Category Archives: Sexuality/LGBTQI

To Christian Parents of LGBTQI Children

Not that this has happened to me, but imagine you are a Christian parent (or parents) and one of your children tells you that they are of an ‘alternative’ sexuality. That is, they are gay, Lesbian, bisexual, transexual, queer/questioning or Intersex.

For some Christian parents, this would be a non-issue. For me, that would indeed be the case. But for others, whose deeply-held beliefs tell them that this is simply wrong, wrong, wrong, what do they do? I really feel for these people. On the one hand, their parental instinct is telling them to simply love and accept their child; on the other, their beliefs, church or maybe friends/family are, well, at least making it difficult for them to come around to their new knowledge.

In this beautifully-written piece, Susan Cottrell, herself the mother of five children, two of whom are part of the LGBTQI ‘community’, gives her perspective on this important matter. If you are in this kind of ‘situation’, it is well worth reading. Susan has ‘walked the walk’; in my book, that gives her more than the right to ‘talk the talk’. Click the image below to go to the article:

2
0

A Great Piece on Christianity and Homosexuality

While someone else’s sexuality is none of anyone else’s business, there are of course many Christians who would disagree, particularly with regard to people of what you might call ‘alternative’ sexualities, such as Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) people.

Most of my readers will know by now that I am an open affirmer of committed LGBTQ relationships. I have many gay friends, both online and in ‘real life’. As a Christian, I find it morally indefensible that Christians should be in any way bigoted towards people of alternative sexualities. I share here, then, a great article by John Shore of ‘Unfundamentalist Christians’, explaining both his and my position really clearly, and Scripturally too. Click the image below to go to the article.

Enjoy!

unfundamentalist-christians-on-homosexuality

1
0

Compassion and the Next Revival

I’ve written before on how I believe that the hallmark of the next great revival will be one of compassion for those whom the Church has routinely ostracised and rejected – for example, the homeless, the poor, and those of ‘different’ sexual persuasions.

Here is a tragic story explaining just a little of what happens when a Church prefers sacrifice over justice and mercy (Mt 9:13). And please read on into the comments too – this whole piece and its comments read as a powerful message from God to his Church today about how we treat Lesbian, gay, bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ) people.

Sit up and take notice, Church – this is real and it’s happening now. We need to align ourselves with Father on this.

Click the link below to go to the article:

6 Ways The Church’s Treatment of LGBTQ People is Actually Damaging the Church

1
0

Watch the Lamb

…and how the song changed my heart….

A few years ago now, I quite accidentally discovered this song, and its writer/singer Ray Boltz, while looking for Don Francisco songs. I can’t listen to this song without weeping; this is true for only one other song, Into the West, performed by Annie Lennox. The anointing on the song (by ‘anointing’, I mean the evident seal of God’s approval; the added je ne sais quoi that He adds to things that He’s got His Hand in) – anyway the anointing is so strong that I just lose it every time. I’ll let you listen to the song (and the video is very good too) and then I’ll tell you a bit of a story.

You see, apart from its emotional effect on me, this song was also pivotal in my walk with God in another way.

This was the song that Holy Spirit used to bring me to my present place as an open affirmer of LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning) people .

I’d never heard of Ray Boltz before. But I was really impressed, as I’ve hinted, by the anointing on this song, and I wanted to learn more about him. Long story short, I discovered that Ray is gay.

At the time (this was about mid-2009) I was in my fifteen-year ‘wilderness period‘, and would be for another six years or so (it lasted from 1999-2014). Although God had already retrained much of my thinking with regard to theology, doctrine and practical faith, still the dislike (to put it mildly) of all things LGBTQ was a stronghold in my life. I am embarrassed to admit that I thought that gay people were way off-beam and deserved everything coming to them, as I saw it then. I cringe to write that, but that’s the honest truth. And I was wrong.

Pride-Flag1

I had to wrestle with God on this. “If he’s gay [and therefore ‘wrong’]”, I put to God, “then why and how can you put such obvious anointing on his music?”

(Only recently, though, has my thinking changed on the issue of God’s anointing of ‘obviously wrong’ people – read about that here – but back then, this was a major issue for me)

God then led me on a journey of reading, research, study, prayer and contemplation wherein He eventually brought me round to His Heart on the issues surrounding LGBTQ people.  I found that God loves them, God reaches out to the outcasts of society, He upholds the minorities and He lifts up the downtrodden. In each age, there are such people, and in our age one such ‘group’ is the LGBTQ ‘community’. He changed my heart towards these people by showing me His Heart; the natural thing for me to do was to follow His leading. I am too honest a man to deny the truths He gave me; too honest to ignore His prompting. I knew this was the way he wanted me to go. It fits right in with His love, His compassion, His gentleness and His forbearance. And, as you know from the subtitle of my blog, I always love to “do what I see the Father doing”.

