Monday, June 29, 2015

To All Christians Conditionally Loving the Gays

Mark, the artist formerly known as Sparky
I've had this battle play out on my facebook wall a few times over the years. The Gay vs. Christian battle; the conservative Christian vs. the rest of us who support them. I have a huge range of friends, from very conservative Christian, to progressive Christian, to 'used to be a Christian' and now an atheist, to gay Christian, to 'been so hurt by the church I could never go back.' That last one goes for hetro or homosexual friends.

So I ask my fellow Christian friends this: when will you learn that pushing the anti-gay agenda and calling people sinners only pushes the gay away? If your aim is to see people "saved" I can tell you the quickest way to get them to run in the other direction (aside from door knocking) is to tell them you love them, but with exception. I recently read an article entitled 5 Things Jesus Would Say to the Gay Community. It started out fine because the first point was about love but from there it just went downhill as words like sin and temptation were thrown in.


So here's my PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT for all Christians still wanting to conditionally love gays:


Gay's have heard it before. They know you think they are big, filthy sinners. Please stop telling them you love them, while making sure they also know you hate their "sin." They know! 

Mark on Miley's body. Calm down, he's not on another man, it's okay. 



And if you really follow the Bible you should know that you are also a big, filthy sinner. Jesus said let him without sin cast the first stone. Yes, I'm looking at you self-righteous Christian. Let's try loving others unconditionally. That means with out condition. Isn't that how you want Jesus to love you?

Is it your job to keep repeating "Love the sinner, but hate the sin" mantra? Nope. You're only job is to love. That's it. SIMPLE. That should be a huge relief. Hopefully, a big weight just lifted off your shoulders. Now you can go forth and love gays in the same way you love hetero's, because I know you don't keep putting Bible verses up that remind your hetero friends of their sin, right?

Well, I guess I just came out as a Christian on my blog. I haven't been at all vocal about my faith or stance on anything religious on here in the past, with the exception of a few mentions to growing up in the church. But I am constantly cringing when I see Christians post things on facebook that are so hateful and discriminatory. User names like "Taking Back the Rainbow (for God)," or putting a cross over your profile photo - while everyone else posts a rainbow - only pushes this whole group of people and those who support them away. It does not bring them closer to God and isn't that your aim? To bring all people closer to God? It's time for me to address this here.

There will be friends of mine reading this who don't know a lot about my past so they will probably be wondering why I don't just delete these Christian friends from facebook. So here's my response to that. I used to be one of them. I cringe just admitting that. Slumped shoulders and all. But now I think who better to bring this topic up and start a dialogue with these friends about their belief system then me. If I delete all them from facebook then how am I really helping to promote the change I want to see within the Christian community?

Here's my story of how I changed my close-minded thinking:

I used to live in a very strict, conservative Christian organisation, which I joined as a result of wanting to do an 8 month ministry course. I didn't know going into it, when I was 20, that I would be so completely brainwashed and spiritually abused. The particular location I was in runs like a cult. I don't believe that all of the organisation runs that way but the location I was in does. One of the odd things they did was practice open confession, where members would openly confess "sins" from their past in a group, or with their leader. It was there that I discovered my new friend Alan was gay. He had come to the ministry school to try and not be gay any longer. At that point he had not come out to most people in his life, but on that first day of school he confessed he was gay to us, a group of strangers. And he did this only after our school leader, Sparky (Mark), led the way in confession by telling us his story of how he was gay, but was trying to change and be straight with God's help.
On right - Mark being his true, fabulous self 
Over the next year, I watched both young men as they struggled with trying to shut down a huge part of their identity. Because of this, and watching the struggle of a few other gay friends within the organisation, I would say I have a pretty good understanding of what the turning-straight process entails and the damaging effects it has.

One night during my time there I remember a few members, including Alan, sitting in the next room watching Queer Eye for The Straight Guy. Next door in my room, I was having a little prayer session with another straight friend. I can't remember the specifics but we were praying for the gay community and for more gays to realise what they were doing was sinful and for them to come to the Lord, and stop living their homosexual lifestyle. Now I hang my head and rarely share that embarrassing story. But I am coming out with it today because it explains my grace for the Christians who populate my facebook page chanting "sinner, sinner."
All along I had thought it was the gays who needed changing, when really I was the one who needed to change.
Alan and his partner Dan, who makes him the happiest he's ever been!
Sparky, 35, now goes by his first name Mark, and tried to be straight for 5 years, then tried to be celibate for 1 year, and spent another year pretending to be celibate and is now living in a committed relationship with another man. Alan, who is 36, spent years struggling with his sexual orientation, and finally gave up on trying to make any friends. He became a recluse because he was so scared of being rejected. Thankfully though, he decided to come out to his family last year and now he is the happiest he has ever been. He says "... I don't care what they (friends and family) think. Hiding who I was to try and make people happy was exhausting. Now I'm happy and if they don't like it that's their problem, not mine. At least I'm being true and honest with myself."

