Wednesday I had a joyful breakfast with a friend of mine. He and I have a unique connection because he changed my life. This blog wouldn’t exist if he didn’t exist. I always tell him how much I appreciate him, how much he has blessed my life, how grateful I am that he invested in me. He’s one of those people in life to whom you can’t express your gratification for them enough — I feel almost annoying for telling him these things all the time.
He also thinks gay relationships are morally okay.
Let me provide a bit of background to our relationship. If you’ve read “some of Tony’s story,” he’s the guy who, during my freshman year, published an article called “Gay at Wheaton,” which put my life on a new path because it gave me the courage to be open about my sexuality. We emailed back and forth, and then finally got together my sophomore year, about 7 months after he published the article. What he thought would just be a meal together turned into a meet weekly mentoring relationship. There were tears shed, many prayers, and a lot of truth spoken. The Holy Spirit did a lot of work through our relationship, and I became a different person.
That summer, through another friend, I found out that he had decided that gay romantic relationships were okay.
I was crushed. I was angry. As soon as I found this out, I went walking on a trail near my house and uttered a lot of choice words that I won’t share on here. I also called him and left a voicemail; I don’t really remember what I said, I think I exercised a lot of self-control, though.
I felt like my entire worldview had been shattered. Pretty much most of what I had come to believe about homosexuality was what this guy had believed. And yet I didn’t want to think gay relationships were okay, so for this guy to come to this conclusion threw me into a tailspin. I wondered if everything I believed was wrong and if I would end up with a similar conclusion as him. It also meant that our mentoring relationship was over. It’s not that there can’t be mentoring relationships with people who disagree about something, but just given the dynamics of our relationship this was too important of an issue for me to still think of him as a mentor.
It just felt like the person I looked up to the most had let me down. While he probably could have talked to me sooner about everything, he didn’t let me down. It was his right to come to this decision. And it turned out that he was wrestling with this the entire time he was mentoring me, but he intentionally (and wisely) kept it from me. If he had been more open about his doubts, I don’t think I would have let him help me in other areas of my life.
After I got back from the trail, I called up one of my friends and bawled to her for maybe 20 minutes on the phone. Then I crawled into my bed, prayed to Jesus to help me, and fell asleep for maybe 45 minutes.
When I woke up, I felt much better. (By the way, I process things very fast). And the first thought that came to my mind was, “Tony, it’s time for you to own up on your beliefs. No longer can you believe simply what your mentor believes. You have to believe what you believe.” This was the first time I felt like my beliefs about homosexuality were my own.
Now two(ish) years later, I got to enjoy fellowship with my Christian brother. Yes, I said Christian brother. I know people that would have problems with that. I know people that think if you’re a Christian, you can’t think gay relationships are okay much less be in one yourself!
But I just simply can’t believe this. I have to believe that these people are still Christians – they profess Christ and believe that He died and rose for them.
How can I think these people aren’t Christians when I see the fruit of the spirit in their lives? When I see their visible love for Jesus? When I feel supported and loved as a fellow a Christian?
I will believe they are still Christians, and I think it is dangerous and asking for judgment on me to reflexively think otherwise. Even though I do think their biblical interpretation and theology of homosexuality are incorrect, don’t we all have beliefs and ways we live our lives that are incorrect? Aren’t I asking judgment of my own salvation if I judge the salvation of someone else because we disagree on the morality of something?
Also, how can I claim that I 100% know that I’m right? What if my biblical interpretation is wrong? I don’t think it is but what if?
Some people will say, “But Christians in gay relationships have unrepentant sin, so they must not be a Christian.” I don’t really understand this. Even if they do have unrepentant sin for being in a gay relationship, don’t we all have unrepentant sin in our lives? Wouldn’t it be fairly arrogant of me to claim that I am repentant of all my sin so I’m a Christian, but so-and-so in a gay relationship clearly aren’t so they aren’t Christians?
I think God’s grace is bigger than we can ever imagine. I do think it only comes through Jesus Christ and His death on the Cross, but I think when we start building boundaries about to whom His grace applies, we are stepping into the territory of God’s authority.
I’m not saying that I think all churches should ordain gay relationships; I think, just like so many issues, we can have disagreement. And I haven’t clearly worked out whether or not a church that doesn’t endorse gay romantic relationsihps should bar or remove someone from membership who is in one. There’s a lot of ecclesiology issues related to homosexuality that need to be worked out.
But I do know, that as my former mentor was saying on Wednesday, that Christ has called His Church to unity. And I think that, even when it comes to difference of opinion concerning gay relationships, we can still have unity and still call each other brother and sister. Sure, I will still express my opinion, I will still argue my position, but I will never question someone’s salvation because of their beliefs about homosexuality. I know this is controversial, I’m just saying what I currently believe to be true. From knowing them, I just can’t think that these people I know, who affirm or are in gay relationships, aren’t Christians.