And in the years since, I have found out that some of my old friends from Yorkshire (with whom I am still in touch) have also had to wrestle with these beliefs, especially one whose daughter has ‘come out’ as a Lesbian. I’m not on my own; God is challenging, and changing, the ‘firmly held’ beliefs of those who have ears to hear – many believers in this time are also coming round to this point of view.

This line of thinking also got me pondering very deeply on things like the nature of sin, the deadness of legalism and religion, and on many more things that now form a part of the way my theological thoughts now sit, and which you can see in my blog posts. And all because of that song, and Ray Boltz, the gay man who wrote it.

Ray Boltz

I now have several gay friends, some in real-life, and some who are ‘Internet friends’. And I have learned that they are good people – if you’d told the old ‘me’, ten years ago, that this would be my attitude, I would never have believed it could be possible. But thanks to God’s grace, and Ray Boltz’s song, my heart has been changed for good.

Thank You, Jesus!


For more help on faith and LGBTQ issues, check out my other blog posts here, here, here and here.

1
0

Marriage Equality: We have lost Nothing!

I believe that one of the things the Father is doing in this time is to put right so many misconceptions that the Christian church has held for so long.

Misconceptions that come across to the unbeliever, not as bravely-held convictions worthy of honour and careful consideration, bringing glory to God as we stand firm as illuminated believers in a dark world, but as anachronistic, irrelevant ironclad rules that simply put people off the beautiful simplicity of Jesus’s love!

Silly arguments about how old the Earth is; how old the Universe is. Silly arguments against modern scientific discovery which is reminiscent of the ‘Earth at the centre of the Universe’ model so beloved of the Church in the 17th century that they persecuted those who held the sun-centred view that we now know to be completely correct. And that wasn’t even an important doctrine!

So, in this time, the landmark decision of the Supreme Court of the United States to legalise same-sex marriage in all 50 of the United States of America is also seen by many Christians as the ‘end of marriage as we knew it’.

But in fact it does nothing of the sort. This ‘end of marriage’ statement is, in my opinion, simply an overstatement to try to get people on to the side of the anti-lobby, by frightening them. Heterosexual marriage will continue to thrive as it always has; the legalisation of same-sex marriage will not affect it in any way.

In fact, the effects of this law are asymmetric.

On the one hand, the anti-same-sex marriage lobby, for whom life will go on pretty much as normal. This result will not affect them one iota, unless they let it. And in any event, they’ll get over it. To put it bluntly, we heterosexual people have lost nothing!

On the other hand, for all these dear people who now have more of the freedom to be who they want to be, and who God made them to be, life will never be the same again. In a good way.

Let me remind my readers: there is serious doubt among modern theologians that the Bible does in fact condemn ‘different’ sexualities. And we should therefore err on the side of Love, rather than hate. Take a look at my previous article, The Call to Love, for more on this.

Granted, making same-sex marriage legal is not going to change the hearts and minds of the anti-gay lobby, at least not overnight. There will still be persecution; entrenched opinions sometimes take several lifetimes to drain from some people, if indeed they ever do. But in 25 years time, we will look back from a time when same-sex marriage is accepted as perfectly normal, perfectly run-of-the-mill, and wonder what all the fuss was about.

But for the people for whom this judgement is so important, the people in same-sex marriages, life will be as it should be.


For a real from-the-heart piece on this subject, check out Susan Cottrell’s blog entry here at FreedHearts. It’ll be well worth it.

0
0

How the Church Should Treat Gay People

In the book I’m reading at the moment, ‘Disarming Scripture’ by David Flood, the author asserts that the correct way to read Scripture is to focus on the loving interpretation. If your interpretation of a passage results in doing harm rather than good, the chances are you’re not interpreting it as God intended. Essentially this is a way of interpreting ‘By their fruits you shall know them’ – (Matthew 7:16 – “You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act” (NLT))

In few areas today is this more important than that of how the Church treat homosexual people and other folks with ‘different’ sexualities. I’ve previously posted on this matter here. And in this post I keep it simple by referring to people in the LGBTQ ‘community’ as ‘gay’. I know this is incorrect, but it’s simpler for me. My apologies.

