Jesus Loves Me Enough: Why I Call Myself a Gay Christian

I came across this post today by blogger Matt Moore. Matt and I have found ourselves in similar situations. We both are Christians. We both love Jesus and seek to follow him in the ways that we live our lives and love those around us. We both experience what many label “Same-Sex Attraction.”

In Matt’s recent post, he uses the title: “I Love Jesus Too Much to Call Myself a Gay Christian.”

Reading a title like this triggered a whole bunch of shame-based responses in me and made me forget all the things that Matt and I do share in common. The tapes in my head started saying, “Look, another Christian who doesn’t think you love Jesus enough because if you did, you wouldn’t call yourself ‘gay’.”

Then, it sunk in. We do have a lot in common. This message of shame is coming from a Christian who experiences same-sex attraction and is choosing to live celibately.  Someone who should understand better than most everyone what it has been like to walk this journey. I do not believe that Matt was intending to shame his fellow gay Christians when he wrote his post, yet this is how it was perceived by myself and some of those closest to me. I realized that I could either let this message of shame fester inside of me and make me feel bitter for a while, or I could channel it into writing out my own thoughts and hopefully engage graciously in this conversation.

So, why is there such a disconnect between myself and another Christian with same-sex attraction who is pursuing celibacy?

It comes down to the idea that gay is a word that stands for a sinful condition we find ourselves in, rather than an adjective that cues people in to someone else’s experience.  Matt doesn’t believe that there is such a thing as a fixed sexual orientation: lesbian, gay, bi, or straight. To him, gay is all about the experiencing of temptation to commit acts that the Church has historically found to be sinful. 

What this view of the word gay does is boil down every LGBT person’s experiences to simple horniness. As if the only thing on the mind of a gay person is who, where, when, and how they can fool around with someone of the same sex. In Matt’s world, identifying as gay means that are emphasizing your desire to sin.

Spend any length of time in conversation with a member of the LGBT community and it becomes abundantly clear that the word gay does not speak to anything more than simply stating that they experience life as a sexual minority. To them, this short word means that the ways they view the world around them and relate to the people they meet are fundamentally altered by some part of their personality that they have found sets them apart from 95% of their peers. For LGBT folks, using the word gay says nothing of their theology, political ideology, relationship with God, or their sexual activity.

I choose to identify as a gay Christian. Here are a few reasons why.

1. It’s truthful.

I identify as a gay Christian because it is the most honest way I can describe my experiences. Being in the closet is a lonely place. When I began coming out to my closest friends and family, I quickly learned the value of having spaces where I was both fully known and fully loved. My favorite quote on this matter is by Tim Keller. I have quoted it before, and I will most certainly quote it again in the future.  

“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”

The fact of the matter is, I reached a point where I could not live with this part of myself being a secret any longer. I had to be fully known so I could see that I was fully loved just as I was. And for myself, to say, “I struggle with same-sex attraction” is not being as truthful as saying, “I am a gay Christian.” This is simply because when I say that I am a gay Christian I am talking about far more than who I am tempted to lust after. I am talking about the ways I form friendships, the people I am most likely to fall in love with, and the lens through which I experience the world.

2. It acknowledges the sense of “otherness” I share with my gay friends.

As I was saying above, the word gay is most commonly used by LGBT folks to talk about their unique way of experiencing the world based upon how they relate to others. I have no problems using the word gay as an adjective to describe the ways I relate to the world around me. In no way would I ever say that the word gay has more meaning to me than my identity as a Christian, and everyone who knows me would agree that being a Christian influences how I see the world far more than being gay ever has. It’s just that most of the time I find myself around Christians who are straight and don’t understand my experience as a gay person, so I wear the gay label to have more honest and transparent relationships with others.

When I describe myself as a gay Christian, I am refusing to say that my experiences are exactly the same as everyone else’s. There’s a way in which gay folks experience the world that is different from their straight peers. There is a way that people of color experience the world that is different from the way that white people do. This is not to say that every person of color has the exact same experience, or that every gay person has the exact same experience, but there is solidarity in knowing that you’re not “the only one” who sees things differently. I call myself a gay Christian to cue to others that I see things differently. Maybe in some of the same ways they do.

