I am in school. No, this is not a flashback story being told as if it were present-day. This is right now. I am in school, working toward a graduate degree in religion.

Few things are more fun than being an adult / husband / father / full-time career man also in full-time graduate classes. Imagine a marathon runner trying to juggle twelve watermelons for three years and you have a close analogy.

One of my not-so-favorite parts of school is the group discussion we have on our class’s website. Online group forum discussions — aka “Fool Festivals” — always make me cringe and laugh. I honestly wonder how some of these people made it into school.

Recently, a discussion forum centered upon theological statements made in everyday life. I, of course, pulled a quote from an episode of Supernatural. Some of my classmates went a different direction, though.

Namely, they stuck to LGBT topics: homosexuality and transgender men and women.

Now, heads up, I attend a southern Baptist seminary. Need I say more about the consisting matter of their posts? I’ll let your imagination run wild.

I read these particular posts aloud to my wife and the two of us were torn: we wanted to laugh at the inherent stupidity and naïveté of these other “graduate” students. We also wanted to punch them in the faces for being so bull-headed ignorant.

These are men and women who are supposed to be preparing to lead churches and communities in the Christian world of the future — and they honestly cannot understand anything outside their own worldview.

Wherever you stand politically or morally or even biblically on these issues, can we not first try to understand all the viewpoints? Can we not attempt to see the issue through LGBT eyes?

Why can’t Christians look at life through the eyes of a gay man struggling to find acceptance from his family who is calling him an abomination and throwing him out to the curb?

And to play devil’s advocate, why can’t the homosexual community see that sheltered Christians are only repeating what has been rammed down their throats for decades and begin to fight against that ignorance?

Why can’t we all realize that our worldviews are created from our genetic and environmental makeup?

As I sat there contemplating whether or not to respond to my classmates with some cold, hard truth, I realized that the issue here wasn’t homosexuality or transgender rights. The issue was that my classmates were not willing to accept that their worldview might not be perfect. They honestly did not believe that they needed to learn anything.

I pray often that I never keep my worldview from growing and shifting as I learn more and more. I also pray that I never stop learning.

I’d like to think that I am as close to accurate with that I believe, but I realize that I am not perfect in that.
I decided to avoid responding to those classmates whose ignorance was especially obvious. The forum was not the battlefield for fighting their ignorance. I wish it had been. I can only hope that that opportunity comes soon. I hate to see the Church continue to remain ignorant about the culture to which it is supposed to minister.

After all, wasn’t Jesus aware of the culture in His day? Another post for another time, I guess.

Do you have trouble seeing through LGBT eyes or others, or does this come naturally to you? How can we as Christians better see through LGBT eyes?

* Photo courtesy a-herzog, Creative Commons.

  • First off, Dean, I have to say I admire you. You are an incredibly brave man. There you are in the lions’ den for a number of reasons. Could you choose a more conservative group than Southern Baptist? And then you doing a religious degree? Oh my! No wonder that forum is a challenge. If you and your wife can continue to laugh in the midst of their comments you will do so well.
    You made some excellent points and asked some very pertinent questions. Like this – “Why can’t Christians look at life through the eyes of a gay man
    struggling to find acceptance from his family who is calling him an
    abomination and throwing him out to the curb?” Yeah! If we could answer that we would have the key to ministering to such folk. They happen to be the very ones who are calling this gay man an abomination and who think that throwing him out on the curb is the answer because he won’t deal with his sin. So that’s a catch 22.
    And “why can’t the homosexual community see
    that sheltered Christians are only repeating what has been rammed down
    their throats for decades and begin to fight against that ignorance?” Personally I am trying to do this but with little headway. I know I myself was once there and now am looking from the opposite view point, but I only got here from there by acknowledging that I was gay and then re-looking at what that could mean if I was Christian. But if you not gay, then what reason would you have for wanting to see another point of view? And how does one fight that “ignorance”? I hope some answers come out of this discussion as I would really like to know how to do that.
    I think you hit the nail right on the head with this – “The issue was that my classmates were not willing to accept that their
    worldview might not be perfect. They honestly did not believe that they
    needed to learn anything.” Unless one is directly confronted with a friend or a relative that one loves much who is LBGTQ then it is very difficult to change your view. And if you do have a gay friend or relative but are still stuck in your religious righteousness then you still going to reject them over what you believe is right in your eyes, which you see as being right in God’s eyes.
    So it boils down to being teachable, which means recognising that one might just be wrong. After all, the Bible says! The modern translations that put the word “homosexual” in the Bible have so much to answer for. It will go hard for those on the day of judgement.
    You said:
    “I pray often that I never keep my worldview from growing and
    shifting as I learn more and more. I also pray that I never stop
    learning.”
    Me too! I read somewhere recently someone say that if you did not look at yourself now from your view of a few years back and classify yourself as a heretic then you are not growing and changing. I think there’s a truth in that.
    Finally, I want to come back to where I started and just encourage you to hang in there as the Lord obviously has some incredible work for you to do in asking you to learn in this place and be a part of something that is so difficult in so many ways. Maybe He will use you to get through to a few key persons that can change and influence others for the good. Blessings abundant on you and your wife in your studies, your steadfastness, your courage, your love, your compassion, your mercy, your humility, your patience. You’ll need all these in great abundance.

