“Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence.” — 1 Peter 3:15
Note: All letters are posted as they were received. No spelling or grammar errors have been corrected. Links to responses are at the end of the letter.
I would like to open this letter by stating that we must not get Christianity mixed up or confused with humanistic views, spiritualistic views or demonic views. To be a Christian is to be Christ like. Reviewing all I have read on this article there is nothing to back up what has been written. Which is of utmost importance when establishing a biblical foundation for your life? There is one text given out of John 3:16, besides this text there is no scripture given to solidify that which is believed. I believe that the purpose of this is for the gay community to be acceptable in the eyes of God. According to Genesis chapter 1 & 2 everything God made, he said “It was good.” Also in John 3:16 confirms also that he loves all including gays and lesbians. But this still does not dispute the fact that biblically he does not accept this as a way of life. For scripture states that we are created in his own image and after his likeness. There is no text stating such acceptance of this lifestyle by God. I am not by far a gay basher for this would also be outside of the will of God. For I must consider the grace of God that delivered me from the bands [bonds? -editor] of homosexuality not so many years ago.
After being converted into the kingdom of God I have found the truth and have backed everything I believe in by this truth. The truth is in the word of God. For I spent a brief time trying to justify those feelings and emotions I had for men. And how something that felt so right could be so very wrong. After discovering the truth I found peace with God by exploring a few major texts in the bible. These are a few of the text in which he gives direction in this area: 2 Tim 3 and Genesis 19. These are just a few of many text which has been discussed in the bible on this very s! ubject. I hope this email provokes your thinking and causes you to think twice about that which you believe in and that in whom you choose to follow. Remember when someone is proclaiming what the word of God is saying they must be able to back it up by scripture or it is not of God, but of our adversary the devil (Deutronomy 18:20 ). This text gives you the punishment for proclaiming something God has not said. Matt 24:11 also talks about deception of those proclaiming what God has said.
We encourage any literature that is biblically base on this subject to enhance our studies in this area.
Richard and Kimberly Jordan
Rev. Dr. Jean Orost responds: Dear Richard and Kimberly,
Thank you for your sincere questions and concerns about the multiplicity of books and information about Christianity and homosexuality. It is indeed often confusing. I have spent almost 20 years reading many of these books and have found that it is helpful if you think about the different religious traditions from which we come. Many Christians take an approach to interpretation that is a combination of Scripture, reason, tradition and experience. However, it sounds like you come from a tradition which considers only the Bible as authoritative. In your case, then, it would probably be most helpful to you to focus on those books which are written by reputable Biblical scholars, and let the other literature go by.
You are right when you say that there is nothing we can do, whether we are gay or straight, to make ourselves acceptable to God, if you believe Romans 3:21 that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” But God, because of HIS lovingkindness, when we were dead in trespasses, has made us alive together with Christ (Eph. 2: 4-5). Do you think that this great salvation, or that God’s great mercy is restricted to heterosexuals (a category, like homosexuality, which did not even exist in Biblical times)?
We — everyone — are created in God’s image, as you have said. You say there is no text accepting the gay lifestyle, whatever that means, but neither is there one endorsing any one other lifestyle in the Bible. Indeed, there are at least 40 different types of family structure described in the Bible, none of which are lifted up as exemplary or exclusively approved. While God’s Word does mention several specific sexual behaviors which do not honor or respect God’s image in others, those injunctions about same sex behaviors are outnumbered by specific restrictions on heterosexual behaviors by about 40 to 1. Yet, we hear no sermons saying that God hates heterosexuals.
When you mention in your letter that you have been “delivered from the bands of homosexuality,” I am assuming that you refer to Richard. As a Christian psychologist, let me address this issue about deliverance. I’m sure you know that there does not exist any body of scientific evidence or research studies which have demonstrated the successful “changing” of a person’s sexual orientation, though some people, through great personal will power, have been able to change their behaviors for a period of time.
