Growing up in a conservative, Southern Baptist home, the local church was an integral part of my life: Sunday school, Sunday morning worship, Sunday evening Bible study, Sunday night worship, Wednesday night prayer meeting, choir, Royal Ambassadors (the Southern Baptist equivalent of the Boy Scouts) and Vacation Bible School every summer. I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior at the age of seven and was allowed to join the church after being thoroughly quizzed to make sure that I knew what I wanted. On Youth Sundays I taught Sunday school, played the piano and organ, and even preached once. My days were passed in a prayerful attitude and God was with me.
When I was 14 I had a single dream that should have told me I was somehow different. But based on the advice in the latest teen psychology books, I assured myself that any feelings that I was beginning to experience were a normal phase of male adolescence. That worked until I was 16 and came face to face with a real, live homosexual. My world turned upside down.
I had read The Gay Blade, a Chick Publications tract that was available in vestibule of the church where I grew up. I retained some awful images from that pamphlet about what it meant to be a homosexual. Homosexuals were effeminate and comical. they wore women’s clothing and carried purses. They were a secret underground society with a conspiracy to take over business, education and the government. But more important than any of these things, they were doomed and going straight to hell. As I began to understand that I, too, was a homosexual, I prayed fervently, asking God to remove this horrible condition from me. I pled with God for weeks, praying silently in my pew during each service. But if God spoke to me during that time, I didn’t hear. I grew frustrated and discouraged.
I knew that God and I were family, and I knew that family members could sometimes be angry with each other. Like a family disagreement, I knew that in the end we still loved each other, but it might take some time to work through the problem. When I left home for college, I left the local church as well. Though still a member of the Bride of Christ, I was lost to fellowship. Through everything that followed, the Lord continued to walk with me and gradually urged me to take action. I was 30 before I found the courage to return.
The Baptists had instructed me in Bible study. They had also equipped me with a priceless insight: the doctrine of the priesthood of the believer. (Entire books have been written on the doctrine of the priesthood of the believer. You may start your research at 1 Peter 2:9.) I was taught that it is my right to read and interpret scripture for myself. It is not the prerogative of priests or pastors to tell me what is right and what is wrong. As I matured in my spiritual walk, the lesson was taken a step further: as a member of the royal priesthood that right is also an obligation (2 Timothy 2:15). This is not a choice of believing what you want and throwing the rest away. As a Christian, I am solely responsible for reading God’s word and seeking God’s guidance in interpretation for myself. What an awesome responsibility!
So I present to you a summation of my studies. As my brother or sister in Christ, I expect you to seek the Lord’s guidance as you proceed. Don’t take my word for anything written here. Look at the source materials and ask God to lead you to the right interpretations. Seek and you will find and the truth will set you free! (Matthew 7:7; John 8:32)
If you are not a Christian, you may be viewing this as an academic work. That’s a start. But the Lord I serve wants to have a personal relationship with you, too. Such communion is open to you through a step of faith. Maybe you feel unworthy. I have assembled this information in an attempt to set the captive free! Maybe you don’t know how to claim your inheritance. At the end, we’ll lay out everything you need to know to take your place in the Kingdom. Maybe somewhere in your past a church member hurt you. While I can’t make any excuses, I can tell you that people make mistakes and God is in the business of forgiving them. If you can find it in yourself to let go of your pain for just a while, you may find something here that will bring you joy forever.
There are skeptics among you as well. You may feel that I am biased because I am gay. I prefer to think of myself as motivated. While much of the mainline church is content to sit by and condemn my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, I am not satisfied that we be counted among the tares (Matthew 13:30). God is moving in a mighty way in these days. As God’s restoration continues in the Church, it is my sincere hope to see the full restoration of my gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered brothers and sisters into the Kingdom as well.
My goal is not to endlessly debate with those whose minds are already made up, but to provide a new understanding to those who have felt that they are already damned and eternally separated from God’s perfect plan because of their innermost desires. For many, what follows is a new addition to your present truth (2 Peter 1:12). May God grant wisdom as we proceed to all those who ask.
February 5, 2001