    • Thank you, Jeremy! I have also heard that quote about looking back on your past views and calling yourself a heretic. I can say I have had that feeling a few times in my life.
      I loved all of your comments- a long post but t was and enjoyed! Thank you for your blessings! Patience especially will definitely be needed in the future.

  • Growing up in Western Pennsylvania (the mecca of blue collar) in the 70s I witnessed blatant prejudice and hate towards African Americans, Asians and Gays. In my heart and in my head, I knew it was wrong. There was little indication of it being “religious” based. There was little indication of the religion at all actually (at least with the people I was around). Ironically my parents were raised Baptists in Oklahoma, yet taught through their actions tolerance of all. When I came out as “gay” at 19, they were both accepting of me.
    But after three years immersed in the gay lifestyle/community I was very disillusioned. I saw such “weirdness” and promiscuity (and yes I participated in the later). There was something WRONG about it particularly the older men who would pursue the younger guys. There was a wildness to it, and age boundaries didn’t seem to matter to anyone. I also disliked the “drag queen” fem types. The three “serious” boyfriend relationships I had were not fulfilling and two ended badly. Now to be fair I had mountains of emotional baggage I was carrying around and alcoholism too. My change of heart had nothing to do (overtly at least) with religion – I was at best agnostic, But I knew I had to get out, and at age 23 I did.
    I know my “worldview” of LBGT’s are based on my experience in the community years ago. Now that I have had Christian teachings, I can see that perhaps God’s commandments/will is indeed out of love – I knew it first hand from my own misery. But this does not condone the HATE that does still exist – often connected sadly with “Christians.” But the other side is out-of-control political correctness where insane (emerging) laws such as “gender neutral” language and “other” bathrooms just reinforce my beliefs from long ago. It’s not only OK but ENCOURAGED to raise “jimmy” as a girl, if “he” (or parents) believes he is really female. What craziness is that – and what horrible emotional issues these children will have later in life. This is the cost of embracing sexual/gender “equality”. And I personally believe it goes way too far.
    Full disclosure here. Our beautiful and intelligent 18 yo daughter has stated she is “bi” and has a girlfriend that is very “out.” I am so conflicted about this – she only knows how much I love her, and don’t “condone” the lifestyle. I shared with her the abuse I suffered at 12 – hoping that she did not encounter something tragic in her own childhood but fortunately she said no. I am no where near “coming out” about my gay past with my immediate family. So conversations ended there.
    Ironically being LBGT seems to be the “in” thing in her generation. And politically she is where I was when I was 20 – very radical and anti-traditional church. I pray that her journey will lead her to man that will love her (as she deserves) and selfishly perhaps produce grandchildren. Lol. I know she has fallen far from her Faith. But she still goes through the motions with us (going to Mass). Once she’s away at college in the fall – she will be very much in control. So….. I pray for her.