3. It reminds me of how much Jesus loves me.

The message that “being gay is a sin” was imbedded in my formative years. As I grew up I was scared to death that being gay meant that I was going to hell. I was scared that if I told anyone at all, they would reject me. Yet, it was when I started to tell people that I experienced not only THEIR love of me, but also how much JESUS loves me. It was when I started being honest that I realized God was not going to reject me. It was after I was honest that I was able to sit in the presence of God and hear Him tell me that He loved me… unconditionally. Being set free from my fear of rejection and being shown that perfect love casts out fear have been the most beautiful expressions of Christ in my life. I can live without shame. I do need a Savior. Not because I am gay. But because I am human. And Jesus loves me enough that I can call myself a gay Christian. It’s His love that frees me to do so.

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12 thoughts on “Jesus Loves Me Enough: Why I Call Myself a Gay Christian

  1. I actually go with Matt on this, though I am not tossing out what you say lightly. To me, gay is an identity, not just a sin…. and I don’t want to identify as gay, but as Christian, for I am trying to get away from everything gay stands for. I also don’t like the idea of people going to AA for years and calling themselves an alcoholic. I personally believe it can be detrimental to identify oneself with t he sin or habit you are trying to quit.

    Matt doesn’t knock using gay when dealing with gay friends who are not living for Jesus, as that is the term they prefer, and it can be demeaning to them to refuse to use it. But to use it for we who are living for God and not what seems to come so naturally….. I agree with him…… but I have agreed with you in the past, though I haven’t always commented, so don’t hate me 🙂

    • Mark, I wonder what all is included when you say, “everything gay stands for”. Who gets to dictate what all is included in that? As Dale said in a comment, I view the gay adjective as similar to saying I am an American Christian. I don’t always use the American adjective when describing myself, just as I don’t always use the gay adjective. But in contexts where understanding how my nationality impacts my experience and gives me a different experience than my brothers and sisters from Asia, then I will use it. Likewise with the sexuality descriptor.

      I don’t find that it’s a good analogy to compare “gay” to “alcoholic”. There is nothing specific about being gay that implies an addiction. The analogy of sexuality to introversion/extroversion, maybe is better. Or the analogy of sexuality to some other sort of fixed aspect of our lives that relates to “the hand we our dealt”. I’m not opposed to analogies of sexuality to physical impairments, but I feel like I’m trailing off because there are no perfect analogies.

      I do agree that refusing to use the word gay amongst LGBT people is absolutely demeaning. I include myself in that group. When I am dealing with someone who refuses to allow me the space to identify the way that makes sense for my life, I feel suffocated or shamed.

      I have no issue with my brothers and sisters who, for whatever reason, have chosen to use language of same sex attraction rather than gay or lesbian. It is when their choice of language includes a philosophy that they necessarily are closer to God or love Christ more because of it. The use of LGBT vs SSA language is NOT an indicator of the state of our faith.

  2. Hi Andrew; I think you’re absolutely right with this critique of Matt’s post.

    I won’t go into all that I find problematic with his otherwise faith-filled piece but what struck me here was the word “solidarity” and how that is a crucial pre-requisite for our spiritual flourishing.

    LGBTQ solidarity is social, political and spiritual: it is social in that it acknowledges a common affective experience of gendered relationships that touches us as desiring subjects; it is political in that it acknowledges solidarity with all those persecuted sexual minorities both at home and abroad and highlights that sexual justice is an on-going project which we are part of (if we value, say, not being arbitrarily arrested and imprisoned); and finally it is spiritual in that it acknowledges that we are redeemed in toto and that our ‘gayness’ is providential in our salvation individually and corporately as an LGBT community.

    I think we would both agree that there are discrete aspects of gay affective desiring that can be sinful but the proto-heterosexual theology that Matt puts forward (I was astonished when he decried gayness as “the very corruption that Christ died for”) is that it’s an ideological view of the Body of Christ and its corrosive to the kind of hospitable thinking that breeds new subjects of life.

    Much love brother.
    a

  3. I have no problem with identifying myself as a Gay Christian. I also think it doesn’t bother God either. It’s no different than identifying as an American, Canadian, Protestant or Catholic Christian, The point is our identity is In Christ, NO MATTER WHAT ADJECTIVE WE PUT TO DESCRIBE OUR LIVES.

    It’s true that Paul teaches his readers of our Identity In Christ. But he also talks about the reality of our sinful flesh. Does this mean he was DENYING his Identity In Christ? Not at all.

