Gay evangelical Christians in NC


The New York Times has a wonderful little piece today, “Gay and Evangelical, Seeking Paths of Acceptance.”

The article profiles numerous gay evangelical Christians, many of which are from North Carolina or living in North Carolina now; the profile of Raleigh native Justin Lee, founder of GayChristian.net, is the focus of the article.

Here are the snippets:

Justin Lee believes that the Virgin birth was real, that there is a heaven and a hell, that salvation comes through Christ alone and that he, the 29-year-old son of Southern Baptists, is an evangelical Christian.

Just as he is certain about the tenets of his faith, Mr. Lee also knows he is gay, that he did not choose it and cannot change it.

To many people, Mr. Lee is a walking contradiction, and most evangelicals and gay people alike consider Christians like him horribly deluded about their faith. “I’ve gotten hate mail from both sides,” said Mr. Lee, who runs gaychristian.net, a Web site with 4,700 registered users that mostly attracts gay evangelicals.

“A lot of people are freaked out because their only exposure to evangelicalism was a bad one, and a lot ask, ‘Why would you want to be part of a group that doesn’t like you very much?’ ” Mr. Lee said. “But it’s not about membership in groups. It’s about what I believe. Just because some people who believe the same things I do aren’t very loving doesn’t mean I stop believing what I do.”

For some gay evangelicals, their faith in God helped them override the biblical restrictions people preached to them. One lesbian who attends Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh said she grew up in a devout Southern Baptist family and still has what she calls the “faith of a child.” When she figured out at 13 that she was gay, she believed there must have been something wrong with the Bible for condemning her.

“I always knew my own heart: that I loved the Lord, I loved Jesus, loved the church and felt the Spirit move through me when we sang,” said the woman, who declined to be identified to protect her partner’s privacy. “I felt that if God created me, how is that wrong?”

Mr. Lee said he and his family, who live in Raleigh, have been through almost all of it. His faith was central to his life from an early age, he said. He got the nickname Godboy in high school. But because of his attraction to other boys, he wept at night and begged God to change him. He was certain God would, but when that did not happen, he said, it called everything into question.

He knew no one who was gay who could help, and he could not turn to his church. So for a year, Mr. Lee went to the library almost every day with a notebook and the bright blue leather-bound Bible his parents had given him. He set up his Web site to tell his friends what he was learning through his readings, but e-mail rolled in from strangers, because, he says, other gay evangelicals came to understand they were not alone.

“I told them I don’t have the answers,” Mr. Lee said, “but we can pray together and see where God takes us.”

But even when they accept themselves, gay evangelicals often have difficulty finding a community. They are too Christian for many gay people, with the evangelical rock they listen to and their talk of loving God. Mr. Lee plans to remain sexually abstinent until he is in a long-term, religiously blessed relationship, which would make him a curiosity in straight and gay circles alike.

Clyde Zuber, 49, and Martin Fowler, 55, remember sitting on the curb outside Lakeview Baptist Church in Grand Prairie, Tex., almost 20 years ago, Sunday after Sunday, reading the Bible together, after the pastor told them they were not welcome inside. The men met at a Dallas church and have been together 23 years. In Durham, N.C., they attend an Episcopal church and hold a Bible study for gay evangelicals every Friday night at their home.

“Our faith is the basis of our lives,” said Mr. Fowler, a soft-spoken professor of philosophy. “It means that Jesus is the Lord of our household, that we resolve differences peacefully and through love.”

Their lives seem a testament to all that is changing and all that holds fast among evangelicals. Their parents came to their commitment ceremony 20 years ago, their decision ultimately an act of loyalty to their sons, Mr. Zuber said.

But Mr. Zuber’s sister and brother-in-law in Virginia remain convinced that the couple is sinning. “They’re worried we’re going to hell,” Mr. Zuber said. “They say, ‘We love you, but we’re concerned.’ ”

Read the full article.

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Comments
5 Responses to “Gay evangelical Christians in NC”
  1. Bob Struly says:

    “But it’s not about membership in groups. It’s about what I believe. Just because some people who believe the same things I do aren’t very loving doesn’t mean I stop believing what I do.”

    Got to admire that.

  2. Matt says:

    I would guess that quote is a perfect embodiment of the thoughts and feelings of many gay Christians.

  3. DJ says:

    I have also found myself the center of ridicule because of what I believe, the schools I went to and my religious faith. I am also a Christian and am the product of a conservative Baptist upbringing. I even went to one of the most conservative religious universities in the country.

    The thing I find most striking is that most of the gay community is willing to throw out the baby with the bath water when it comes to religion. They find all religious faith appalling because of the actions and beliefs of a few zealots. They believe that religion comes from a place of worship in stead of from the heart. It ultimately comes down to what an individual believes and not by following the group mentality.

  4. Matt says:

    I agree DJ…

    I, too, grew up in a conservative Baptist home. For the most part, my family (including extended family) hasn’t changed their conservativeness, even if they have changed denominations (Baptist to Wesleyan or Methodist) over time.

    In my first two years at UNCG I faced a lot of criticism for my quite outspoken nature of being a Christian and always willing to speak on issues of being gay and in the church. A lot of the gay folks (although no where near all) at UNCG just didn’t seem to like the idea of discussing Christianity at all. I also found myself being the butt-end of a lot of contempt whenever I would speak out against statements like “Those damned Christians (fill in the blank)… ”

    At the same time, however, I was first experiencing the freedom that came with being in college and, most importantly, being out of my family’s house and out from under their rules and expectations. Needless to say, I made a lot of mistakes that ended up making my life miserable on the inside because at some level I knew that my behavior was wrong and definitely didn’t match up to the spiritual standards I had for myself and with which I had grown up (PS – I’m not talking about being gay in and of itself). I’m just starting to realize this school year and now that those mistakes are just that… youthful mistakes… and that they don’t have to stop me from making good decisions now and that I don’t have to look back on them and fret for my salvation; all can be forgiven.

    For any religion, not just Christianity, in which LGBT people have been condemned for so long by church rulers and officials, it is tough for LGBT people to reconcile their deeply held faith and their selves, as children of God. It is a journey all of us must make and in the end, we all have to make the best choices for our lives.

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