It’s not a sin to be different

I’ve written this story before, but, again, time passes and new people gather and I feel the need to repeat myself.  (So, for long-time readers, apologies if this tastes stale.)

Several years ago I found myself being an assistant youth pastor at a somewhat small country church.  Our youth group was a rag-tag band of struggling teens who all seemed to have major issues.  There were a few boys who had fallen into addictions, a few who had major “authority issues”, a few girls who were raging gossips, a few fashionistas, a few of my favorites- the social outcasts.

And then there was this boy whom I’ll call John.  John was a sweet kid, into theater and show-tunes, the classic gentle heart who just never seemed to fit in.  There was another kid, Rachel, who was one of the fashionista gossips.  Rachel, it turned out, got into a highly inappropriate and sexual relationship.  And John?  John thought he might be gay.

I must point out that John’s questions were only questions- he hadn’t gotten into a relationship with another guy.  Rachel, on the other hand, was sexually active.

John was terrified.  He wondered if he was going to burn in Hell.  He asked questions like, “what about all of the good things I try to do?  What about how badly I want to have a ministry?”  He wondered why God would torture him.  He prayed and prayed to just be straight so everything was okay- but God didn’t change his orientation.  Months of struggle led to cursing God, doubting God.

Around that time Rachel was found out.  She acted somewhat repentant, and was embraced by the congregation.

John, on the other hand, was starting to be ostracized.  Part of it was his own doing, because he felt as if he wouldn’t be accepted if he was honest.  Mostly, though, it was because people felt strange around him.  He made them uncomfortable.

It’s not right.

It’s not right that people who really want to serve God, really want to be holy, really want to be pure become lepers to the faith simply because they ask questions about their sexual orientation.

It’s not right that people who barely put any effort into their relationship with God are embraced simply because their sin is more “acceptable” than having the wrong sexual orientation.

The point, through the last several posts, has not been that homosexuality is AWESOME and EVERYONE SHOULD TRY IT!  The point is that the attitude the mainstream church has taken towards homosexuality breaks the spirit of boys like John and drives them out of the flock.  It is not the hard heart of the homosexual as some would posit- John had a soft heart, one that was totally broken.  It is not the twisted nature of their sin- there is no sin in temptation and questions, only in deliberately choosing a path that seperates you from God.  John did not choose his nature- he didn’t want it.  Had I been able to snap my fingers and make him like boobs he would have been grateful.

The problem is that when Christians talk about the evils of “homosexuality”, they are talking in vague and blanket terms that leave no room for people like John, good kids who are given a grievous burden to carry.  Kids who want to do right (to be right) but are by nature; nurture; or divine providence cast out of the societal norm.  I don’t care if you think that two guys having sex is bad.  I don’t care if you think it’s base and immoral.  What I do care is if you phrase your argument in a way that makes a kid like John feel cursed by God and leave the Church.

*Any comments stating that homosexuality is a sin without addressing the actual content of this post will be redacted and the commenter verbally spanked.

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11 thoughts on “It’s not a sin to be different

  1. Lindsey, three words for you: comment . moderation. NOW. (IMO, and I’m very serious about this – no need to read all the nastiness, or to encourage trollish behavior, either.)

  2. e2tc: The reason I’ve never turned on comment moderation is that approving ten to twenty comments per day is very time consuming- not to mention the fact that I would end up having to read every comment anyway.

    I don’t think it’s worth it. While weeks like this one can get kind of long and exhausting, in the end I think it’s worth it. I have seen a few people, just a few, but a few people totally change their views over time, after again and again being gently reminded that God and Life don’t always fit into the boxes we’d like.

    If I was moderating comments, I may have never approved their comments in the first place. So I really do think it’s better this way.

  3. It’s hard to watch how some Christians treat gays. I’m Catholic, so we say it’s ok as long as you practice. What kind of rational is that? It’s ridiculous to ask someone to not find love because that someone likes their same sex.