These guys gave it their all when trying to be straight. How can anyone ask them to live a life of misery and depression. They've already spent years being miserable, and trying to shut down who they truly were.

My heart had to change, and it's a good thing it did or I would be missing out on a relationship with my own gay family members, as well as many other amazing humans.

Christians - it starts with us; it starts with focussing on love, and not sin.
Let God worry about the rest because it's not your job!

A huge thank you to Mark and Alan for letting me share what is only a tiny bit of their life stories. You are both so courageous for doing so. I applaud you for being your authentic selves.

46 comments:

  1. I am so happy your friends stopped fighting themselves and decided to simply be who they are. They look like absolute characters. I wish them all the very best. I also have a huge respect for anyone who has a faith and doesn't use it to discriminate or judge others. Good on you PKM xx

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  2. Totally love gay people and wish more of them were in my life now. I have had many gay friends over the years. Time for equality peeps. Love is love, is love with no bounds. X

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  3. Thank you! I have been struggling to put my feelings into words, you've done it.

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  4. Thank you for sharing your story PKM. The media seems to have been dominated by the more extreme religious voices in the past days, and so to see someone advocating a different path restores my faith in human nature.


    I've always felt passionately about this debate - not because I'm gay but because I fundamentally believe we are all born equal, both in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of god. Discrimination of any kind is wrong, and that is what this issue is about.


    And I agree - 'I love you, but....' never made anyone feel better about anything!

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  5. What a great story Jess. Thank you. I'm glad that your friends got to be happy without having to excuse or deny their love any more.

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  6. Totally agree with this. I find it so hypocritical when religious people spout hatred towards gays, yet claim god is so loving and forgiving. Working in retail over the years I've had so many gay friends and my life would've been less {and a lot more boring} without them.

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  7. Couldn't agree more. I think it's always dangerous to select certain passages of Scripture to condone or condemn. Slavery was justified using that very means. Love and let love I say.

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  8. And now I love you even more.

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  9. I'm a Christian and have been for years (although undergoing a bit of a crisis of faith at the moment - long story). As a (Christian) psychologist friend of mine said to me recently - in this day and age it's a miracle if anybody can maintain a long term loving relationship. Doesn't matter if they're gay or straight! I don't have a problem with gay people; like you, I realise it's not an easy lifestyle and I also know folk who have tried to turn away from it. I really think they are born that way. The hubster and my son are a lot more against/critical of gays (homophobia anyone?!). I don't really understand all the fuss about gay marriage but think it must be like when my sister went through infertility: when you can't have something, you become desperate to have it. And as you say, sin is sin no matter which way you look at it. Lying, cheating, stealing, or murdering - it's all sin ... let him who is without sin cast the first stone. But then maybe my opinion isn't a good one or very Christian as like I said, I'm struggling with my faith a bit at the moment!

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  10. I am not religious at all, never have been but I applaud you for being so open about your past feelings towards gays. I am also even more proud that you have excepted and chosen to love them for who they are and not what they 'should' be.

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  11. p.s I have a very similar story to you, I grew up in the church, thought being gay was wrong and sinful and even depraved. Now I no longer ID as Christian but it is still "with" me in one way or another. Not sure why but when you grow up with a religion it is hard to entirely shrug it off. I dont think it is a Christian's jobs to declare this or that sinful. They just need to focus on their own lives, their own conduct, and as you said, love all others. Marriage Equality for all!

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  12. struggles or not you are bang on the money :)

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  13. It's all about the Love baby! Good on you for spreading that message. x

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  14. Claire @ Slices of Cherry PieJuly 1, 2015 at 1:51 PM

    I have a close friend from school whose story is a little like yours; joined a bible studies class in order to understand classic literature better because there are often bible references in it. She was brainwashed and convinced to join a church that ended up being more of an 'end of days' cult and became a completely different person. A little while after she had joined my parents became separated because my father finally realised he was gay - when I told her about it, needing support from my friends as my family had drastically changed and there was nothing out there to help Adult children of gay parents adjust to this change, she told me he was going to hell and she could not ever forgive his behaviour and his choice. It fractured our friendship for a long time until she realised what her church really was and got out of there. It's still not back to the point it had been but we're getting there.

