, Thank you so much for this post! You have given me so much to think about. I have never before considered whether there can be “Gay Christians” or not. I was raised in a very, very close-minded church that would just tell you what to do and find some Bible reference that they could loosely throw around to manipulate and control you. I have always been told that homosexuality is the most disgusting sin in God’s eyes and that, in order for a homosexual to be saved, he must give up his ways, or it wasn’t true salvation. No other sin causes God as much disgust as the sin of homosexuality….at least, that’s how this church wanted everybody to believe. But….if there can be gossipy Christians and lying Christians and lazy Christians, why can’t there be gay Christians? Being in Christ doesn’t mean perfection. We all have our failures, but He loves us anyways. I don’t believe that homosexuality is any more of a sin than having a hateful thought is. Besides….who am I or anybody else on this planet to judge another person, no matter what their “sin” is? God is love and I am to be a relection of God. In the Bible, there is a story about a woman who was caught in adultery and her accusers brought her before Jesus and demanded that she be punished and stoned to death for her indescretions. Jesus’ response to the disciples was this: “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Then, Jesus bent over and drew in the sand. Of course, the accusers walked away in silence because they weren’t without sin. But, Jesus, the One who truly lived a perfect life, never raised a hand or thew a stone at her. He forgave her and sent her on her way! If Jesus didn’t even judge or punish those who “deserved” punishment in the eyes of man, who am I to even begin to look at people around me in a negative and judgmental light???? Anyways….thank you for your post! Very, very enlightening!

    Reply
  23. Very nicely written and thank you for your perspective on this. I want to be a safe place, too, and completely agree that if the Gospel can’t reach the “outliers,” it’s not being represented properly.
    Aren’t we all outliers in one way or another?? I am grateful that God reached ME where I was.
    I don’t have the answers, either.
    I, too, hide from revealing the real me.
    I do not discuss my political or religious views much in public forums because I do not want to cause a stir or offend anyone. For now, I try to merely be positive and uplifting.
    Thank you for being brave, even in your imperfection!

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  24. Sounds like we had a similar week. Absolutely a great post.

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  25. Laura

    Thank you. I could have written this. I shared it on my own Facebook status but felt so vulnerable because it feels so close to my own thoughts that I had to take it down because right now I can’t handle the responses I know I will get. Another day I will be able to. Thank you for being vulnerable.

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  26. I’m not sure exactly where I stand in terms of everything written here, but I do know this: your perspective and writing is challenging me to think about the subject matter from many different angles, and I appreciate that. Even if I end up back where I started from, I believe the journey will deepen my understanding and my faith. Thank you.

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  27. Lynn Van Slyke

    Thank you so much for posting this Joy. I swear this was written just for me.

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  28. Joy, I am so glad that I found your blog a few weeks ago. So much of the time you echo my heart. There are others where you challenge it. But, I accept the challenges because I trust your heart. I am a pastor of a kind of “new breed of church.” At least it’s new in our part of the country. We meet, by intention, in a large Vegetarian/Vegan cafe/coffee shop. We’re about 75 outliers strong/weak. Our drumbeat is, “We are a safe place” for you to “come out” whatever that specifically means for you. Two reasons: 1. Jesus transforming love can’t be felt/known until the recipient is exposed to it like a healthy infection. 2. We don’t know everything we’d like to think we know about the whole issue of Way, Truth, Life. We believe in Jesus as the Way, Truth, and Life. Not what religious systems have told us is “the final answer” ABOUT way, truth, and life other than Jesus, Himself. Thanks for the vulnerability of your writing. The thoughts encourage me in my own journey of being a safe pastor helping “father” a safe place.

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  29. Joy, thank you so much for writing this. There is so much healing to be done between the LGBT individuals and the church. You are on the front lines making a stand for love and reconciliation, and that takes a lot of courage. It means the world.

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  30. Yes, my smart, compassionate, beautiful friend. Just yes.

