Dear Youth Pastor (Because You Have LGBTQ Students In Your Youth Group)

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Dear Youth Pastor,

I get you.
 
I mean, I totally get you.
 
I’ve spent nearly the last two decades neck-deep in the loud, stinking, glorious, electrifying trenches of student ministry along with you:
 
650 Sundays
1300 youth meetings.
35 weekend retreats
15 leadership conferences
12 mission trips
1 million slices of pizza, give or take a thousand.
1 very ill-advised lock-in.
Too many ruined carpets to count.

 
I’ve rented the vans and driven the vans and sprayed out the vans.
I’ve been awakened in the middle of the night by frantic phone calls and urgent texts.
I’ve been to hundreds of band recitals, soccer games, and art shows, of varying levels of tolerability.
I’ve counseled and prayed with and laughed with and served alongside thousands of incredible young people.
I’ve cleaned up after them and yelled at them been berated by them and been amazed by them.
I’ve baptized them and taught them and grieved with them and celebrated with them.
I’ve officiated at their weddings and at their funerals.

So trust me when I tell you that I understand, that I believe in you and in what you do.

And it’s because I know your road so well, and how critically important you are in the lives of young people, that I need to tell you this:
 
You have LGBTQ kids in your youth group.
 
Of course, there’s a chance that you may not know that yet. 

They may still not feel close enough to you or trust you enough to share that secret truth with you. They may be sitting quietly at the edges of the room, watching you, listening to you, looking for something in you that lets them know they’re safe with you in a way that they’ve never felt safe in the Church. 

This week they may be visiting your youth group for the very first time—or for the very last time.

They may be giving you one chance or one last chance.

As they sit across the room from you, their faith, their hope for this life, and their belief in the character and goodness of God may be hanging by the very thinnest of threads—and you get to be that thread.

So pastor: I need you to get this right.

I’m not talking about “right theology”. I’m not talking about your exegesis of Romans 1, or whether you think that being LGBTQ is a choice or not, or about having a handful of Scriptures prepared that you can quote to them should they come to you and come out to you.

Most of them have already heard those Scriptures a few hundred times before, and they realized whether or not this was a choice far before they ever met you. You see, this staggering revelation about them may be new to you, but it has been their story long before they choose to share it with you.

And they need something more than your theology; more than a doctrine or some hate the sin, love the sinner platitude. In fact, they don’t need something from you at all.

They need you.

They need Jesus, formed in your flawed flesh right in front of them.

Regardless of your faith perspective or your hermeneutic or your breakdown of the “clobber passages” of the Bible, they need you to make Jesus tangible and touchable, in real-time—now.

They need to taste the Grace that points them to the Giver, and you can whet their appetites with simple compassion. 

I’m talking about seeing them, knowing them, and loving them in a way that makes them feel truly loved; not in a way that claims to be love or promises to be love—but one that simply is love.

You know what it’s like when you are really loved; when words aren’t really necessary. 

This isn’t about having the right words. They’re pretty tough to come by anyway.

This is about making one of those scared, hurting, wounded children feel that they matter, that they are valuable, that they are worth your time; about making them feel that when they are in your presence that they are in the very presence of Jesus.

He had a way of leveling (or rather elevating) the entire world that he encountered; of treating both beggar and priest as equals. He broke bread with religious leaders and caressed the hands of the leper. The people in his path were all marked by the same compassion and kindness and closeness and consideration.

Let these young people be marked by those same things.

Show them the greatest commandments over and over again, realizing that this is your most pressing calling with them as with any student in your care; not fixing or converting or changing, but loving.

I know you do this very difficult work because you do love God and because you love students; because you understand the great urgency, the confusion, the daily struggle with self-worth, the incredible vulnerability of this time. The LGBTQ teens you will rub shoulders with this week are experiencing this in ways that you can’t imagine.

They live with a far higher chance of wounding themselves or killing themselves than other teenagers. They are likely to be straddled with addictions they’ve grasped to try and cope with terrible pain. They are far more likely to be expelled from their Christian homes and alienated from Christian community.

They rarely feel able to let the truest parts of themselves be seen, and so they spend much of their time hiding in plain sight—especially in the Church.

They live in a place always kept largely in shadow, but you can let the light in. 

When Jesus sees the crowds in Matthew 9, he reminds his disciples that the people are “harassed and helpless” like sheep without a shepherd, and he calls them to go and to be the protectors, the caregivers, the holders, the defenders, the lovers of his sheep.

Do that, pastor.

Go and be the one who keeps the wolves away.

Step boldly into the space of all of the students in your midst, and make them know a fraction of the depth of Jesus’ love for them by the way you love them.

Not just some of them, not just the ones you’re comfortable with, not just the ones who seem to get it—and not just the cisgender ones.

You may not know that you have LGBTQ students in your youth group, but if they find the courage to share that truth with you: celebrate.

Celebrate that despite the condemnation and the hurt they may have experienced at the hands of Christians for their entire lives, they are still there fighting to get close enough to Jesus to touch the hem on his robe and stop the bleeding.

Give them a front row seat to a Jesus that can be reached.

Celebrate that a young person so trusts you, that they are willing to tear themselves open and show you the most tender parts of who they are; braving pain and worry and the scalding fear that you too will reject them once you know their truth.

Refuse to let their fears become fact. Stay. Insist that they stay, too.

Celebrate that you find yourself face-to-face with a teenager who finds in you, something so good and so compassionate and so loving, that they want you to know them completely.

That is incredibly holy ground, so tread it with reverence.

My friend, you are on the front lines of a bloody war that you need to win; not a distant, faceless “culture war”, not a battle of differing ideologies, not a theological debate on an issue.

This war is far closer than that. It’s right in front of you. You can hold this one in your hand.

It’s one fought as all wars truly are, with individual, beautiful, flawed human beings in the balance.

The LGBTQ students you will sit across from this week are worth fighting for, and you won’t win them with a Scripture quote or a quick prayer or by making ultimatums or by keeping your distance or by casting them out.

You will win by drawing closer, by hearing their hearts and learning their stories and sitting with their pain.

You’ll win this war by showing them a kindness and decency that they may find no other place in this world.

You will win, when you have no agenda with them other than setting the table for them to meet with Jesus, and trusting Him to do whatever he desires to do in and around and through their lives.

This is the truth of what you are called to, with any child within your care.

Pastor, you do have LGBTQ kids in your youth group right now.

Be grateful if they tell you so.

And when they do, love them well.

I’m in your corner, if you need me to help you figure out how.

Be encouraged.

 

 

 

243 thoughts on “Dear Youth Pastor (Because You Have LGBTQ Students In Your Youth Group)

  1. This post gives me goosebumps. You have given youth pastors one heck of a challenge…I hope some of them are up to it. These kids need everything you talk about, especially the unconditional Christ like love. Amazing. Necessary. Important. Life changing.

  2. John:
    As usual: Thank you!
    .
    Oh, and, especially thank you for this:
    “They need Jesus, formed in your flawed flesh, right in front of them.”
    and this:
    “Go and be the one who keeps the wolves away.”
    and this, too:
    “You will win, when you have no agenda with them, other than setting the table for them to meet with Jesus, and trusting Him to do whatever he desires to do, in and around, and through their lives.”
    .
    Everyone:
    John follows that last line with this:
    “This is the truth of what you are called to, with any child within your care.”
    John is doing a great job targeting one facet of the diamond of humanity:
    In this moment, John is standing for our beautiful Queer kids, who need Jesus to show up for them, through us.
    .
    I would like to point-out that everything John said applies to Everyone we meet:
    John is explicating the truth of what we are called to, with every person, every where, every time…
    to actually Love and care-for the women and men that Jesus loves, no exceptions.
    .
    Thanks for listening, Wendy

  3. Let me say to you again, I LOVE YOU! I blog stalk you because youu give me hope. I was raised in the church, the preachers daughter. I loved Christianity. Until my son told the world he was gay. Then Christianity became something I have been embarrassed to be part of. If judging and hurting children in the name of Jesus is being a Christian. I don’t want any part of it. You remind me of the good that can be found in church. Thank you for that.

    • When my daughter disclosed that she was gay, I didn’t know what to do with it. It was obviously not something she chose. It was how God made her. And if He made her this way, how could He condemn her for being as He made her? I still don’t know what to do with it, so I gave it back to God. I am her mother, not her judge. It’s my job to love her and support her. God can deal with the rest.

      She loves God, but the church has driven her out. I have very real issues with that. How dare they!

      Jesus is not the problem, never has been the problem. Christianity can handle this. Just too many “Christians” have no idea what Christianity is really about. Love God, love your son, love the idiots around you and don’t worry about the rest.

      • I love your statement. If more people would live like this, we would have a lot less angry kids out there!!! My son is living his own life now, he says he is gay, but there is never a day that goes by that I don’t love him and pray for him!!!

      • God didn’t make anybody homosexual. This is a lie straight out of Hell. God does not make mistakes – at the same time, nobody chooses to be homosexual, either. There are numerous environmental factors that play into it, and they can be overcome only by the intervention of God, with the support of the church and the parents. But to think that God would create people for the purpose of explicitly engaging in behavior that He condemns is a dangerous lie.

        • Stacey.

          You’ll have to help us understand hope you choose your heterosexuality, and the environmental factors that led you to that “behavior”. I would love to hear your detailed story of choosing to be straight.

          By the way, what is homosexual “behavior”? Is it a sex act? If so, does the attraction, desire, inclination to love a person of the same sex also constitute “sin”?

          Jesus says that if we lust with our eyes, we are guilty of adultery, which means the thoughts are as sinful as the act. If you say that being gay is OK, just not the “acting on it”, you’re essentially say all gay people are doomed either way, since they will still have the desires.

          Are you asking gay people, in addition to not engage in sexual acts, to not be attracted to others of the same sex?

          • To be sexually attracted to a member of the same sex is not a sin. Engaging in homosexual acts is sinful because that person is choosing to follow through on his or her thoughts or feelings. It is not a sin to have certain thoughts, but it is how a person deals with those thoughts that constitute whether or not it is a sin. I can look at someone and acknowledge that that person is cute and attractive to me. That is obviously not sinful. If I take those thoughts in a lustful direction, then I have committed a sin. Those that have homosexual tendencies, God is calling them to live lives of chastity. Not everything in life has to do with our sexual orientation. I can live my life as a single person without needing to engage in sexual behavior. I can still lead a fulfilling life!

        • This kind of ignorance is why so many LGBTQ people have no use for the church or Christians. As the mother of a gay son I say educate yourself before you burden LGBTQ people and those who love them with your misinformed judgementalism. Nobody is perfect or whole this side of the grave, and yet God made us all in his image. If God made you in his image, with all your flaws and imperfections, just as he wanted you to be, why would you ever think that he hasn’t created every other living being on this earth in the same way? I am so tired of this hurtful ignorance.