Another bit of background before going over to Flood’s piece: Flood asserts that when modern discoveries find evidence for certain effects, such as the terrible effects of treating homosexual people badly, we should not be concerned that we are challenging the Bible. When the Bible was written, humanity simply did not have the same knowledge we have these days. To claim that the Bible holds all the answers is simply incorrect; it is simply not big enough! We need to interpret the Bible not only through the ‘lens of Love’, but also in the light of modern discoveries, both scientific and sociological. To do otherwise is to remain stuck in an unchanging past, much as many Christians accuse Islam of doing.

Right. Over to David Flood:

“I would argue that it would be more important to observe the effects that same-sex relationships have in life today, than it would be to ask what the respective views of past cultures may have been. Do we find evidence that same-sex relationships lead to harm or that they lead to flourishing? The overwhelming majority of social scientists and mental health practitioners today would maintain that there is simply no evidence that same-sex relationships are destructive or harmful in and of themselves.

“Conversely, what we can observe, as far as harm is concerned, is that statistically the LGBT community has a higher rate of drug abuse, mental illness, and suicide than the larger population—alarmingly higher in fact. The reason is quite clear: the rejection they experience.

“Being kicked out of their homes, hiding who they are, being threatened and hated, etc. can easily make a person sick, depressed, broken, and even drive them to suicide. As their voices have begun to be heard, we have seen story after story of how gay and transgender kids have felt hated, at times even hating themselves.

“That really should be a wakeup call for us. While there is no evidence that same-sex relationships are themselves harmful, there is a considerable amount of evidence that the condemnation and rejection the LGBT community faces is profoundly harmful.

“Regardless of whether we believe homosexuality is right or wrong, none of that matters much when people are dying. If we truly care about people, then the practical question straight Christians need to be asking is: Are we helping or hurting with the way we are responding to gays? Are we promoting grace or promoting harm? If it turns out that a moral stance in opposition to homosexuality is having the unintended affect of fueling this kind of rejection, leading to self-hatred and even suicide among gays, then we need to seriously re-think our priorities and focus.

“We can of course argue over what the Bible says about homosexuality, but one thing is utterly clear: Jesus teaches us to love people, not to hate them, not to make them feel hated, and not to stand by while that is happening. From the perspective of the New Testament there simply is no room for doubt on this. We know exactly where Jesus stands in this regard. He stands on the side of the least, the condemned, the vulnerable.

“Looking at Jesus, we can clearly observe in the Gospels that his priority was on caring for the welfare of people, in contrast to the Pharisees who instead prioritized the maintenance of their moral standards. We need to get our priorities straight and prioritize compassion in our witness towards gays—even if that means, like Jesus, having the reputation among the Pharisees of today of being a ‘friend of sinners.’

“Again, as stated above, if we recognize that our particular interpretation and application of Scripture is leading to observable harm, this necessarily means that we need to stop and reassess our course. Scripture, as Jesus read it, needs to lead us to love God, others, and ourselves. If we find that it is leading instead to causing harm then we are getting it wrong.”

And I would also add that surely the requirement to ‘do as you would be done by’ (Matthew 7:12 – “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (NIV)) must occur to some. Would you, if you were convinced of the rightness of your cause, appreciate it if someone came along and told you how ‘wrong’ or ‘sinful’ you were? Certainly this is no way to open a dialogue that will bear any useful fruit! But it is a dialogue that must be opened; Christians need to discuss this rationally and with a non-confrontational mindset. And do it soon. (Thanks to Rob, one of my Men of Honour, for discussing that with me this evening!)

And for those who would say, ‘Ah, but isn’t it more loving to try to correct gay people in their error?’, firstly I would say that it is by no means certain that the Bible actually condemns homosexuality, or, indeed, any form of ‘non-standard’ sexuality. Therefore we should default to ‘Love’ while we get our interpretations sorted out (see this post). Secondly, unless you are in an already existing, good relationship with that person, you should not attempt to correct them at all. See my post, ‘confrontation’, for more thoughts on this important matter.

How to treat gay people? It’s really simple: you treat them like you would anyone else. They’re normal people. We shouldn’t even have to be talking about this, but I’m writing this piece because for some Christians this is a really huge issue. Take a step back and look at yourself, study the contexts, read opinions and scholarly articles….there is reasonable doubt that Christians have been wrong all this time! God has given you a mind – use it!