As you have experienced, coming to God, accepting Jesus as your savior, and inviting the Holy Spirit to transform you by the washing of the Word, has undoubtedly changed your life. Many gay and straight people, who were living lives of promiscuity, or who did not respect their own bodies or the personhood of others, have experienced deliverance from those disrespectful behaviors. As we mature in Christ, we tend to start living by Jesus’ word to love our neighbor as ourselves. We tend to bring all of our lusts (flesh, eye, and pride) under obedience to the word of God as we learn to respect ourselves and others more. However, this does not mean that God has changed our essential selves, but that He is restoring us to wholeness. Did you ever hear a sermon telling heterosexuals to give up their heterosexuality when they were delivered from promiscuity? So, you may have mistaken your change in attitude toward others and your growing respect for the image of God in other men as a “deliverance,” and in it way it is.
Another psychological phenomenon which happens to those who were “delivered” within the context of a Christian community, is that they generally gain support and public approval within the church as long as they adhere to the acceptable behavioral codes. This is often behind the pressures to get married and act like everyone else. Social approval is a very strong motivator, even more so to those who have experienced the rejection and disapproval so characteristic of church people toward those who are gay, or perceived to be gay, regardless of their devotion to Christ. It is often amazing the things that people will do in order to be accepted by someone else, or by a group of people who are demonstrating conditional love. I hope that this has not been your experience.
Finally, in response to your questions about the scriptures relating to same sex practices, I will defer to the experts. Reputable Bible scholars, who have devoted years to studying scripture, languages, and the culture of Biblical times, have carefully analyzed these passages which you mentioned as well as others. I would suggest that you read the older classic on the subject, The New Testament and Homosexuality: Contextual Background for Contemporary Debate by Robin Scroggs. More recent books, which closely examine scripture, are Daniel Helminiak’s What the Bible Really Says about Homosexuality, and Letha Scanzoni and Virginia Mollenkott’s Is the Homosexual My Neighbor? There are many others listed in the Bookstore on this website, but these maintain the high respect for the integrity of the Bible which you are seeking.
Richard and Kimberly, God has given you the Holy Spirit and has gifted you with your bodies and your minds. I urge you to trust what God is saying to you through them. Feast on communion with God’s Spirit. God will show you the path. “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)
In Christ’s love,
Rev. Dr. Jean Orost
Maarten van den Driest responds: Dear Mr. and Mrs. Jordan,
Thank you very much for your kind letter. There do, however, seem to be some misunderstandings, primarily on what biblical truth exactly is and how it should be treated. Well, good of course but people disagree on what good is. It is my view that this is the crux of the problem. There is no problem at all with people disagreeing every once in awhile on what is good and what not but things can get nasty when biblical truth comes in. Those having different views on what God condones or not and what He has meant or not are not automatically based on something else than the Bible. Do you get my point? We all base ourselves on the Bible, God’s word. We at Whosoever do so, you do apparently and a whole lot of other people do.
I would however never tell someone who disagrees with me that he or she is not ‘biblically based’.
I would like to open this letter by stating that we must not get Christianity mixed up or confused with humanistic views, spiritualistic views or demonic views. To be a Christian is to be Christ like.
There is a slight problem with this remark and that is that it is automatically true. Of course Christianity shouldn’t be confused with anything. However, humanistic and spiritualistic views are not wrong because they are humanistic or spiritualistic. Only when we can claim for sure that a concept goes against Christian morals, can we name it wrong. On the other hand, this is extremely hard to do. A wise man once said: “God is a mirror that never changes but everyone who looks into it sees a different face.”
Christianity can mean different things to different people, at different times. Christ like, you say” Do you know for sure that Christ was heterosexual? I don’t care but we will never know.
Reviewing all I have read on this article there is nothing to back up what has been written. Which is of utmost importance when establishing a biblical foundation for your life? There is one text given out of John 3:16, besides this text there is no scripture given to solidify that which is believed. I believe that the purpose of this is for the gay community to be acceptable in the eyes of God. According to Genesis chapter 1 & 2 everything God made, he said “It was good.” Also in John 3:16 confirms also that he loves all including gays and lesbians. But this still does not dispute the fact that biblically he does not accept this as a way of life.
You are quite right. John 3:16, in isolation, does in no way guarantee that God, although He does love gay people, condones homosexual activity. However, it also never rules it out. We get loads of letters of people accusing us of ‘finding excuses for the lifestyle’. First of all, there is no lifestyle. Secondly, we do not excuse ourselves in any way. We base our view on the Bible not that we are acceptable ‘after all’ but that we have always been and always will be just as acceptable and holy as everyone else.
