You may remember a post titled "Being Gay Is A Gift From God" that was inspired by an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show that appeared on this blog a few weeks ago. Like Oprah's message board, the debate in the comment section of this post became pretty intense. One particular comment stood out to me from a 43 year old reader named Clientel. I also mention his comment here. Clientel believes his sexual orientation is "his cross to bear" and has accepted what he calls a "lonely and hurtful existence" as God's will for his life. I've been where Clientel is on his spiritual journey and my heart immediately ached for him.
I get e-mails all the time from gay men who ares struggling to reconcile their sexuality with their faith as well as people who desire to challenge my understanding of scripture regarding homosexuality. I've always declined to participate in theological debates because I find it emotionally draining and often times pointless, not to mention I've never been formally trained in theology.
Enter my friend and today's guest blogger Pastor Troy Sanders. He has been formally trained and is one of the most dynamic ministers that I've ever encountered. Pastor Sanders has written a response to Clientel and to anyone struggling to reconcile their sexuality with their faith. Get into it below and feel free to let the comments flow.
Brought Back By A Love I Still Can't Fathom!
Guest Blogger: Pastor Troy Sanders
It hasn’t been that long ago that I too remember being in that place (and on that same journey) you described regarding reconciling one’s spirituality (faith in Jesus Christ) and one’s sexuality (living my life as an openly black gay preacher). Being raised in the church as long as I can remember, I started preaching at the age of 12. While on the journey to loving God (or so I thought), I actually found out that I was hating myself even more.While there is a very tangible temptation to have this discussion from the lenses of theological interpretation of Scripture alongside the falsities that time, culture, society, and oppressive religious paradigms place on us,I will resist that notion (as best I can ~ I can’t guarantee it though) and
speak from my heart.
I must begin, however, by saying as far back as the Roman Emperor Constantine and his dangerous, deadly, and often times down right disastrous conquest to control people through faith (and further back for other faith traditions), people have misrepresented the message of Jesus Christ to support oppression in all forms: namely the subjugation of women, the abuse
of children, slavery, and certainly Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender people. However, one cannot encounter the ministry of Jesus Christ without seeing that Christ has always stood on the side of the oppressed and the
We should also remember, that it wasn’t very long ago in our African American History (shouting out to those powerful men and women who laid the foundation for us to even have this dialogue) that “white slave masters” used the words of Paul and biblical text like (Colossians 3:22) that literally endorsed slavery, not to mention that in many Christian churches 20 years ago, women couldn’t preach as a result of passages like (1 Timothy 2:12) and women in church/ministry today are still suffering from the misogynistic after affects of biblical patriarchy. However, it always amazes me that we (especially black folks) didn’t need permission to reinterpret “slave narrative” biblical texts in light of culture and society. However, we remain enslaved when it comes to homophobia in thechurch. (I told you I would try ~ lol).
Notwithstanding all that, it grieves my heart that like you, I almost gave up on ministry and God because of what church folks told me about a Christ who called me into a loving relationship with him. You see, when all else fails lets ask the hard questions people:
1. Does God hate me because I’m Black, a bit on the thick side (lol), or bald headed? Of course not!!! Why then would we think that God would call us to deny the beauty of who we are and what God made us. Equally noting that those who hold the premise that homosexuality is a “learned behavior” or even “a choice” have limited knowledge about how same gender sexuality demonstrates itself not just in humans but also in the animal kingdom. Is heterosexuality a “learned behavior”? I wonder how many heterosexuals choose to love they way they do?
2. Would God hear your earnest petitions to be different and not answer you if it was His will? You see like my brother, I remember praying for deliverance, seeking therapy, going on fasts, even having what I thought was the “devil casted out of me” in response to my inability to embrace the truth that the object of my sexuality/affectional attraction was of the same gender. It wasn’t until I had to face the beautiful (but then quite painful) reality that the failure wasn’t in God or God’s ability to help me it was in the faultiness of my request. I was asking for something that stemmed from “self hatred” and “religious misunderstandings”. I was asking God to repent for making me the attractive, intelligent, beautiful gay brother God had made me.
How then did I move from that place to this place of affirmation and faith in Jesus Christ. First, no preacher, deacon, church, denomination, or dictator has the right to judge your relationship with God and how that plays out. Take Your Power Back! Secondly, everything people say God says isn’t really true (especially in a day and age where we hear God said marry this one, or wear this color). Christ calls believers to walk in love and do justice for all those that are oppressed. Don’t Believe The Hype!
Lastly, find you a support system that first loves themselves, God’s people, and are liberated from the religious bondage that we have been subjugated to. There are believers (Christians) who live everyday in the light and love God with all their hearts. Feel free to email me and I can connect you with churches and people all over the country and across all denominational lines that can speak this truth to you. Get Free My Brother! Not from who you are and what you feel, but from who you’re not.
In conclusion, I admonish you and others (like those millions of preachers, teachers, prophets, evangelist, pastors, leaders, choir members, singers, musicians, etc who speak a truth by day that they have yet to live by night) to resist the notion to be inauthentic in the house of God. If there is anything God calls us to walk in it would first be TRUTH!.
Loving The God That Loves You & Fearfully Made You ,
Pastor Troy Sanders, M.A.C.M, M.Div.
Pastor Troy Sanders received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Beulah Heights Bible College and a dual Master's of Divinity and Masters of Art degree at the Interdenominational Theological Center (Atlanta, GA). He is on the ministerial staff at Victory for the World Church in Stone Mountain, Georgia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org