Does Jesus empathize with the Gay crowd?
I read this book recently by Justin Lee. It is called “Torn”. He is a about 35 now, and he describes his early years as growing up in a good evangelical home and having a good relationship with his parents. In high school he was nick-named by those peers who were not really his closest supporters, as the “God-Boy”. He was ok with this as he was very keen to be an ambassador for Christ and fulfill the ‘great commission’. He dated a close female friend through most of high school and for a year afterwards. However, the curveball he received in his life hit him during this time. He started noticing a change in his desires, and realized that he might be more sexually attracted to men then women. He tried very hard to ignore these impulses. Eventually he told his girlfriend, and his parents. He experienced some fairly unsympathetic responses from his Christian community outside of his family and girlfriend. The story goes on to tell about his journey and search for truth through theological ideologies, and different Christian ministries that promised to take away his desires. Finally he explores his own search of scripture. He so wanted to find away to rid himself of his bodies desires, and live in God’s blessing. What an amazing read. Very enlightening. He wasn’t only feeling rejection from the Christian groups, but also from the pro-gay groups. He would not consider himself to be like the people some of us have seen in the ‘gay pride parades’. He states that he is more conservative. After what sounded like an exhaustive search, he realized how lonely he felt. He started a website to develop a small social network of supportive friends. However, it turned out that the need for this social support was so in demand, that his website has grown into a fulltime position. I have joined his website community. I don’t have homosexual desires. I am very heterosexual in my nature. However, I joined it because I believe that Jesus wanted me to join it. Their are a lot of people there looking for the same thing as me. They are looking for community, acceptance, support, empathy, and deep friendships. I think this book is a must read for any Christian person who desires to be authentic, relevant, and fulfilling the golden rule.
Justin premises his motto as the ‘rescuing the Gospel from the Gays vs Christians debate’. This is a tough challenge as both sides can be very sensitive regarding their passionate perspectives. He supports this perspective throughout his story with convincing evidence. He states that there has been confusion over the definition of what being gay means, and defines ‘Gay’ as someone who has romantic same sex desires, but doesn’t necessarily act on them. Someone who acts on these desires romantically/sexually is someone who is actively living a gay lifestyle.
What is our Response?
I gave a copy of this book to one of my pastors. I haven’t promoted my opinion, but I have suggested to close friends of mine that they read his book. My job requires me to work with teens and their families, and this issue is a common challenge. I need to know how to respond, and what my convictions are. I believe that a lot of the churches have missed the boat on this issue. I don’t think that Justin is saying he has the answer, and I’m not sure I do either. But I do know that we as the church must do a better job of ministering to these people with empathy. Empathy means trying on their shoes, and really understanding their perspective, without telling them how they should feel. We as the church need to be better listeners. Read his story…listen to others. When I went through his theological exploration with him, I started to question some of my previous conclusions. I must admit that it is still a mystery to me, but I am not as sure what the bible says about it anymore. The most important thing I have concluded from his story, is that we as the church may be too focused on the Gay-Christian debate, and need to be doing a better job of displaying grace, understanding, and love in action with respect to the gay community. What are your experiences?