    • Thank you for sharing your story, Jim. I pray you continue to grow more and more from your experiences- God can use all them to teach us if we are willing!

    • Interesting, Jim. I am surprised by your comments concerning transgender. Have you read up on any of this? The whole gender question is extremely complicated from a physiological/medical point of view. Trans folk seem to have huge issues, but they mostly stem from people’s prejudice towards them and the cruel way in which others so often treat them. Personally, I believe we have a duty as Christians to love all people regardless of gender, sexuality, race, religion, politics, etc. Just saying! Blessings, J.

  • The church — both little c and big C, actually — will benefit so much from your combined openness and commitment to Truth. You love people better than most I’ve met, Dean. Excited to see how God uses you and your wife!

    • Thank you, Tom- that means so much coming from you. I’m thankful to be used by God however He wills.

  • I went to school at the baptist place for baptists. By God’s grace, I was gifted with an academic community that was able to look at these issues critically and with at least some cultural sensitivity.
    But, as is shown by your post, not all of our Christian folk are able to deal with these issues in the same way. I think a major cause is due to the war time mentality many Christians have to any “progressive” idea. Many Christians feel attacked and therefore we have many leaders of our churches that have strapped on their militant language and militant ideas of US vs THEM. Fear is preventing us from loving and really understanding the people we engage.
    Great stuff Dean.
    -PK

    • PK, I agree with you on that “war time” mentality. I wish the church would quit seeing lost people as enemies. How that became the perspective, I’ll never know. But it needs to stop. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  • I just wanna see that I love this. and yeah, I think you´re right. this is actually the right question to be asking I believe.

    • Thank you, Ashley! I pray others will start to find this question and begin asking it rather than attacking others simply because the believe differently than them.

  • “After all, wasn’t Jesus aware of the culture in His day?”
    I love that question!
    Obviously, Jesus was countercultural! Not in the black/white way of your colleagues: his first coming not judgement.
    Instead, Christ’s way is paradoxical: an upside world of mercy and justice (Micah 6:8) for all including gays :).
    So, people who want divorce were granted a certificate of divorce (mercy) so that they can remarry. Why? A form of harm reduction to mitigate the sinful effects of adultery on the remaining spouse so she (usually she) doesn’t become an outcast (justice for her). For the sin Jesus offered forgiveness where his mercy/justice meet at the Cross.
    They say Jesus was silent on gays… Were there gays in his culture? Of course.
    They hid in the eunuch class otherwise they would have been killed.
    We know what Jesus said to the eunuchs (Matt. 19:12).
    Celibacy for those “whom God helps” (Matt 19:11 NLT), but not for everyone. Not everyone submits to God’s help.
    So for the others? Again, mercy with justice: harm reduction with monogamy better than promiscuity and with some legal protection if the relationship broke up. I think Jesus would recognize legally protected permanent same sex relationships. Like with remarriage I think He would call that sin, but for them too there is the Cross should they want it.

  • Bruh!!! This post is soooo on point! Kudos to you! I was gonna write something similar, but you beat me to it! I’ll probably write how to be practical about this. Mostly because I have gay friends, and all of them know I’m a Christian and LOVE going to church. They see no problem with it, and are open to go with me some day. But seeing through the LGBT eyes is kind of hard, especially if you grew up in the church most of your life! We have this Christian bubble that we don’t want to pop or anyone else to pop is, thus exposing the reality that people are people, not matter what. I do have to agree with what PK said about Us vs. Them. It should never ever be like that! Be open, discuss, learn!

    • Hope you do post on the issue. Would love to see what you have to say. No matter how similar, each view is so much one of our individual perspective, so yours will have a Matt slant as opposed to a Dean slant. Looking forward to your post!

