A Note on My Growth as a Gay Christian
I recently updated my About page to reflect my current position on sexual ethics, shifting from a more traditional or “Side B” perspective to a more progressive “Side A” perspective. In other words, I have grown to believe that God views same-sex marriage as a symbol of Christ’s love for the Church, just as He does with heterosexual marriage.
Being gay and theologically traditional was always an awkward tension for me. I’ve wrestled and questioned throughout many seasons of my life, but I always came back to the conclusion that God could not actually bless same-sex marriage.
Saying it out loud, it seems strange to try and limit God in this way.
There are lots of complicated reasons as to how and why I came to that conclusion for so long. It only recently occurred to me how much my theology was rooted in the idea that if I got the answer wrong, that God would punish me forever for not having adequate knowledge or discernment in the area of sex and sexuality. I constantly thought to myself, “Better safe than sorry.”
But let’s take a look at that phrase, “Better safe than sorry.”
What that means is that it is better to play it safe by sticking to a traditional sexual ethic and never express a desire to be married than to potentially be sent to Hell for my limited knowledge of God’s will for creation.
Here’s what Scripture says:
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”1 John 4:18
If love and fear are incompatible because fear has to do with punishment and love does not, how can I say that I arrived to a traditional perspective out of love if I was preoccupied with punishment? If God is love, how can I say I came to that perspective through God?
This revelation doesn’t have to mean that the traditional perspective is wrong, but after shedding off the fear of being punished by God, I allowed myself to interpret Scripture freely, using similar tools that led me to understand other pieces of theology that I had long accepted (i.e. women being gifted for ministry despite Paul stating that women should never teach over men.)
Additionally, I have a wonderful Christian community where I live in Upstate New York that has reassured me that they are committed to building me up in life and in ministry, extending radical familial love and hospitality to me.
This is drastically different from any other Christian space that I have been a part of.
Previous churches and ministry leaders agreed to support me so long as I fit within a theology they were comfortable with. I think this kind of pressure kept me from seriously questioning what I believed because I was determined to remain loyal to these communities that I loved so dearly.
But when a community you love reaches back to say, “I love you unconditionally,” you don’t have to worry about disappointing them because they are not invested in your adherence to Theology because they are vastly more concerned with your overall growth and journey as someone trying their best to live into the love of God.
Without the pressure of letting anyone down and without the fear that God might choose to withhold his unlimited grace, I have been able to come to a conclusion that has relieved a lot of worry from my heart. I feel at peace with an unconditionally loving God and I can begin to imagine a life free of the fear that God will not be unconditionally loving with me.
Do all LGBTQ+ Christians who are theologically traditional/conservative come to that conclusion based on fear of rejection or punishment? I can only speak for my own heart. In my own heart, I had to realize that I was being driven by fear and needed to wrestle honestly with God.
If your theology is not rooted in love, it’s not good. If your theology is not rooted in love, it’s not from God.
Am I perfect now? Absolutely not. But I am praying that God continues to make his love perfect within me.
If you would like to know more about how God convicted me out of a theology of punishment and condemnation, check out my previous post, Getting Proximate with God’s Love for the Poor.