In the meantime, Love. That’s Jesus’s number one commandment.

0
0

Coping with the ‘Uncomfortableness’ of people with ‘Different’ Sexualities

As we know, there are many people who have a ‘different’ sexuality from the ‘standard’ heterosexual orientation. These people could be Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, or Queer/Questioning (or ‘LGBTQ’).

I sometimes wonder if one of the main reasons why heterosexual Christians – and others too – are uncomfortable with people who have different sexualities is because they don’t know how to relate to them. They don’t know how to address them, how to deal with someone ‘different’; it’s almost like the awkwardness some people feel when they meet someone in a wheelchair, or perhaps with a disfigurement (and no, I’m not saying that LGBTQ people are disabled or disfigured; it’s an example, ok?!). They don’t want to call attention to the ‘difference’ because they don’t know how to. Sometimes this can even be because they don’t want to upset the person. Now usually people in wheelchairs and with disfigurements, to continue my example, just want to be treated normally. They’re thinking, ‘I don’t want your pity, your compassion; just be normal with me, ok?’

Because many people do not feel comfortable talking about any sexuality subjects, though, they are far less likely to know how to broach the subject, so they feel even more awkward. And then there’s the people who just say it’s ‘wrong according to Scripture’ and that therefore ‘solves’ the problem. But it does not go away! These people still have feelings…and other than their sexuality, they’re just like you in every way. These different sexualities are not actually becoming more common; they have always been in existence. It’s just that society in general (if not on an individual level) are more accepting so it’s easier for people to ‘come out’. Because of this, it’s highly unlikely that anyone will be able to go through life without having to face up to this situation at some point!

So, how do we cope with this in a compassionate way, but without being patronising?

Let me tell you the story of Michael (not his real name). At the time I knew him, about 20-24 years ago, Michael was a top engineer with a company who made specialist scientific equipment. He was such a good engineer, and knew the equipment so well, that on more than one occasion he coached me, over the phone, in repairing a piece of equipment that was broken – back in those days, we were allowed to repair our own kit; a privilege sadly lacking in today’s overprotective society! He’d tell me which relays to check, which cutouts to reset, where to look for blown internal fuses…all most impressive. I’d known Michael for about four years, on and off (he didn’t need to visit all that often).

One day, I was sitting at my bench in the lab and someone came into the room and just stood there looking at me over the top of one of the cabinets. I looked up and saw a woman who looked familiar, but I couldn’t quite place her – and then I twigged (and I’m sure you’ve already guessed it) that it was Michael. Michael with long hair, no beard (he’d had one before), and wearing lipstick and other facial makeup, but still (easily) recognisably Michael nonetheless. I can honestly say that I almost heard my thoughts out loud, “Oh my goodness, it’s Michael, and he’s a woman!” Evidently, Michael was a transgender person….

“Well, Tony”, he said. “I think it’s fair to say that things have changed a bit since last time I saw you…” As I nodded dumbly, Michael came and sat down next to me. The lab had gone silent; everyone else in the lab knew Michael and they too were speechless. Even my boss, normally an unflappable man, had done a double-take. So I thought I’d better say something, “Michael, I never knew!”

“Well, it’s Michaela now, but no, I know it’s a shock” he said in a ‘false’ falsetto voice. At that point, Michaela had not long been on hormone replacement therapy, so his voice was still a man’s deep voice. (Let me explain here: at this time, as far as I was concerned, he was still a man as he still had all his ‘bits’. Nowadays of course, I know differently, but remember this was my first encounter with a person ‘coming out’ in this manner – so from now on in this narrative I will refer to Michaela using feminine pronouns!) In fact, for some months afterwards, it was actually comical to listen to Michaela as she’d begin a conversation in her falsetto voice but she’d forget, and within 5 minutes or so she’d be back to her normal voice again.

So, I chatted with Michaela for quite some time, and after she’d gone, my colleagues all clustered around me and asked stuff like ‘What was that all about?’ and ‘Was that really Michael?’ – they were just as flummoxed as I had been, and right then we had to discuss whether to refer to Michaela as a ‘he’ or a ‘she’, or whatever. Remember also at this time I was a fundamentalist Christian and this was totally outside my comfort zone!

