You know, I like Tony Campolo. A lot.
I liked it when he threw a birthday party for a hooker, and I like his untraditional stance on homosexuality. I wish more Christians were like this. This is from an interview with Beliefnet.com.
What position do you wish American evangelicals would take on homosexuality?
As an evangelical who takes the Bible very seriously, I come to the first chapter of Romans and feel there is sufficient evidence there to say that same-gender eroticism is not a Christian lifestyle. That’s my position.
So you mean homosexual activity?
That’s right. What I think the evangelical community has to face up to, however, is what almost every social scientist knows, and I’m one of them, and that is that people do not choose to be gay. I don’t know what causes homosexuality, I have no idea. Neither does anybody else. There isn’t enough evidence to support those who would say it’s an inborn theory. There isn’t enough evidence to support those who say it’s because of socialization.
I’m upset because the general theme in the evangelical community, propagated from one end of this country to the other–especially on religious radio–is that people become gay because the male does not have a strong father image with which to identify. That puts the burden of people becoming homosexual on parents.
Most parents who have homosexual children are upset because of the suffering their children have to go through living in a homophobic world. What they don’t need is for the Church to come along and to lay a guilt trip on top of them and say “And your children are homosexual because of you. If you would have been the right kind of parent, this would have never happened.” That kind of thinking is common in the evangelical Church and the book attacks on solid sociological, psychological, biological grounds.
But even if evangelicals came to believe that it was not a choice, how should they approach the topic?
Well, beyond that, they seem to offer an absolute solution to the problem. They are saying, “We can change every gay. We can change every lesbian.” I have heard enough of the brothers and sisters give testimonies of having changed their sexual orientation to doubt them…I believe them. But that’s rare: people who stand up and say, “I was gay but Jesus came into my life and now I’m not homosexual anymore.”
But the overwhelming proportion of the gay community that love Jesus, that go to church, that are deeply committed in spiritual things, try to change and can’t change. And the Church acts as though they are just stubborn and unwilling, when in reality they can’t change. To propose that every gay with proper counseling and proper prayer can change their orientation is to create a mentality where parents are angry with their children, saying, “You are a gay person because you don’t want to change and you’re hurting your mother and your father and your family and you’re embarrassing us all.”
These young people cannot change. What they are begging for, and what we as Church people have a responsibility to give them, is loving affirmation as they are. That does not mean that we support same-gender eroticism.
This is one of my soapbox issues, because I think so many Christians come across as total jerks when addressing homosexuality. You can think it’s wrong all you want to, that’s fine. I won’t fault you for that. It’s the militant, gays-are-out-to-rape-your-sons-and-daughters attitude that gets me.
I also get tired of the belief that it’s our job to change gays. It’s not our job to change anyone. That’s Jesus Christ’s job.
I may regret this for the rest of my life, but I’ll share something with you: I have struggled with homosexual feelings all my life. I have never pursued the lifestyle and never will, but I know my door could “swing both ways.”
Do I think I was born with it? No, I don’t. I think it’s the result of both being sexually abused and having a non-existent relationship with my mom when I was growing up. I’m a married woman, very much attracted to men, but something inside of me craves a female relationship, and I know it’s because I’m trying to fill a void that can only be filled with God. But knowing that doesn’t make my thought life any less of a struggle, and that doesn’t erase my shame. There is so much shame because of this part of my life. It wasn’t very long ago that I shared it with someone for the first time, and I spent several hours crying afterward. I drove around in my car, because I didn’t want to go home and explain it to my husband, who didn’t know I had these feelings. (He does now, and he’s incredibly gracious.) I drove and cried, and prayed.
While I was driving, my beautiful Savior had a message for me. It came in the form of these words:
“I am the vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” —John 15:1, 2
Those words didn’t mean I would never have another same-sex attraction again, or even struggle with my “identity” (forgive the psychobabble). It didn’t mean I’d suddenly become 100 percent straight. Those words meant that living a homosexual lifestyle wouldn’t produce fruit in my life, and since I know where my struggles with homosexuality come from, God is willing and able to “snip” away the things that cause me to stumble in this area … i.e., loneliness, feelings of worthlessness, a need to fit in with some sort of group, bitterness towards my mom, etc. Yes, I still struggle. I still question things, and stumble around a lot. But God’s healing is undeniable, and I’ve seen it in my life, so I press on. His grace overcomes my shame.
Not every gay person’s experience is like mine. I can’t sit here and say with any certainty that NO gays are born as such. And, really, it’s not my place to say.
Being gay, in the respect that you have same-sex attraction, may be inborn and unavoidable for many. It’s the lifestyle that’s a choice.
Believe me, I would never have chosen this for myself. I can’t imagine why anyone would. It’s illogical and irrational, but it seems to be the conservative Christian view of choice.
All I know is, I can’t choose my attractions, but I can choose my lifestyle, and more importantly, I can choose to live for God. That is what I have chosen. I know what God has for me, and homosexuality is not part of that plan. What the Christian community needs to realize is that not everyone sees this, and the shame of being so confused can drive a person to suicide.
I know …
We need to exercise more love, less judgment. We need to reach out and say to people, “I can’t change you, YOU can’t change you, but I know Someone who can.” And then we need to make sure they understand that “change” doesn’t necessarily mean no more temptations, no more attractions, no more struggles (although it’s ENTIRELY possible). It means a change of heart, knowing they are valuable to God, and knowing that there is another way to live.
THAT’S the message we need to be getting to people, not that they are evil, disgusting sub-human beings. Because even if we’re not doing it intentionally, that IS the message we seem to be sending. We’re telling people to clean up their act and come to Jesus, which is the opposite of how it’s supposed to work. Christ called us to “come as we are” not as we think He’d like us to be.
We need to get ‘em there, and point ‘em to Jesus, and then LET Jesus do the rest![Julie Anne Fidler works with teenage moms full-time and is a part-time reporter for a local newspaper. She is currently writing a book about her adventures in holy matrimony and all the challenges that come with it.]
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