Genesis is a bit of a problem, certainly when it is taken literally. It is true that the Creation accounts tell us of a man and a woman – presumably heterosexual? – who were together and God did say ‘that is was good’. The only thing this ‘proves’ is that heterosexuality is okay. Just the fact that a gay/lesbian couple wasn’t included doesn’t mean we are not okay. Blind people were also not included, neither were hermaphrodites. Still, every year an untold of people are born blind or as a hermaphrodite or maybe both. No one tells these people that God doesn’t condone their lifestyle. No one pickets the funerals of these people or makes up laws that permits people to throw them out of their houses on the spot. Strange? I think so. People of different skin colours also weren’t included in Genesis. Since the story comes from the region of Mesopotamia and the people are a kind of light brown there, must we assume that God has a problem with white people or that white (and dark brown) people are in some way inferior?
I am not very good in arguing separate verses but my view on biblical thought does not ‘condone’ such acts or such thinking. To be clear about it, we at Whosoever do not attempt to get ourselves accepted, we know we are. On the other hand, the world – not God – gives us much pain and suffering. Whosoever was created as a voice for gay Christians and a refuge. Nothing else.
For scripture states that we are created in his own image and after his likeness.
No man or woman is made in His likeness in a literal way and you wouldn’t argue that God is straight? I think the Eternal is above such distinctions. God is neither man nor woman. He is God.
There is no text stating such acceptance of this lifestyle by God.
There is no text stating that homosexuality is unacceptable. Please stop using the word ‘lifestyle’. There is no gay lifestyle. We are as diverse as any group. Or maybe you really mean sex? Let’s talk sex then, and not beat around the bush.
I am not by far a gay basher for this would also be outside of the will of God. For I must consider the grace of God that delivered me from the bands [editor’s note: bonds?] of homosexuality not so many years ago.
I do not know what happened to you. I do not know under what tremendous pressure you were put under by clergy, family and all those people who say they love you but I am unsure what to say. If you are truly happier now, then congratulations. If you are now better able to show your true inner face and soul to the Almighty, praise the Lord. Even though I have enormous trouble with things like this I will find it in my heart to congratulate you.
After being converted into the kingdom of God I have found the truth and have backed everything I believe in by this truth. The truth is in the word of God. For I spent a brief time trying to justify those feelings and emotions I had for men.
You were wrong to justify yourself because you would have failed anyway and there is also no need to justify yourself. The sacrifice of Jesus justifies us. No other justification is needed. His life and death justifies homosexuals, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender people and heterosexuals alike. Why would one justify oneself? For others? Obviously only the one true God is important?
The truth is in the word of God. Yes, of course it is but what do you mean? That what you say is the word of God is the word of God? That I should accept your views to get to claim I believe the word of God? Well, I don’t want your permission. I claim Christ Jesus as my personal Saviour on my own and I do not ask anyone or any set of beliefs for permission.
And how something that felt so right could be so very wrong.
If it felt right then why should it be wrong? You were told it is wrong? Of course you were. But what guarantees you that those people who told you homosexuality is wrong are right? Do they speak the word of God? No, they don’t, they are humans, like the rest of us. Wouldn’t gay and lesbian people be far better candidates as truth-sayers about homosexuality? We know what it is.
After discovering the truth I found peace with God by exploring a few major texts in the Bible.
You realise of course that this is no way of ‘converting’ us? Our site clearly shows we have studied the Bible for years, intensely and with prayer. We know the texts. We know all the so-called anti-gay texts and we have already dealt with them.
These are a few of the text in which he gives direction in this area: 2 Tim 3 and Genesis 19. These are just a few of many text which has been discussed in the bible on this very subject. I hope this email provokes your thinking and causes you to think twice about that which you believe in and that in whom you choose to follow.
I am not going into discussion over Bible verses at this point. If you really want to repeat that tired old discussion with me, please mail again and I will be happy to oblige you. There is however a point I want to make. I am a bit annoyed that you want me to think. I have thought already.
Let me explain. I am a 24-year-old gay man. I have known I am gay for almost ten years. There is not a day in my life that I do not know and realise that I am gay. There is not a day in my life that I do not experience what it is like. I know what being gay is. I have studied the Bible and biblical literature for over five years. I have joined Whosoever, a group centering around the Christian faith, discussing endlessly the possible and impossible ways of following Christ with mind and body. Ergo: I do not need some strange person telling me – warning me even – to think.