          • I hear what you’re trying to say but to believe that none of us needs to be rescued from the consequences of sin and need radical change that can only come from Jesus means that you’re saying no one needs Christianity. That would mean Christianity in its most affirming and universal celebratory form would have no more power than a good self esteem book. The point of Christianity is not that we could be perfect this side of heaven but that God is absolutely holy and he alone determines, according to his goodness, what is sin against him. He is perfectly just to judge all of us and none deserves heaven but all deserve hell because of our sin, all of us. We are called to repent of sin, as God defines it, not as we would like to define it. Repent means abandon sin. Repentance alone means nothing without putting our trust in Jesus, surrendering ourselves to Jesus alone. We will still struggle with sin but when confronted by our sin we continue to repent of that sin and trust Jesus. This is a constant struggle for all of us whatever our different sins are but that is why we are to help and encourage other believers and they us as we continue to repent and believe, to fight sin together. This is not judgmental. It is helping each other to trust in God more than our own precious sinful desires. We do this with love and grace but we do this still.

        • I was born with a natural desire to have sex with as many women as I’m attracted to but no one is arguing that my natural bent is good and not sin. Why do we think that sin has different consequences because it’s different or it’s not sin simply because it’s natural? Yes, we love our family, friends and strangers who identify themselves as anything or have any kind of sexual desires but God tells us to deny ourselves. We must be clear in both our love and God’s warning to repent of all sin and believe (live in Christ) this includes hedrosexual sin and LGBTQ. We all have sin we are by nature drawn to and they are all deadly. Help them and be there for them as you share the gospel with them. If they profess Christ then help encourage them in their fight against sexual sins of any kind but it’s unloving to ignore sin or even worse to call it good. Forgive me for not adding to the echo chamber but I see parents and youth pastors who undoubtedly love their kids but celebrating a kid’s trust and honesty in sharing struggles with sin should never be confused with celebrating the real struggle or the surrender to sin. We are to share the truth in love. Jesus while international in seeking out those ostracized by the religious because of their sin still never condoned their sin but told them to “sin no more” and those who followed him also repented like Zacchaeus. Love includes telling the truth with love.

      • God made us all the way we are. We were all born with a sin nature. I was born a womanizer, liar, thief, rebellious to parents. But when Jesus saved me I became re-born and now I have the nature of Christ. I had to agree with God that my behavior was sinful, even if I wished to continue in it, I had to repent of what “I” wanted and line up with what Christ wanted. He loved me in my sin, He saved me in my sin, but He never intended to leave me there. I was in a relationship with someone where we were having sex outside of marriage and I had to walk away from that. I struggled with those things, but God gave me strength. We may be born with certain bents toward things in life, but God gives us victory over them.

      • TJ thank you so much for sharing your story. Two things are going to be with me for a while…. “so I gave it back to God”, what a strong thing to do. Also “I am her mother, not her judge”. very very strong words. Thank you for them.

      • My son Joel , almost came three months early. He locked himself in old refrigerator. I had a holy spirit wake up call and went looking for him. He was cherry red and he told me I had no TV no cushions but Jesus was in there with me. He got behind the TV, my husband was watching him, and pulled out the wires. He should’ve been electrocuted. We were driving down the freeway when our tire blew. Somehow we did not even lose control of the car. It would’ve swerved us straight in front of a semi truck. My son and I would’ve been killed. I told God I would rather lose him as a child and have them to grow up and go to hell. We went to an evangelistic church. He always got the Bible quiz very fast. It’s finally asked to give another child a chance My son came out to me. Members of our church body told me I should disown him or they asked me if I was going to. Absolutely not ! I prayed and prayed. G-d saved his life so many times. I believe he is the way G-d created him. He nearly committed sucidie. I’m here for you.

    • I to am the mom of a gay man. Out youth pastor hated gays. He let Kidd on the fat girl too. Called him and told him about it he said well she should lose some weight. I lost a ton of respect for him. My son almost committed suicide also. A friend of his dad. Another strand dad has totally rejected him. I stand with you shoulder to shoulder.

  4. John, thank you for your words and guidance. You are making a difference. I am proud of you and your work. I know God is too. Thank you!

  5. Thank you. I an a retired educator who has loved ALL my students. I am a parent of a gay child who did not find this Love at church.

  6. I like your blog and your idea and how you explained everything it’s look so good … But how about that kid share about who their are and in love with you… How you make a border between their feeling and your genuine to love them ?
    Thank you for your response

  7. WOW….just WOW….

    Your ‘chat’ is soooo beautiful…If ONE Youth Leader, et al takes it in…Terrific.

    You are ‘gifted’ w/ words… Jesus is CRAZY for you…I ‘know’ ’cause He told me so…

    Thank You & God Bless you…

  8. I’m not a youth pastor, but I am a parent of three incredible human beings who are zooming at breakneck speed toward adolescence. These kiddos of mine have friends, who are also attempting to navigate our world as they grow up. I just wanted to share with you that you have been used as an instrument to convict me, in the depths of my heart, to love in a very open and practical way. I pray I never forget what it was like to be a teenager who desperately wanted to be known and understood and REALLY loved. Thank you for the reminder.

  9. Such a beautiful appeal to the heart of the youth pastor, and to all of us too. Thank you for urging us on to be the hands, the feet, the heart, the love of Jesus in the lives of other hurting people and especially to young gay people.

  10. I wish I had one of those when I was growing up. I know so many other kids who wished for that, too. Instead we were treated like lepers, outcasts, something to be ashamed of and disgusted with. And I’m not just talking about LGBT. It was inner city kids, kids from broken homes, damaged kids, abused kids, kids being kids…and they were denied the love of God because they didn’t fit some prescribed idea of what a Christian kid should look and be like (as if there really is such a thing). So many kids lost and broken, looking for a feathered wing to cover them, protect them, and comfort them. Myself included. Don’t even get me started on the fishbowl life of being a preacher’s kid. Suffice it to say, the war was lost then…I still struggle to find hope and grace and love in a church community. I don’t trust them. Why should I when they threw me out like dirty bath water? I’ve found more of God’d love outside of organized religion than I have ever found in it. And that’s a pretty sad thing.

  11. I am totally confused by this blog. Earlier this evening, the comments tab showed numerous comments on this post. I did not read any of them at that time. I just came here after several hours had elapsed, and all of those comments were gone—with the Comments Tab reading 0 comments. What is going on with this crazy stuff?

  12. Now, for a comment related to the post:

    I know the target audience for this post is youth ministers at churches. With regard to Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical youth ministers, this post will cross blind eyes and be dismissed out of hand. I know that for a fact. They are, in a word, unreachable.

    Many teenage gay kids who attend these fundie churches are 16 years old and drive cars—often their own cars. They have gay friends who are younger—too young to drive. They would get the most help by jointly sneaking away, visiting with, and getting counseling from a youth minister like John Pavlovitz at another local church in town. Love is where you find it. Kids know when their church does not truly love them. The parents never have to know that their kids are meeting with a youth minister at another church, and they never have to tell their parents that they are—telling them would mean opening up with their parents to the fact that they are gay when they might not be quite ready for it.

    The only question would be whether the youth pastor at the other church would be violating any civil or criminal laws by providing such counseling without the permission of the fundie parents. For example, my straight, minor daughter got sucked into a local fundie church by her boyfriend, and the leaders of the church started behaving as if my daughter were their own personal property—taking her places without our permission and so forth. That ended quickly when I had a very angry talk with the head pastor, reminded him that my daughter was a minor, and very frankly threatened to sue the church for every last dime it had if this did not stop. My threat was announced to the congregation one Sunday, and my daughter was out of there for good. Praise Jesus!!!

    There is another serious problem here too. In nonfundie churches, the youth minister is often a local K-12 coach, a former military person who reverts to a U.S. Marines boot camp model for dealing with kids (like in “Kindergarten Cop”), or some similarly insensitive male dirt clod with all of their male chauvinist and modern he-man affinities oozing out their pores. These people are not very approachable with problems like being gay, and I doubt seriously that they would read and understand your post anymore than the fundie youth ministers.

    I am not criticizing your post at all. Let those that can hear it—hear it. The deal here is that you are a very sensitive person who understands and resonates with similarly sensitive people and can easily convey that sensitivity in your writing. That is all good. Maybe it will reach some youth ministers who are similarly sensitive—but just a bit clueless about the gay student issue. Maybe that is who you are trying to reach.

    I think it would be nice—and I am hoping you might consider it—to develop a gay student sensitivity training course for youth ministers in the Wake Forest area—a course specifically designed to help the K-12 coach, former military, and gorilla grunt youth ministers learn how to be more sensitive and loving towards the probably hidden gay kids in their church youth groups.

    Again, the fundie youth ministers are hopeless jerks. Anything aimed at them is wasted ink—but you probably already know that.

    • Charles, thanks for your thoughts. I greatly appreciate them. I would caution to be careful with the “fundie” and “non-fundie” labels. It’s a generalization that is as unfair as the ones level against the LGBT community. Most youth pastors are somewhere along a continuum of beliefs, and many also are hamstrung by the church/system/environment they are in.

      Yes, as you alluded to, I’m hoping this piece can reach youth pastors of all beliefs, and that it will affect them individually, in a way that alters whatever ministry they do, wherever they do it.

      I love training idea you suggested! I am in the process of preparing a training event that would travel to churches and help youth pastors and their larger churches with just these issues.

      Thanks for the thoughtful comments!

      • Thanks John. Best of luck to you in your training work. On the fundie vs. nonfundie thing, I know you have fought your own wars in that arena. All I can say is that I have probably fought longer and deeper wars in arenas you have never entered. What sounds like needless or ill-advised carping on this matter is a reflection of deep experience with numerous people in all sorts of different contexts. If I were to say things other than the things I say here, I would feel that I am both lying and going against my own conscience on these matters—as a derivative of personal experience.

    • Hi Charles.

      I’m a heterosexual male, who has been a Christian for almost 30 years.

      I call myself a “fundamentalist”. I believe every word of Scripture is inspired of God, and it is 100% true.

      FOR THIS REASON I refuse to judge people for their sexuality. My fundamental beliefs are based on salvation for ALL who believe (Jesus never said he went to the cross for everyone except the gays!), the sinful nature inherent in ALL of us, requiring that blood sacrifice, and also by the words of Jesus in Matthew 22: 34-40.

      There are a lot “awkward” Scriptures with regard to homosexuality but, even assuming we’ve interpreted them correctly, they don’t take precedence over this.

      There are, as you rightly point out, certain sections of the church who are engaging in “gay-bashing” because it’s the current trend. It’s also the “sin” the majority of us are least likely to be tempted by. Can we honestly say we’d rail against pornography as vocally, knowing that most of us have had at least some history with it?

      My church has an openly gay member (he claims he’s celibate, but frankly it’s none of my business, and I’ll never challenge him), who has been used mightily by God in healing ministry in Africa. The results of his time in ministry have been observed and corroborated. I see no reason to challenge him on the grounds of his sexuality, when his salvation is clearly secure, and God seems to have less of a problem with him than some fellow believers have. If the Holy Spirit doesn’t convict him of sin, why should we presume to be able to do it?

      I found this blog to be completely in line with Scripture. I would recommend ALL youth pastors read it.

