Beyond "Us versus Them"
Rethinking the church's relationship with the gay community.

When Andrew Marin's three best friends "came out" to him in three consecutive months, the self-proclaimed "Bible-banging homophobe" wanted desperately to understand his friends' experience. So he moved to Boystown, a Chicago neighborhood populated primarily by GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender) folks. He founded The Marin Foundation in 2003, to build bridges between the GLBT and Christian communities. Leadership assistant editor Brandon O'Brien asked Andrew what his experience might mean for the local church.

Why should the average pastor care about improving the conversation between his or her church and the GLBT community?

We are currently running the largest national scientific research study ever conducted about in the GLBT community. Preliminary data reveals a statistic that stands out above all the others: eighty-six percent of the GLBT community was raised in a denominationally based religion. This tells me that the Christian community's mindset about gays and lesbians is often flawed. It's not an "us versus them" issue; it's actually "us versus us." Up to age 18, 86 percent of the GLBT community is in our churches, sharing our pews. And who knows how many future GLBT people are still in the "closet." We need to be asking, How can the church be a safe place for them to talk about their struggles and attractions.

Where is the best place for the church to address this issue?

The best way to keep these young people in the church is to address the issues on the home-front. Parents must learn how to talk about same-sex attraction and homosexuality and how to live in the tension that creates as a representative of Jesus Christ in their kids' lives.

The next best person is the youth pastor. I know hundreds of "out-and-proud" GLBT adults who wish they had felt safe enough to tell their youth pastor about the most important issue in their lives - their same-sex attractions.

Read the entire interview with Andrew Marin in this month's issue of our digital magazine, Catalyst Leadership.

July 15, 2009

Displaying 1–10 of 16 comments

Jay

October 09, 2009  2:14pm

The truth of the matter is that homosexuality is not a sin. It is an orientation, just like heterosexuality. Just as some heterosexuals sin sexually, some homosexuals sin sexually. But homosexuality is not a sin. Unless you get over this absurd judgmentalism, you are not only pushing away gay people, but you are endangering your own soul.

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Tim Wright

August 03, 2009  4:54pm

Hi, Welcoming is not the same as agreeing. I can welcome the man who sexually molested me to my church, but I love him so much that I wouldn't dare accept his behavior. The same with the liar, etc... One possible difference is that liars, thieves, gossipers don't say that their sin is to be accepted and embraced, unlike some people who have homosexual sex. Cheers Tim

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Bart Wang

July 24, 2009  9:42am

Patrick, thanks for pointing out the error. I meant to say that Steve (and all of us) 'flout' God's law when we continue to sin and point at the perceived wrong-doings of others. You win this round. As for how we should live, I think Sara and Pomo summarized it well with one word - love. Do we have examples of Jesus constantly telling the disciples (who should have been the first ones to 'get it') how they were sinners and going to hell? No. He loved them, cared for them and, at times, offered correction in the context of a safe, loving relationship. If we are not in such an intimate relationship with someone, we should probably not be speaking about their sin because we've got enough of our own. Sara, thanks so much for sharing your story. That helps me tremendously in gaining perspective on this discussion. PastorP, you got some points right but I think you've misplaced the church in the story of the woman caught in adultery. We, the church, are not Jesus in the story, we are the pharisees who walk away in shame. We can become like Jesus as we love, care for and restore our brothers and sisters. We too quickly jump to the part where Jesus is telling her not to sin because we are so awful at loving people but we're great at telling them about THEIR sin. IntelligentlyDesigned, you were as your name states. If only you could develop that intelligence that God offers you. In this case, keep your mouth shut and your fingers still. You're words and attitude are an abomination.

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PastorP

July 20, 2009  11:46am

Corrections to prior post. The truth of the matter is that Jesus sat down with and fellowshipped with sinners. The Pharisees hated and condemned Him for that reason. However, Jesus came for those that needed to be spiritually healed. In God's value system, there is no distinction between sins (e.g. there is no such thing as a little white lie). Scriptures tell us that ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God. So our sins put us all in the category of needing a Saviour. GLBT people should attend church and accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour. And church folk should love them - but not their sin. The same holds true no matter what the person's sin might be. As far as GLBT, the same also holds true as for other sinners - Jesus forgave and accept the woman caught in adultery BUT He told her to "go and sin no more". That is the mandate of the church, forgiving and accepting all sinners but teaching them God's way.