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  31. Jesus gave me a gay friend. I did not know she was gay when we first met, but I knew I enjoyed hanging out with her. It was funny in a way. She never tried to hide that she was gay. In fact, it was from a post of hers on FB that I first learned that she is gay, and I was surprised when I read it. But, she was the same compassionate, wise, Jesus-loving fun friend that she was before I knew, and I thank Jesus often for our friendship.

    I know that Jesus loves gay people. It tears me up that many Christians cannot see that. But, there was a time when I did not see it. Maybe there is hope.

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  32. I’m still processing all of last week’s events re: equality. And when I say events, I mean all of the unChristian things being posted by Christians on FB, blogs, etc. I was too cowardly to display my heart (which is pro-equality) for all my church friends to see on FB and remained silent on the matter, but craved authentic posts from the Christian community that addressed this matter. I found them at my friend Niki’s blog, and her friend Beckie, and now yours. Yours really resonated with me, especially the entire bolded section at the end, and had me in tears of agreement. Brava!

    Reply
    • And I can provide links to the blogs if you’d like, just didn’t want to spam you out ;)

      Reply
  33. Evija

    God loves gays but he hates that there is no repentance of their sin but in stead they make light of it. We all have sinned and fallen short but without repentances there are no forgiveness of sins. I don’t know how you can say that you have made peace with living in sin and say that God will make exception. Just because we have certain temptations dos not permit us to fall in them and say that it is OK and that God will understand. There is price to pay to be follower of Jesus( disciples) are we arrogant enough to say that we are an exceptions?
    Pharisees made lite of their sin but tax collector was beating his chest and did not even look up…asking for forgiveness. Which left forgiven. The one that said that I am ok as I am or the one that recognized that God is holy and that he was sinner and needed forgiveness?

    Reply
    • Mary

      The Bible states that sin is sin…no one sin is greater than any other. Jesus did tell the prostitute to “Go and sin no more”. I also believe that the Bible specifically says that homosexuality is a sin. Therefore I’ve struggled, because I’m a comapssionate person who tries to see the good in everyone and love everyone to the best of my ability.
      One night I was asking God for answers when I came across scripture about adultery. According to the Bible, people who ended their marriages for reasons other than abuse or infidelity were considered adulterers if they remarried. If that is the case, we have millions of people in our country who get remarried in the church, who attend church regularly, who consider themselves devout Christians,and who wholeheartedly are embraced and accepted by fellow church members. According to the Bible, they are adulterers who are committing the same sin day in and day out. If sin is sin, how are these sinners any different that gay people who sin? I choose to be a soft place for people to fall. I’m so tired of the hatred. Jesus loved everyone with every fiber of his being. Why can’t we do the same?

      Reply
  34. Steph

    Before this past week, I was finally thinking that maybe I could set foot in a church again, that maybe I could feel safe enough to be there. My facebook newsfeed was mostly pro-equality, but somehow even the couple of nasty things that showed up were enough to send me spiraling again. I couldn’t bring myself to go to church on Easter. I’ve spent most of the past week trying to deal with the anger and hurt that comes from feeling like I’m being screamed at that I can’t possibly be both gay and a Christian. I know that’s not true, but it’s hard to believe sometimes, especially when it hurts this much.

    All of that to say–thank you for this. Thank you for reminding me that I do have safe people, and that they should know how much that means to me.

    Reply
  35. Skerrib

    Love this; thank you.

    Reply
  36. Thank you for this post, Joy! I went through last week with many of these thoughts, but no ability to turn them into coherent words. I share with you the call to be a maker of safe places. I see Jesus… I know Jesus… And I feel certain of what he would do. This is not sufficient for most. They want logic backed up with precise words (and a little Greek and Hebrew translation know-how sure wouldn’t hurt). But it’s really not that hard – Love God, love people. If it doesn’t fit in with BOTH PARTS of this summary, then it ain’t right.

    Reply
  37. Hi Joy,

    I understand and agree with all those who feel that Christians are not kindhearted, or safe. I’m a Christian, and I make an intentional point to be kind to those who are hurting and sinning, because I am hurting and sinning as well. Your article here is one of kindness and courage, there will be those who will argue and those who will agree. As humans and as Christians. I’m glad I read it.

