After my gay brother Brad’s first year at college, his “girlfriend” dropped out and moved back to our hometown. When Brad returned to school his second year, he stayed in the dorm while I lived off-campus with my Christian friends. Brad grew more sexually involved with other guys, now without the cover of an opposite-sex relationship. I rarely talked to him, and we grew apart — mostly because I was concerned I’d be tempted around him and his gay friends.
Although it was good that I was not living with my gay brother anymore, I regret not making the effort to be in closer contact with him.
Around this time, Brad remembered his Christian roots and started growing concerned about his sins and his need for a Savior. He decided to join a large Christian campus ministry instead of my church — probably because he no longer felt close to me.
Within a year or so, one of the leaders there discovered that Brad was having sex with another guy in that group and also having anonymous sex with many other guys at gay meeting places on campus. This campus ministry was known for “radical commitment” and toughness on sin. You can guess what happened next.
My gay brother was publicly outed in a very painful way.
He was thrown out of the group, and his homosexual sins were revealed to hundreds of members. His being publicly outed wasn’t pretty. One of the leaders who knew me made sure to tell me all the details, even though I was not a member of that group.
It finally hit me that I needed to show Brad a little compassion; as you can imagine, he was bitter at Christians at that point. The painful way he was treated by that campus ministry motivated him to distance himself from all believers. He started expressing his disgust with Christians by flaunting his homosexuality — acting, talking, and dressing in a stereotypical, “gay” way that would be offensive to most of us.
Of course, Brad and I could no longer go on pretending I was ignorant about his sexuality. I asked him why he was “hanging around gays,” and I will never forget his answer:
“They love me, and that is more than I can say about Christians!”
All I could say to him was that I did love him and was a Christian. Years later, this memory still brings tears to my eyes.
Real love is not just in words but with deep feelings expressed by actions and reality.
My gay brother needed me to love him like a real big brother who would care for him and shield him from danger; instead, what had I done?
I had abandoned him to the wolves of selfish gays and misguided Christians.
To be continued…
Have you or someone you know been publicly outed? How did you handle this? Have you ever failed to protect a family member or friend from danger?
* Photo courtesy string_bass_dave, Creative Commons.
That must have been so very difficult for your brother. It really makes me so sad and I do so cringe for the church. Such a very harsh and wicked thing to do to anyone no matter how wrong you think he/she is, and yet it has been repeated countless times in countless places.
I was outed to an eldership team but not to the whole church, and I never did find out who outed me it though I have a pretty shrewd idea. That wasn’t really painful or difficult for me as I already was heading out the door anyway. Lol! It just made my exit a little speedier. One of the elders was counselling my wife at the time, as I had separated from my wife, and she knew about me being gay, but she was utterly shocked that I had been outed in the eldership meeting and came rushing to apologise to my wife saying she didn’t know what to do. One of the head pastors took it upon his shoulders to contact me and deal with it, so he and I had a few coffee sessions and some good laughs. But he stopped that when he knew that he was not going to change me anymore than I was going to change him. But sadly it ended our contact and our friendship. The unbending church is a very hard place and I really fail to see how it is reflecting Jesus myself, He who was loving and merciful and compassionate.
I believe there was a right way for that college campus ministry to let my brother know that they disagreed with his behavior. In fact, I definitely also disagreed with his behavior, but I don’t see how the way they did public shaming was a help to him. There should have been more personal, confidential conversations with him first, then if they asked him to leave they could have done it with less sensationalism.
Marshall – that’s absolutely heartbreaking to read. I can only imagine the pain you felt with the distance between you and your brother – as you were both isolated from much needed, real authentic support. Thanks for sharing that.
Also, I will absolutely never understand or support public outing, excommunicating, dis-fellowshipping or the like that some churches and groups support. I don’t find it Biblical and I think it’s dangerous. I’m horrified anytime I see / read where that continues to go on.
One question – you say you abandoned your brother to “selfish” gays … Is that a reference to a specific group your brother encountered or a general thought about gay people?
By “selfish gays” I meant the guys who had anonymous one-time sexual encounters with Brad. They didn’t care about him as a person, they just used him for momentary pleasure, then threw him away.
Thanks for clarifying. So sorry about your brother – it’s terrible to be used by anyone like that…
I was outed when I was seventeen to my entire youth group and family. Not a pretty situation.
This post breaks my heart, and the treatment of your brother makes me very, very angry.
Yes, he needed compassion, instead he got the wrong kind of toughness and public shaming.
Gene Edwards wrote a book: Crucified by Christians. In it he says: “Being crucified by fellow Christians is one of the deepest pains a child of God will ever know.” In it Edwards describes how that pain Jesus knows well. And so, the mercy, grace, and love which Jesus shows such an individual is huge. Absolutely huge! I think Marshall that when you see your brother on the other side he will surely tell you about it.
Thanks Jon! We do need to show mercy and love the way Jesus did. Many have been hurt by Christians who did not.
Still, we do need to have standards and to help each other grow in our relationship with God. Some results will be outward holiness and right behavior.
I never identified as gay, and after one homosexual relationship in university, which lasted several months, I walked away from homosexual sex with men and that was almost 40 years ago. So I was never “outed by another.” Reading this experience, though, moved me to tears. It is a sad truth that most Christians don’t understand that all sinners need love and compassion and that homosexual sinner are just one kind of sinner. Is heterosexual sin any better or worse?
If the woman caught in adultery had been a gay caught in bed, would Jesus have loved the man any differently than he did the woman? Let him who is without sin, cast the first stone!
If the woman at the well, had been a lesbian living with another woman, would Jesus have treated her any differently? Would he have refused to offer her “Living Water?”
Unfortunately, the church today is sadly ill prepared to help people with same-sex attractions. Two extremes exist: total condemnation with rejection and shame (or) almost complete acceptance of the LGBT lifestyle as a normal sexual alternative.
We need all the compassion and love of Jesus for the sinner, but the complete rejection of sin which separates us from God. In John 8:11, Jesus says, “go now and leave your life of sin,” but this follow his compassionate statement, “Neither do I condemn you.” Ah, how hard it is to balance these two things as Jesus did! But let us never stop our efforts to do so. As a man with unwanted SSA, I have such compassion for everyone who struggles with SSA. I just want to get it right and be like Jesus for someone who needs Him. My own struggles should help me be compassionate and my faith should help me be true to God’s holiness.
Yes, I agree. People caught in sin should be shown mercy and compassion, but still we should urge them to turn to God and away from sin. Gay sins should not be treated as any worse than pre-marital sex or marital affairs.
Yes, Marshal, I agree. But the starting place must be lots of love and unconditional acceptance (for the sinner, not the sin), or any sinner (straight or gay) will never listen to the call to repent. They must be attracted to Christ first. Then I think it is best to get them engaged in God’s word and let His truth challenge them to turn away from their sins. At the right time and with a relationship of love and respect, we can show them the scriptures and ask them the right questions. It is the Holy Spirit’s work to convict sinners, we just Need to be sensitive to the Spirit and follow His lead. Repentance is absolutely vital. I am still working on that myself… I need His grace and forgiveness (1John 1:9) all too often. He is my savior, but I am still growing in my faithfulness. I still need people to love me as well as to help me when I screw it’s up again.
And stories such as yours explain why church attendance across the world is declining at a rapid pace.
I know from experience.
The Lord never condemned the sinner, but he surely condemned the self-righteous leaders in his day!
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