    I don't care that my dad is gay, he is happy. My mum got remarried to a wonderful man a couple of years ago and I am sad that dad can not do the same.
    It's not hard to be kind whether you agree with someone's lifestyle or not. Rainbows for everyone and hugs all 'round

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  15. @HandbagMafia feels like a lonely spot to be in sometimes. And I just feel like I'm constantly wanting people to know I'm not that kinda Christian...the hateful one. YA know. It hurts me to watch.

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  16. AMEN to that. Many Christians seem to leave that love bit out of the conversations. Grrrr. @Jody at Six Little Hearts

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  17. @Zowie Wow, thank you. I really appreciate you letting me know that.

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  18. @Clare I've read some shocker comments on a friend's wall this week and finally did have to delete them. Couldn't take the hate any longer.

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  19. @Dani Netherclift I can tell you that I really enjoy the "real" versions of them far more than the ones where they were trying to be something they weren't.

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  20. @Emily @ Have A Laugh On Me Thank you for reading :)

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  21. The hypocritical thing said to me this week by another christian was that they didn't like my viewpoint but in the same breath shot me down when I told someone else I didn't like their message of hate. Reminds of those pharisees in the bible. HAHA! If you want to go there... @Toni

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  22. @Robyna@theMummyandtheMinx I am actually getting to the point where I am finding bible verse quoting hilarious because Christians pick and choose what suits them, and they change the context for their own agendas. It's like calm yourselves, you can voice an opinion with out bible bashing.

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  23. Can't wait for my pro-blogger hug, Ms!

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  24. @Kell @ All Mum Said Thank you. I'm glad I've finally gotten there. It's been embarrassing to admit, but then I'm glad I have because maybe someone else will learn from my mistakes.

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  25. @Dawn Rieniets I'm sure Jesus would be disgusted by any other message being spread!

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  26. @Claire @ Slices of Cherry Pie I cringe to think of the ignorant things I must have said back then. It was an icky place to be in. I felt so much pride and self-righteousness for thinking I had the answer and they didn't. YUCKY! You must be a very gracious friend to have accepted her back. I'm so glad old friends had grace for me. Thank you for sharing this story here.

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  27. I watched an awesome documentary on Netflix about parents who struggle with homophobia after their kids come out to them. Try not to cry when you watch. Wow. That's when you really are tested about which side of the fence you want to sit on. I'm glad you're on the love bench with me! :)

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  28. @Janet aka Middle Aged Mama I think it's this http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/for-the-bible-tells-me-so/

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  29. I find it hard to identify as Christian because of what it means to others. If it was about "some" of the hateful people that exist with in it then I would have no faith.
    Well said - why is it their business in the first place?

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  30. SIMPLE! Yet so complicated for many to wrap their heads around @Carly-Jay Metcalfe

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  31. I would suggest to any Christian using the word 'sinner' to read the New Testament and look at how Jesus felt about sinners. It's crazytown the way religion is being used in this debate. Great post :)

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  32. My mum is a Christian - not madly so, but does a lot of stuff for her church, volunteers there, does readings etc... and I love that she has no problem with marriage equality.

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  33. Thank you for sharing your story. I was also bought up in the church and most of my family are still very involved but I am so glad that they are open-hearted loving people and not the anti-gay kind. The anti-gay kind do, as you say, nothing for the cause they are supposed to want to share with others. #teamIBOT

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  34. I loved this so much Jess. Thank you so much for sharing your story and that of Mark and Alan too - who look so flipping happy by the way! This took courage and bravo to you xx

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  35. Love this hard, Jess! I just came out as a Christian on my blog too! LOL! It so frustrates me that my church is doing the whole "But a child needs a mother and a father" argument. No. A child needs 2 loving parents. Period.

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  36. @Grace When I know there are other Christians like you out there it makes me not want to throw in the towel. I didn't have two loving parents, just one. I definitely would have benefited from a stable home life more than anything else ... so I agree!

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  37. @Sarah | Sarah's Heart Writes They're pretty amazing. And they have had to go up against all sorts of rubbish I haven't even mentioned here. Just the other night Mark was writing another Christian about their homophobic posts. How he has the tenacity to keep fighting it I don't know. But it's inspiring.

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  38. Pretty much all of my husband's family seem that way too. Which is good considering we have a gay brother in the mix. Phew! I called him crying the other day when I was deleted on FB for this post. He's so strong to go through what he's gone through. Makes me want to keep being strong too.

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  39. That's wonderful. It really cheers me right up when I hear stories like this one. GO MUM!! @Deborah

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  40. @Pinky Poinker We had a die-hard christian over yesterday, helping us out on our new deck. My father in-law was also over. He definitely challenged the guy on whether he had a New Testament or Old Testament view of gay marriage. The guy seemed stumped.

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  41. Thanks for this post. I think this is one of the most important posts to be written that I have read in a long time.

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