In the latest issue of Leadership Journal, we featured an article by Wheaton College provost Stanton Jones, entitled, "Help, I'm Gay." It was a conversation between Jones and "Todd," a composite of people Jones has counseled over the years on the topic. The piece had a polarizing effect: some lauded Jones for his wise counsel while others felt Jones's approach was wrong, even dangerous. One reader wrote Jones directly about the article and both men have granted permission for us to run their exchange. We hope their correspondence will clarify Jones's intentions with the original piece and foster productive dialogue about this crucial issue.
I read your article in Leadership Journal. Thanks for tackling a difficult subject. I wanted to share a few thoughts as someone who deals with the issue personally. I'm married (20+ years now) but still struggle with homosexuality. I've been down the Exodus road of "I'm gonna change," but have not. I cope; I guess that's the best I can hope for. Your article admitted that change doesn't happen as much as some (including me) would wish for.
There are two things, however, that I feel compelled to mention. First, Todd asks directly: "Does he (God) hate me? That's what Romans 1 seems to imply."
For someone who struggles with homosexuality, this is a very big issue. Your response — "I am not sure I have a great answer for that" — was a HUGE MISS. This is a serious question. The traditional position that God hates homosexuals is still so pervasive that most who struggle with this issue have a hard time accepting that God can even begin to love them. The pastor of my church growing up told us that homosexuals were already condemned to hell; nothing could save them. Too many in the church today still believe this. Your response showed a lack of conviction about God loving or hating Todd.
Second, I challenge your encouragement of sharing and transparency. My experience, and many others, indicates that if you are honest and transparent about your struggles, you'd better be ready to pay the price. Leadership in your local church? Forget it. Helpful sharing with brothers and sisters in Christ? Only if you want to lose them as friends. The vast majority of Christians are completely unequipped to handle someone who is same-gender attracted.
I no longer have any friends from the last church I attended. My wife and I were close friends with the pastor, his wife, several leaders, and many congregational members. After cautious revelation to selected people, as discretely as possible, now not one person, including the pastor, connects with me at all, let alone is a friend. When I see any of them in town, they shun me.
I wish I could say my case is unique, but it's not. It's amazing really. One can be a drug dealer, alcoholic, thief, even a murderer, and once cleaned up, can find a home in the church. Homosexually-oriented folks simply need not apply. If I were advising Todd, I would tell him to find helpful believing friends as far away from his normal church circles as he can. Hide, hide, hide! Nothing good comes out of being open. Nothing.
Sadly, the church is the least helpful institution for believers struggling with homosexual attraction. I believe that's one of the reasons there is so little success for folks like me. On the one side is "Christian condemnation," while on the other side, the GLBT movement is "welcoming and affirming" to those who would simply embrace their homosexual feelings. All the support comes from the wrong side. How can anyone expect a different outcome?
Thanks for reading.
Thanks for your gracious reply. You have no idea how important grace is for people in my position. Perhaps it's because it's not as common as we would like.
I can understand how easy it is to drop the answer as you did for the question of God's love. My hope is that you can correct it, or at least find a way to explain it so that folks don't get the wrong idea.
As far as my experience: God has it all figured out, and I'm good with that. Knowing who is in control is a big deal. I'm not angry or bitter, just saddened by the situation. I have some Christian friends who are in the same situation, and at least one has turned his back on Christians completely. He still loves the Lord, but can't stand his followers. That's really sad.
Frankly, I believe my "real Christian world" situation is more the norm than what you have taken as a "fairly common type of Christian environment." Personally, I think that a lack of biblical depth and true maturity— a true grasp on the depth of our shared sinfulness and the breadth of God's grace—is a big part of the problem. Study of the Bible is at an all-time low. How does one exhibit grace when one has no idea what grace really is? Without knowledge of God's Word, it's hard to know how to react in "uncomfortable" situations. Couple this with the "culture war" mentality of so many highly visible ministries, and it's natural that most believers would have issues in dealing with those who struggle.
That is the way things seem to me. It may not be that way everywhere, but I suspect it's more common than you might think. Let's stay in touch.
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