  • I have a belief that I’m trying to understand, but it hasn’t really matured or been fleshed out enough yet for me to declare and explain so that other people get it, but I’m working toward that. Maybe God is bringing me to that point, but I’m not there yet. I do believe it 100% though, whatever it is. Anyway…
    I believe people want to be right, and they want to be right all the time. And they think that by being right, they become righteous — they become “good” people. And believe they become right by doing, saying, knowing, understanding, or believing the right things. And everyone is like this. It’s a human trait, not a spiritual one. The non-Christians, the non-religious, try to be right and prove everyone else is wrong based on facts, science, or their own understanding and experience. And they make fun of Christians who don’t accept the “facts” that they believe in, which give purpose to their lives.
    Christians, however, do the same thing. They try to be right and prove everyone else is wrong based on what the Bible says, what some great preacher or teacher has said, something they heard in Bible school, some experience they had, what they claim God said to them directly, whatever. And they put down other people who don’t accept the “Truth” that they believe in, which gives purpose to their lives.
    And Christians think that if they know the Bible well enough, they feel good, they do good things, say all the right stuff, then they are in fact good, righteous people. And to hell with everyone else!
    It’s the same thing, whether coming from LGBT non-Christians, or from some high and mighty theological seminary. It’s people trying to be right and good on their own, not accepting the way of Jesus, and not accepting anyone who’s not on their side.
    That doesn’t mean there’s no divine truth on the side of the Christians. The Bible is of course God’s main tool in conveying truth and life and direction to those who would hear his voice and follow Christ. But possessing God’s truth and his Word does not make put us in right standing with him or make us better than anyone else. Instead, it means we will be judged more severely for mishandling it than non-Christians will if they never see it.
    My point is, a lot of Christians want to follow Jesus, but they don’t realize that they really need to let go of EVERYTHING that they feel makes them righteous apart from God’s grace shown to them directly through Jesus Christ alone. Are conservative Christians right about homosexuality based on God’s Word? Good for them! But who cares? It doesn’t matter. If they don’t have love, their correct understanding is only ammunition for their guns.

    • While reading your last paragraph Kevin, I was reminded of how I decided to present myself to others when I say that I am SSA. The fact is that I’m also attracted to women, but I have noticed that somehow people treat heterosexual attraction as though it makes me a better person, in their eyes or maybe God’s eyes. I do withhold my OSA in many cases though because I don’t think it should matter. Of course people are shocked if they find out about my OSA later, but the reaction is usually the same. They celebrate as if I told them I won the lottery. Having OSA doesn’t mean anything about whether I’m able to have a healthy relationship with a women, just the same as for them. Even still, I could be completely SSA and mary a woman and it still doesn’t make me more “worthy” in God’s eyes for said marriage than if I was with a man perse. I am worthy because of God’s grace alone, and nothing else. I try to make that clear when people rejoice in my OSA, but they look so confused when I do. I just wish that attraction wasn’t synonymous with sin in Christian circles. I see it do so much harm for men when they think they have sinned because they noticed an attractive woman. If you don’t lust or covet, there’s no sin as far as I understand it. Thanks for reminding me though that I need to keep my beliefs in an open hand. I see how my frustration can also be self-righteousness.

      • You’re absolutely right, Bryon. I’ve had the same experience when I told people that I was attracted to men but dating a woman, then later married to a woman, etc. Somehow the idea that being OSA and/or married fixes everything is still widely believed in the church. PK Langford addressed this crock of lies in one of his posts. You should check it out if you haven’t already.

  • Great questions, Dean! I juggled watermelons while working toward a masters in psychology and counseling. My twins were not impressed. I share your frustration with the closed minds and the hard hearts. At the same time, many good folks are concerned that embracing other viewpoints sometimes leads to orthodoxy being kicked to the curb. And they will fall on their swords for orthodoxy. That in itself is not so bad a thing, especially if their orthodoxy emphasizes Christ’s love for the lost. When I hear some progressive leaders like Bell, I don’t hear compassion so much as I hear pride. “I am not hateful and ignorant like that rube.” Then again, I would rather listen to Mr. Bell than someone from Westboro Baptist. Orthodoxy is not the only concern though. Some still fear the agenda of gay leaders. We snicker at such notions now. “The only agenda is a desire for marriage equality and mutual respect.” That may certainly true of the couple next door who we must love and respect however unlike us is worldview or sexual practices they are. But we are naive if we think much of the leadership does not look beyond mutual respect to a silencing of all dissent. The intellectual curiosity and flexibility that you espouse is not something that leadership espouses behind the scenes. And they carefully cover their bias and rigidity with silencing and misleading cries of “hate.” We, of course, have to overcome our fear and anger at such tactics to focus on love of the individuals around us.

