Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free. With the Lord on my side I do not fear. What can man do to me? The Lord is on my side to help me; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me. (Psalm 118:5-7)
Homospirituality is the topic for this issue. It is a word I first heard used by Rev. Mel White when I did an interview with him for an earlier issue. The word stuck with me and I began to wonder if such a thing as “homospirituality” existed. I took the word to God in prayer, and I have arrived at the inescapable conclusion that yes, such a thing exists. But it exists in a broader context than just “homospirituality.”
I believe any group that has been oppressed and routinely excluded from the house of God, like homosexuals, must find a stronger and deeper faith. Their beliefs are not validated in the same ways as Christians in the “mainstream” churches. They cannot look to the institutions of man to validate their faith in God. Instead, they must look inward for that deeper place where God resides. Once you find God within, it is easier to see God without. Once you know God lives in you, you no longer fear those who say God has abandoned you, because you know it’s not true and, in the end, that is all that matters.
As the editor and administrator of this site I routinely get messages from people who believe they know my relationship with God better than I do. A fellow named Ivan wrote to me recently: “You love darkness more than light, you will be one of those to whom Lord will say: ‘Depart from me, I never knew you.’ You know this as well as I do. You can fool other people but cannot fool yourself, and of course, you cannot fool God. You chose your life style, and you will bear responsibility for that. God loves you, but He is just and He hates your sin. Please repent and quit your evil practices, God will forgive you. I will pray for you and I hope to see you in Heaven.”
It never ceases to amaze me how so many people forget the boards in their own eyes and instead concern themselves with the splinter they believe they see in my eye. I don’t, for one second, believe that God forsakes me. I don’t, for one second, believe that God hates homosexuals. I don’t, for one second, believe that I will go to hell because I am a lesbian. I don’t, for one second, believe that I “chose” to be gay. I don’t, for one second, believe that homsexuality is a “sin” I must “repent” of. I don’t, for one second, question my salvation. I don’t, for one second, question Ivan’s salvation. Therein lies the difference.
Homospirituality to me means we must be above judging others. I have secured my own salvation through faith and faithful action. I cannot secure another person’s salvation. That is between them and God. I will defend their right to believe however they chose. But I will defend my faith when it is attacked by those who know nothing about it, like Ivan and the thousands of others who write to me and judge me by THEIR standards, and not God’s.
As it says in 1 Peter 3:9:
Do not return evil for evil or reviling for reviling; but on the contrary bless, for to this you have been called, that you may obtain a blessing.
For all the negative mail I receive, I will never send a negative response. I will not return evil for evil or reviling for reviling. I believe as gay, lesbian and bisexual Christians, THIS IS OUR CALLING. All manner of evil has been visited upon gays, lesbians and bisexuals, and it is tempting to fight fire with fire, but as Christians we are warned to “turn the other cheek” and to “not return evil for evil.”
This is the core of homospirituality:
Let him seek peace and pursue it. (1 Peter 3: 11)
As gay, lesbian and bisexual Christians, we too have God on our side. If we seek God, then God will seek us. God is our protector. We should never be afraid to proclaim that God is with us, even as gays, lesbians and bisexuals.
We are assured this in 1 Peter 3:13-15:
Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is right? But even if you do suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is within you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence.
Our enemies deserve a response, but not a hateful, noisy response. They deserve a gentle and reverent response, even if their challenge is noisy and hateful. As gay and lesbian Christians, we are called to defend “the hope that is within” us on a daily basis. We must gird ourselves with the word and power of God. Learn your Bible, know it and be ready to defend it at all turns. Know the miracles that God has done in your life, be ready to testify to them and glorify God with your daily lives.
Being a gay or lesbian or bisexual Christian is no easy task. You must be doubly prepared to defend yourself. For many of those in the “mainstream” of the church, Christianity is relatively easy. They attend “mainstream” churches … they are most often validated in their faith communities … many only listen to what preachers say the Bible says and they aren’t forced (or even encouraged, in some cases) to find out for themselves what the Bible really says. We, on the other hand, have been told we deserve death. We’ve been told that God hates us, reviles us and wants us dead. We’ve been kicked out of the “mainstream” churches, left to form our own faith communities. In some cases, we are even reviled in the gay and lesbian community as evidenced by such wonderful shirts at gay pride events that read “Jesus save me from your followers.”
As gay, lesbian and bi Christians we have to work harder to make our faith strong. We have to endure more doubts, more insults, more judgment, and more hatred than your average Christian. I believe our journey is harder, but we are better and stronger for it.
1 Peter 3: 12-14 holds words of comfort for gay, lesbian and bi Christians as they make the journey:
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in so far as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
Everyday, gay, lesbian and bi Christians are “reproached for the name of Christ.” Know, brothers and sisters, that you are blessed.
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.