Tag: homosexual affirming

Out of the Closet, Into the Cold : Life after Coming Out as a Gay Loving, Homosexual Affirming Pastor

As I write, it’s been a mere two weeks since I gave a message and wrote a blog post where in both, I “came out” as a gay loving, homosexual affirming pastor to my church, friends, and family. No big deal, right?

Honestly, I never quite imagined the kind of responses I would receive, each one walking me further along the tip of the iceberg of what one must surely experience when “coming out” as a gay person in our culture today. Perhaps I should have know, but who could really? I will tell you this, my perspective on what it can look like to “come out” as a gay person in America has forever expanded with disturbing awareness. The handling of homosexuals and homosexuality by many Christians has become no less than the new racism of the 21st century.

Just shy of death threats, which are probably not far around the corner for me, even as a front-line, controversial Christian writer and pastor, I have been shocked at the negative and hurtful responses from some. Even more disturbing is the calculative results that conclude all the hateful, vial responses have come exclusively from Christians, the very people who profess Jesus as the model for their life.

I prepped our church weeks before that Sunday, and even tipped my hand to the cards I was going to play in addressing more specifically the issue of homosexuality, hoping to ease us further into the waters that I had already increasingly tipped our toes into from the very beginning of the formation of our ministry. On that day, a few chose to not listen or even consider my teaching before I could even teach it, opting out of attendance. Among those, there was a stated fear of receiving new information that could potentially change their mind, others among them just walked away… no words, no communication, no nothing. People who had journeyed close by my side for some time, left it, without a sound, statement, or blink of an eye. The relationship in the end perhaps became disposable or just too difficult.  It was clear that some who came, already formed their conclusions, but went through the motions of being present before quickly telling me of their no longer future presence; of course, through a text or email.

I understand, I really do, this is a complicated issue. There are a lot of strings and traps attached. I have been on the other side of the fence. I get it. It’s a tough issue, it takes time. I hold nothing against. Same love, same respect.

I never asked anyone to agree and repeatedly communicated that one of the defining values we have as a church is that our unity is not based on us all agreeing upon a certain set of beliefs, but on our willingness to agree to disagree and yet have the maturity, tolerance, and humility to still love, respect, and do life and ministry together from a foundation of Grace. Our church is purposed on being less of a church and more of a table, where everyone has a seat in the conversation, the life, the relationships, and the feasting on the Grace of Jesus.

For some, this unique church ethos is a fresh wind of hope and delight they never knew could exist. For many, they are thinking, deconstructing, and reexamining their faith, asking the ultimate question of their biblical understanding, “have I read this right?” All, while still seated, connected, loving, respecting, serving, and experiencing authentic, spiritual community. Many our clapping on the insides with overflowing enthusiasm, others are giving Christianity another chance as they find this compassion, courage, unique church culture, and revelation of scripture something of the miraculous.

It is truly a beautiful thing.

Outside of church, there has been the silent treatment. People I always heard from, going unheard from. Glares, non-verbals of disappointment. The unspoken, yet clearly heard voices of shame. Others communicating their disagreement openly and respectfully, others, not so much. Waves of de-friending, all from… Christians.

I truly admire those who disagree with my perspective on the issues, yet still pledge their love, friendship, conversation and desire to stay by my side. They refuse to let their stance on the issues usurp their stance “with” me. In the same spirit that Jesus died for the ungodly, they are willing to stand with what they perceive is unbiblical and perhaps ungodly… me. Not from a condescending spirit, but from one of unconditional love, togetherness, and respect. This, I deeply treasure and joyfully extend as it’s been extended to me.

Some are more passive aggressive. Disagreeing on the inside, and acting on their disagreements in the shadows. Murmuring, chattering, making me pay subtly, behind the scenes, all the stuff you remember from middle school, now on display in adulthood. Precious, isn’t it?

And this, just “coming out” as one who simply affirms and loves someone and something certain people are against. I can’t imagine “coming out” as actually being a gay person, as hard as it has been for me in just affirming them. Holy crap, batman.

Yet, I wouldn’t trade it all for the conversations I have had with people who are gay or have family members who are gay. One person could barely control the speed of their words as their excitement couldn’t be restrained in finally having a pastor to talk with who understood and supported.

Tasting and seeing, breathing for the first time. Resurrected to life. One after the other.

I wouldn’t trade it all for the atheists, the skeptics, the undecideds, the “done’s” who are actually finding new faith or a faith restored because of this courageous, compassionate, conversational, free, humble, serving, unconditional loving, Grace flowing flavor of Christianity and “church.”  The original, the pure Gospel in flesh, and fleshed out, right before their eyes.