  • Facing my own same-sex attraction has greatly enhanced my ability to love and respect my LGBT friends (both current friends and future friends–yes I’d like to be deliberate about reaching out to the LGBT community) and the problems they face. I share many things in common with them and that is a starting point to love them well. And that is love with no strings attached. They may never change and I must respect their choices. And I must sincerely love them.
    The primary problem all people have is separation from God and we all need the good news that is found in Jesus Christ. But most people will never listen to that story if they don’t love and respect the bearer of the good news. Same is true for heterosexual or homosexual sinners. All people I know including myself are broken in one way or another. Homosexual brokenness is not some different level of brokenness. It is no better or worse than any other brokenness. Is a heterosexual hook up somehow better or worse than a homosexual hook up? Is a homosexual couple living together better or different from a heterosexual couple living together?
    We need some bold people in our churches today modeling love to all people and our LGBT friends need to know the kind of love that will lead them toward God. Unfortunately so many Christians have bought into one of two extremes with homosexuality: hate the sin and hate the sinner (or) love the sinner and love the sin (by accepting and validating their lifestyle). We can be most biblical if we hate the sin, but love the sinner, as Jesus did with the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11).
    And by golly, the best place to start this kind of radical love and re-education for the church is with Christians who have struggled with their own same-sex attraction. They stand with one foot in both worlds. I put forth the challenge to my other brothers to be instruments of peace and love bridging your Christian communities together in love with the LGBT communities. Jesus certainly ate with sinners…isn’t it time we recognize our own sinfulness and reach out to other sinners with the love and forgiveness we have found in our Savior?

  • Dean, I share your frustrations as I am also in graduate school, for an LPC, taking online courses. We have online discussions, and early on I had a lot of Christian classmates who were adamant about their stance regarding biblical morality and they simply refused to acknowledge there is a professional standard of openness and a commitment to autonomy for a counselee. I brought up my SSA a few times and explained how I felt as a SSA man in the Church. I really wanted them to see that my attractions were not a problem, but rather what I chose to do with them that was the problem. It isn’t any different for an OSA person at all. I don’t think many people see it that way though. I am often the pariah of Christian communities.

  • I feel like this post was written for me. I am that Christian who can’t see through LGBT eyes. I am extremely stunted in my compassion and empathy for other worldviews. I fear the concept of SSA, because I don’t understand it. But I want to understand it. I want to know why God would purpose someone to have these tendencies. I want to understand it from God’s eyes. I want to see a person following a gay or trans or lesbian lifestyle the way Jesus sees and treats them. I want to challenge what I’ve always assumed. This site is helping me. I would hope that some of you guys believe that that’s part of your mission- that because you have these struggles- that you are called by God to teach those in our Church how to love and understand and find compassion for SSA people- those who are in the Church and also nonbelievers. I need your help. Thank you for being willing to bear your soul and wear your heart on your sleeve.

  • Readily admitting to my own stubbornness, I greatly appreciated this posting, Dean.
    What you have said and prayed in this way,
    “I pray often that I never keep my worldview from growing and shifting as I learn more and more. I also pray that I never stop learning.”
    I often say (and pray) in this way:
    “Lord, as this day and age I’m living in grows darker and darker, please don’t let me become one of the ‘most’ who’s love grew cold.”
    (my prayerful response to Matthew 24:12)

    I believe our hearts are both saying the same things there.

  • Dean

    I write under this pseudonym account and do my best to pursue Jesus Christ every day. I fail often, yet I get back up each time. I am married to an incredible woman I call Lisa – she is far better than I deserve. My daughter is one of the greatest joys of my life. And in my spare time, I watch my favorite TV shows and movies, play RPG video games, and hang out with my friends. Yes, I am a nerd and I am proud of it.

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