Editor: Wow, what a powerful article. I have considered myself a straight, married, conservative, evangelical Christian for over 40 years. However, in the last year, I have become increasingly ashamed of conservatives and evangelicals. I am ashamed of our flaming nostril gay bashing. I am ashamed that we who call ourselves “keepers of the flame,” “the last bastion of the holders of Biblical authority” and authors of so many books on love, are violating our own teachings on grace and mercy.
Lori Heine’s article Our Way Home hit a home run. The religious right is now owned by the right-wing conservatives. At the same time, it does seem that the religious left worships solely at the feet of the liberal left. It appalls me that we have allowed the political establishment claim ownership of the votes of either the left or right. In my journey to sanity and self-reflection, I have shed the “labels.” Am I conservative? Am I a closet liberal? Who gives a tinker’s damn anyway?
I want to be a child of God who is open to all God’s children. I began reading Nancy Wilson’s marvelous book “Our Tribe” and sobbed as I read of her struggles to gain recognition for the gay community. My heart wrenched at the way “my” people treated “you” people. But, I’m learning that it’s not “my” or “you” anymore. It’s us.
We are a family, children of God, straight, married, gay, lesbian, bisexual, black, white or purple. Beyond that, we are one. In Christ, we are one. For in Christ there is no distinction between Jews or Greeks, male or female, gay or straight, or whatever. None! If God sees us as one, then, by God, we must see ourselves as one and learn to love each other and accept each other as equal partners in the family of God. Yes, we are individuals. Yes, some of us are straight, some not. Even straight vs. alternative labels are bothering me. But know for sure, I, as a “straight and happily married man and an evangelical Christian,” am learning to love ALL of God’s family.
I feel your pain, at least in a small part, because at a young age, I went through a divorce that ended my ministry in a denomination that frowned upon divorced pastors. I was became “unusable,” “tainted by divorce” and no longer a whole person. It took years to overcome that hurt. So, now, God is opening my heart and exposing my prejudices and then allowing your ministry to bring healing.
Thank you for you fine articles and ministry. Richard
Editor: I came across your website while researching “rejection.” Quite a good website, too, I might add.
I’m straight and consider myself a “born again Christian,” but I find the issue of Christians in the church rejecting others quite disturbing. In my opinion, churches should not only welcome gays into their congregation, but they should be standing at the door of the closet ready to escort them from that closet into the sanctuary.
The word “sanctuary” means “a safe place.” It is unseemly for any Christian to stick their nose up in the air at anyone. The Bible tells us that “our righteousness is nothing but filthy rags” to God. In Isaiah 9:9, we’re told that “All are hypocrites.” As humans, we can’t understand the mind of God (“As high as the heavens are from the earth, so are my ways different from your ways.”). We try to “categorize” sin, when God just has TWO categories: 1) Fit and 2) Unfit. We try to establish “loopholes” with this to make our sins into merely “failures” or “shortcomings.” But God doesn’t see it that way; our actions are either sin or un-sin. If I served you an omelet that I made with 3 eggs, one being rotten, you wouldn’t eat it; even if there are 2 fresh eggs in that omelet, that one rotten egg makes it “unfit.” So it is with God regarding sin.
I personally believe that it’s stupid to think that someone is going to heaven merely because they’re “straight” and someone else is going to hell merely because they’re gay. God sees our hearts. He knows our hearts. He knows what we can change and cannot, what we are born with, how we’re made. And God alone will judge us all. I find that relieving, for how can anyone judge another human when we don’t know everything about him? Therefore, churches should be viewing homosexuals not as “sinners only,” but “only sinners.” Each person has his own “thorn in the flesh,” sin, or whatever; let us love one another and leave the judgment to God. When I became a Christian, I handed over to God my right to judge another person; MY duty as a Christian is to LOVE my neighbor, not JUDGE my neighbor; and I’ve found that an incredible burden taking off my back.
God bless all of you; you’re not alone and there are others like me who have seen your pain and struggles in belonging. Yes, you CAN be a homosexual AND a Christian; how arrogant to think one cannot. If anyone wishes to write to me, I will listen and offer my hand in friendship. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. And you are precious and loved. I’m in your corner. I’ll even sit with you in that corner so you’ll not feel so rejected. Hang in there.
A friend in Christ, Scowletta
Editor: Just wanted to thank you for [Rev. Candace Chellew’s] sermon People Suck, especially the story about “Shay.” It brought me to tears.