    I have struggled with the marriage issue, because I don’t support it. But, I do support all humans being treated fairly and kindly. So, I struggle. I also have gay friends who I love, care for and enjoy being around. Even while not supporting their lifestyle. I do see it as a sin, but no greater than lying or murder or cheating. God doesn’t put stages on sin….sin is sin. And so I pray that they will truly seek the Lord in this area, and not choose to ignore it and say “I know God loves me”. He does. But repentance must always come when we sin. And that, in the big picture, is between them and God.

    You stated you didn’t know if homosexuality is a sin. Here is just one verse where God indicates that it is wrong. Read the whole context. That may help.

    “Romans 1:27 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.”

    So grateful for God’s grace!!

    All the best,
    Margo

    Reply
  38. jbc

    Just a question that resonates in my mind and heart after reading this: When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden (whether you believe it was a literal or figurative story), what did they do when God came to find them for their evening walk together? In case you don’t remember their story… they hid. Being safe is highly over-rated. I want to be transformed more, daily, in Christ-likeness in every area. In kindness, grace, truth, strength, boldness, love, perseverance, trust in God, humility… the list goes on. But “safe-ness?”
    God is amazingly good, and His kindness leads us to repentance. He looks at the heart, is not put off by outward appearances, is able to heal and forgive the worst of sins, is a hiding place for those who trust in Him. But for those who live in unrepentant sin, who refuse to turn away from evil and pursue righteousness, there is no safety in Him. And if He is not what Adam and Eve would call “safe,” (in that He would not just say “it’s ok, guys – I still love you, let’s go for our walk now!”) then why would I want to be?

    Reply
  39. Mary

    The Bible states that sin is sin…no one sin is greater than any other. Jesus did tell the prostitute to “Go and sin no more”. I also believe that the Bible specifically says that homosexuality is a sin. Therefore I’ve struggled, because I’m a comapssionate person who tries to see the good in everyone and love everyone to the best of my ability.
    One night I was asking God for answers when I came across scripture about adultery. According to the Bible, people who ended their marriages for reasons other than abuse or infidelity were considered adulterers if they remarried. If that is the case, we have millions of people in our country who get remarried in the church, who attend church regularly, who consider themselves devout Christians,and who wholeheartedly are embraced and accepted by fellow church members. According to the Bible, they are adulterers who are committing the same sin day in and day out. If sin is sin, how are these sinners any different that gay people who sin? I choose to be a soft place for people to fall. I’m so tired of the hatred. Jesus loved everyone with every fiber of his being. Why can’t we do the same?

    Reply
  40. Donna

    I adore this article.

    Reply
  41. Lance

    Thank you, Thank you for your honesty and your fearlessness. Thank you for making me cry. Thank you for caring for others.

    Reply
  42. I am so proud to know you, Joy.

    Reply
  43. Abbey

    Those of us who chose to claim a gay identity, and then came to the conviction that it was outside God’s will, and who have shed that identity and are trying to live as, simply, Christians … We are outliers too.

    Reply
    • Marie

      Agreed, Abbey.

      Reply
  44. I know that “gay Christian” is no more bizarre a term than “gossipy Christian” or “female Christian” or “stingy Christian” or “foodie Christian.”

    Yes. This. Just this! Thanks for your honesty here. My best friend of 30+ years decency came out to me and I am doing all I can to be that safe place for her. I hope I am succeeding!!

    Reply
    • evija

      Apparently Abbey is a hater as well.

      What was it that was said of Aslan when Lucy first encounters Him? She asks, “Is He Safe”

      The reply, “No, He’s not, but He’s Good.”

      Reply
  45. I love you, Joy Bennet. Freaking standing ovation here.