I wouldn’t trade it for all the friends who have shown themselves to be true friends. Who when the shit hit the fan, they stood with me and took it, and are taking it, boldly and even cheerfully. Some with even a Jesus-crazy, Grace-intoxicated smile on their face as if to say, “bring it on, you bastards.”

I wouldn’t trade it for the after-Sunday-service hug of my sixteen year old, heterosexual son, who had never quite hugged me that hard while speaking into my ear, “Great job dad, I am so proud of you.”

I wouldn’t trade it for the peace I have, and the sense of fully realizing the heart of Jesus in me and through me as I boldly and unapologetically love, affirm, and defend homosexual people and their families everywhere.

I will not stop. I will not be silent.

It may be cold…but this cold cannot touch the fire from above and from within.

I will fight as long as it takes, and I have breathes to take.

Today I Came Out as Gay Loving, Homosexual Affirming Pastor

It’s been coming, I can’t say for a long time, but for some time.

I was that guy, that pastor who believed homosexuals were sin-dripping heathens going straight to hell in a hand basket. I preached it, taught it, and stood against it. It was a no brainer, slam dunk issue. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Those who listened either applauded, baptizing me in the oil of their approval, or they walked away, silent and discarded. Shamefully, I didn’t really care, I was right, they were wrong. No blip on my radar screen. They were going to hell anyways, what’s a pastor to do when he has a church to build. Poor gay people, what are we going to do with them?

Then, Grace came to my door. He shook me, wrestled me into His arms and leveled my feet. Deep waters of humility, unconditional love, and supernatural compassion. I was sinking fast. Every footing, every foundation of prior understanding of Jesus, God, and the Bible, forever altered, deconstructed and resurrected into life.  Soul searching, soul strangling, and soul saving. That’s what Grace does, it changes everything. Nothing can withstand its refining fire.

I believed it, drank it down, driven to believe it all the way. Consumed by the Consumer. Jesus, the intoxicator of my soul, baptizing me in barrels of Grace.

“So Chris, when did you choose your heterosexuality, give me the date and time?” “So Chris, go over and caress that man’s hands and kiss his lips… what, you can’t, why not? But you are asking me to?” “So Chris, why in the hell would I ever choose to be gay, are you kidding me?” “So Chris, I am supposed to abandon my gay child, put him out of the family?” “So Chris, I am just supposed to flip a switch, I’d rather die, cause I can’t do that, and I can’t do this (holding open Romans 1 with tears in their eyes pointing to the phrase ‘God haters.””  “So Chris, God created me, but hates me, He put in me a desire He in return dooms to eternal fire, cause I know I didn’t put there, I would kill to make it go away, but I can’t?” “So Chris, my sexual orientation defines me?” “So Chris, you love me, but hate a core piece of who I am, no choice of my own?”

That was just the beginning. Experience with real people. The experience gay condemners rarely have. Homosexuality became no longer an issue, a theological debate, but rather… living, breathing, human, loved by God and some, Jesus loving… people.

Then, the pivotal, haunting, and life-changing question… “did I read this right?” Grace grabbed me by the feet and hung me over the biblical texts, like my dad once held me to jerk out the hotdog I was choking on soon about to snuff out my life, ridding my lungs of breathe.

Grace grabbed my feet, hung me over the text, shaking out the ignorance I swallowed whole for so long, revealing that I was barely breathing all along.. that is, before the great Grace dislodging.  Sodom and Gomorrah, Leviticus, Romans 1, 1 Corinthians, 1 Timothy. Clobber passages that became clear passages, not for the condemnation of homosexuals, but against those who strip them of their context, rape them of their intent, and turn them into gay-seeking missiles.  Hijacking each one from their intended warfare on sexual atrocities well outside the world of homosexual orientated, consensual, life-giving, monogamous, same-sex relationships.

I had been singing in the chorus of the false accuser of our brothers an sisters. Hating with the haters, all under the veil of a Jesus centered life.

Not any more. The curtain has been torn in two.

Today, I came out as a gay loving, homosexual affirming pastor. My church heard it, line by line, verse by verse, one text after the other.

Now, you are hearing it.

It hasn’t been easy, the cost is costly, but at the end of the day, I know this to be true…  you have the heart of Jesus when the religious scatter and the broken gather.

Whatever comes and whatever comes my way… Grace wins yet again.

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