Christianity and Homosexuality, Can Gays love God?
The world today inundates us with the issues of others on such a level that we are forced to accept them as our own. While there is a certain desire to aide [in most] issues, more often than not we do more judging than aiding. In my own life I have discovered this mentality of false grace to be thriving in the church. As a Christian, by birth, I was raised under the rigid dogma of the pentecostal church. Although I was born into christianity I did not become a Christian until I left the traditions of the church in which I was taught. I would later learn that life has an interesting way of showing you the weight of true character, life can teach you things about God that religion will never understand.
I left home at the age of seventeen, entered the military at eighteen, and spent fifteen years discovering the truth of who I am, not who my family taught or thought me to be, but who I actually am. This was reveled to me through unimaginable struggles and pain, an intimate journey with God full of silent struggles, the kind of challenges that were often covered up with the bandage of a smile. As a child I was taught to think of God as some mystical being, some force that would do anything I prayed for, in short, I was taught to use God rather than allowing God to use me. Because of this foundation of subjective and convenient faith in God, I was grossly disappointed when what I was taught failed me. While I am certain the intentions of the church were good, I have learned that good intentions often lead to immense failure and loss. It is more important to understand the [why] of God more than the [how], meaning, God is reveled and not explained. How often do we afford people the experience of God for themselves , and how often to we bully them into experiencing God our way?
As an adult it was only right that I would follow the dogma I was familiar with, in this same fashion I had become a member of a pentecostal church during my military career. The church I served in, which I will not name, set in motion the most important lesson I think anyone can journey through, a walk with God, all for reasons I don’t think they ever intended. There was a mantra, a war cry of sorts that was often used as a defense,“ We got the truth!” I can recall sitting in the pews and thinking what good is the“truth,” if people are afraid of the people sharing it? There were so many rules of worship, it was as if you had to study the by-laws of the church harder than the Bible, on which the church is allegedly built. While a member I served in a multitude of capacities, praise and worship leader, landscaping, out reach, and even sometime helping in the day care. I never really cared which ministry I served under, I just wanted to serve.
As a praise and worship leader one of my responsibilities was to lead the church into worship before service. One Sunday morning while walking into the temple I was stopped by one of the leaders of the pastoral staff, a deacon, “Where do you think you are going dressed like that?” he demanded of me. “I’m going to the pulpit to lead worship,” I replied. I can recall why he had such discomfort in my appearance, I was wearing denim.“We don’t dress like that in the Lord’s house, you will NOT be singing this Sunday.” His rebuke shattered me, I was gutted in disappointment I could not believe I was being denied the privilege of worship because of denim. I made my way to my seat and sang louder than the entire praise team, determined to show him my praise would not be stopped! While he may have punished me for my denim, I still had my praise and I was not giving that up.
Moments like these were frequent as rules of the church would often take preference over the word of God. The church was growing to feel like a cult for me, one Sunday in particular served as my flashing light bulb that maybe my time there was coming to an end. Pastor was teaching on the importance of anointing and just how much it costs [the individual]to be anointed of God. The message was titled, “Don’t try this on your own!” The sermon’s foundation was the parable of The Seven Sons of Sceva [Acts 19], as the sermon continued I grew familiar with the words, so familiar that before he could finish a sentence it was already completed in my head. Wait, I thought, this is a memory, I’d heard this before! The sermon was one of Bishop TD Jakes’ messages, “Don’t try this on your own!” Now unknown to my pastor, I was a registered partner of TD Jakes’ outreach ministry and I received sermons weekly, over the course of my partnership I had managed to house a hundred or so sermons from Bishop Jakes. It was in that moment where I began to notice the true intention of my church, to promote the pastor and his authority not God and his sovereignty.
I was disgusted with the hypocrisy, and further disappointed that none of the other members were able to discern the imitation. The entire message was about operating under the anointing God bestows upon you as an individual, yet he stood there a flat footed lie attempting to peddle Bishop Jakes’ anointing. I was outraged, I felt spiritually raped, here I was trusting and serving under this man believing that he was my covering before God, all the while he was standing here pretending to be someone else. The level of disappointment I felt is indescribable, not wanting to be swayed away by my emotions I consulted with my spiritual mentor on the matter. My mentor asked if I was sure this was not a similar message, like a confirmation from God. I assured her it was not. I offered to play the original sermon for her, she declined, and suggested, that if I was 100% sure that it was an identical sermon, to pray and ask God for the grace to comfort my pastor in love.
I spent the week with knots in my stomach, facing a man I was losing respect for and punishing myself for feeling that way. I had to face this, there was no way to continue serving under his leadership with the question of his integrity in the forefront of my mind. The following week after Bible study I asked him directly, why he presented Bishop Jakes’ sermon as his own. He smirked and said rather dismissively, “may God give you a teachable spirit.” I was appalled by the arrogance, he was going to continue to peddle this message as an original to me. He continued explaining how he was inspired to share the message by God, so he shared it. I replied to him by sharing, inspiration is not impersonation, if you are inspired by someone or something you can speak directly to that. “Church I heard a rich message of God from Bishop Jakes and I believe God would have me share this powerful word with you,” simple. But the truth was never offered, instead he was too afraid of being seen as a man, someone less deserving of the crown he adorned himself with so he continued in his deception.