You are, incidentally, quite right about the importance of choosing what you will believe in. The choice is free. There is however not a choice between biblically-based and not biblically-based. Every Christian view is biblically-based, mine is for sure. I will demand this respect from you and ask you to realise that I do pray and think and believe just like you. Please stop and think about that.
You have chosen to block all possibilities for gay people to ever exist as independent Christians. To be acceptable in your view, we must change who we are in our inner selves and you will use the heavy weaponry of ‘biblical truth’ and such to get us to do it.
I think this is, although you may not agree, a blatantly aggressive act. Why do you not ask us what our faith is? 2 Peter 3:15 tell us to be ready to tell people our faith and our beliefs. In Whosoever, some gay Christians fulfill that verse. Would you silence a Christian fulfilling a biblical commandment? And if you do not understand, why not ask more? Why immediately hand out a short, not very detailed warning?
Is this a Christian thing to do?
Remember when someone is proclaiming what the word of God is saying they must be able to back it up by scripture or it is not of God, but of our adversary the devil (Deutronomy 18:20 ).
We have. Have you read our site? There are numerous articles here, backing up just about any of our views with scripture. Have you checked?
This text gives you the punishment for proclaiming something God has not said. Matt 24:11 also talks about deception of those proclaiming what God has said. We do not know what God says. We have only the Bible. I accept people who disagree with me on any subject. I am ready, willing and able to discuss logically and respectfully any biblical question. However, do not touch my belief! If you come to me and tell me I am wrong and should read the Bible to understand that, I grieve. If you disregard actual truth from life in order to get your doctrine to measure up I feel pity for you.
The same Bible also says that the first and foremost commandment is love. If I love a man, truly love him and act on it, there is nothing wrong with it. Not on earth and not in the heavens. No quotation, no sophistry, no one claiming to ‘love the sinner … ‘, no one can tear me loose from my belief in Jesus Christ our Lord, my Saviour.
We encourage any literature that is biblically base on this subject to enhance our studies in this area.
And righteous you may feel about it. Does it feel good for you to be so right? Do you feel safe now, now that you have changed and become righteous in the views of the world? Does it feel comfortable? I bet it does. And I think you are right. There is only so much a man can be asked to bear. There are limits to what a person can take. I do not blame you or wish you ill in any possible way. I could accuse you of choosing an easy way out, listening to the world and not to God. I have done so in my thoughts a thousand times, I will admit that. I realise however that it would not be fair to you, it also wouldn’t show much respect. Please give us the same respect. Accept first of all that we are fellow Christians.
Strong Son of God, immortal Love
Whom we that have not seen Thy face
By faith and faith alone embrace
Believing where we cannot prove
Our little systems have their day
They have their day and cease to be
They are but broken lights to Thee
And Thou o Lord art more than they.
Alfred Lord Tennyson
Neil Ellis Orts responds: Richard,
Thank you for your kindly worded letter. I am thankful that you are not a gay basher and that you exhibit some grace in your way of living your faith. Would that all who opposed us did so.
I find it difficult to address your concerns because we come from very different viewpoints on what the Bible is and how we should read it. Your quoting of 2 Timothy 3 sounds like an accusation and as such I find I have to fight the urge to quote it back at you. Reading that passage in the context of your prescribing, presuming that it refers to me, makes me defensive and I want to cut off communication. This is where I find quoting scripture to be dangerous to real dialog on just about any topic. I can only presume that you assume that I am self-centered and a lover of money, proud, haughty, abusive, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, irreligious, callous, implacable, slanderous, licentious . . . the list goes on. Truth be told, I cannot deny all the charges, maybe not even any of them. But I have to ask, who can? And what does that have to do with my sexuality?
