A Queer Q & A #2

A Queer Q & A #2

This a second prospective from a 56 year old Minster at a United Methodist Church, who grew up in a small town in Ohio struggling to conform. He answers as a man trying to be better everyday no matter what his sexual preference.

Q1.) What is a common misconception about gay people when it comes to religion?

My response would be along the same line as Travis. Many people feel that if you’re gay, you’re cannot be a Christian. That Man Prayingcouldn’t be further from the truth! My religious background has its roots in extreme fundamentalism. It’s for that reason I struggled with my sexuality for so many years. I felt that I could not have a relationship with God if I were gay. I was fortunate to have individuals from the faith community, clergy and laity alike, who journeyed with me and helped me realize that God still loved me and, yes, I could still have a relationship with God. There are many well regarded theologians, teachers, pastors, rabbis, and others who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans-gendered. Heterosexuals do not have the monopoly on religion.

Q2.) Specifically, what religion do you follow?

Well, this question may be somewhat vague. I don’t follow a religion. It’s been said that religion is humankind’s attempt to reach God and that Christianity is God reaching to humankind. So I identify as a Christian or follower of Christ. Now with that being said, I do identify with the United Methodist denomination, as that is where I more align myself in regard to theology and social justice principles.

Q3.) What do you think about churches that try to force gay people to be straight, as they believe that is what God wants?

I personally do not believe you can force gay people to become straight. Although, historically, it’s been done and is still being done in our society. I believe that when a church tries to force anyone to be something other than who they were created to be, it is nothing less than a failed attempt to put a big God in a little box. People are who and what they were meant to be; and nothing, or no one should make them feel ashamed of that. It is not our job as the Church or as human beings to judge one another. The church should be a place where people come to experience God’s love in the midst of a loving community. The church fails totally when they try to decide who can be recipients of that love.

Q4.) Do you view homosexuality as a sin?

I do not. Many individuals and denominations within “The Church” attempt to use Scripture to teach that homosexuality is a sin. However, as with all Scripture, you have to remember that it was written in a specific time period for a specific group of people. It must be taken in the context in which it was written. Many people use the book of Leviticus as their playing field. However, if you are going to use the Levitical Laws today, we better be using them all, not just the ones we pick and choose. If we look at the whole of Scripture, Jesus spoke more about loving each other than a handful of Scripture supposedly about homosexuality.

Q5.) Do you feel if you don’t actively repent in being gay that it enables you to live a life of sin?

I believe this is the way I was created. From the time I was very young I realized I had a same sex attraction. So, why would I feel the need to repent of being gay? With that being said, I do believe that I sin, we all do. I believe when I’m unkind to someone, when I say a harsh word, when I walk by the homeless person on the street without offering them food, those are the sins I need to repent of.

Q6.) Have you seen any churches that you feel are supportive or gay-friendly that you would like to join?

Yes, there are many churches which are gay-friendly and more and more are moving in that direction. Within the United Methodist Church there are networks of churches across the denominations which are a part of the Reconciling Ministries Network. These churches specifically take the position that all people are welcome in their faith community regardless of sexual orientation, ethnicity, race, gender, socio-economic status or disability. Other mainline denominations have similar networks, the United Church of Christ, Episcopal, to name a few.

Q7.) Since you don’t attend church currently, what are some things you do to establish your relationship with God?

I do attend church regularly. I’m the pastor. But regardless, I still maintain a prayerful life, time studying the Bible, mediation and reflection to allow me to grow in my faith.

Q8.) What would you say to a conservative Christian that told you “Your lifestyle will put you in hell?”

I would remind them that Christ died on the cross for all people, and that whoever believes and confesses Jesus Christ has eternal life. (John 3:16) I would also remind them that the Bible says that we are not to judge others. When we judge others, we also will be judged by the same standard of measure. (Matthew 7:1-5)

Q9.) Do you feel that you’ll make it into heaven?

I have no doubt.

Q10.) Why do you think homosexuality is present on Earth?

When I was growing up, specifically in high school, I use to wonder why “God made me this way.” As I have grown in my own theology and understanding of God’s creation, I believe God created a very diverse world. There are different races, cultures, ethnicities, languages…and we could go on. So, I have come to believe that homosexuality is part of that same diversity. Some of the most loving, creative individuals I know are homosexuals. So I believe in the great complexity of God’s creation, God just gave us a lot of really special people!

Q11.) What do you think about gay people that have been convicted and have turned straight due to religion?

I was there. I tried to change. I was always taught it was wrong growing up. I dated women. I married. I had children. But deep down those feelings were still there. Yes, they were suppressed…but eventually the suppression will emerge. It then is our choice to deal with it in a negative or positive way.