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I must start this with a question...


"When did humanity become so entitled that we can point fingers at another person's "struggles" and rate them at a higher caliber than our own?


As a bisexual man who was raised in the church and is the "front pew sitting" grandson of a pastor, a Christian college graduate, a former ministry leader, and a former associate pastor, I write this from my own personal experiences. (Also, let me clarify that I don't believe being gay is supposed to be a struggle.)


When I began to fully come to terms with the fact that I was attracted to other men... my life felt like it was over. Of course, there were clues growing up that I would one day struggle with the idea of being labeled "gay." However, I downplayed them and didn't act on them. I hid it in shame and prayed over it during every prayer service. I wrote it on my little sheet of paper that I held in my hand and ripped it up at the command of a pastor, who preached of deliverance from the stage as I stood there in tears. I wanted it to go away. I didn't want to be that guy. 


Believe what you will, nurture versus nature; it has been there for as long as I can remember. I wrote it off as "normal," I figured every guy had those thoughts and fought the "temptations."


But, more than my fight with myself, the battle with the church's ideas had me wanting to hide myself. That made me want to change myself so that I would be accepted and others would love me. So that God would love me.


You see- I sat through sermons and amongst conversations, where people close to me, friends, family, and coworkers, sat and downgraded the people, the "subculture," that I knew I identified with. I listened to people who claimed the love of Jesus, the acceptance of Jesus- but spoke as if there was no hope for the "lifestyle" in which I fought to hide. 


I sat in my office as a pastor, and I watched the people who struggled with their "sins" of adultery, drug abuse, premarital sex, gossip, and drunkenness. I saw them embraced by others who were championing them. I saw them come to church as themselves and feel at home... a sinner among sinners, saved by the blood of Jesus. However, I knew, deep within myself, that the moment people found out about my "sin," I'd never be seen in the same light again. I'd be more like the leper in the crowd. My calling to live a life as a Christian would be over. I'd have to denounce my belief or change my ways, which I knew was as much a part of me as the color of my eyes.


There are great debates out there concerning homosexuality and the handful of times that the idea is even thought to be mentioned in the Bible. We read the teachings of Jesus, the sermon on the mount, and the parables. We never hear, from the mouth of God, that homosexuality is, in fact, a sin. But what we do hear is how we are called to love our neighbors- even our enemies. We are called not to worry and to do unto others as we want done unto us.


Many choose to, instead, focus not on the teachings of Jesus but on the phrasing used in teachings by a man who was once a murderer of Christians. A man who directly talks to a specific group of people in ancient times about a loosely translated topic to equate with the terminology used in a far more advanced and complex society today. We find the three verses in the New Testament that may have something to do with same-sex relations in light of today's meaning of the word. We use that as a ploy to directly condemn and isolate, even marginalize, a complete group of people. A group of people who are just as loved by Jesus as the next man.


A gay man sitting in a pew at church who wants nothing more than to grow in his relationship with God- is bombarded with the message that he isn't good enough as he is. He hears that the church isn't the place for him. That his "lifestyle" is seen as an abomination. He slips in for the message and out as soon as it is done- afraid that prolonged conversation and fellowship may give away his secret and open him up to harassment.


He hears "Christians" shout that God hates gays, that baking him a wedding cake is unnatural, and that allowing him the same human rights as others will somehow limit God's love and approval for "straights."


I have, thankfully, been given the fantastic opportunity to call so many gay and bisexual men my friends. I have heard their stories... stories of turning from God because of being persecuted in youth group, turning from God because "God hates gays," turning from God because the church makes them feel unwelcome, turning from God because their religious parents turned on them... and I wonder when the church lost sight of what the church was called to do. To minister and bring Jesus to the world. Empowering others to revel in the love of God to use their unique gifts to impact the world.


It's about time we focus on Jesus and leave the judgment and ridicule to the Pharisees. It's about time we love people who look different than us, dress differently from us, and speak differently from us. I think it's about time that the church starts giving God the reputation God deserves and not the negative view that has become of it. It's time we focus on helping the world and not condemning the world. 


God didn't send a condemner; God sent a savior. In God's image, every human was created special with a unique gift and purpose.


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