  13. There is a difference between Acceptance and Tolerance. As a Christian, I am tolerant of Homosexuality. But that does not mean I have to accept it.
    This entire article is very politically correct, and just your Matthew 9 reference is nice… sheep need a shepherd. Someone to lead them away from danger and trouble and bring them to the safe and right path.
    The job of a shepherd is NOT to tell the lost sheep that it’s ok to be lost. But to steer them away from it.
    And it may be hard for you to accept, and maybe tolerate, but some sheep just choose to go the wrong way.
    If you have a homosexual member in your church, encouraging them to remain homosexual is like telling a liar that it’s ok to keep lieing. Because after all, I was born a liar, so you have to accept it.

      • Charles, I was hoping you would give a more enlightened answer to Sinnspenn’s comment; he has a valid concern. Does loving someone unconditionally mean that we condone their sin? Or do you not think that homosexuality is a sin? How do we handle this seemingly delicate balance of accepting someone for who they are and where they are, as Jesus does, without giving them the impression that God’s call to holiness and righteousness is not important? After all, after Jesus healed and forgave people, he told them, “Go and sin no more.” See John 5:14 and John 8:11.

        • Jesus didn’t go around preaching, “Go and sin no more”. He Tells one woman to “go and sin no more” in John’s gospel. (By the way, in a passage that is not in the earliest manuscripts, and is in question in itself, but that is a discussion for another day).

          There are many occasions where Jesus simply loves, serves, or cares for people. (Take for example, the feeding of the multitudes. Jesus makes no determination on who in the crowd is worthy of being fed, who is deserving of compassion. He simply cares for all the people, without caveat and without expecting a response. Imagine if we had this same mindset as we looked at a crowd or room full of students before us.

          In any event, we as youth pastors are not Jesus. We are servants, whose job is to care for students and set the table for their own relationship with Jesus. We don’t get to say “go and sin no more”. That is the job of the Holy Spirit.

          Ultimately it comes down to trust. Do we trust God to do whatever He desires to do in someone else’s life (any student), or do we choose to police the sin we believe they are engaging in?

          Reggie Joiner said that youth pastors burn out because they mistake what they are supposed to do, with what God is supposed to do.

          Billy Graham said that the Holy Spirit convicts, God judges, and we called to love.

          Whether or not you believe a teenager born LGBT is a sinner is a topic for another day, but even if you believe unequivocally that he or she is, your responsibility would not be to do anything more than invite them into relationship with Jesus and leave the results to Him.

          Thanks for reading and commenting.

          • by the way, when Jesus tells the woman to “to go and sin no more” he is speaking to a heterosexual person committing adultery, something he specifically calls sin elsewhere in the Gospels. We have no such mention or evidence of him doing that regarding someone born LGBT, so that comparisons are difficult to make.

      • We are called to preach repentance. Jesus demonstrated love by healing the sick, casting out devils and preaching the gospel. Unless you repent you will perish. We should tell sinners to “repent of your fornication” (premarital sex) because fornicators will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. This is not judgement, it’s the truth. Otherwise, you are merely softening their path to hell. He that says he loves God and does not obey His commandments is a liar.

        John I hope you find the real Jesus before judgment day. You are preaching a “broad path” gospel right out of Matthew 7.

    • I agree. I appreciate the love in this article. But it is very ambiguous and seems to lean towards the idea of acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle. There is real division in beliefs among all who follow Christ (or the Church) as to whether being gay.. #1: is a choice, and #2: is OK to continue in the desires and actions of the gay life. From the old testament thru the new God has always had rules to life. There have always been forbidden things: the fruit of the Tree of Life in the garden, murder, envy, sex outside of marriage, drunkenness, etc. JESUS told the woman at the well her life story, then said “go and sin no more.” When did this become so hard to say? It’s about Grace/Love AND truth. What is love without truth?

      • I posted this elsewhere in the three Lynn, but it bears repeating here:

        Jesus didn’t go around preaching, “Go and sin no more”. He Tells one woman to “go and sin no more” in John’s gospel. (By the way, in a passage that is not in the earliest manuscripts, and is in question in itself, but that is a discussion for another day).

        There are many occasions where Jesus simply loves, serves, or cares for people. (Take for example, the feeding of the multitudes. Jesus makes no determination on who in the crowd is worthy of being fed, who is deserving of compassion. He simply cares for all the people, without caveat and without expecting a response. Imagine if we had this same mindset as we looked at a crowd or room full of students before us.

        In any event, we as youth pastors are not Jesus. We are servants, whose job is to care for students and set the table for their own relationship with Jesus. We don’t get to say “go and sin no more”. That is the job of the Holy Spirit.

        Ultimately it comes down to trust. Do we trust God to do whatever He desires to do in someone else’s life (any student), or do we choose to police the sin we believe they are engaging in?

        Reggie Joiner said that youth pastors burn out because they mistake what they are supposed to do, with what God is supposed to do.

        Billy Graham said that the Holy Spirit convicts, God judges, and we called to love.

        Whether or not you believe a teenager born LGBT is a sinner is a topic for another day, but even if you believe unequivocally that he or she is, your responsibility would not be to do anything more than invite them into relationship with Jesus and leave the results to Him.

        Thanks for reading and commenting!

        • I wonder, if you had a student who was beating up another student for being gay, would you still say that as a youth pastor you don’t have the right to tell THAT student to “go and sin no more”?

          Perhaps you meant to say that there are some sins that you think shouldn’t ever be confronted, while there are some that should? That’s where most of us wind up if we’re not careful: confront the sins that bother me; ignore the ones that don’t.

          • If you want to equate one human being committing violence against another human being, with someone’s internal desire to love and be known, go right ahead. I can’t.

      • Jesus was also speaking to you. Have you followed that commandment in your life? No. No more than the gay kids in your church. I am a Christian, and I do believe that my monogamous lesbian friends are also Christians. I believe that what bothers us about LGBT people is that if we believe that they are sinning when they are with some one of the same sex and we know that they are still gay from one day to the next, we see them as sinners day after day after day, with the young couple who you know have had sex before marriage you might think “what a shame” and counsel them to stop until they are married, and then think better of them. How unfair that is.
        The TRUTH is that we are human and we can assume that every single human being with whom we come in contact from day to day is a sinner and has probably already sinned before breakfast. So why are you holding LGTB teenagers to a higher standard than you hold yourself. Thank God that He has more GRACE and LOVE than we broken humans. We sin, He redeems. Straight, Gay, Human. All we have have to do is love like Jesus. That means being willing to die for your Gay neighbor.
        Peace.

        • You realize when Jesus died on the cross, he didn’t save both men that where on the surrounding crosses, but only the one who confessed their sin. That being said, this artical has a good beggining but as a Shepard, the pastor should lead to truth the gay teens. Love them, pray with them so God can free them from that desire of sin. There are people who have physical attractions to minors, should that also be tolerated? No, but loving, supporting, and counciling them through the process is real love, not letting them find out it was the sin that gave then eternal death and the pastor didn’t try to steer them the right direction. When u love your children, you don’t tolerate bad behavior, you teach and help them to get to what is right. Jesus teaches discipline and self control. We all have the urge to sin, but if we all say it’s ok and show no control, this world will get even worst. You should love and gently guide.

          • If you can equate someone who is attracted to, and who would commit sexual acts against children, with someone attracted to and desiring to be in a relationship with another consenting adult, I think you’re not thinking clearly, and your fear is confusing you.

      • Lynn. I find it interesting that you and several other people who are criticizing John and his post as if you all got together in a meeting somewhere, like maybe at the same church, and decided on a formal strategy to attack John. Are you members of some sort of fundie Internet Strike Team? This just strikes me as being really bizarre that several of you are coming at John from the exact same point and approach. You really need to cover your tracks better if you want to be successful. Right now, the whole thing is coming across…well…kind of stupid looking.

      • My “conduct”; also known as my “behavior or my “lifestyle”

        I spend a lot of time with my computer, because that is one of my passions. It’s the only thing I’m really good at. I tend to stay up late because I’m a night owl. I also get out and spend time with friends, because I love them, and they completely accept my “lifestyle”, whatever the Hell that means.

        I also pray and study the Bible, and attend an amazing, affirming, inclusive church.

        Ok. so anyway I also keep my apartment relatively clean. I am a bit lazy and disorganized in this area, but I’m trying to do better. I also have friends I keep up with, and talk to on Facebook, because I care about them so very much. They are life savers in every since of the word. Each and every one of them played a part in literally saving my life.

        That’s really all I do, aside from eating, sleeping, bathing and other things. The other things, just to calm your fears involve waste removal, and I’m not going into detail about it.

        If you’re concerned about “what I do in bed”, quite frankly, that’s none of your damned business. But for full disclosure, I’ll tell you, please forgive the next sentence for being gratuitously graphic:

        It’s a bed, I sleep there. *gasp* Just like you normal, right-living straight people! Wow!!

        So that’s my “conduct.” My “behavior.” My “lifestyle.”

        Would you care to point out, IN DETAIL, what you find so objectionable?

    • Divorce and remarriage is considered adultery in the Bible. It’s adultery, which is punishable by death. Since you’re commanded to stone adulterers to death, what’s stopping you? Because killing a person harms them? So does lying to a person. Being gay hurts no one. It’s not a choice. It’s how they’re born and they’re not hurting anyone by being gay. Take the lying, harmful plank out of your eye before you judge the harmless splinter in another person’s eye.

    • It’s really not the same. It’s like telling one of my daughters we really had wanted a son, so she should act like a boy. Lying is behavior, and behavior that can be modified through counseling or therapy, it can also, in extreme forms, be a mental illness. Being gay is not a mental illness or a behavior. It’s how people are born. It’s not up to you or to me to hammer people with their sin, to think our own sin is somehow less worthy of repentance or notice. The greatest new testament commandment is to love. Your tolerance isn’t working, your disdain is showing.

  14. How did it come to this? That one must wear a gender label – why not give these people a bell? then we’d all be fore-warned.

    Whatever happened to ‘made in the image of G-D’??… loving our neighbour as we love ourselves and as G-D loves us?

    That you felt the need to write this, beautiful as it is, is so sad…….

    • Hilary. Jesus has already told you why this is happening now:

      “Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.” (Matthew 24: 12-13)

      Jesus emphasized love over law. His command to Christians was to love one another and their neighbors. Jesus is speaking specifically to Christians here. He is saying that a time is coming in human history when there will be so much evil and meanness in the world that Christians will abandon the LOVE that Jesus has commanded and coldly (cold of heart) turn to hatred of sinners and trying to fix the evil with LAW rather than LOVE.

      We live now in a time when the Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical churches have done exactly this. They have abandoned love of one another and their neighbors—even openly spitting on that love as I have seen them do in some books—and are trying instead to fix human society with LAW and MORALISM. LAW and MORALISM are not the WAYS of Jesus in the new covenant church.

      I would add one other thing here. They are not trying to “fix a broken society” with LAW and MORALISM for God. They are trying to do it for their own personal comfort. They want a society where they do not have to undergo the personal discomfort they feel when watching boys and girls swim in the same water together. They want the comfort of knowing that Jan’s new boyfriend is not going to kiss her at the end of their first date.