    Reply
  46. Ashley

    Thankyou- I agree with you and share the longing of your heart that those that follow Christ be more loving, more humble, and more safe… but I also believe that we are called to speak the truth in love… of course, as you have pointed out, it is very difficult to figure out what the truth is, without a divinely inspired doctrinal statement… Let me recommend to you “By What Authority” by Mark Shea… After a lot of similar problems and questions as an Evangelical Christian, but absolutely convinced of my Christian faith, I eventually became Catholic. I would highly, highly recommend that you look into Catholic teaching on iffy subjects which are rocking your soul. There are so many amazing articles, encyclicals, and resources that combine TRUTH and LOVE- a balm for the soul. I don’t know if you have heard of the ministry called Courage? (http://couragerc.net/Member_Testimonies/testimonials_2013.pdf) But if you are not well read on Catholic teaching on sexuality in general, you can check out Humanae Vitae http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/paul_vi/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-vi_enc_25071968_humanae-vitae_en.html and this is an interesting little article on it. http://www.firstthings.com/article/2008/07/002-the-vindication-of-ihumanae-vitaei-28 , you might also be interested on Blessed Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body- in fact, I really, really highly recommend it- http://www.theologyofthebody.net/

    Let me just add, that I live on the left coast, and have always grown up mostly surrounded by very liberal voices… I am very thankful that I have seen very little of the hateful attitudes and behaviours that you and others have described. I affirm with you that LOVE is the answer, but I challenge you that we cannot truly love without knowing what the TRUTH is… saying something is okay when it really is not okay has the potential to absolutely destroy the lives of those you care for and seek to help.
    May God guide you into all truth. And may His truth set you (and many through you, for you clearly have the gift of sharing your love and wisdom!) free.

    Reply
  47. Joy, you are so brave. I admit that I have not been. I belonged to a lovely small church and never admitted I was a democrat. If someone said something that offended me on any hot button issues, I’d walk away. Privately, I’ve wrestled with the fact that the majority of churches declare that gays who express their sexuality, even in a committed loving relationship, are sinning. I have known gay people all my life and am convinced that most of them were born to be gay. In other words, that’s who God made them to be. It wasn’t their choice as so many people claim. So if that is true, I must conclude that expressing their sexuality in a loving relationship cannot possibly be a sin. I know for sure that I am not called to judge people because they are gay. I want to be brave like you, Joy, and speak this truth as I know it.

    Reply
  48. Maria W

    I have many friends and family who are gay or lesbian. Some are wonderful people and some are complete jerks. No different than others. I love them no different than others. I still believe the Bible is the inspired word of God and I don’t believe we can rewrite it to suit our personal agendas. I believe this to my core. And I also believe that God is bigger than we can begin to comprehend, his way are not our ways. I am a sinner. So are you. We all are. And we can twist the Word of God anyway we want to relieve ourselves or justify ourselves. I know I am still a sinner. So we will do what we want and live how we want and fight for what we want just the same. Doesn’t change Who God Is. In the end we ALL will face Him. The Bible says judge not. Still, BOTH sides of any issue are merciless with the judgement of the other. I am weary of being judged for my views as a Bible believing Christian when I am simply following my faith as I understand it. I am not God. And I am no better or worse than you or anyone else. Do not judge me.

    Reply
  49. Beautiful, brave write. Thank you for sharing this.

    Reply
  50. RealAmerican

    Jesus loving gay people is much different than condoning the marriage between the same gender. That goes against all God-given biological reason. Sin is forgiven when there is repentance for sin, a true effort to change your life to live more Christ-like. I pray for those who are in sexual sin, which is more serious than most other sins because it is a sin against the body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit.

    In 1 Corinthians 6:18, Paul says, “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.”

    The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to express that sexual sin is different from other sins. Because the sin is against the human body, Christians commit the sin against the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. Paul said, “All other sins are outside the body.” This distinguishes sexual sin from coveting, for example, because coveting is a sin done outside the human body.

    Prayers to all.

    Reply
    • Could not more fully express my thoughts on this topic myself if I tried. I linked up to it on my blog today, because I just wanted to read aloud your entire post to everyone I know. Well said.

      Reply
  51. Veronica

    Incredible. Thank you so much.

    Just out of curiosity… have you gotten to a place where you have found a theology that sits better than penal substitutionary atonement?

    Reply

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