I must start this off with a question, and that question being this...
"When did humanity become so holy, that we can point fingers at another person's "struggles" and rate it a higher caliber than our own?
As a bisexual man, who was raised in church, is the "front pew sitting" grandson of a pastor, a Christian college graduate, ministry leader, and a former associate pastor, I write this from my own personal experiences.
When I began to fully come to terms with the fact that I was attracted to other men... my life felt like it was over. Of course, there were clues growing up that I would one day struggle with the idea of being labeled "LGBT." I, however, downplayed it, and I didn't act on it. I hid it in shame and prayed over it during every prayer service. I wrote it on my little sheet of paper that I held in my hand and ripped up at the command of a pastor, who preached of deliverance from the stage as I stood there in tears. I wanted it to go away. I didn't want to be that guy.
Believe what you will, whether born or nurtured gay, it was in there for as long as I can remember. I wrote it off as "normal," I figured every guy had those thoughts, that every guy fought the "temptations."
But, more than my fight with myself, it was the fight with the church that had me wanting to hide myself. That had me wanting to change myself so that I would be accepted, so that others would love me. So that God would love me.
You see- I sat through messages and amongst conversations, where people that were close to me, friends, family, coworkers, sat and downgraded the people, the "subculture," that I knew I identified with. I listened to people who claimed the love of Jesus, the acceptance of Jesus- but spoke as if there was no hope for the "lifestyle" in which I fought against to live publicly.
I sat in my office, as a pastor, and I watched the people who struggled with their sins of adultery, drug abuse, premarital sex, gossip, drunkenness. I saw them embraced by others who were championing them. I saw them come to church, as themselves, and feel at home... a sinner among sinners, saved by the blood of Jesus. However, I knew, deep within myself, that the moment people found out about my "sin," I'd never be seen in the same light again. I'd be more like the leper in the crowd. My calling to live a life as a Christian would be over. I'd have to denounce my belief or change my ways, which I knew was as much a part of me as the color of my eyes.
There are great debates out there concerning homosexuality and the handful of times that the idea is even thought to be mentioned in the Bible. We read the teachings of Jesus, the sermon on the mount, the parables. We never hear, from the mouth of God, that homosexuality is, in fact, a sin. But what we do hear is how we are called to love our neighbors- even our enemies, how we are called not to worry, and to do unto others as we want done unto us.
We choose to focus not on the teachings of Jesus, but instead on the phrasing used in a teaching by a man who was once a murderer of Christians, who directly talks to a certain group of people in ancient times about a topic that is loosely translated to equate with terminology used in a far more advanced and complex society. We find the three verses in the New testament that may have something to do with same-sex relations, in the light of today's meaning of the word, and we use that as a ploy to directly condemn and isolate, even marginalize, a complete group of people. A group of people who are just as loved by Jesus as the next man.
A gay man sitting in a pew at church, who wants nothing more than to grow in his relationship with God- is bombarded with the message that he isn't good enough as he is. He hears that the church isn't the place for him. That his "lifestyle" is somehow seen as more of an abomination that anything else that those around him are dealing with. He slips in for the message, and out as soon as it is done-- afraid that any prolonged conversation may give away his secret and open him up to harassment.
He hears "Christians" shout that God hates gays, that baking him a wedding cake will send the baker to hell, that allowing him the same rights as others will somehow limit God's love and approval of "straight mankind."
I have, thankfully, been given the amazing opportunity to call so many gay and bisexual men my friends. I have heard their stories... stories of turning from God because of being persecuted in youth group, turning from God because "God hates gays," turning from God because the church makes them feel unwelcome, turning from God because their religious parents turned on them... and I wonder when the church lost sight of what the church was called to do. To minister and bring Jesus to the world. Empowering others to revel in the love of God, to use their unique gifts to impact the world.
I think it's about time we focus on Jesus, and leave the judgment and ridicule to the Pharisees. I think it's about time we love on people who look different than us, who dress differently than us, who speak differently than us. I think its about time that the church starts giving God the rep He deserves and not the negative view that has become of it. I think it's time we focus on helping the world and not condemning the world.
God didn't send a condemner, He sent a savior. He made every human special, in His image, with a unique gift and a unique purpose.