      I have a Christian friend in South Carolina—a descendant of Southern Baptist lineal aristocracy within the church actually—who knows this inner need many fundies have to change society so they can finally feel totally comfortable in it—like they own it and set the standards for everyone. He knows all of their petty religious sensitivities and goes out of his way to intentionally offend them and make them feel as uncomfortable in their own skins as possible in various social contexts. He began his work in the Bob Jones University area in the 1960s and has expanded it outward across a lifetime. He knows—as all real Christians do—that the Christian faith is about LOVE—and not LAW and MORALISM. He likes to afflict the spiritually comfortable.

      • Charles, while I can see your point about strict fundamentalism being for the comfort of those who initiate it, I can’t help but notice how much if a generalization this is. While some of what you have said is true of some “fundamental” Christians, it is just as much of a dangerous, judgemental stereotype to categorize groups within the church as it is to those outside of the church. While it is true, and disheartening, to see such an absence of love among many, it is far from all fundamentalist Christians who fall into your description of emphasizing law over love. I’m not just trying to criticize what you’ve written; rather, I’d like to ask if you have any practical suggestions as to how we can go about fighting this mindset of Christianity being associated with comfort-based law obsession.

  15. After I read this, I cried. Thank-you for sharing the heart of Jesus. This is a call not only to youth pastors with LGTB youth, but to all Christians interacting with anybody different from themselves. We may be their “only thread”. May we remember to look at everybody through the eyes of Jesus and love them as He does.

  16. I love this John…and I love you.

    I have said it dozens of times already, and hope to thousands more: thank you. Thank you for saying these things.

    Nothing will change until people like you, with your privilege and standing and “normie-cred” take up the courage of their convictions and let their faith be incarnate in their behaviors…and stand for us, willing to take a slap or two so we can be spared a beating or murder…or a suicide.

    Eagerly awaiting the coming days when we can entwine our lives more and share those laughs and tears and thoughts…whether it by miracle be in this world, or likely, in the Coming Day.

    Much love…much love
    Charissa

  17. Insightful, perceptive, wise, thoughtful, empathetic, loving, discerning, observant, well-informed, erudite and beautifully conveyed, as always.

  18. Yes, be grateful they are there. TELL each youth you are grateful they are there – often – individually. SHOW each youth you are grateful they are there – often – individually. EVERYONE is carrying some sort of burden or fear or story they don’t feel they can share. Growing up is difficult – even for those who seem to have it all together. Even for those who are not gay.

  19. Well said! I told a family member that it was like you read my mind and typed it out. Although my thoughts were not just geared towards kids but also to adults, but it’s the same principal.

    Thank you for this. I am a very conservative Christian and many years ago my Sister told us she was a lesbian. I cried on and off at weird times for months. I prayed a lot because I was more like a Mom and a big Sister and the only Christian in the immediate family at the time. I felt God call me to love her…to give her something to hold on to and some day come back to.

    Since then she has announced that she should have been a man and had her breasts removed and takes testosterone so that she has a deep voice and a beard. Nothing has taught me more about stretching yourself to love beyond your fears than this. I will continue to love her. She wants me to not just accept it but to be happy and agree with her regarding the choice, this is something that I feel I cannot do. She knows that I don’t think that is God’s best for her, but we no longer discuss that, she knows. And from this point on, I love her, I pray for her, I spend time with her whenever she will let me. I try to love her partner and her friends because I know that most of them do not like Christians, some even hate Christians, so I might be the only one that is allowed in their life so I feel that I have a big responsibility to show then love like Jesus would. All we can do is our best. I’ve cried a lot, and prayed even more on this journey that has now stretched about 15 years. But I won’t give up hope, no matter how discouraging it seems.

    Please love these kids and even adults, most have serious hurt in their life that you can’t imagine and may never know about.

    Thank you John for this counter culture post. I pray it changes hearts to love more and judge less.

    • Sounds to me though like you still judging her by your standards instead of accepting her as she is, or perhaps it should be accepting him as he is because it sounds like your sister is in the process of transgendering. You cannot say you love her/him if you still judging her/him. Educate yourself and find out more about the whole GLBTQ thing so that you can truly love. Bless you.

      • Jen, I don’t think she is judging her by her standards. I think she is loving her sister. It seems we need define whether or not homosexuality is considered offensive to God. If it is, then it should be offensive to us. If it isn’t, then it’s okay. Where do we find truth? In His word. Either the bible is the word of God or it isn’t. I believe it is.

      • Hi. I hope it’s not inappropriate to share a link here, but in reading through the comments I was touched by your desire to reconcile your faith and your relationship with your sibling, who now identifies as male. I’ve recently been reading a book by a woman named Kathy Baldock called ‘Walking The Bridgeless Canyon; Repairing the Breach Between The Conservative Church and the LGBT Community.’ It’s a very thorough and easy to understand book which I’d recommend checking out, but what I really wanted to share with you is that Kathy has published Chapter 8 of her book as a free PDF or audio mp3 for anyone who wants it.

        This chapter deals specifially with sexual identity and gender identity, and while the book itself does discuss scripture (the ‘clobber’ passages, as they have been called), this chapter talks only about the science of sexual and gender identity in a way that may help you to better understand your sibling. I myself had a hard time understanding trans as a concept for a long time, but eventually took the time to educate myself about it. I found when I read this chapter of the book that it embodied much of what I would say to someone if they were to ask me about it now that I know what I do, so I do hope you’ll check it out. I wish you the best and hope your desire to let Christ shine through will guide you.

        http://canyonwalkerconnections.com/myth-pink-blue-sex-gender-sexual-orientation/

    • Jessica,
      I am touched that when confronted with a hard revelation in your family, your choice was to turn to God and seek Him and His path. You and I both know that His path will always be love. Unflinching, honest, fearless love. That you are choosing to do the hard, messy work of love is inspiring.

      I also notice that in your second paragraph, you were consistently misgendering your sibling. If that word is unfamiliar to you, I assure you it is top of mind for your sibling. Now is the time to do some research on that and the impact is has on transgender people. I read in the tone of your post that your desire is to love your sibling. To show them how God feels about them. To not use correct pronouns for them is the opposite of that. That is an emotionally violent act. I can assure you that your sibling will never feel anything but hate and revulsion from you should you choose to use the name they were given at birth and female pronouns with them. If you desire is truly to love them, that must stop immediately and you must find a way to apologize for it. Even if you mostly use correct name and pronouns to their face, the fact that you could tell their story here with incorrect pronouns shows that your love for them only goes so far and I am certain they can sense that in your interactions with them.

      I believe you want to love your sibling, that you want to be a light to them and show how deeply and fully Jesus loves them. For that to be a reality, loving your sibling must get a little messier and harder for you. Read the articles below.

      For more info on misgenering, here are some articles:
      ~http://www.entirelyamelia.com/2014/01/02/misgendering-okay-justifiable-yes-big-deal/
      ~https://thebodyisnotanapology.com/magazine/what-youre-really-saying-when-you-misgender/

  20. Thank you for putting into words such an accurate picture of what the love of Jesus is really about. When I was in college, I was involved with a wonderful campus minister and student group. I hadn’t realized that I had gender issues yet, but I was a bit odd and on the fringes of the group. The love and support that I received from the minister and the group were a big factor in my surviving college. The love was also a big factor in my seeking a faith community years later after I had transitioned.

    Please keep writing on Christian LGBTQ issues. I’m sure that at times it feels like you are just preaching to the choir, but just the chance of influencing a person’s view of the LGBTQ community can make a huge difference in people’s lives.

  21. Thank you. Thank you, thank you! I’m lying in bed, my pillow soaking with tears after reading this piece.

    I was one of those kids.

    I grew up in the church, volunteered in the kids ministry as a teen, and attended youth group every week. I went on every camp and helped in anyway I could, just to feel loved… valued… cared for. Yet through it all, I never had the courage to be completely real with my leaders.

    It took me a few years of leading youth myself until I found my voice. Yes youth leader, you do have gay kids in your youth group right now. They may not act or look how you’d expect but they are there. They are waiting to trust you, and whether that take 8 weeks, 8 months or 8 years, PLEASE continue to love them. You don’t fully understand how much it means to have someone in their corner – willing to fight as hard as it takes, for as long as it takes to earn that trust.

    And once you earn that trust, please be careful. Because, youth leader, if you break that trust… “They live with a far higher chance of wounding themselves or killing themselves than other teenagers.” I don’t blame you for thinking it’s hard. I don’t even blame you for not having the energy ‘to deal’ sometimes. But please, never give up on us. We can handle rejection, stares, glares and insults. But broken trust is something that is hard for any teen to put back together, let alone one who already feels like the church has singled them out, isolated them, and hung them out to dry without a shred of the glorious hope of redemption she preaches.

    Pastor, I am praying for you. For eyes to see beyond the masks and charades, for ears to hear the aching message beyond the menial conversations, and for a heart to love like only our Father can.

    Grace and Peace

  22. There is so much truth in this, thank you for writing this. Yes, we must be Jesus to the LGBTQ community, but we also need to stretch ourselves further. Far enough to see Jesus in them as well. LGBTQ are Jesus too. Not only that, but we must make way for them to share their experience and their grace. That is, indeed, the greatest way to learn of grace – from the oppressed and the marginalized themselves.

  23. John, I understand the importance of appealing to a wide range of Christian youth directors and your hope that this might be a first step for them to “love” the LGBT students in their groups. So I knew you wouldn’t be able to say “homosexuality is NOT a sin” because then it would take the discussion off in the wrong direction. However, I feel compelled to remind people on this blog that there are Christians who do NOT believe that being LGBTQ is a sin. It’s just not a question for us of being “tolerant”–we simply regard all people as “people”. Period. Their sexual “orientation” is not the most important part of who they are, even though we acknowledge that it has a major impact on their lives because of the intolerance of them in our culture. All of the mainline denominations have reconciling or welcoming congregations–I want to lift them up so all Christians are not judged to be intolerant and sometimes downright hateful.

  24. Thank you John. I served as a youth volunteer for around 15 years at different churches in my travels. This message of unconditional love is so needed and not heard near enough. We need to be loving in all our words and actions. We need to show love not just to the favorites but to the awkward and those often dismissed as trouble.

    One thing that I have seen time and again is the derogatory way church congregations talk about LGBTQ issues and individuals. I have even seen youth leaders taunting kids with horribly offensive gay labels or making gay jokes. I deeply regret that on occasion I would act as a flamboyant gay stereotype to make jokes. While I didn’t intend to harm, the devastating impact of my insensitive actions have left behind lasting wounds. This kind of callousness not only wounds those students who were personally hurt in that moment, but also spreads the same harmful insensitivity to others who only saw it as a joke.

    We need to realize that the impact of how our actions are received really matter more than our intent.

  25. I see the point that is being made. However I’m not getting that we have to preach the whole truth and live the whole truth as well. The problem I’m seeing is that we are being instructed to make concessions with this situation while coming down hard others. I get “love our neighbor and all.” But what do we do with verses that set very strict boundaries in our associations, like 2 Thess 3:14, “If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” or 1 Corinthians 5:11, “But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one.” I think if we speak the whole truth while living the whole truth we’ll be fine. Sometimes that’s very hard because sometimes that means laying down loving boundaries. But don’t compromise the scriptures.

