I was on the fence for a long time.
I had questions and no answers. I had stories from real people who love Jesus. I also had bible verses that seemed to fly in the face of those stories. I was undecided on my stance, afraid to betray scripture and terrified to be graceless towards sisters and brothers.
Are LGBTQ people sinful?
The questions were hard to navigate because the revolve around real people, not just some faceless, academic issue. I refused to be someone who cut people off from the table of God because of sexual orientation, yet at the same time, I wanted to be faithful to what it means to follow Jesus in how we live.
I was torn for many years by this, torn into because of my love for people and my zeal for scripture, holy living, and faithfulness to the humanity Jesus calls us to.
I didn’t think that it was some orientation that people choose. I knew for years that this was something people are born with, just as I am born heterosexual. I am attracted to girls. Some men were attracted to men. Some women were attracted to women. Some people were attracted to the same gender and others as well. The question was never if this was a choice or not. The question for me was, are these attractions something Jesus looks on with favor. Does Jesus bless the marriage of two God-fearing women? Does Jesus turn water into wine at the wedding of two Christian men? Are these relationships holy matrimony or merely a civil union sanctioned by the state?
I kept quiet about my indecision. It wasn’t out of fear or cowardice. Instead, I kept quiet to listen, to hear the stories from people in the church. I kept quiet to not wound people while I choose to learn, to pray, to discover for myself what stance the Spirit led me to. I opened my ears and my heart to people, choosing to love even if I couldn’t fully support their position. I didn’t want to be a bigot, so I kept my mouth shut and willingly listened with love to the stories from people – truly human people – who loved Jesus and have non-heterosexual chemistry.
Don’t speak when you don’t know.
So now what? Where am I now? Am I still at a place where I will wrestle with scripture if one (or both) of my sons are gay? No, I’m not there anymore. I have evolved, moved on, changed my position and my mind. This changes came about because of one verse in the bible.
The voice said to him again, a second time, “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.”
Peter is shown a vision of all sorts of ritually unclean animals and told to kill and eat. Being a good Jew, Peter refuses. That’s when the voice of God says: What God has made clean, you must not call profane. After this vision, Peter is taken to the house of Cornelius (a Gentile) and asked to proclaim the gospel of Jesus. In the middle of talking, the Holy Ghost does his thing, and another Pentecost event occurs, complete with gentiles speaking in tongues. Peter finally gets it. God has chosen his Spirit to be poured out on Gentiles just as he had on Jews. The early church couldn’t deny that Gentiles were now a part of the people of God as they were. There was no prerequisite for them to become Jews first, to take on dietary restrictions and holy days. Gentiles were enfolded into the people of God as gentiles.
J.R. Daniel Kirk lays this out much better than I can, but basically, it boils down to this: what God did with Gentiles he is doing with LGBTQ people.
I am not allowed to call LGBTQ sexuality unclean because God has declared it holy by the act of pouring out the Holy Ghost on my LGBTQ sisters and brothers.
The new actively trumps the old. It doesn’t matter what was called an abomination under the Jewish law. Now LGBTQ people are called the people of God as they are! Sexuality, romance, personalities: they are all embraced by Jesus. There is no longer a debate in my heart. This simply is the work of God.
I don’t get to be on the fence if I am serious about wanting to be where the Spirit is moving. I don’t get to remain undecided if I want to follow where Jesus goes. Now I get to go with my heart, to love without reservation and to embrace without measure. My heart has been pushed into the wildness of an untamed God and what he is actively doing.
So I now proudly stand with my LGBTQ sisters and brothers. I believe this is the way forward in the church. This isn’t something I can be passive about. Just like women in leadership, this is where the Spirit is already moving and where we need to keep up with the holy wind of God.