Distance between he and I began to grow, and before I knew it I was being removed or replaced from one ministry to the other. I was not selected to sing as often, he would often invite my roommate to dinner but not I, or the men’s ministry would gather for outings and I was not allowed in attendance. He was protecting the perception of his authority by ostracizing me. The Bible I read says to give credit where credit is due, how could he offer the fruit of someone else’s struggle as his own, and then defend it!? I made the tough decision to leave the church, the one place where [all] people should come for healing and direction had left my heart wounded and confused. If my pastor would have privately, between he and I, just acknowledged his humanity I would have been encouraged by his candor and followed closer.
It would take years for me to gather the courage to attend church again, I was so tired of all the dogma and religion, it was just down right uncomfortable for me. I found little comfort in the church, mostly because of the experience with my pastor and the constant judging of my being by other Christians. This judgement was placed over me because, while I was baptized in both water and spirit when I came up, I was still gay. This was not so much an issue for me because I had a relationship with God [by faith], so I knew he was not sitting in heaven surprised by my sexuality, I knew God was pleased with me, and that his love was unconditionally given to me [and everyone] for all eternity.
I do not see my sexuality as an identity, but rather as a sexuality, so I never presented myself in that manner towards my faith. I was not a gay male, who was a Christian, I am a Christian. I never denied the purpose of sex or the functionality of it, I understand that as a man I can not birth a child, but that was never my purpose [as a man] to give birth, however I could still father a child so I’m not less of a man. I have not moved from the physical purpose of my [created] being. My journey with the church placed me on a rich path of self discovery in truth. While the church had professed to have the “truth,” I am willing to admit, I do not possess the fullness of truth in God, as life to me reveals God, and I’m very much still walking the earth, so there is more to learn. To say that I have all the knowledge of him would be a lie, I understand my human intellect to be but foolishness when compared to the omniscient nature of God. I can not profess to know the totality of he who created me, as I am his creation, so the most I can hope to be is a vessel of his purpose and power.
One of the greatest lessons the Bible has taught me is the sovereignty of God, the fact that God loves me by choice. There is nothing I am capable of doing as a man to justify his grace towards me, in fact, the only thing I can do is receive his grace. The more I try to justify God’s mercy towards me the more I make his word false and him a liar. The church seems to forget that it is faith in God that saves, not laws, works or traditions. I have no interest in discussing what is defined as sin one for the other, meaning I am not going to compare “my wrong” for “your wrong” by engaging a battle of perception with men. I would encourage the church to do the same, we are all sinners, each and everyone of us, the power of salvation is not in the hand of any man regardless of title or creed.
I have heard so many sermons preached about the condemnation of homosexuality and just how we [homosexuals] are all perverts living as an abomination to God. The irony of this is I have also had sex with male leaders of the church, as well as platinum selling gospel recording artists, people who peddle this message of condemnation, yet they are often in the shadows embracing it. Now of course I had no idea who they were, nor will I ever share their identities in an attempt to expose or tarnish their “witness.” These individuals, just as many others, hide themselves behind cloaks of deception and title, so well that their wives, children and staff have no idea. I wondered why their identities were reveled to me after the fact, why would God show me who they were after moments of indiscretion with them.
I think it is perhaps God’s way of sharing with me, he whom I think is righteous, is no less of a man than I. In other words, none of us [man-kind]are righteous, not a single one, in fact our righteousness is that of filthy rags before God. I believe this is an example of how God works, he knew that I would never intentionally seek that experience, to endorse someone’s lie. He knew that once I realized it was a lie, I would call it as such, and so he showed me through my own actions and experiences. While the church has mastered the battle of sin, they are losing the war on salvation. If only the church stopped living behind this facade and pretending to have church[fellowship], we could actually get to building the church.
My decision to leave the church was centered on the presented principle of church, it was the one place where grace should be abundant, yet it is the only place where it is withheld. Throughout my experiences with God, I have grown to realize that my attendance of church was never the focus , becoming the church was. In the book of Isaiah, the prophet speaks for God in saying, “I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help. I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me.” [Isaiah 65:1] To me this is the modern church, they are so concerned with creating God that they are lost to him. Tradition has replaced faith, and opinion has replaced grace. I find it hard to argue this point of false grace outside of homosexuality considering, this is my experience, and it appears to be the only sin that exist to the church. As much as I want to move away from giving word to the church’s bias of sin it is a challenge for me as I am a gay man. A gay man who has experienced God, his love, his mercy and most of all, his presence.
I can offer no word of justification as to why I am gay, all I can say is it is natural to me. Knowing that it is natural to me, assures me it is not the preference of God, now I say that with temperance because that is easily misunderstood. What is natural to man[-kind], is an abomination to God, not just sexuality, but lying, stealing, judging, and etc. is all an abomination to God. The issue with comparing [perceived] sin is, the very thought of your perception is a sin. We as recipients of God’s grace are only capable of receiving it, however as children of faith we should be capable of acknowledging it. In the sober acknowledgement of God’s grace towards me it prompts me to extend the same opportunity to everyone else without bias, understanding that there is no justification for my existence other than the grace of God. If we lived soberly minded towards others we would treat them with the compassion and mercy we plead for daily.