    • It is not that simple Tony. What if your wife turns to alcohol and becomes a drunkard? Jesus says you cannot divorce her. You are commanded to love her as Christ loves the church. You are also commanded to give your body to her when she wants it. That is hard to do if you move out.

      These things are not simple Tony. You also have to remember that these commands in scripture were given to specific churches that were having specific problems in a specific time, place, and cultural context. You cannot apply these carte blanche with insensitivity to every problem in every future time and place.

    • The bible is FULL of contradictions so you can pluck something out of the bible to justify or condemn pretty much anything. The one message that is consistant is LOVE.

  26. John, does loving someone unconditionally mean that we condone their sin? Or do you not think that homosexuality is a sin? How do we handle this seemingly delicate balance of accepting someone for who they are and where they are, as Jesus does, without giving them the impression that God’s call to holiness and righteousness is not important? After all, after Jesus healed and forgave people, he told them, “Go and sin no more.” See John 5:14 and John 8:11.

  27. Thank you so much for writing this. <3 I hope that many youth pastors read this and live out these words in love to every student they encounter. They need that love.

  28. If we look at the unconditonality of G-D’s love for us …..think of the ramifications of this. In my view ‘Go and sin no more’ was about action/doing not being……not letting G-D and ourselves down with what we did with our being. If one’s essential core being is LBGTQ how can that be sinful?

    Frankly I think that much of this finger-pointing approach is about the old socio-political control role that the church has played far too long for the cosmos’ good….and feeding one’s little ego with small aggrandisements to bolster self-esteem – I’m in you’re out, therefore I’m better than you are. And in the meantime ignoring the log of injustice and inequity in its own personal and corporate eye.
    Jesus said do not judge/stereotype. This is a human thing to do and only about ourselves – not the other. If we love our neighbour as oneself we need to know (and be honest about) oneself and know that we are all part of humanity. And find our self worth not from externals of any sort but simply from the self realised in the love of G-D (see the writings of Paul). In Benedictine terms ‘preferring nothing to the love of Christ'(RB 1980 trans).

    If we really take seriously that ALL are made in the image of G-D then no one is any more than any other. This is the freedom of the children of G-D.

    • I think most Christians do not grasp the fact that all of us, including all Christians, still stand within the circle of sin. Once we recognize that basic fact and fully understand it, then we will be able to truly love one another and our neighbors. Billy Graham used to say that death is the great equalizer for all of mankind. I say there is no more pitiful sight on this planet than a man or woman sitting on the toilet—totally humbled by their biology. You may be the BMOC, but on that toilet you are immediately reduced to a “nobody.” Recognizing that we all stand within the circle of sin is the spiritual toilet on this Earth that truly humbles people spiritually.

  29. I would just like to make a point here for all the Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals. The words in the Holy Bible have temporal, cultural, and situational context. I know you lie to think that every word, sentence, phrase, and clause is a special message God sent across time and space just to you and your similarly believing friends. The trouble is—it is not. The way you use the Bible is improper and it is abusive to the scriptures. Here is what you, and I think John Pavlovitz was trying to make this point higher up in this comment thread.

    We will use a Popeye cartoon for illustration and put its creation at A.D. 74. In the cartoon, Popeye cries out, “I am going to clobber you Brutus!!!” Two thousand years later, you read that statement in the Popeye scripture and assume Popeye is talking not to Brutus in A.D. 74 but straight to you individually and personally today—and you assume he is telling you to go out, find people named Brutus, and clobber them in the name of Popeye. So, you do.

    As a professional editor and writer, I have to ask this question. Were you people born “literary-stupid” or did you just grow into it casually over time?

    • Yeah, I have typos. I need to work on that. Meanwhile, you can be work on understanding the nature of 1st century literature in Judea.

    • With that reasoning absolutely none of the Bible should apply to today. After all, it’s just just too archaic for our time. It’s just easier to pick and choose what passages we do and don’t take seriously and then insult everyone who differs with us.

    • Charles, you have taken what was a refreshingly polite and thought provoking blog and comments and made it into a place of defensiveness and have closed off dialogue with your bullying and insulting to “fundies” comments. If you are trying to encourage the promotion of new viewpoints, then perhaps insulting the people you are trying to reach is counterproductive.

      • Dixie. I am not trying to reach them. They are unreachable, and they know it. What I have been doing here is exposing them before people who have not yet gone over to the dark side with Darth Vader. If you visit their blogs, you will note that they take great pride and joy in verbally eviscerating anyone who disagrees with them—essentially defining anyone who disagrees with them as an enemy of God. Having a tough time handling the truth about yourself?

  30. So does that mean the gays who are born with this tendency are acceptable and sinless. But those who could not withstand the temptation or got sucked into this terrible practice are sinners?

  31. Thank you, I wish I had this when I was younger..

    As all the judgements and pointing fingers from people believing it is a sin or a choice, and the words ‘You have to bear your cross!’, ‘be cleansed or healed’, ‘you can feel but never be or act upon’, ‘pray harder!’, ‘You’ll have to be alone for the rest of your life!’ (the rest of your life, the rest of your life, the rest of your “life”…) really rained utter destruction upon me of which I still bear the effects, as for the lionshare of my existence I had to be a thing, a fortress of devastating and endless inner war and not a human being, not a person.. just a thing.

    People really have no idea (even still some who are closer to me) how huge the effects were and are, how destructive it was and that whatever was left of me was almost gone and still even now is hard to be.
    All I saw was death, all I knew was chaos. suïcide was a constant thought.. “I” was the warmachine, the remnant of a human being falling to it’s death.

    So thank you John.

  32. John, what you say sounds good, but don’t let what you call love betray the truth. Jesus calls all of us to “go and sin no more”. He speaks this to us all, not just to one woman in one situation recorded in the bible. If you don’t believe that then you don’t believe the gospel.

    You said in one of your comments, ” We don’t get to say “go and sin no more”.

    You are wrong about that. If you read Acts it is filed with the Apostles telling people to repent. John the Baptist prepared people for the coming of Jesus by telling people to repent of their sins. The Old Testament as well as the new are filled with the same message- repent!

    In the gospel of John we are told by Jesus, “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.”

    Do we need reminding that it was the false prophets who prophesied “smooth things”? God tells us plainly in those passages of scripture that if we really spoke for Him we’d be turning people from their sin!

    You seem to belittle those who hold to God’s word and appear to be labeling those who do so plainly and clearly as being unloving in some way.

    How about we follow scripture and “speak the truth in love”? You are correct in pointing out how some use the bible to bash others, but let’s not throw out the bible because some misuse it! Jesus is grace AND truth and we will not truly represent Him unless we understand He is both.

    • Jesus didn’t go around preaching, “Go and sin no more”. He Tells one woman to “go and sin no more” in John’s gospel. (By the way, in a passage that is not in the earliest manuscripts, and is in question in itself, but that is a discussion for another day).

      By the way, when Jesus tells the woman to “to go and sin no more” he is speaking to a heterosexual person committing adultery, something he specifically calls sin elsewhere in the Gospels. We have no such mention or evidence of him doing that regarding someone born LGBT, so that comparisons are difficult to make.

      There are many occasions where Jesus simply loves, serves, or cares for people. (Take for example, the feeding of the multitudes. Jesus makes no determination on who in the crowd is worthy of being fed, who is deserving of compassion. He simply cares for all the people, without caveat and without expecting a response. Imagine if we had this same mindset as we looked at a crowd or room full of students before us.

      In any event, we as youth pastors are not Jesus. We are servants, whose job is to care for students and set the table for their own relationship with Jesus. We don’t get to say “go and sin no more”. That is the job of the Holy Spirit.

      Ultimately it comes down to trust. Do we trust God to do whatever He desires to do in someone else’s life (any student), or do we choose to police the sin we believe they are engaging in?

      Reggie Joiner said that youth pastors burn out because they mistake what they are supposed to do, with what God is supposed to do.

      Billy Graham said that the Holy Spirit convicts, God judges, and we called to love.

      Whether or not you believe a teenager born LGBT is a sinner is a topic for another day, but even if you believe unequivocally that he or she is, your responsibility would not be to do anything more than invite them into relationship with Jesus and leave the results to Him.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      • So with that logic we can only even think about the phrase “go and sin no more” in the context of a woman who has just committed adultery and is about to be stoned. In any other case we should never think or say it because we would be taking the passage completely out of context. If the apparent vitriol for opposing views was actually turned into love for those without Christ we might actually see a difference in this world.

        • Interestingly enough, before Jesus says “go and sin no more”, he instructs those would-be stone throwers to drop their stones and leave.

          That’s something people conveniently leave out.

          Jesus gets to say “go and sin no more”, not the onlookers; not you, not me. We don’t get to do that.

          The problem is, modern stone-throwers don’t trust Jesus alone to do in another person’s life what he desires.

      • I don’t see why we put so much effort into proving whether or not people are born that way. Does it really matter? I do know this. According to the Bible we are all born sinners. No exceptions. We all have tendencies to commit sin. We might act like other people’s sins are worse than our own, but we are all in the same boat. We all need Christ. We all need his love. I have tendencies to sin every day. It doesn’t justify my sin, it just makes it more difficult to do right. And that’s where God’s grace comes into play. For anyone reading this and struggling with any sin (it’s all the same to God) remember there is more than enough mercy and grace to sustain you in Christ. Fall on him. He will love you more than anyone ever could, and his love will never run out.

  33. Love them. Embrace them. Share your life with them. Tell them if you have empathy and have experienced this temptation yourself. Tell them if you have sympathy and can understand what they are going through.
    Show them true life and true water.
    Let them draw from that well.
    Touch them hem of your cloak.
    Give them attention.
    Show them compassion.
    Visit their home. Live through their school life.
    Then when they know they are safe and loved, show them their sin, tell them they need to address it, tell them that desire does not need to be acted upon and that they can live a fulfilled life with the correct gender or without marrying at all.
    Then tell them to go and sin no more.

    That is the balance we were taught to achieve.

    But we must be honest in all those things.

  34. I shared this on my page and since I was raised Southern Baptist and I have friends from every denomination,I asked everyone read it regardless of the name over the door of their church. This is a powerful article. I was one of those LGBT teens. I was a leader in my youth group, I was the “model” Christian, but I was terrified to let anyone know my deep dark secret. I listened to the leaders when they spoke against homosexuality, I laughed when the guys in my grade made jokes about it; and when I went to college I went off the deep end and left the church. I had decided that since the church couldn’t accept me for the way that I was, that I didn’t need the church. I lost everything including my self respect. I have since begun to rebuild my spiritual life. I realized a few years ago that while the church couldn’t accept me, that God had never forsaken me. The message of this article is so true. I hope that Youth Pastors and Sponsors and Church leaders will read this and take it to heart.

  35. I am intensely curious about how this call to love LGBT kids could play out in the college classroom. I teach Ethics at a couple Christian universities, and we discuss homosexual marriage; I don’t have a clear pastoral relationships with my students, and given that it’s a philosophy class I try to keep the focus on studying different lines of reasoning to address the issue as fairly as I know how, but I’d love some guidance on making sure the classroom environment is a safe, non-threatening one.