    Talking about the reality of our sinful nature and the particular sins ( homosexual, heterosexual, drunkeness, drug abuse, etc) we wrestle with is NOT denying our Identity In Christ. It is expressing the reality of these things in our life

    The problem with Matt’s position, in my opinion, is that it comes across as denying the distintive issues we as Gay Christians face in living out our faithfulness to Christ.

    • Thanks for commenting, Dale!

      To add to what you are saying, being gay doesn’t lead necessarily towards all that strong of sinful desires. I know some LGBT Christians who hardly ever deal with any sexual lusts. “Gay” describes our experiences, but not necessarily how we are tempted or struggle with sin.

  4. Hi,

    I have just come to this website from a posted link about gay and identity and the term gay Christian. I am finding helpful to read all these blogs and learn new insights from the way people think. One point I can’t imagine doing is referring to anyone saying, this is my blind friend Chris , or my obsessive compulsive friend Amy , they are aspects not an identity. No one can tell me what to call them, I am responsible for what comes out of my mouth. I refer to everyone by their name, if that isn’t good enough, that’s not my problem. They can choose to be or not be my friend on that alone, that’s their choice and I would respect that.

    • Point well put, Timothy. I think Andrew is trying to be open and wants others to love him though his identity through Christ. He tries to be very tranparent in all things.

  5. Fantastic blog Andrew! I’m hugely encouraged by you as someone who has also starting blogging about the adventurous, complicated, beautiful journey called life as a gay Christian.

  6. Totally agree with you on this one. I see myself as Christian, who is also gay. Our “gayness” (same sex attraction) is more than who we are attracted to. We may be situated in different cultures and conditions but we are all bound by our collective experience of living in a heteronormative world. For some, this has led them to be more sensitive to the sufferings of the marginalized. For others, this has enabled them to be more strong-willed. Consciously or unconsciously, this experiences has shaped our character. Those aspects of our character that are not glorifying to God, we must renounce. But those aspects which are in line with God’s will, we must nurture, whether or not they have been shaped directly or indirectly by our being “gay.”

  7. “Our “gayness” is more than who we are attracted to”.

    I read this a lot, it seems to be the battle cry of the “Gay Christian Crowd”.
    I think you guys put way more into this being “gay” than you should. It’s detrimental and confusing to the general population. What’s the difference between you guys and the latest celebrity who comes out as gay? The general public certainly sees no difference…

    If you must cling on to the gay label, try this…from Peter Ould.
    I’m post-gay because I chose to leave “gay” behind. I chose to no longer accept “gay” as an explanation of who I am and instead I begin a journey away from it. I chose to do so because I am convinced from the Scriptures that “gay” wasn’t a suitable way to describe myself, that it isn’t a valid way for a Christian to establish an identity. I am compelled not just by reading the normal passages on the subject but also from the story in John 8:1-11 of the woman caught in adultery. In particular Jesus’ last words to her are “Go now and leave your life of sin”.

    He doesn’t magically transform the women from a harlot to a saint, but rather simply gives her an instruction of direction – leave this place you’re at (adultery) and move on from it. His command is vectorial, not ontological. It is the call of discipleship – it says “follow me to wherever I take you – I don’t promise you riches or immediate perfection, but I do promise you hope”.

    This is why post-gay is a far better description for those who have left homosexuality behind. It describes a journey away from a false identity constructed around one’s emotions and a true one constructed in following Jesus. For some of us that journey involves changes in our sexual orientation, perhaps marriage and kids. For others they see no change in their sexual attractions, but they have left behind the place of false-identity, of seeing themselves as “gay” and that as a defining a unchangeable aspect of their being.

    Some aspects of that journey have been clearly marked for us. A dispassionate reading of the Scriptures shows very clearly that God didn’t intend for us to have sex outside of the marriage of male and female. So I can see very clearly that that life option (same-sex activity) and those things that celebrated it (“gay”) were not the direction God wanted me to take. But other parts of the journey only become apparent as we set out to walk the road God has called us onto.

    Our solidarity should be with fellow pilgrims on this same journey called discipleship, not with fellow LGTB..efg’s?, who for the most part are on a different journey.

    The church is slowly coming around, they are starting to see the difference between people and their particular struggles, but when you guys INSIST on being called “Gay” is just confuses the issue. Some church’s have now gone beyond the pale in trying to appease the homosexual lobby by blessing same sex unions.

    Please rethink your position, carefully?

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