That said, though, I was the only person in the lab who felt comfortable talking to Michaela. I had the opportunity several times to sit and listen to her story and her thoughts. It was either ‘come out’, she said, or she’d have to drive her car into a wall at high speed, so fed up was she with maintaining the pretence. And, even despite my own personal shock and misgivings,  I was privileged to be able to reassure her that God loved her no matter what she was inside and outside. Funny, really, that even there, the compassion of Jesus was overriding my religious ruleset. Even then, the Spirit was preparing me for later in life – i.e. now – where I now fully accept all people with all kinds of ‘differences’.  God’s love has overridden my prejudices; now I understand things much more.

(Epilogue: I haven’t seen Michaela since I moved from Yorkshire to Devon in 1995, but I heard from one of her colleagues (they are a company with a nationwide presence) that she went and had her ‘sex reassignment surgery’ – what was often called a ‘sex change operation’ – and is now a full woman. Fair enough, and I wish her well. In doing my research for this blog entry, I have found pictures of Michaela on the Internet and she still looks pretty much the same: still visibly identifiable facially as the former ‘Michael’, but looking well, happy and – yes – female).

I think the key to breaking through the awkwardness in these situations is simply to communicate. Talk to them! Rather than feeling threatened and confronting in a ‘you’re wrong’ style, talk in a ‘how do I relate to you?’ style. Get to know the person. And don’t, don’t judge them! That way you get the double win of addressing your discomfort and make them feel accepted as a person at the same time.

Also, do some research. Take a look at my previous post, The Call to Love, for more of my thoughts on LGBTQ things, and for links to helpful materials on Bible passages that appear to condemn homosexuality, for example, where in fact they do not.

For LGBTQ people reading this, please bear with us heterosexual people. Some of us have come from highly homophobic backgrounds, and it takes time for us to adjust to new concepts, especially when we have mistakenly believed that we are so right and you guys were so wrong. I’m over it now, but many are not. Again, communication is the key, I believe. And, if I come across as patronising, I’m sorry; I am Aspergic and the finer nuances of interpersonal communications usually escape me! The spirit in which I have written this article is one of love, reconciliation and goodness of heart, and I hope this comes across. I’m just saying what I think God wants me to say; ‘Doing what I see the Father doing’ – John 5:19

0
0

The Call to Love

I’ve just read on another blog this excellent quote:

“It doesn’t bother me what [a well-known Christian speaker] or [another well-known Christian speaker] thinks, because I am 100% sure that after I die, no one is going to ask me why I didn’t hate more people.”

Let me tell you this: that posting was on a forum where lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual and/or ‘queer/questioning’ (LGBTQ) people are affirmed.

I appreciate that many Christians feel it is their place, for a variety of reasons, to point out that being an LGBTQ person, or living an LGBTQ lifestyle, is wrong/sinful/whatever.

Actually, the Bible does not condemn homosexuality or any of these ‘different’ sexualities. There are many learned, Bible-believing, Spirit-filled scholars who consider that the ‘clobber-passages’ – the six main Bible passages used to ‘prove’ that homosexuality (etc.) is ‘wrong’ – are actually misunderstood both in their contexts and in their translation. (Click here for links to some excellent examples of such scholarliness) This means that there is realistic doubt that in fact the Bible means what we thought it meant in this regard. And surely, if there is any doubt whatsoever, we should give these people, many of whom are believers themselves, the benefit of that doubt. Default to the ‘Love’ setting; do not judge, do not condemn. We have no right even to judge others, never mind to condemn them!

You know, Jesus said that the Law boils down to only two commandments: Love God, and love your neighbour. (Lk 10:27 and Mk 12:30-31).

Most, if not all the time, people’s attempts to put LGBTQ people ‘right’, is manifested as hatred, intolerance, bigotry and downright nastiness. And I’m not just talking about Christians now (but really they should know better), but about all kinds of people in all walks of life.

Now is the time that God is calling us, the Church, to show that we are radically different from the World. We like to think we are different; now’s the time to prove it!

God’s command is simply to Love. Not to judge, not to ‘correct’, not to hate, but to Love. Love as you have been loved. Love as God loves you. Show others the Love He has given you by being like that to those around you.

Jesus came to rescue the downtrodden, the weak and helpless, the rejects of society. Today this equates to the homeless, the poor, and those whom society rejects…. including and especially LGBTQ people.

Remember, God does not call us to hate, no matter how much we feel it’s justified.

He calls us to Love.

“I am 100% sure that after I die, no one is going to ask me why I didn’t hate more people”.

True words indeed. Love them. Love them as you love yourself. That’s the commandment.

 

 

0
0