A few minutes past eleven on Thursday night, October 24, 2002, I received a phone call. It was my closest sister interrupting my late night phone conversation with a close friend. She felt that what she had to convey was urgent enough that I should halt my existing conversation. Clicking back to her after cutting short my conversation with my friend, she alerted me of a talk show on The Daystar Network – The Joni Lamb Show. She then suggested that I quickly turn my television to the show’s channel since this particular show’s topic was entitled, “Can You Be Gay And Christian?” and also because I’m her gay and Christian little brother.
I’m certain that she feels that she sufficiently loves me, and as a blood-bought Christian, she feels that she loves me like Christ does. But I’m also willing to bet that, as she verbally made her request of me, she simultaneously pleaded inside, “Oh gracious, heavenly Father, please let this show be anointed with enough of your power to reveal to him that his homosexual lifestyle is contrary to the life you purposed for him. Bless him, God, please!” I hung up from talking with my loving sister and changed the channel per her requested.
As I listened intently to the broadcast I initially noticed that Steve Gallagher, a middle aged, salt and pepper haired, sex addict counselor was the only in-studio guest. He represented himself as an anti-gay, Christian analyst that works with those “suffering with living a homosexual lifestyle.” I knew right then that this would just be another one of those self-righteous, “God loves the homosexual but hates homosexuality” alter-calls camouflaged as a Christian cable network talk show.
Gallagher had been allotted almost the talk show’s entire half-hour segment to present his argument on why being gay was so spiritually sinful and socially reprehensible. And in an unsuccessful endeavor to at least convey a fair debate of the show’s topic, an opposing view was presented. Less than two minutes of pre-recorded, video taped footage was aired of the defending United Methodist Church pastor, who acknowledged that he was also gay.
The Christian pastor (who’s name I was unable to grasp), at least while the show aired, was never asked to defend his religious stance. He was only asked his opinion of how mainstream Christians had treated same-gender-attracted individuals. The show’s host, Joni Lamb, and guest could only agree as the videotaped preacher spoke of the ill treatment received by he and many in his congregation in the name of Christ. However, as he answered the only question asked of him, he at least quickly plugged that being gay “…is who I am,” as he so confidently phrased it. I applaud God and him for that. He attempted to get across to listeners that he and his gay and lesbian congregants, like myself, were primarily human, and not merely the sum product of their unique, sexual origin.
The host, herself, attesting to her taped guest’s moral character, even quoted the pastor as having been in a monogamous, intimate domestic partnership with his partner for 22 years. Still, Gallagher accused his fellow brother in Christ of living a life of spiritual defiance because of deception.
Through the legalistic expressions of love and pious honesty I literally felt oozing like melting butter from the lips of the show’s host and her guest toward the segment’s end, to my sister’s credit I received not just one revelation, but two.
The first revelation I received as a result of my loving sister’s emergent plea to me, and perhaps to God as well, revealed that almost another half-hour of my life was wasted in hopes of seeing some sign of the reconciling nature of God among his so-called elect, as it relates to being Christian and naturally attracted to others of my same gender. And secondly, I received from the televised commentary another gut-wrenching example of my religiously zealous, yet knowledge-lacking Christian brothers and sisters’ wayward efforts to exalt a perceived righteous or moral stance above true Christian and Godly love and acceptance.
As I reflected on the show one question stood firm in my mind, as one biblical scripture eventually overwhelmed my consideration of this matter. Particularly in the New Testament Book of 1 Corinthians Apostle Paul expounded with awesome profoundness on the length, width, and depth of God’s way of loving all humanity, His intimate creation. The Apostle was, in my layman’s opinion, generously descriptive in showing us New Testament Christians not only an example of how God loves us, but also how we should aspire to love others and ourselves.
1 Corinthians 13-13: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is Love.” (NIV)
I never once read anywhere in The Bible that countless Christians like myself utilize to discern the heart of God, that the “greatest of these is …” a righteous or judgmental stance. If being right was measured as being of greater importance to God than loving like He loves – than the life, death, and resurrection of Christ would have never taken place. And we all would be without any redemptive hope in this world, myself chiefly, and also Joni and Steve – and all others who call on the name of Christ today.
K. Godfrey Easter is the author of Love Lifted Me: In Spite Of The Church. He also proudly participates as an openly gay minister of music for Evangelistic Center Church Of God In Christ, a mainstream yet openly loving Pentecostal church in Tacoma, Wash., whose pastor and wife have endorsed his new book.