Skip to comments.Gays struggle in evangelical Christian world
Posted on 07/29/2003 3:53:53 PM PDT by TenaciousZ
They come to a Capitol Hill apartment each Thursday evening for fellowship and Bible study. They talk, as many in Christian fellowship meetings do, of the power of God in their lives: how the Lord has helped heal family relationships for one, given strength for a job search to another.
But just as frequently, they speak of their painful struggles to reconcile their faith and their sexuality, for this is a local meeting of Evangelicals Concerned Western Region -- a group for gay and lesbian evangelical Christians.
In the publicity surrounding last month's Supreme Court decision to decriminalize gay sex and the legalization of gay marriage in British Columbia and Ontario, Canada, some of the most vocal opposition has come from conservative Christians. That has made some gay, lesbian and bisexual evangelical Christians feel invisible.
"A lot of people don't know that there are evangelical Christians who are gay and lesbian and are OK with being gay and lesbian," said Ron Poindexter, a local member of Evangelicals Concerned.
In recent years, more mainline Protestant churches locally have become welcoming of gay and lesbian parishioners. Groups such as Soulforce and Dignity fight for gay rights within various church denominations, and churches such as Metropolitan Community Church Seattle and Spirit of the Sound minister to gay and lesbian Christians across a wide theological spectrum.
Some gay and lesbian evangelical Christians think it's time to bring their struggles into more prominent public awareness.
Tonight, the local chapter of Evangelicals Concerned is bringing to town Jeremy Marks, founder of Courage, an organization in Great Britain that formerly worked to get gay men and lesbians to move to heterosexuality or at least to refrain from having same-sex relations. Several years ago, though, Marks had a change of perspective; the group now affirms gay people in their faith and sexual orientation.
Marks will speak from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Seattle Central Community College, 1701 Broadway, Room 1110. The event is free and open to the public.
"What brought about my change (of perspective) was seeing how destructive the ex-gay ethos was to people's lives," said Marks, 51, who is gay. "For all the devotion people made to coming to our ministry, the sacrifices they made, the effort they made to overcome the long-term result was that nothing changed, and it brought about a crisis of faith for them. In that crisis, some lost their faith entirely."
The thinking, Marks said, went like this: "If God does not wish people to live a homosexual life, then surely those who seek God sincerely will find a way to become heterosexual or at least be content with being celibate. Most of these people found neither. That leads to people saying: 'I can't choose whether or not I'm gay but I can choose whether or not I'm Christian,' which is a very tragic conclusion to come to."
That line of reasoning doesn't hold for Robert Taylor, pastor and executive director of Metanoia Ministries, a Tacoma-based organization that works to get gays and lesbians to move out of homosexuality.
Taylor, like many evangelicals, considers homosexuality a sin akin to alcoholism or drug addiction something "incompatible with a life in Christ" but forgivable by God and redeemable if the sinner truly repents.
It is naïve and ludicrous to think that because a gay person has gone through Metanoia or similar ministries, he will no longer struggle with homosexuality, said Taylor, 38, who considers himself ex-gay and is married with two children.
"One of the things we share with our people is we don't know how much of your struggle, say, with homosexuality, drugs, alcohol, whatever, will stay with you," Taylor said. "We want God to just fix it. The drug addict wants to never again be tempted with drugs. Yet at times there are still struggles. So you're always dependent on God."
Poindexter, 41, an executive assistant at a local foundation, spent several years in the ex-gay ministry and concluded it wasn't helpful.
After spending time at Metanoia, he had a three-year relationship with a woman and studied to become a minister at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif.
Then he realized that as much as he cared for the woman, his basic orientation was unchanged.
He found out about Evangelicals Concerned the first time he had met gay Christians. "All my life I'd been told gay Christians can't exist," he said.
And, like other gay and lesbian evangelicals who say they have reconciled their faith and sexuality, he delved into what the Bible says about homosexuality.
Many in the organization cite examples of passages that have been used to condemn homosexuality, such as Leviticus 18:22 ("You shall not lie with a man as with a woman. It is abomination"), and say they do not expressly condemn committed, consensual, adult same-sex relationships. Those passages, they say, should be taken in context, keeping in mind both the purpose of the passage and the historical and cultural norms of the time.
Much of Leviticus, for instance, deals with codes of behavior by which the ancient Hebrews were differentiated from the pagan society, which had some ritual same-sex practices.
In addition, most of the same-sex relations at the time were between men and boys or men and male prostitutes, and the Biblical condemnation of same-sex relationships refers to that imbalance and abuse of power, said the Rev. Jeff Siker, a Presbyterian minister and professor of theological studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
Society at the time, he said, had no concept of equal, committed and consensual adult same-sex relationships.
In studying the Bible, "The more I looked at what Christ said himself in Scripture, the more I realized that what God is looking for in his people didn't have anything to do with the gender of those in a relationship, but how they were in relationships with someone," said Cheri Storm, 34, who fell in love more than a year ago with Kimberly McGill, 33, when both were in their Edmonds church's Bible study group. "Are you kind, are you compassionate, are you honoring, are you building up someone and not tearing them down."
When Storm and McGill came out to their church, they were told if they did not repent, they would be asked to leave.
"We committed ourselves to seeking the truth on this issue," McGill said. "We decided either way it came out, we would go with that. We would really read on this topic. When we got to the end of the open pursuit of truth, if we came to a place where we concluded this was wrong, we would end the relationship."
They concluded God blessed their relationship.
Even for gay evangelicals who say they have reconciled their faith and sexuality, some still wrestle with issues of faith.
"The scary thing is, if you change your perception of what the church says about sexuality, your perception of what the church says about everything is challenged," McGill said. "That's part of what I'm undergoing now, although the basic principles of what I believe I still find to be true."
Tim Peter, 39, says he still has moments when he wrestles with "what it means to be Christian and gay. Can I really be both?"
But they say, despite skepticism or even hostility from the world, they are committed to embracing both. Non-evangelicals often wonder why they want to retain a faith that often condemns them. They are caught in the middle sometimes, regarded with suspicion by both the wider evangelical community and the wider gay and lesbian community.
"Around here, the fact that I'm gay doesn't really raise an eyebrow," Poindexter said. "Mostly the fact that I'm a Christian is a little suspect."
Some say they stay with their faith because they want to remind other church members that gay and lesbian evangelicals do exist.
For most, it's simply because it's their faith. "I crawled through cut glass to hold on to my faith, to hold on as a child of God," said Michael Perez, 57, of Seattle. "I can't get rid of the belief. Nobody can take that away."
Oh..I get it.
If we continue to struggle with any sort of sin, or temptation to sin...we have two choices;
1. Either decide that Biblical Christianity is wrong.
2. Redefine the basis tenents of Biblical morality to fit our personal preferences.
What a phoney self-centered approach to the Christian faith "gay Christians" have settled for.
I agree with you, it doesn't. However if they act on these desires, as it seems the article presents, I can't see how they are saying that they are living in the light of Christ instead of living in sin