    • One of the hard things about debate classes is when you start debating people’s human rights, you automatically make some people feel unwelcome. Before Loving v Virginia, professors may have made the exact same debate about interracial marriage. All those students in a relationship of that sort would have felt as though their professor was putting their own love up for debate, as to whether or not it was legitimate or wrong because the government wouldn’t even acknowledge it. The same thing goes here. You are asking students to discuss whether or not the government should legitimize a certain sort of relationship. The side effect of this is that students in those relationships are going to hear that their own lives are being discussed. Considering these rights something to debate at all is something that will make many, perhaps most or all, LGBTQIA students very uncomfortable and perhaps even unwelcome.

  36. The only thing I might have missed and would add is, “zero tolerance for bigotry/homophobia from other members of the group.”

    Being comfortable saying “gay” in front of the group and stating you will defend them from others’ hatred creates the actual sanctuary they seek.

    The truth is, this is also seriously lacking in the relationship between clergy and congregations where lgbt’s live in states afraid to be out of the closet due to lack of job protection, health care, family, and acceptance in their church.

  37. Wow!! Every pastor and youth pastor should read this and be reminded about what their TRUE calling is. Thank you for this. Blown away!!

  38. As I began to read this article (posted on my FB wall by one of our parents), my eyes began to water up. My church in Franklin, TN recently made a statement of inclusion for our LGBT brothers & sisters. It has been one of the most terrifyingly beautiful events I have witnessed in 10+ years of youth ministry.

    I won’t go into my own story & journey with the “topic” of LGBT and the church, but I will say that to be able to look at our LGBT teens and openly, lovingly embrace them out loud has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

    We can be at peace that we are setting the table for our teens to meet Jesus, and not hosting the table or selecting who’s on the guest list.

    Teens, straight and gay, welcome home. Find hope, refuge, and love here. This is the church you’ve been waiting for.

  39. Hello everyone.

    Greatly appreciate the reads and many comments here.

    Two things, which are interestingly, the fairly universal rebuttals here:

    1) Some variation of, “Doesn’t Jesus say ‘Go and sin no more?’ “

    He does say that, to one woman in John’s gospel, (incidentally a heterosexual engaging in adultery, something he specifically names as sin elsewhere in the Gospels in Matthew 5). To use this as a blanket statement about all the students a youth pastor encounters is extremely problematic, especially when Jesus never clearly speaks about LGBT people, in the way that he does about heterosexual infidelity. We can’t really make a solid comparison.

    Even if we could easily equate them, there are several examples in the Gospels of Jesus NOT doing that, of not demanding repentance; the feeding of the multitudes being a perfect example. Jesus didn’t judge whether or not they were all worthy, or asked them to repent of anything, or commanded them to change behavior before serving and caring for them. He simply showed them compassion and provided sustenance.
    It’s dangerous to simply throw around one encounter with one woman, as some hard and fast rule. Jesus doesn’t just preach “go and sin no more”.

    2) “What if a student wants to kill someone, or rape a child, would you just love and accept them?”

    If we as thinking adults, can’t see the clear difference between someone committing murder or raping a child, and another human being desiring relationship with another consenting adult who receives love, affection, companionship, and deep friendship with another as a result of that relationship, I think there’s a huge problem.

    I’m not going to argue if you believe they are the same. I will simply and completely disagree. Even if I did agree on both of these points, I would still argue that there is a better way to a pastor young people, and am committed to do so.

    Thanks again for commenting.

    • Interesting how every single time someone brings up ANY other sin in the Bible you explain away how it can’t possibly be “equated” with LGBT issues. I can understand your perspective on that, but people are making reasonable assertions here and they aren’t trying to say that if you’re gay it’s the same as killing someone. But the truth Christ gives is that ALL of us are sinners and that sin condemns us, and it’s only through Christ that we can receive cleansing from ALL those sins. The problem we have is that we put sins in different categories of societal acceptance. My sins are just as bad as anyone else’s and if someone is gay it’s no better or worse than anything I have thought or done. We all need to be shown love and truth has to be coupled with that love.

      When someone mentioned an adult having an attraction to minors you took it a step further and called it rape and murder of a child, but when speaking about someone who is gay you defined it as “another human being desiring relationship with another consenting adult who receives love, affection, companionship, and deep friendship with another as a result of that relationship”.

      With a description like that I think all of us are gay. Just seems a bit hypocritical to me to be berating those who believe differently while sugar coating your own view points. But then again, we have all been guilty of that, myself included.

      • If they aren’t trying to make the assertions that being gay is the same as killing someone or desiring a child or adultery, they should stop using those examples.

        Being attracted to a minor is the same as committing the act (if you believe Jesus). Either way, trying to make a comparison using either of those examples shows the way these people really think about LGBT people; that they are deviant, evil, or otherwise sinister. I do not, and I simply won’t allow those comparisons to go unchallenged.

      • What’s interesting jonoman1, is that this thread is a perfect example of people avoiding the actual blog topic, (the equal treatment of LGBT students by youth pastors), by getting in some supposed sin comparison that serves little purpose. Instead of speaking to my assertion that the greatest commandments are a pastor’s greatest calling, it bogs down into sin policing.

        How about we talk about the actual post, and how people reconcile being a student pastor in ministries with gay kids?

  40. With all due respect sir, but it is by the word of God that we shepherd the sheep of God. To neglect the word of God is to neglect the revelation of God to His people. You said:

    “I’m not talking about “right theology”. I’m not talking about your exegesis of Romans 1, or whether you think that being LGBT is a choice or not, or about having a handful of Scriptures prepared that you can quote to them, should they come to you and come out to you.”

    “Regardless of your faith perspective, or your hermeneutic, or your breakdown of the “clobber passages” of the Bible, they need you to make Jesus tangible and touchable, in real-time—now.”

    Having a right theology is imperative to properly shepherd God’s people and to properly explain the effects of the sinful nature as it is explained in Romans 1 and why the Wrath of God is being revealed. You want to make Jesus tangible, well it is in the scriptures is Jesus revealed!
    If you have gay students it is not you to be their understanding buddy or counselor you need to be a Pastor and shepherd the student and THEIR PARENTS in and by the TRUTH!~

  41. With all due respect sir, but it is by the word of God that we shepherd the sheep of God. To neglect the word of God is to neglect the revelation of God to His people. You said:“I’m not talking about “right theology”. I’m not talking about your exegesis of Romans 1, or whether you think that being LGBT is a choice or not, or about having a handful of Scriptures prepared that you can quote to them, should they come to you and come out to you.”“Regardless of your faith perspective, or your hermeneutic, or your breakdown of the “clobber passages” of the Bible, they need you to make Jesus tangible and touchable, in real-time—now.”Having a right theology is imperative to properly shepherd God’s people and to properly explain the effects of the sinful nature as it is explained in Romans 1 and why the Wrath of God is being revealed. You want to make Jesus tangible, well it is in the scriptures is Jesus revealed!
    If you have gay students it is not you to be their understanding buddy or counselor you need to be a Pastor and shepherd the student and THEIR PARENTS in and by the TRUTH!~

  42. Some of the commenters just don’t get it. When I was six, and eight, and eleven, and twenty, I was crushing on other boys and falling deeply in love with them. It was not a “homosexual lifestyle choice”. I often fell nearly into despair at being a gay kid, worrying no one (especially God) would love me. People stupidly drone on about shepherding the kids away from the gay wolf, not grasping that these kids *are* gay and always will be! They don’t need your warnings (you would never warn your divorced-and-remarried neighbor like that, now would you?!) — they need a hug and the refuge of your caring heart.

    • This is exactly how I feel.

      It is literally breaking my heart that people are giving up to this temptation, and saying they can’t live another way.

      We are all born sinners, do people not understand this? And despite how I’m called to or not to judge, God will and does judge sin.

      By tolerating the sin, instead of the sinner, we are leading these children into darkness.

  43. Whenever I hear Christians talking about this person or that person cannot be acceptable to God because (fill in the blank, although lately it’s usually about issues of sexuality), I recall that the Bible is chock full of examples of God calling people who everyone else says aren’t qualified for the work that God has in mind for them: Moses, David and Jesus, Peter and Paul come quickly to mind, as do Sarah, Elizabeth and Mary. I say love all of the children and let God sort it out.

    • God DOES sort it out.
      He says that homosexuals won’t inherit the kingdom of heaven.

      I didn’t write that, but it’s there in black and white.

      Please, do not condone homosexuality. Blood will be on your hands.

      • 9 “‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death. Because they have cursed their father or mother, their blood will be on their own head.

        10 “‘If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death. Leviticus 20:9-10

        That’s in black and white too. Please continue stoning disrespectful children and adulterers, or the blood will be on your hands.

        Your threats are both unfounded and unlike Jesus.

  44. This is where good intentions, become tiny holes that let darts through.

    1) Go and sin no more

    This shows that repentance was everyone’s responsibility. Jesus shouldn’t have to tell people to go and sin no more. He said it out of kindness, because sin destroys lives.

    John the Baptist tells EVERYONE to repent (Matthew 3)

    Then Jesus came in several scenarios and told people to turn their life around.

    Jesus heals invalid and says to sin no more, not even indicating the sin (John 5)
    Jesus tells adulterer to go and sin no more (John 8)
    Rich young ruler told to sell his possessions in order to follow Christ and doesn’t (Matthew 19)
    Jesus makes a whip and drives out merchants (John 2)

    Then the letters of the Romans warns about letting people continue in sin.

    What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? (Romans 6)

    And the verse that indicates in the New Testament that homosexuality is a lifestyle of sin.

    Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. (Romans 1)

    And this one is the most important.

    Jesus calls the Pharisees vipers (Matthew 23)

    Setting up a false system, whether its in the name of “love” or “obedience” is using God’s name in vain, breaking the 3rd commandment.

    2) Student wants to kill. Should you just love them?

    Actually, you should.

    Remember the thief on the cross?
    The Roman soldier? How many Jews did that soldier persecute?
    How about when the various disciples brought their cases before courts, in a loving way, to the people who were about to kill them?
    Paul and Silas in prison, bring salvation to the very guards that held them captive.

    I’m not saying that the desire to kill is the same as a perversion of sexual desire.

    Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men. nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
    (1 Corinthians)

    This is the problem, no matter what their desire, if they continually indulge in it, God will cut them off from the kingdom of heaven, the body of Christ. This doesn’t mean their sins aren’t forgiven and when they are relinquished from their temptation they won’t find themselves in heaven, but they will be ostracized on Earth, and that’s a curse from God.

    I’m not saying it’s our duty to ensure the curse, this is just a very clear warning from God.

    Now knowing that, out of love, what do you do for them?

    Do you remain silent on their sin, or warn them of the very dark consequences of it. I know what the consequences are for dark and perpetual sin. I will not be silent on a child choosing that path.

    When it comes to homosexuality, I often see myself as the catcher in the rye. Knowing children are running off a cliff because they can’t see through the field. How can I call, letting them die, love?

    I understand, don’t harm them out of hate.

    But don’t confuse this tolerance of sin, for love.

