Nearly two years ago, you replied to an email from my mother. She was mourning the loss of her daughter— that’s me— because I am gay. She came to you, a radio talkshow host, to ask about the security of my salvation. You wondered why I would “redefine intimacy with no conviction” because “the Bible is clear.” You talked about me as if I had a wretched illness, telling my mother to “pray, pray, pray that I love Christ more than my sexuality.” The reason I know these things is because she forwarded your conversation to me. It was actually among the last of communication attempts between us. Never have I felt so vulnerable, wrongly berated, unable to defend myself, and frankly, so sad I ached. But I still had hope that she would hear and be gracious enough to understand my side one day.
Imagine my utter shock and excitement when I woke up to see Brandi’s article on Friday. (For new readers— Brandi is Rick’s daughter who came out publicly as bisexual in an AL.com article.) I immediately found a way to message your daughter, to reach out for some sort of empathy and applaud her outright bravery. Coming out in a southern, Christian family is grueling. But it’s exceedingly difficult trying to cling to that same precious faith as it is being simultaneously ripped from our hands. During the most tumultuous time of my life, when I needed my God the most, you made me feel outcast and vile. I had just begun to heal. Seeing Brandi’s news and corresponding with her was even more soothing to my soul. But then you targeted us on your show. My mother was listening— listening to your broad admonitions and expansive vocabulary about redemption— and because of that, you’ve probably sabotaged my chances of making things okay.
We are on the same side, Rick. I am a professing Christian wishing to be in equal communion with my brothers and sisters, yet you’ve shunned me. I’m not a prodigal. Please don’t assign me to that role. I didn’t want to leave. But no one will listen long enough to hear me. There may be division in your household (like you & Matthew 10 mentions,) but don’t assume yourself equipped enough to testify that Brandi, me or any gay person has caused the division— lest this be projecting your own bias and interpretation upon scripture— which we silly, hippie Jesus millennials aren’t supposed to do, correct? What if, just perhaps, those of us gay Christians (who haven’t been rejected and scorned beyond repair) are being called to reveal what the Bible truly says? Not reinterpret, reinvent, or gloss-over, but truly speak the message of Christ’s inclusive love.
Here’s the part where you say, “but the Bible is clear and consistent on homosexuality.” While on the air, you said you wouldn’t justify Brandi all the way to hell, but did you explain the verses you think are responsible for such a bold statement? You said Brandi couldn’t even back up her stance. Well here I am, and I’m ready to back her up. If you want me to break it down verse by verse, let’s get together for coffee later. For now, we need to know the difference between re-inventing and expounding. C.S. Lewis himself equates Theology (the science of God) to exploration and practicality rather than just emotion. “If you do not listen to Theology,” he said, “that will not mean that you have no ideas about God. It will mean that you have a lot of wrong ones — bad, muddled, out-of-date ideas.” C.S Lewis described some of our fundamental dependencies on stories, or “novelties,” in the Bible as being rooted in ignorance— akin to the type of retrogression that allowed people to think the earth flat. You see, theology expounds on what is already written, citing contextually that all references to homosexual behavior are texts exposing the sins of lust, idolatry, rape, and prostitution— not condemning a God-centered, committed, same-sex relationship. Nothing has been changed. It’s all there.
In fact, in Romans chapter 1, Paul describes a sinful nature that continues to corrupt and produce even more sin. In my short time of being out and meeting other gay Christians, I have yet to meet a more intrinsically kind, holy, Christ-led group of people with such zeal for the Spirit. Morgan Guyton, in his blog Mercy Not Sacrifice poses similar arguments: “So when you encounter gay Christians who are plainly not ‘filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice… envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness… [and who aren’t] gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, etc (v. 29-31), it seems very legitimate to ask whether the ‘shameless acts’ Paul is talking about in verses 27-28 were sinful for a reason other than the genders involved (like promiscuity, adultery, recklessness, etc.)”
The real issue here is fear. The opposite of love is not hate— it is fear. I know you don’t hate Brandi, you don’t even hate her choices. Perhaps there really is something to the term, “homophobia.” You are frightened of them because you’ve not searched deep enough to understand. You’ve not searched enough in scripture, in your own heart, or within communities unlike your own. You couldn’t even muster within yourself to say the word gay. Instead, you stumbled around the subject with shame, talking about her “decision” and “her own journey.”
So, like the prodigal story, there will be people topping a hill to come back home, but it won’t be because of a squandered inheritance or a rebellious heart. We as professing Christians, no matter who we are, have already inherited the kingdom of God. We are just waiting for our families to celebrate with us. As we crawl out from under the burden of an foregone construct into the new light of Christ, we are “no longer male and female… we are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28)