Editor: I have experienced some hate mail since my coming out to Christian “friends,” or to be more specific, got very unsupportive mail. Now I see that it is dealt with on your website very thoroughly, and I think you have a great courage in dealing with it all. My question though, is how can one deal with it on a personal level? It seems okay when you are a team of people and many have had some theological training. But for others – who perhaps, like me, live in a more remote place and do not have much support – it can be very difficult, especially when it is family and “friends” who are sending you all those accusations.
In other words, where do you find this strength not to let yourself hurt by all this hate mail? And how do you deal with it rationally?
Thank you Nicolas
Editor Candace Chellew responds:
Hate mail used to just tear me up inside. I would literally shake and my palms would sweat when I would read it. Often I would fire back with the same venom I got. Until, that is, I realized that these people were not telling the truth about me. Their words only had an effect on me when I believed them – when I thought they knew something that I didn’t.
Even though the vast majority of my “hate mail” does, indeed, come from strangers, I have had to wrangle a few family letters that contained many of the errors, myths and downright lies that get told about gays and lesbians. To those family members, I simply responded to their lies and misunderstandings with the very real truth about my life – a life that goes against the myths and half-truths and outright lies.
What I think is the key, though, Nicolas, is a very strong sense of yourself – this is something that doesn’t develop overnight. It didn’t for me. The more I explored my faith and my sexuality, and the more successful I was at integrating the two, the less the barbs stung. Now, I can open a hate-filled letter, skim a few lines and hit delete without a twinge. I no longer shake or sweat. I simply say to myself, “God bless this person” and move on. I no longer feel the need to respond to them because the Whosoever magazine is already a BIG response to them in many ways. Personal words from me aren’t going to make too much of a difference.
I think when I began to see that these people who wrote to me merely spouted off the same lies and myths that everyone spouts I stopped taking it personally. There is a lot of fear in those letters – and often a lot of anger. (See our section Reverent Responses for some examples and how we have answered many critics.) Honestly, it has little to do with me. I’m merely their chosen target, but there’s more underneath the surface of those letter writers – maybe friends who are gay, maybe they themselves struggle with gay feelings. I don’t know. I simply know that they’ve gotten something out of their system by writing to me. That’s great for them. I let them say their peace. Sometimes I’ll try to send back a grace-filled note if I think it’s appropriate, but more often than not, I simply let them spout and quietly delete them with a prayer of goodwill for them.
I can do this because I know they do not speak truth. They do not describe my life or my relationship with God. God knows my heart. The words and opinions of others do not come into play in that relationship. I live for God, not for any person’s opinion or approval.
My suggestion then, Nicolas, is to concentrate on God and how God moves in your life, and concentrate less on what people have to say about your journey or your relationship to God. Spend less time justifying yourself and more time with God. Spend more time talking with others about the truth of your life and less time listening to myths, stereotypes and half-truths that you know are lies and do not describe you. Spend more time in prayer and meditation with God and less time reading email. That’s been my saving grace!
I hope these words help you!
Editor:I have a Christian friend whom I love and cherish. He is well-read in the scriptures and he is one of my best friends. He was also one of the first people I came out to. However, he does not approve of homosexuality. The other day, he showed me Romans 1:21-32. I’m scared, does this mean I’m going to hell? Please answer this question on your site, as I’m sure others like me have the same worries. Worried and Scared
Editor Candace Chellew responds:
Please don’t be worried or scared, my friend. You are not going to hell for being a homosexual. The first chapter of Romans does seem to be convincing, but I would encourage you to read up on the interpretation of Romans. Your friend embraces one reading of the text, but that’s not the only interpretation out there.
Please review these pages:
However, be aware that you get nowhere arguing scriptures. Experts on both sides of the issue cannot even agree on what the scripture really says about homosexuality, so I doubt you will reach accord with your friend on them either.
What is important to remember is that God loves you no matter what. God has made you as a homosexual and all God expects from you is that you use you sexual orientation, like every aspect of your life, to God’s glory and honor.
There is another part of Romans that you may want to read and keep close to your heart.
Romans 8:38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Nothing separates you from God – nothing. Do not listen to anyone who tells you otherwise because you are already assured of God’s love and acceptance. God wants us to live an abundant life, just as God made us. You are not wrong being a homosexual. God created you this way. You honor God by embracing how God made you and working to live your life to the glory and honor of God.
Do this, and you will already be on the right track, no matter what anyone else says to you.
Editor: It’s because of interpretations such as yours that this world is being flushed down the immorality toilet. I have added you to my prayer list. Janet
Editor Candace Chellew responds:
I disagree, but thank you for praying for me. I’m always happy to have others going to God on my behalf. I’ll add you to my prayer list as well.
Blessings, joy and peace,