After ten years without genuine fellowship I missed being around others who boldly believed in God, boldly not arrogantly. I decided that I would try it one more time, after all, ten years was a long time for me, and being one of service I crave fellowship. Once I relocated back to Atlanta, Ga I began looking for a church, an old friend of mine recommended a church he attended while he lived here. His recommendation came with a disclosure, “it’s not like other churches coming from your background you may be a little put off, a lot of gay men go there.” I can admit, I was a little apprehensive because I find that most churches that embrace gay men and women change their doctrine to cater to a sexuality rather than speaking from the Bible. They embrace “pc” terms and dilute God’s message in an attempt to promote equality, they dismiss individual accountability towards God. What does that mean? They embrace homosexuality as an identity and not an act of sexuality, it as the base of their belief, “we are an affirming church, we believe in the individual and their right to be who they are.” Now I agree with that to a point, but I don’t want to be who I am [naturally] , I want to be more like God. That has less to do with my sexuality and more to do with my character. I don’t build my identity as being a gay man, not because I am ashamed of being gay, but because it is my sexuality and not my identity!
So I decided I would to give it a try, to take his recommendation and attend a service at his old church. I walked in and just as my friend had informed me, there were a fair amount of gay men there. The difference I noticed was, there was little to no concern for their sexuality and a great deal and focus on the condition of their minds, and personal relationship with God. There was no rainbow flags posted on the wall, no marketing for any sexuality, just people [all people] seeking God. It was such a beautiful sight to witness, so many different people who had no interest in anything other than worship and fellowship, to witness the connection of all these people, strangers to me, worshiping under the unbridled spirit of God healed my broken heart.
For the first time ever I could see myself in those around me, no longer having to sit in the pews cringing while wondering if I’m going to be condemned to hell by yet another sermon. I was affirmed in my spirituality, being held accountable to my character and not auditioned by my sexuality. The one message I did hear on homosexuality from this pastor was more of a war cry for unity, condemning the convenient nature of the church, and it’s judgement of people living openly in the struggle of their truth, while others hide in the shadows and “dms.” I can tell you from personal experience how some men in the church will completely ignore you in Sunday service but will send you nude pics on Wednesday night.
Please do not misunderstand my illustration here I am not presenting a “gay church,”but rather a church that acknowledges that gay people can love God too. A church that does not hold sexuality as a prerequisite for worship, one that understands and acknowledges God’s grace. I believe a day is coming when the church is going to meet God, not in the way they are preaching, but quite the opposite. “Look, my decree is written out in front of me I will not stand silent; I will repay them in full! Yes, I will repay them both for their own sins, and for those of their ancestors, says the Lord. For they also burned incense on the mountain and insulted me on the hills. I will pay them back in full! “But I will not destroy them all, for just as good grapes are found among a cluster of bad ones so I will not destroy all Israel for I still have true servants there.” [Isaiah 65:6–9]
Now for the scholars of the Bible I will offer this, it is not enough to have knowledge of God’s word if you make no intention to become it. I believe that God is calling a remnant, one that is the least expected by the church. “Yet the time will come when Israel’s people will be like the sands of the seashore, too many to count! Then, at the place where they were told, You are not my people. it will be said, You are children of the living God.” [Hosea 1:10] I believe that the church has spent a great deal of effort chasing people away from God and out of church, I believe that those who were cast away by the “law” are being called back to reclaim his glory.
The tone of the world is one of intoxicating division, and if we are not attentive to the real issues mass tragedy will unite us. It is the responsibility of the church to be a beacon of hope, restoration and grace for all who seek it, for far too long the church has dismissed, mishandled and denied access to those who desire God the most. The problem with trying to preserve or “protect” your perception of who God is only denies him the opportunity to actually present himself, God does not require your protection, only your faith. Allow others the beauty of experiencing God for themselves and stop dismissing people from a kingdom for which you do not rule. If you are not careful you might find yourself on the outside of God’s mercy for denying him entry into the hearts of those who desire him. Pastors, please learn to follow God before you attempt to lead his people, you are only an effective leader if you are a humble student.
To my brothers and sisters who have been rejected by the church, God sees your heart. Remember there is nothing that is capable of separating you from the love of God, nothing at all. People fear what they don’t understand, this is why they try and keep you away from God because they know that you are living your truth, and it holds them accountable to their failed attempt to acknowledge their own. There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, NO CONDEMNATION! We are all incapable, by our nature of being “worthy,” so do yourself a favor and just believe God. We are losing time and killing love, rise up, stand tall,and know that you have not been forsaken. God sees you and loves you more than words have ever been able to convey, so much so he gave his only son, the faultless, blameless lamb who became all things opposite of God to satisfy the debt of our salvation [2 Corinthians 5:21]. Every time you allow a man to keep you from God, you place Christ back on the cross, he has risen and so shall you, GET UP! Nothing can stop you, and no one can stand in your way, rise! I leave you with a word that encourages me, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.” John 6:29 NLT
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