You are apparently what we have come to call an “ex-gay.” I hope you are happy. I really do. I believe we all have choices to make in regard to how we act out our sexuality, whether it be true to or counter to our natural sexuality and there are prices attached to all the choices. I no longer wish to fight the urge to be attracted to men. That costs me in a lot of ways. It also pays me in that I no longer have to pretend to be attracted to women and eventually hurting women because I cannot experience real sexual fulfillment with them. I cannot guess what your relationship with your wife is. (I am assuming Kimberly is your wife.) I truly hope, as I say, that you are happy. I just do not see that happiness for me. In fact, I honestly entertain the notion that I might live out 2 Timothy 3:10, at least in following Paul’s “way of life.” As Paul preferred celibacy to marriage, I find I seem to be suited to celibacy as well and really wonder if I will ever have a partner. At this point I neither pursue nor avoid the possibility. There other things to which God has called me and I if I pursue those, I honestly don’t have much time for dating. I do have a longing for physical intimacy but have no idea whether or not God will fulfill the longing. Time will tell and I cannot guess.
But just as I don’t really believe that God told Joshua to commit genocide on the way to Jerusalem, neither do I believe that the few passages that refer to same-sex sexual activity refer to me, a man doing his best to be faithful to God in Christ Jesus. I believe historical context, the purpose of the writing, the way the Spirit moves and speaks today all over-ride the simple surface meaning of most passages in the Bible. And before I hear how God is the same yesterday today and tomorrow and God would not change views on homosexuality, I have to ask how we reconcile the God who supposedly wiped out entire nations through Joshua with the God who supposedly calls us to make disciples of all nations through Jesus? If God is the same (which I do, strangely enough, believe) then someone got it wrong, it seems to me. I’m betting Joshua was the one who got it wrong.
I’m also betting that, with Paul’s limited understanding of sexuality (remember, homosexuality in its modern understanding and definition, was not known to Paul’s culture and body of knowledge), that gay Christians understand something of the same God that Paul spoke of in Romans 8, which overrides even the things Paul writes of in Romans 1.
In God’s grace and peace,
Rev. Vera I. Bourne responds: Dear Richard and Kimberly,
I believe that you have asked for a biblical foundation for my life. Perhaps, as a starting point, we could agree on 1 Timothy 4:4, “For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer,” since it agrees with “It was good,” the summary you have given of the first two chapters of Genesis. I would also ask you to consider the Acts 11:9 that reads: “The voice spoke from heaven a second time, ‘Do not call anything impure that I have made clean.'”
I know that God has called me, forgiven, cleansed and anointed me. I believe that the blood spilt on Calvary has removed all my sins, that I am washed clean and that I belong to God as a pure vessel for God’s own use. I know that I have been created in God’s likeness for his own use, and that he will indeed use me as I surrender my life moment by moment to him. As you feel that “when someone is proclaiming what the word of God is saying they must be able to back it up by scripture or it is not of God, but of our adversary the devil (Deuteronomy 18: 20)” I am hereby citing the scriptural texts for the above claims.
Forgiven and cleansed … “I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”
Blood spilt on Calvary … “Since we have bow been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!
Vessel for God’s use … “And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy which he had afore prepared unto glory.”
God’s likeness … “But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love. Endurance and gentleness.”
1 Timothy 6:11
God’s use … “Obey them not only to win their favour when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart.”
You claim “that biblically he does not accept this as a way of life.” May I point out that nowhere does Jesus condemn homosexuality. In fact the only comment Jesus made on sexual morality was made to the woman who had committed adultery, and to her his words were to “sin no more.” As homosexuality was part of the Roman and Greek cultures, there would have been incidents enough upon which Christ could have declaimed had it been such an issue as you obviously believe. Yes we “created in his own image and after his likeness” a fact for which I am eternally grateful. The truth is indeed in the Word of God, and I pray you will diligently search the Scriptures and discover, as I have, that those such as I am are perfected creations of God.
We are those, who having been persecuted, and are now able to claim as our own the words of Romans 9: 25-26:
“As he says in Hosea: ‘I will call them “my people” who are not my people; and I will call her ” my loved one” who is not my loved one’, and, ‘It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” they will be called “sons of the living God.'”
These are not my words but God’s, they are therefore powerfully inspired and divinely appointed. I trust you will join with us in celebrating our place among God’s elect.
Founder of Motley Mystic and the Jubilee! Circle interfaith spiritual community In Columbia, S.C., Candace Chellew (she/her) is the author of Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians (Jossey-Bass, 2008). Founder and Editor Emeritus of Whosoever, she earned her masters of theological studies at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, was ordained by Gentle Spirit Christian Church in December 2003, and trained as a spiritual director through the Omega Point program of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. She is also a musician and animal lover.