    • Xaade, I want to express this as respectfully as I can. I believe that you are acting out of love and a genuine belief in the position you espouse. But I wonder if you can hear what you’re actually saying. It is not your job to judge your fellow human beings and tell them that they’re sinning and this sin will lead to their eternal damnation. It is simply your job to love your fellow human beings and let God and Jesus judge us each in our time. You say that you’re trying to save them when you point out this “sin” (which is your interpretation of God’s word and not a universally accepted truth, by the way) and yet you’re willfully ignoring the verifiable and real fact that such badgering in the name of God does actual harm in a very real way to the very people you claim to want to help or save. Consider for just a moment the possibility that homosexuality really is as natural a state as heterosexuality and that however hard people with homosexual orientation pray, look to God or repent of the supposed sin that some people think it is, they will never be able to remove that from who they are as a human being. Can you understand how damaging it is for them to hear that who they are fundamentally at their very core as a human being is unacceptable to God and their very souls are doomed because of this? Science and every available resource of study tells us that orientation is not a chosen state and that most people cannot change that aspect of themselves. So to hear you telling them that they’re essentially irreparably broken is devastating. And we only need listen to the stories from thousands of people who say they were so filled with despair they tried to kill themselves because of this very message you’re so insistent we drill into them, out of some misplaced sense of Christian moral obligation, to understand how damaging it is. And that doesn’t even include those people who succeeded in killing themselves for that reason. How does this message help those people? If they die that way, have you saved their souls? Have you ‘guided them from the cliff of sin’? Have you helped them to a spiritual awakening? No, you’ve just contributed to the despair that leads them to their premature death. Let me ask you a simple question because this is something that I think the author has addressed very well and I often ask people. How much do you trust God? Do you believe that he needs your help to impose his will or do you believe that if you obey the new commandment that his son brought us directly and specifically (to love one another) that He will take care of the rest, that He knows how to reach the hearts of those members of his flock or to judge them in their time, and that He has a plan for those of his children just as he has a plan for you and for us all? I often wonder why some people insist so strenuously on judging others and pointing out their perceived sin, ‘for their own good’, instead of simply loving them and trusting the Lord to lead them where He wishes. The worst case scenario if you trust God and let go of that need to impose your own judgment on others is only that He will find his own way to address their sins, with the compassion and mercy that he has for us all. The worst case scenario when you impose your personal judgments on others in his name, and we know this because we have seen it happen over and over again, is that you drive those people to despair, that you cause them such genuine pain and anguish that they either kill themselves or live their lives perpetually believing that they’re unworthy in the eyes of God. I’m sorry. As I said, I believe your intentions are sincere. But with that much at stake, how can you choose to exert your own will upon them instead of trusting in God to help them find the way? You can’t possibly believe that you can do a better job of saving them than God himself. So why not show them love and compassion, help them open their hearts to God, and then let Him get his message through in whatever way He deems best? That seems like the most devout approach to me. Best wishes in your journey of faith.

    • One additional thought for you, xaade. You say:

      “I understand, don’t harm them out of hate.

      But don’t confuse this tolerance of sin, for love.”

      I would say to you that you can harm them even while loving them if the judgment you impose causes them pain.

      So my thought for you is this:

      I understand you don’t want to see them choose a wrong path.

      But don’t confuse this crushing of their hearts through your condemnation of their “sin” for love.

      Again, best wishes.

  45. This is such an amazing piece. I’ve lived my entire Christian adulthood trying to tell people that we can’t show them the love of Christ by pushing them away and constantly reminding them of their sins will push them away.

    It’s like my mother-in-law coming into my house and telling me that my bookshelf is dusty. Yes, my bookshelf is dusty, but I’m not hurting anyone and I’ll get to it eventually. If she keeps harping about my bookshelf being dusty, eventually, she’s not going to get invited back. If we keep telling people being gay is a sin and they should pray for forgiveness et cetera, we’ll eventually push them away and they’ll give up on Christ. Then WE will have to answer for that, and I’d really rather not.

    I’ve said it a million times – if we can welcome divorced and remarried people into our churches with open arms, we can equally accept gay people. We don’t tell people who have been married twice “go and sin no more.” They’re technically adulterers. Nobody has ever had a rebuttal for me for that.

      • Well our pastor did come out and say that if you divorced for reasons other than your partner abusing you or committing adultery, that’s fine. If you remarry, however, you are living in sin just like a homosexual marriage.

        Just because there’s an inconsistency in acceptance in most churches, doesn’t mean that you have to accept both. The answer may be that you reject both.

        If you want to talk to me about accepting people in, and loving them, ok. If you want me to never tell them they are living in sin and should stop, then you’re wrong.

  46. Oh. I get it now. The Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals are not upset about the existence of homosexuality. They are not upset about the fact that homosexuals are coming out of the closet. They are not even upset that homosexuals want equal civil rights. They are afraid that American society and the church are going to put a STAMP OF OFFICIAL APPROVAL on homosexuality.

    1) I should have recalled it from my AlabamaLive days back in 2000 where the fundies explained it to me. You see, if our government officially approves of homosexuality, as the U.S. Supreme Court is set to do in June (and they most definitely will), then the United States of America will officially become the NEXT SODOM. God will then rain fire and brimstone down on the United States, wipe it clean from the face of the Earth as a testament against it, and then the fundies will be be crying in the aisles because they will miss their chance at making the economic miracle of America come true for the first time in their own lives because there will be no America.

    2) Fundies are afraid that OFFICIAL GOVERNMENT APPROVAL of homosexuality will paint them into a cultural and social corner so tight that they will become unable to function as a normal citizen in American society without supporting homosexuality in some way, even if only tangentially. God will look down on these inadvertent and unavoidable sin and start taking their HEAVENLY REWARDS AWAY. He might even send them to HELL. So they want it to be seen on their EARTHLY REPORT CARD that they went to the John Pavlovitz blog (and probably 100 other blogs) and whined a lot about condoning homosexuality. SEE ME. SEE ME LORD. I WHINED A LOT IN YOUR NAME. Of Lord, I have painted the red blood of whining on my lintels such that thy angel of death will pass over my house when the United States puts its OFFICIAL GOVERNMENT APPROVAL on homosexuality.

    3) All the fundies were really sad when the United States government officially approved homosexuality. But they said, “Well, our butt holes will still be safe from sudden and unexpected penetration if we take refuge in the church. Now, here comes John Pavlovitz trying to condone homosexuality in the church. If he succeeds, our butt holes will no longer be safe anywhere. There’ll be no safe place we can flee to. “Why I could get AIDS this afternoon in the restroom at Target, bam from behind by a stranger, and I would have never even see it a’comin’!!!!!!”

    4) I guess this is what happens when you serve a God who has nothing better to do with his life than be angry at bags of water and protoplasm 24/7 and dream up eternal torture methods to use against weak and defenseless children who cannot quit sinning no matter how hard they try. But I have to ask a question. Do you really love God—or are you just scared to death of him?

    • You people are so strange. Right after John Pavlovitz approved the above post, my WordPress blog lit up like a Christmas tree.

      “Who is this guy? Why is he saying strange stuff like this? Is he a bundle of sticks? You know what maggot rhymes with… (Yeah, and spiggot rhymes with…) I want to drive my new Bigoti. Do you think he is a danger to the church? Maybe we need to form a second Internet Fundie Strike Team to go after him:

      “Aw-w-w-w-w–w-w Lord. We beseech thee that thou wouldst come down hard on old Charles. Turn him from this fag-supporting journey of his. Please we pray that thou wouldst change his mind and change his heart so that he might repent of his liberalisms and make his way to the doorway of one of our “Bobble Bleevin” churches so he can learn to hate his brother and sister just as much as we do. Lord we thankest thee that thou has made us and us alone righteous in a vast sea of iniquity. Thank you dear Lord for making us be better people than that Charles and all those fag kids over there in the corner. We are not wicked like him, for our wicks have been trimmed by the Lord himself.

      But I know what all of you are really worried about. It occurred to me in the shower just a couple of hours ago. One would think that it would have dawned sooner on an old social scientist like me. But now I know. I got your number on why you are so scared to death of homosexuals—and it ain’t got nothing to do with God or Jesus. They are just the excuses.

      • I’m not scared of homosexuals. I don’t go hide in the bathroom when the transgenders walk by.

        I know what those desires are like, and they are all dark paths. A man will never be anything more than a chopped up, mutilated, human that manages to look vaguely feminine if at all. It’s no different from a short girl cursing herself for not have a skinny body with long legs, and puking her dinner up.

        None of those things brings satisfaction, hope, joy, peace, or life. They are all facades. And it’s not like I’m here barring the gate and not letting them through to their own personal paradise, if only I would just accept who they are.

        No, I’m standing at a gate that opens to a pit, and hoping that someone listens to me before they fall off.

        I pity them.

        And as hard as it is to imagine that someone can say homosexuality is wrong and not be holding up a westboro sign, maybe, maybe just once you might accept the fact that I actually do care and know what I’m talking about.

        There are guidelines in the Bible, showing you how to be able to manage desire and be happy to live within your means, but as people find these guidelines as hinderances, they’ve been crossing them out one by one.

        “That one about men being with men and it being unnatural, it must have meant adulterous men with men. Happily married gay men should be ok.”

        That’s justification.

        And if no one can see, I give up.

        It doesn’t change how much I pity people who suffer with these ghosts, but what can I do to encourage them to strive against it, when everyone else is telling them the lie that the torture ends when you give in.

        Sure, grief is bad, and stuffing your face with ice cream makes you feel better, but that’s not joy or hope or love. Not when you wake up 10 years later needing your stomach stapled because food became your hiding place.

        I mean, you people do realize the Bible says there will be no marriage in heaven, right?

        • He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:8)

          You might try that sometime. However, it has been my experience that Bible verses like these get ignored as much by “you people” as the ones you claim we ignore. What are you going to say someday, “I was an insufferable prick for Jesus”?

  47. I was following and agreeing with your blog up until you mentioned “celebrating” with the young man or woman who came out. I think that is where the line to accepting or agreeing with the sin has been crossed. I first thought oh he meant celebrating the personhood and the honesty being shared. But, then I thought no it means celebrating his coming out and the young man or woman’s acceptance of their same sex attraction. So, although I agree with embracing that youth, and truly believe in living life with them, listening to them, being Jesus to them, taking up for them, drawing out their talents, both spiritual gifting and natural gifting, I still would not and cannot say it’s okay if they asked me. And what I’ve found is they normally don’t because they already know what you’re going to say like you’e mentioned in your post. Basically, they just want to feel safe, AND loved…… Here’s what I think it(sin) all comes down to, the main root-IDENTITY CRISIS. When we do not know who we are and who He is, we see ourselves skewed- spiritually, mentally AND sexually…also generationally. Anyways, I could go deeper in this but I know this post isn’t about the why’s of sin. So again, I totally agree with you that our part is to LOVE and not condemn. As I live among and continue to come into contact with youth and family that indentify as LGBT, I will continue to sow in love, and sow in who Jesus says they are- sons and daughters of the King. Only Holy Spirit can guide them and show them their reflection in the mirror that is arrayed in His glory. That’s when I see lives turned around, family’s grow and blessed with children. It’s a beautiful thing to see God transform hearts, minds and lives bringing about wholeness. Blessings!

