Gay are called to bring message of redemption

I met Tommy (not his real name) back in the 1980s at our local church where I served as deacon and Sunday school teacher. We became close friends and talked about many things. Both of us being young and single, not surprisingly one day our conversation turned to sex.

I shared my struggles with my commitment to celibacy. Tommy shared that he too struggled with sexual temptation. For him, however, the temptation was for other males.

Taught by a loving congregation that being a Christian meant that homosexuality is a sin, I was aghast to learn that Tommy was gay. Being dear friends, however, shunning him was not an option, so I did as I had been taught.

I asked Tommy if he wanted to break free from the bondage of sin. I asked him if he repented from his sins, took Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior and believed that through the power of prayer he could become a new creature in Christ. With tears in his eyes he said yes. I asked him if he wanted to be a heterosexual. “Dear God Almighty, yes,” he burst out before emotionally breaking down.

I agreed to be his spiritual partner in the struggle against the evils of homosexuality. We covenanted to pray together. We fasted. We cast out the demon of homosexuality. If anyone ever truly wanted to be a heterosexual, if anyone ever truly humbled himself before God to faithfully live a Christian life, it was Tommy.

Years went by and, you know what? Tommy was still gay. Tommy did not change, but I did. For me it came down to either God was powerless to save a willing believer from her or his sins, or maybe, just maybe, I had been taught to read the Bible through the eyes of oppressors, regardless of how loving and sincere these oppressors appeared to be.

Irrespective of how earnest and caring Christians may actually be, their use of the Bible to advocate hate, disgust and fear toward homosexuals makes them the heirs of those who previously used the Bible to persecute women and marginalize racial and ethnic groups.

Like their spiritual ancestors who hanged independent-thinking women on the charge of witchcraft, enslaved Africans, stole the land of Mexicans and denied women basic voting rights, the folks at my church sincerely understood their faith in ways that oppressed and dishonored brothers and sisters also created in the image of God.

How then can we break from the overarching sin of heterosexism? Tommy’s failure to become a heterosexual led me to do what every good Bible-thumping, born-again, Spirit-filled Christian does when faced with an obvious contradiction between reality and the Bible. I returned to the text.

But this time, I attempted to read the text not from my position of heterosexual privilege, but through the eyes of those on the margins due to their sexual orientation. What I needed in approaching the Bible was a Queer Eye for the Straight Baptist.

This is why the Christian church, for the sake of its own salvation, needs the LGBTIQ community of faith. Voices of the sexual outcast, marginalized because of their orientation, are needed by heterosexual believers so that God’s holy word does not become imprisoned by the social location of heterosexuals.

Those who are gay are being called by God to bring a message of redemption and salvation to a church that is out to oppress and destroy them. This may sound unfair, but this has always been the way God operates.

God has historically chosen those from the margins of society to be agents of God’s new creation. As Matthew 21:42 reminds us, it is the stone rejected by the builders that becomes the keystone of God’s handiwork.

This theme of solidarity between the crucified Christ and the victims of oppression makes the people of the margins agents of salvation for the recipients of society’s power and privilege.

This article originally appeared on the ABPnews website on May 16, 2012.

 

Miguel De La Torre

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Miguel De La Torre is professor of social ethics and Latino/a studies at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver and an ordained Baptist minister.

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  • david sweet

    There is a false tension:  homosexual and lost or heterosexual and saved.  There are many times that people are celebate when they are naturally sexually driven:  some marriages in which the partner is unable to have sex, singles, widows, etc. etc.  You put up a false view of salvation, by associating salvation almost completely with turning heterosexual.  True salvation is turning Christ’s way and submitting choices and how we handle temptations to Him–it is not a guarantee that our deep-seated, sexual attractions, obsessions, addictions, etc won’t attempt to draw us back.  Alcoholics and sexaholics have the same experience of sincere heart-felt prayer for deliverance, only to find themselves drawn back into the trap.  Not unusual.  But the target is not heteriosexuality.  It is faithfulness to the Christ who gives you His Spirit. If you put up such a straw man as “conversion to heterosexuality”–it’s easy then to make the case you make for giving up our efforts to call homosexual acts, a sin.

  • weezedaly

    I am also a born-again, spirit filled believer who prayed for 25 years to be changed.  Homosexual attraction never changed, but my acceptance of who I am did.  I finally realized that I am who Jesus made me to be.  Interestingly people often speak of the “bondage” of homosexuality.  Honestly, it has only been since I studied the verses in the original Hebrew and Greek that I came into true freedom.  I found out that the word “sodomite” neither means “one from sodom” nor “one who copulates anally.”  Sodomite in Hebrew is “sacred one.”  That is not so say these people were holy, but rather that they held the office of priesthood.  They were in a fertility cult which engaged in heterosexual and  homosexual orgiastic worship. They also engaged in bestiality and the sacrifice of their children.  They offered their “seed” to the fertility gods (males implanting males)  Seed (semen) was planted in females, seed was exchanged among animals, and the ultimate seed (one’s child) was offered in fire sacrifice. Remember the god Molech?  THIS was the condemnation in scripture.  Go check out the Leviticus scripture condemning man lying with man.  It is sandwiched between these fertility cult practices.  Look at the Romans condemnation of homoerotic acts.  They too are in the context of idol worship (read all of chapter one, not just the verses toward the end)  My relationship with Christ is stronger than ever.  I no longer feel oppressed.  Whom the Son has set free is free indeed!  Here is a thorough study on the subject; one that analyzes the original text, not human influenced translations. (No I did not write it, and yes it is completely free)  http://www.dr-joseph-adam-pearson.com/CHR.pdf