Backyard Church
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Backyard Church

Forgive Evangelicals

Life lessons of a loving gay Christian

Image purchased via iStock

My eyes can now see the relentless pain that the evangelical community (at large) has caused gay Christians. It is time for evangelicals to stop the abuse — and it is time for me to forgive them.

For 40 years, I lived as a proud evangelical. I was certain that the Bible was inspired, infallible, and inerrant. I read God’s Word with a yearning to know everything and apply every principle. I studied biblical text every morning during my quiet time. I joined various groups of men to study scriptures. Sola scriptura was part of my gene code, producing a very confident “Christian worldview.”

I was conservative by nature and nurture. I have always believed in a strong American military. After all, my dad and I (as career Air Force officers) dedicated our lives to protecting America’s interests in war and peace. Also, I managed my money in conservative ways that would make Dave Ramsey proud. Furthermore, I had always voted for Republican candidates (after all, they are the political party that best represents the interests of evangelicals, the military, and fiscal prudence, right?).

I was rewarded by the conservative institutions to which I pledged my allegiance. I was a vice president at Focus on the Family. I was promoted ahead of 95 percent of my Air Force peers. I never was in financial debt and enjoyed tithing.

My ideology produced an ideal life for me.

Well, not quite ideal in every way.

I began hiding my same-sex attractions (SSA) from the time of my first open shower with attractive males.

At age 30, I finally acknowledged that I was a homosexual. I would have immediately been expelled from the Air Force (with shame) if I had told anyone about my sexual orientation. At that same time in history, I inherently knew that I could not acknowledge my sexual identity to anyone in my evangelical community.

My wife was ashamed to be married to me and demanded that I lose all vestiges of my SSA. As an achiever, I mastered the skill of hiding in the closet. I received conversion therapy for two years and attended a support group to completely repress all of my SSA. Yet, nothing changed in my SSA. And nothing changed in my closetedness.

That is until my wife died after 41 years of marriage.

Thus, in 2018, I publicly came out internationally as an evangelical who experiences SSA. I assumed I must become celibate, which I did for one year.

I began learning from gay men all across the planet about their enormous hatred of evangelical Christians. At first, I wanted to defend evangelicalism. But then I dug deep into learning how evangelicals have misrepresented and abused gay men since ~1930. Such is a long, very sad history.

I also mentored hundreds of evangelical men who had SSA. Some called themselves “same-sex attracted;” and others “gay Christians.” And there was a surprisingly large group of evangelicals who had become so disgruntled by evangelicalism that they call themselves “exvangelicals.” Somewhat related to the exvangelicals was a body of people who were so disgusted with evangelicalism that they became “deconstructionists.” Deconstructionists examine all of the religious dogma that they had been taught in evangelicalism and attempt to “throw out the bad” (in their eyes) while holding onto the worthy (as they see it). And, of course, for over 60 years, secular gays loathe evangelicals — because of the personal pain they received from such Christians.

My mentoring of all sorts of gay men allowed me to hear first-hand accounts of suffering. Lost jobs. Exile from family. Disparage from the evangelical Church. Such prejudicial hostility resulted in untold numbers of gays dealing with depression, suicidology, and loss of life. And my heart aches for every gay person afflicted with such clear discrimination. As I grew confident in my identity as a gay Christian, I also developed a “slow burn in my belly” against evangelical prejudice.

Such was I; an evangelical. Such are still my friends. Such were my heroes of the faith. But for the past two years, I had a unique position of being a “true blue evangelical” who was allowed to see the sick underbelly of discrimination against gays. And I started to get pissed at my evangelical Brothers’ continued maltreatment of gays across the planet.

Evangelicals have developed a well-earned reputation as “gay haters.”

I want to focus on one particular form of evangelical filth: the presumption that gays are “lesser than.”

It has become clear that evangelicals do not treat gays with equality. Treating every human life with dignity is the ethos of Jesus. Social justice is a zeal that attempts to correct the existing unfair conditions provided to marginalized people, such as gays. And every time I see a gay man being harmed by evangelicals, I want to leap into action in giving that man some mercy.

Here are but a few of the injustices that evangelicals promote, as they condescendingly view gays as a lesser form of human. First, gays are spoken of derisively. It is common for gays to be portrayed as the “bad guys” in our Christian society. Also, gays have been deprived of equal rights within the evangelical community. Gays cannot hold positions of leadership within an evangelical church. Gays are supposed to avoid using the word “gay” in speaking about themselves. Gays who want to marry each other are banned from doing so in evangelical churches. Gay husbands (married in a non-evangelical church) cannot attend evangelical marriage enrichment workshops and are not warmly received within men’s ministry. Gay parents (married in a non-evangelical church) cannot participate in parenting workshops in the evangelical church.

As horrible as these blatant prejudices are, perhaps the worst treatment is the standard presumption that gays truly are inferior to straights. Many evangelicals view gays as disordered, sociopaths, insurrectionists, hedonistic animals, and a despised category of humans.

Readers, please appreciate that I deeply understand evangelicalism. And I deeply appreciate gayness. And there is no reason why the two cannot live well within the community of Jesus. I began to see evangelicals as modern-day Pharisees. And here is the sick part of my story.

I began to see myself as superior to my evangelical Brothers.

I had become so aware of the social injustice of evangelicals toward gays that I had failed to look in the mirror.

Recently, several of my blogs were especially harsh against evangelical Christians. My air of superiority had become as smelly as dog poop.

Now, please do not misunderstand me. What evangelicals are still doing to gays is an abomination. The haughty evangelical position toward evangelicalism has become a blight upon Christianity. Evangelicals need to wake up and realize that they are not “defending the good name of Jesus” whenever they inflict horrible treatment and prejudicial injustice upon gays.

I am not asking evangelicals to deny their sola scriptura and conservative biblical worldview.

I am, however, asking evangelicals to treat gays with dignity, complete fairness (i.e., the same privileges as straights), and a love that resembles how they want to be loved.

As for me, I need to forgive my enemies.

It is not enough that I continue being civil with my evangelical friends. Rather, I am convicted and motivated by Jesus’ own words:

“But I tell you, love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who mistreat you.”

Amen.

Dr. Mike Rosebush is the founder/author of GAYoda and writer for Backyard Church. He has a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology and is a retired Licensed Professional Counselor with nine years of counseling and mentoring thousands of gay Christian men. A short synopsis of Dr. Rosebush’s life can be found at I Lived the Most Unusual Gay Christian Life Ever. Please read the complete set of his articles here. You may contact Dr. Rosebush at mikerosebush75@gmail.com.

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Mike Rosebush, PhD

Mike Rosebush, PhD

Lover of Jesus | Gay Married| Founder/Writer “GAYoda” | Counselor/Encourager