Justice and the Gay Christians
Life Lessons of a Loving Gay Christian
I am united to Jesus and want to love all others in His selfless way. I fail repeatedly. However, recently, I read about how Jesus warned against “Bible experts” who oppress Jesus’ followers. Here is what I learned.
Justice and righteousness are a huge deal to God. The concept of justice demands that every human life be treated with dignity; all deserve the same equal status. Thus, no one’s life is more valuable than another person’s. All humans are made in God’s image — as precious beings, fully loved, equally, by their Creator. And there is no category of human that does not merit receiving Jesus’ “others first” kind of generous love. As the children’s Sunday school song sings: “Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight — Jesus loves the little children of the world.”
In addition to loving little children, Jesus also loves gay men and women. Such is true, regardless of the gay person’s color or age or physical attractiveness or wealth or fame. Jesus’ love even extends beyond a person’s religion and faith practice.
Similarly, the concept of righteousness declares that right relationships need to exist between people. Thus, if I have oppressed any other person, it is my responsibility to right the relationship.
Injustice occurs whenever unrighteousness shows its ugly face. In Jesus’ economy, one person does not have the authority to push down another human. No subset group of humans (e.g., one’s nationality, tribe, race, sex, sexual orientation, etc.) deserves to oppress another for their gain.
Sadly, the record of humans has consistently demonstrated that the more powerful people provide injustice to the weaker. The vulnerable, disadvantaged, marginalized, and voiceless people have typically been oppressed — so that the more powerful gain an advantage.
And here’s the sick paradox: once the weaker gain an advantage over their oppressor, the new privileged group inflicts oppression upon the new marginalized! Yup, it happens every time. It is as though the human condition — our default way of being — is rooted in selfishness. And selfishness and generosity are not good bed-mates.
As a gay Christian, I have observed how some of my fellow straight Christians seem to struggle with the divine directive to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.” I have professionally counseled or personally mentored thousands of gay Brothers-in-Christ. And too many of these men have told me sad (even tragic) tales of how their local Christian church (or larger denomination) prevents gay Brothers and Sisters from having the same privileges as the straight members of the same church.
It strikes me as an injustice that gay people are excluded from becoming church members, or if already a member, from holding positions of leadership within their church. The inequity goes even further if one announces s/he is “gay.”
The injustice is especially demonstrated toward self-outed gay couples. Two men in a relationship cannot attend their local church’s pre-marriage training in many Christian churches. Furthermore, the couple cannot become married in their church building, attend their church’s parenting training, and have themselves baptized in their local church. Such is typically the policy of major Christian faith identities (i.e., evangelical Protestant, Catholic, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints). Accordingly, the local churches within such mega-denominations must abide by their “higher authorities” — while disregarding their “highest Authority.”
Shoot, Christians are not even permitted to call themselves “gay” in many evangelical denominations. Such Brothers and Sisters are not only excluded from “being heard,” they furthermore must deny their sexual identity and become invisible. In such Christian churches, the gays have become marginalized, oppressed, and are treated as a “lesser than.” Sob.
And I should know.
As a formerly closeted gay Christian, I too oppressed my fellow gay Brothers and Sisters — by remaining silent. I knew that to speak out would be to “out” myself. Thus, my silence helped me hold an advantage over men who had the same sexual orientation as me — men who courageously outed themselves, even knowing they would receive damning condemnation. I was a coward, cowering in the shadows so I would not lose my privileges.
Now, losing one’s income is no minor deal. It is an enormous, crushing loss! And losing one’s value with family members or friends is sometimes an even more tragic loss. Just witness all of the gay men who have committed suicide as a result of family rejection!
Yet, such professional and familial rejection only highlights the reality of the injustice. Gay Christians are viewed as “lesser than” straight Christians in all-too-many local churches and major denomination — unpermitted to hold the same God-endowed equal status.
I became “part of the problem” rather than a courageous voice. My passive silence put all of the hope of cultural change upon the backs of other gay Christians! I let them stand for justice (hoping that one day all gay Brothers and Sisters would be treated equitably) while I continued enjoying the rewards of staying closeted. Thus, I failed my dear Brothers and Sisters in following God’s proverb:
“Bring about just righteousness. Open your mouth for those who cannot speak for themselves.”
I now make other gay people’s oppression my problem. And justice and righteousness require me to speak for those LGBTQ+ individuals who are too afraid to do so.
Like Michael Jackson says in his song, “I’m starting with the man in the mirror.” I pray I will listen — and courageously enact the words of the prophet:
“Do what is just and right. Rescue the marginalized from the hand of the oppressor.”
I have realized that Jesus does not have a problem in being a friend to all people. Jesus was probably the most approachable person who ever lived. He welcomed the company of the poor and homeless, the sick and the physically disabled. Jesus also was a friend to sinners — people who missed the mark in acting virtuously. People like me. And Jesus forgave people who owed a debt — seventy times seven times!
Furthermore, Jesus invited His abusers to come and be with Him. He allowed Himself to be horrifically tortured and executed. And just before expiring, Jesus pleaded that His killers not be prevented from receiving grace.
And yet, there was a type of human behavior that was incredibly annoying to Jesus: people who pushed down the outcasts to that they could maintain their haughty and lofty status. And boy-oh-boy did this ever infuriate Jesus!
There is no question that the Church that represents Jesus’ name has been exaggeratedly hostile toward LGBTQ+ individuals. There are lots of reasons behind their condemning posture. Most are simply re-enacting their belief that they are “defending Jesus” whenever they diminish LGBTQ+ individuals in comparison to everyone else in “the family of Jesus.”
As for me — a gay Christian — Jesus is not merely my friend. Incredibly, Jesus even allowed me to marry Him! And all along, Jesus was gentle enough to love me — exactly as I am.
I encourage each of you to enjoy a short video teaching (produced by the phenomenal “The Bible Project”) on the importance of justice. You are going to love this transforming video!
Jesus and I both hold a “high view” of the value of the Bible. And we both are deeply saddened when our sacred text is used as a weapon — an instrument in the hands of religious authorities to oppress those who are powerless in Jesus’ community.
Therefore, in closing, I will allow Jesus to have the final word regarding justice:
“Watch out for the hypocritical Bible scholars. They like to walk around and be noticed by others, receive greetings in the marketplaces, and have reserved seats in the churches and places of honor in social settings. They defraud the powerless — and all-the-while making lengthy, show-off, public prayers. These men will receive the greater condemnation.”
GAYoda is a publication to uniquely and specifically support gay Christian men. Click here to learn more
Dr. Mike Rosebush is the founder and author of GAYoda. He has a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology, is a retired Licensed Professional Counselor, with 45+ years of mentoring thousands of gay Christian men. Read a short synopsis of his story here.
Read Dr. Rosebush’s complete set of articles here.
Dr. Rosebush provides friendship support to gay Christian men across the U.S. and can be contacted via Facebook or firstname.lastname@example.org.