I wrote this letter to a gay man who e-mailed me and asked me to recommend books that would help him in his struggle to reconcile a personal relationship with God after growing up in a church that vigorously condemned homosexuality.
I do get many e-mails, but yours was the best of the other day. If you have the courage to write to a writer about God when you think you are a poor writer, I will try to match you and be equally inspired. I think you wrote beautifully about what is going on with your life and spirituality.
I have been out as a lesbian since 1979, and what it means to be gay for me seems to keep changing over the years. I like it very much. I have made this community my home since that time and it seems to me that meaning of this identity is deeply different for each person. As for one’s personal relationship with God, I believe that is the birthright of every human being and no mere person or institution can stand in your way. Any interference you get or assistance you choose to seek is a mortal matter — the Spirit is divine and with you at every moment.
Personally, I think the best guide to a relationship with God for a Christian is the Bible. I enjoy reading and listening to different translations to see it in a fresh way. I have the NIV, KJV and The Message.
Unfortunately, some contemporary conservative denominations are obsessed with globally condemning homosexuality and say that is in the Bible. The Christian Coalition and the American Family Association declared homosexuality the single most important problem in the United States in the election season of 2004 — more important than national security. I actually met a man who said that the main topic of the entire Bible from cover to cover is homosexuality. Really, this is all silly nonsense and I honestly don’t understand where it comes from, no matter how hard I try.
I have spent a huge amount of time fellowshipping with conservative Christians and monitoring some of the key organizations that oppose homosexuality. I have certainly learned their rhetoric but I honestly don’t see the justification for it in the Bible — the ferocity far outweighs any rational basis I can find. For those who see certain acts as sinful I would nod to George Bush who was asked about homosexuality in a press conference and said, we are all sinners, look to that log in your eye and stop talking about the speck in the other man’s eye. Good advice from Jesus as always.
To help you with your understanding of Scripture I would recommend the following two books:
What the Bible Really Says about Homosexuality by Daniel Helminiak
The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart by Peter J. Gomes
God bless you in your quest for meaning and spiritual relationship. I believe you will find it deeply satisfying as you explore. To me, God is love and being gay is all about love. I find no conflict at all.
South Carolina native Gareth Fenley is a community activist in Georgia and earned a masters in social work from the University of Georgia.