I’ve always hated gay culture. Maybe it’s because I’m more of a black skinny-jean and t-shirt kinda guy over rainbows. Regardless of fashion choices, I’ve never felt like I belonged. Using the phrase out of context, “in it, not of it” truly describes my relationship to the gay community. I know I’m not the only one who feels like this. It’s because of that feeling one year ago, following LA Pride, I wrote The Challenge of Acceptance. In the article, I brought up several difficulties of accepting those different from you. Today, one year later, I would like to take this same topic, but make it a bit more personal. This article is first and foremost for the kid who doesn’t understand himself in the midst of gay and evangelical culture. This is also a writing for those struggling to understand the balance of what religion says about those different from you, while understanding what Christ says about who you really are. This is a hard conversation because it shouldn’t be a conversation.

To the Christian Struggling with Sexuality:

I’m your average stereotype – white American, upper-middle-class boy who grew up in the early 90’s Evangelical Church. In Sunday school, it was your typical “Jesus loves me, this I know,” mixed with do’s and don’ts of how to live the perfect life. Growing up I dreamed about being a preacher. I would set up my stuffed animals, put on a blazer and preach to them – this encompassed most of my childhood. For most growing up gay in the South, this story is all too common. While mine was a much smoother transition as I navigated some of the rockiest points in my life, others are not so fortunate. I know many stories of friends being ostracized, kicked-out, and even beat to the point of hospitalization due to the collision of their faith and sexuality. It’s this intersection that I want to focus on. It’s at this crossroad when confronted with who you are versus what you are told to believe, that we lose touch with our true identity.

2019 marks the 50thAnniversary of the Riots at Stonewall Inn that ignited activism in the LGBT community. Yearly Pride celebrations commemorate those who literally lost their lives fighting to support and protect those without a voice. This cause is what spearheaded global activism of the gay community in the years following. So many associate this single activity as a stereotype of gay culture. They see the flags, the parties, the parades, and with all of this comes an “identity” that the world sees as gay. For those raised in the church, it’s this depiction of the word gay that makes it difficult to accept.

My intention is not for this to be an article about whether being gay right or wrong. I could go into how the word homosexual wasn’t even introduced to biblical text until the 1946 RSV of the Bible was released or discuss Old Testament vs. New Testament text. This will not be one of those articles – because none of that matters. If you’re struggling with the question, “Does Jesus love me if I’m gay?” or “Is being gay right or wrong?” I have to let you in on something – you’re asking the wrong question.

I gave my life to Christ at an early age. This simply meant I accepted the fact that I was a sinner in need of a Savior. God loved me so much that He sent His only Son to earth – to die, be resurrected, and to secure my eternity with Him in heaven. The evangelical community tends to overly complicate this message. The Gospel is the good news that someone loved me enough to die for all the wrong I’ve done, I am doing, and I will ever do in my life. For me, this radical act of grace was not something I fully understood until later in life. Here is where we deviate from the norm of church culture. I’d like to give that kid who is struggling with their faith and their sexuality some peace of mind.

Truth #1 – You can be Gay and be a Christian – it’s the same as being a Straight Christian.

Just like I mentioned above, the question shouldn’t be “Is being gay right or wrong?” the question should be, “Who does Christ say I am?” Colossians 2 speaks directly about who we are in Christ and how we should live if we’ve accepted His grace.

“Entering into this fullness is not something you figure out or achieve. It’s not a matter of being circumcised or keeping a long list of laws. No, you’re already in—insiders—not through some secretive initiation rite but rather through what Christ has already gone through for you, destroying the power of sin. If it’s an initiation ritual you’re after, you’ve already been through it by submitting to baptism. Going under the water was a burial of your old life; coming up out of it was a resurrection, God raising you from the dead as he did Christ. When you were stuck in your old sin-dead life, you were incapable of responding to God. God brought you alive—right along with Christ! Think about it! All sins are forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ’s cross. He stripped all the spiritual tyrants in the universe of their sham authority at the Cross and marched them naked through the streets.” – Colossians 2:11-15 MSG

Gay or straight, it doesn’t matter, because Christ has provided eternal freedom from sin and death. Because Christ has already died with our “old-self” we are free to live as new creations in Him. This fact alone eliminates any doubt. You are accepted because He says you are accepted. It’s not because being gay is or isn’t a sin, you are accepted because you are human. Christ died so we all could experience freedom in him.

Truth #2 – Your identity is not in being “gay,” but in Christ.

Because certain elements of gay culture are so predominant, it’s difficult to accept the fact that this isn’t your actual identity. Whether we like it or not, the gay community has one volume – loud. Unfortunately, this blanket display prevents some from coming out, being accepted, and finding true identity. I will be the first to say my identity is not in being gay, but who I am in Christ. Hear me, if you’re struggling with this, it’s okay not to resonant with gay culture. I fully believe that being able to celebrate the leaps the LGBT community has made is a right. Equality for all isn’t something that should be up for debate. Being pressured to participate in certain elements of this culture, however, is not mandatory. I want to go back to Colossians 2 to reinforce our identity as Christians is rooted in the finished work of Christ.

Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, overflowing with gratitude. Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ. For the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily in Christ, and you have been filled by Him, who is the head over every ruler and authority. You were also circumcised in Him with a circumcision not done with hands, by putting off the body of flesh, in the circumcision of the Messiah. Having been buried with Him in baptism, you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. – Colossians 2:6-12 HCSB

If this doesn’t excite you, I don’t know what will. The fact that we are able to live in the finished work of Christ, in the victory that is His death and resurrection, that is where our identity as believers is held. I am proud to celebrate the freedoms that have been afforded to me and those who fought for it. However, what Christ says about me is far more important than what culture says.

Truth #3 – This isn’t easy.

This entire conversation isn’t easy. In fact, it is probably the most difficult conversation to have right now – as a Country, a Church, this isn’t easy, and I don’t imagine it getting better any time soon. I encourage and I challenge this conversation because this isn’t something we should be talking about from the pulpit, but instead from the pew. This conversation is person to person. Everyone’s story is different and the impact to their life, some more significant than others, is deep. Regardless of the identity struggle, we are all broken and in need of the love and acceptance only found in Christ.

I don’t have all the answers, neither does your pastor or your favorite drag queen. But there are a few biblical facts we can all agree on:

  • Your identity is firmly anchored in Christ’s accomplishments, not your own.
  • You have a living hope in Christ and your salvation is guaranteed.
  • Because of God’s grace, you are free to be who He created you to be.

I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. The one who has the Son has life. The one who doesn’t have the Son of God does not have life. – 1 John 5:12-13

When we stop focusing on semantics and start focusing on Christ, we begin to see things the way He sees them.