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PastorP

July 20, 2009  11:39am

The truth of the matter is that Jesus sat down with and fellowshipped with sinners. The Pharisees hated and condemned Him for that. However, Jesus came for those that needed to be spiritually healed. In God's value system, there is not distinction between sins (e.g. no such thing as a little white lie). Scriptures tell us that ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God. So our sins put us all in the category of needing a Saviour. GLBT people should attend church, and church folk should love them - but not their sin. the same holds true no matter what the sin is. As far as GLBT the same also holds true as for other sinners - Jesus forgave and accept the woman caught in adultery BUT He told her to "go and send no more". That is the mandate of the church, forgiving and accepting all sinners but teaching them God's way.

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Pomo

July 20, 2009  10:18am

PATRICK - How should you tell them to live? The same way anyone is designed to "To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God" As "Intelligently Designed" so wrongly pointed out, being gay is not equated with lust, fornication, adultery. Atleast not for me as a follower of Christ. I seek to honor God with my sexuality as with all part of my being just as you or any other would. I don't need people telling me their interpretation of the Bible in regards to a few verses. I've studied it more than them. I want people to encourage me to live as Jesus would in the world...

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Mj

July 19, 2009  8:10pm

I am a christian and I have G&L friends and aquaintances.Now we can try and hide from the truth and pretend that the bible change.God Love every one but hate sin he said a man with M & W with W his abominalbe and require death. But because he is a God of compassion and Love he sent Jesus Christ to die on calvary to forgive us so we have a second chance. All 129 gay I know and deal with they are never happy deep down they know it is wrong and unhealthy and I challenge any Doctor or Scientist to a Open debate about the dirty part that they try to cover up.hsve you wondwer why god said he gave up certain people to a repobate mind go and study the bible because i don't know which 1 some of you are reading. seek repetance, I love everyone the chuch is there as a place of refuge to help every individual God change lives not by might nor power but by his spirit and when you know the truth it will set you free. god love is amazing.

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Intelligently Designed

July 19, 2009  5:49pm

Hello?! LUST, FORNICATION, ADULTERY?! Homosexuality is a sin! God doesn't hate the homosexual, but He does hate the sin of homosexuality! It is throughout the entire bible He hates it! Yes, God forgives sin. Yes, He is a God a love... But 'grace' doesn't mean an excuse to sin. Read Romans 1:26-27 in your unperverted version of the bible-try the King James. Most bible "per"versions today tell young people it is ok to sin and lust and cohoabitate and it is disgusting! Can't even go to a "christian" web site and hear the truth anymore! You who call yourselves christians ought to obey the commandments of Jesus who said all abominable, whoremongers, idolaters and liars WILL have their part in the second death which is hell!

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Sara

July 19, 2009  1:39pm

My brother, Adam, was born as my sister, Lauren. I had an instinct about her from a very young age. She came out when she was in high school, and it was no surprise to anyone. My family was accepting. She decided to become a "he", probably around when he began college. I believe that marriage was made for a man and a woman, but I am not interested in preaching or judging or converting my brother...all I know is that I love him with all of my heart and always will. I understand some people's strong convictions on the subject and theological positions, but when it's family, I think it hits closer to home, and the issue becomes a little more blurred. I believe that bottom line is all about love.

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still

July 19, 2009  2:20am

Ministry Lesson from “The Beauty and The Beast” “It is acceptance â€" the antithesis of denial and control. It is a willingness to recognize what reality is and to allow that reality to be, without a need to change it. Beauty loved the Beast. Therein lies a happiness that ensues, not from manipulating outside conditions or people, but from developing inner peace, even in the face of challenges and difficulties. Ironically, it is this very practice of acceptance that allows another to change if he chooses to do so. Remember, Beauty did not try to make a prince out of a monster. Because of her acceptance, he was freed to become his own best self.” - Reader’s Digest

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