John Alan Turner

Writer, Theologian, Consultant, Speaker, Teacher

"Just As I Am" Unless You're Gay

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again here. I do not believe that anyone chooses to be gay. Who in their right mind would choose to be ostracized from mainstream society? I don’t know what causes homosexual orientation, and I am certainly not going to be the judge of that. I will say that, in my opinion, homosexual behavior does not honor God, but manipulation, intimidation and love with strings attached don’t either.

Now, Dennis has heard me say all this and more, and his response is to say that he doesn’t believe evangelical Christianity is a lifestyle that honors God, either. So…perhaps we’re even.

He also takes issue with my characterization of same-sex eroticism as a lifestyle. He’s quick to point out that he and Todd (his husband) really love each other – it’s not just sex. In fact, he says sex is a very small part of their bond.

I believe him. I really do. I also agree when he says, “Most of the political force of modern Christianity is based on a sense of superiority that comes from judging – other religions, other faiths, other life experiences. This seems to be a modern sense of Christian behavior, and ultimately, it lacks any sense of respect or humility…it is not very Christ-like, in my view.”

He’s right again. Christians have too often taken a shortcut to power, circumnavigating service, choosing strength over weakness, demonstrating hostility rather than humility, proposing a cultural war instead of pursuing cultural healing.

Dennis believes God made him the way he is. He believes it’s scientific, biological. He also said something I found interesting. He says:

“As to living ‘a lifestyle of homosexuality’, well, that’s a different matter. You can certainly decide to fight your own biology, I guess. Left-handed people can learn to write with their right hand, blondes can dye their hair black, and gays can live an outward appearance of straightness. Gay men can have sex with women (I certainly have), marry them, have kids.

“Straight people could do the same. You could leave your wife today and enter into a relationship with a man, have sex with him, buy a house together, start working in the gay churches across the country, marry him, adopt kids, etc. It’s certainly possible for you to be outwardly gay.

“Except for one thing.

“You’d know it was a lie. It isn’t you. You don’t fall in love that way. You’re not wired that way. Yes, you could go to ex-straight groups and convince yourself, through shaming techniques and groupthink, that being straight was unnatural. You might even be able to lie to yourself. Many have.

“But the truth is, you’ll never be able to undo the way God made you. Your biology is a divine gift. God built you.

“So when you talk about my life not ‘honoring God’, I have to say that I disagree. It would dishonor God, I think, to deny His truth and the way that I was created. To pretend I was straight – to marry someone I don’t love, to have sex (which I think is divine, in both senses of the word) in a way that defiles His intention – that would be the ultimate betrayal to God.

“Certainly, there are things that are wrong: casual sex, perversion, pedophilia, or as you say, corruption, hypocrisy, etc. Both gay and straight people are guilty of all these sins, and it is important to live our lives with a moral compass.

“But being gay, in and of itself, is not a sin. Indeed, it is derived by He from whom all blessings flow.

“IMHO. The sermon is ended, my friend. Go in peace, and thanks for being such a great discussion partner.”

This is not, by the way, where the conversation ended. This is just the end of this sermon. Other sermons have followed – from both of us! But, I think it’s important for us to see some things in Dennis’s passionate speech here.

First, Dennis isn’t a terrible person. He’s not criminally insane. He doesn’t want to bring us into a one-world government where we coronate the anti-Christ and do away with all references to religion. He’s a nice guy who has a moral compass.

A lot of what he’s been told about Christians is wrong. But that is a two-way street, friends. A lot of what you’ve heard about gay people is also wrong. They’re people. Many of them pray and read their Bibles and would love to enjoy some Christian fellowship and a good, helpful sermon every once in a while.

But they don’t feel welcome in our churches.

We’ll sing “Just As I Am”, but it’s fairly well understood that we only mean those words unless you’re gay. If you’re gay, you have to change first. Coming just as you are simply won’t cut it.

I don’t know how far the grace of God extends, and I’m sure that Jesus was correct in Matthew 25. There will be a lot of surprises on Judgment Day. People I thought were out will be in and vice-versa. Let’s stop the exclusivistic, judgmental stuff. Preach Jesus, proclaim the gospel. Leave judgment in the hands of God.