    To add to your story. I knew a boy in college who was so gay, you could see it. No one said anything about it because he insisted he was straight. He was hard-core consevative Christian, and being gay was not an option. He never dated, though he would flirt with the gay guys. It was so sad because you knew he would never except himself because he was told it was wrong.

    It’s like telling a Hispanic person that he/she is wrong for being born Hispanic. It’s just so sad.

  4. Lindsey, I hear you, but equally… when comments are “on hold,” I do’n’t read them all. if something looks bad, I stop reading after the 1st couple of sentences. It’s a way of keeping myself from having to take a hit of negativity, you know? This stuff can be very wearing: physically, emotionally and mentally. It’s high-stress for sure – and as I age (hah! ;)), i find that I actually *need* to keep a tight rein on my engagement with negative things. (I don’t watch TV news, either – just the weather, if that!)

    I’m not for a second suggesting that you need to do what I do – but maybe hearing about different strategies could be helpful in coming up with some of your own, you know? Because we *all* get burned out at times, in the long or short term. Better to take some preemptive steps (I think) than end up suffering longer-term consequences in one’s personal life, physical and emotional health, etc.

    * And: some people will think twice before hitting “reply” if they know that comments are moderated. Not all, but it does deter some impulse posters.

    [folds up soapbox and puts it away]

  5. Great post!! Very well said. It would be nice if some of the people in my life would listen to, understand and apply what you just wrote. But they don’t. And no matter how much I try to explain it to them, it falls on deaf ears. So painful and sad. Generally, I find that secular people automatically understand and act on the concept above a lot better than Christians. Which is strange because you think it would be the opposite.

    Oh, and having any conversation on homosexuality is a bit like opening the floodgates isn’t it? Overwhelming.

  6. I stand amazed at your posts again. This one is so beautifully written. It really forced me to look at how my church look at gay people. It is really discouraging when a God-fearing gay man is barred from his ministry to God. This is really wrong. Thanks for pointing that out.

    josh

  7. Lindsey, God gave you the gift of a wonderful heart. You always act out of love and I will forever respect you for that. I agree with everything you wrote in this post. Another great one by the way.

  8. Hi Lindsey, My name is Emily and I ‘ventured’ over from DM’s blog … I read your ‘guest appearance’ and I was intrigued! You are an exceptional writer and you have a way of confronting the REAL and DEEP issues of life! This is an amazing post! I couldn’t agree with you more! Homosexuality is such ‘an issue’ with Christians … the fact is, most ‘Christians’ don’t realize that who they’re talking about our shunning are REAL people … people with feelings and struggles, just like them … they see their sin FIRST … they don’t LOVE first … my sister is a homosexual, and I’ve learned that her sexual orientation doesn’t change who she is … it doesn’t change the compassion and heart she has for people … it doesn’t change how much God loves her either … great post! God Bless! ~Emily

  9. I really agree with what you’re saying here about intentionally being careful and compassionate when dealing with the topic of homosexuality in the church. It seems that the church in general is turning a corner in America as most of the preachers who are leading influential ministries are willing to discuss the topic with their congregations and go beyond the “Homosexuality is bad.PERIOD” sermons. The Bible is clear that homosexual acts are a sin and outside of God’s plan for us but we need to make sure that we don’t define people by their sin. We are all sinners. The tragedy is that, in America, homosexuality is largely seen and accepted as a lifestyle choice. This makes it more difficult for people, especially Christians, to see beyond the sexual orientation and see the child of God that is there than it would be if they were someone struggling with alcoholism, lying, or rage issues. These are sins that people can more easily separate from the person as “things they do” not “who they are”. This difficulty does not remove the command on our lives that we are to love unconditionally as God loves us unconditionally. I think the church would be well served to remember that. God Bless

  10. Pingback: Weekly Fruit Salad - αριθμό δεκαέξι « SanityFound’s Rambling’s

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