    • Dawn…..Your kidding right. I dont inderstand how so many Christians seem to want to disregard science but embrace modern medicine. If you disregard the multitude of research done that clearly explains why being Gay is not a choice and how transgendered folks come to be brain sexed differently than biologically sexed……then STOP believing is high blood pressure meds, insulin, or asprin. Even the Creation story matches the same phases of the Big Bang theory…..as soon as someone explains to me how they know the length of Gods days before time…maybe we can sort that out.
      I have been Christian my whole life….been a youth counselor. …baptized….and struggled with WHO I was….but never walked away from WHOM I was. I am Gay….and I am Christian…..and they live in peace in my home and in my church. I am not malformed, depraved, or mentally unstable. I am a 53 year old grandmother with an amazing daughter, son in love, and grandsons. I walk every day in the way my parent taught me…To Love my God with all my heart and mind…and to Love my Neighbor as myself. Period.

      • Ms. Tigger. I have had Bobble-Bleevin Christians tell me that there is no possible way that a loving God would make a person in such a way that they would end up gay. Well. it is hard for me to believe that a loving God would make people so that they would be born as Downs Syndrome kids—but he does. Other kids are condemned to be juvenile Type 1 diabetics and die young because of it.

        What you have to understand is that Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals have no respect for scientific facts when those facts conflict with the fantasies they have built around certain scriptural passages. Basically, they are rejecters of factual truth, preferring instead the falsehoods they have read into scripture out of their own evil hearts. There is no hope for them. No hope.

  48. It really saddens me. How can we expect to show LGBT’s love when all we do is cut each other down in these comments. We preach “you better love those who are LGBT and not condemn them” followed up with “You fundies are the problem and a bunch of homophobes.” Does anyone else see the hypocrisy here? It’s easy to be loving toward those we agree with, but when it comes to debates like this it becomes apparent that we have a long way to go until we are really showing the love of Christ.

    • I will be happy to put down both my weapons and my rhetoric when they are willing to do the same—and when they quit trying to take over the government so they can use force to impose their will on me and my church. As long as they insist on being pharisees, someone on earth has to be the voice of Jesus in Matthew 23— giving them back the full measure of unresting Hell they insist on dishing out to other people. They brought this on themselves. I am simply the Lord’s servant holding up the mirror in front of their faces so they—but mostly other people—can see how ugly and hateful they really are.

      • I agree, some people really are hateful. I don’t go bashing people’s doors down. I don’t go protesting at funerals, or causing people a lot of pain for no reason. However, if someone insists on saying that homosexuality is not a sin, I will disagree.

        If I’m hateful for not agreeing with the normalization of sin, then so be it.

  49. Okay. Here is the epiphany in the shower for this old social scientist. Just as Emil Durkheim would see, certain scriptural passages are cited as the IDEAL for what is wrong with homosexuality and why it should not be condoned. However, Emil rightly discerned as a social scientist that the IDEAL is almost never what is actually going on in the culture. What is actually going on is usually very different when you get down and closely examine it. In this case, with the Christian Fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals, it is not the immorality they are really worried so much about per se. Not really. What they are really worried about is the practical impact of condoned and widely accepted homosexuality in their own cultural lives. You just said: “Say wha-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-t? Let me tell you a story.

    When I was a college student, I accidentally fell into a nonlove relationship with some unsavory characters. As it turned out, one of them was gay—but never really openly admitted it—although I strongly suspected it. He and I ended up being roommates in the dormitory—albeit briefly. He used a lot of really bad language, but he was a fairly nice person. However, I knew something was amiss when I would take a shower and shave in the dorm room. I would be there in front of the sink and mirror with my razor in hand. He would pull a wooden chair up next to me (uncomfortably close), look moon-eyed at me in the mirror, and make unusual comments about my shaving—all the while staring at me as I shaved. If you had been there, you would have said, “Oh my God. That is one of the strangest things I have ever seen anyone do.” He obviously had a crush on me and other things on his mind. I was straight and still am. He was gay—and probably still is.

    Here is the Emil Durkheim in all of this. Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals use scripture to spout the surficial Christian IDEAL about homosexuality, but they are really a lot more WORRIED about the PRACTICAL outworking of culturally and church condoned homosexuality in their own personal cultural and social lives down on Elm Street in Hicksville, USA. What do I mean by that?

    Our American culture has no developed and implemented cultural and social rules for dealing with open and condoned homosexuality in American society. The homosexuals do not know what proper and acceptable behavior is. The straight people do not either. There is a good reason for that—no one ever had to deal with it before because fear kept gay people in the closet so securely that social conflicts had no real chance to develop. You are saying no doubt, “Get to the point social scientist. You are losing me.” Okay. Let us do an examples. My shaving problem was one. Here is another

    Homosexuality is open and condoned by both the government and the church—and gays have all the same civil rights as other people. John is a straight stud and captain of the football team in high school. Paul is gay student and has a long distance crush on John. Paul dreams about John at night and doodles “I love yous” on his notebook paper while staring at him from behind in history class. One day Paul says: “Well maybe it might not hurt. I have to try though.” Paul asks John to go to the high school prom as his date.

    Our culture and society have no MUTUALLY UNDERSTOOD rules or social standards to cover an interaction like this. Here is what is going to happen though:

    1) John is going to be really pissed when this invitation to the prom arrives. For one thing, his buddies on the football team are never going to leave him alone. They are going to tease him into oblivion if they find out about Paul’s invitation.

    2) Paul is going to get some of the worst hurt feelings and sense of rejection any person on Earth has ever gotten.

    Sociocultural Rules:

    1) A gay person should understand that any date-based invitation to a straight person in high school is going to go badly. Stay away from it.

    2) Good-looking John probably already worries about an invite like this. Would a gay guy be crazy enough to ask me out on a date. “Oh my gosh. It could happen. What is the right way for me to handle this socially? I have no idea. Help!!!” The proper rule should be that he politely turns the person down by saying, “Sorry, but I am straight and not interested. I have already asked Sue.”

    3) Both Paul and John should be discreet about the invite and not blab it all over the school to cut down on gossip, teasing, bullying, and hard feelings.

    If I had the time, I could probably come up with 100 different sociocultural situations (and there are probably 1000s more) on the street, at school, at work, at play, out on the golf course, at church, in restrooms, or wherever when some potential gay-straight interaction or social faux pas might occur—and there are no set and mutually understood sociocultural rules to govern it—call it “mutually understood gay-straight polite society in given situations” if you like. As a social scientist, I can tell you that this sort of “not knowing and not having the rules” scares the very crap out of people—probably both gays and straights.

    This is the real and practical concern that I think really scares straight Christians so much. Many gay people may be just as scared about it as the straights are. People in all cultures throughout human history have had to deal with this sort of thing in one way or another, and mutually understood sociocultural rules get generated over time—and are established and respected in most instances—eventually. For example, “As a 1st century Jew, how do I properly interact with an Ethiopian gentile”?

    So, here is the deal. In an open society that condones homosexuality—and IT IS coming in both American society and the church—like it or not—how is mutual fear reduced and peace kept by setting mutually understood and accepted rules of social interaction. For example, it might be an understood rule that gay men do not appear to moon at the array of dicks in the changing room at the health club. HINT: Straight men know when their dicks are being mooned and feel threatened by it.

    This is the big FEAR at the practical level that really has Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals so upset—a total absence of laid and mutually understood social rules of interaction between gays and straights in an open society where homosexuality is accepted.

    When those rules are eventually set by the culture, mutually understood, and mutually accepted, I think a lot of the Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical rhetoric on LGBTQ issues will die down to a whisper.

    One thing LGBTQ people could start doing right now—even in the John Pavlovitz Sunday youth groups is to begin laying out your own draft ideas about sociocultural rules for gay student interactions with straight students—and try to figure out whether they would gain mutual understanding and respect among all students.

    Being a life-long straight person myself, I can tell you that Paul asking for a prom date with straight John on the football team in high school is a major league nonstarter. You just do not go there. Period.

    • You know, before I acknowledged my own sexuality, I was approached by a few lesbians and asked out. It wasn’t a non-starter. It wasn’t for my male friends in the same position. You know what we said? “I’m flattered, but no thank you.” If the other person looked embarrassed or hurt, we said, “That was really brave of you to ask. And I really am flattered. Are you OK?”

      Maybe this is a generational thing, maybe it’s something about where I ended up in life (after I was out of the homophobic place I grew up), maybe it was just about the friends I surrounded myself with, but taking care of the other person was always more important than our own insecurities. And I certainly have a lot of those.

      We decided not to police our LGBTQIA friends back into the closet by making rules they had to follow that would build walls between us. We still do this. I don’t see how it is so hard a concept for straight people to just accept that they might have to turn someone down. I mean, women have to all the time (and we have to fear assault in doing so). LGBTQIA folks fear the same thing for coming to you- maybe we all need to acknowledge the bravery of both outing themselves and admitting they are attracted to someone.

      Do straight people worry about hitting on LGBTQIA people as much as it seems they worry about being approached by them? I really don’t get this.

  50. I’ve been in youth ministry well over 10 years. This article should be required reading for anyone working with students of any age!

  51. God didn’t make anybody homosexual. This is a lie straight out of Hell. God does not make mistakes – at the same time, nobody chooses to be homosexual, either. There are numerous environmental factors that play into it, and they can be overcome only by the intervention of God, with the support of the church and the parents. But to think that God would create people for the purpose of explicitly engaging in behavior that He condemns is a dangerous lie.

    • Stacey.

      You’ll have to help us understand hope you choose your heterosexuality, and the environmental factors that led you to that “behavior”. I would love to hear your detailed story of choosing to be straight.

      By the way, what is homosexual “behavior”? Is it a sex act? If so, does the attraction, desire, inclination to love a person of the same sex also constitute “sin”?

      Jesus says that if we lust with our eyes, we are guilty of adultery, which means the thoughts are as sinful as the act. If you say that being gay is OK, just not the “acting on it”, you’re essentially say all gay people are doomed either way, since they will still have the desires.

      Are you asking gay people, in addition to not engage in sexual acts, to not be attracted to others of the same sex?

      • No, the desires are not sinful.

        But giving into the desires, and accepting them as a normal part of yourself, and indulging in them is sinful.

        Having the spare thought to hurt someone is not a sin. Spending time planning on how you will hurt them is sin. This is the difference between temptation and sinful thoughts. That’s one interpretation.

        Another interpretation is that even having the thoughts is sin.

        This interpretation is not contradictory with salvation, because that’s the entire point, WE ARE DOOMED TO SIN. It is outside of our control.

        Only through God’s intervention can one overcome sin. But you still have to live with it until God removes sin from the world.

        This just shows how desperately helpless we are.

        If one could overcome sin through their own effort, then salvation would be pointless.

        Only by accepting Christ does our righteousness get replaced by Christ’s righteousness, and then we are forgiven for sin.

        So, yes, homosexuals are doomed to commit sin. But dwelling in a lifestyle of sin, and committing thought sin are two different things. One is “sinning that grace may abound” and this is discouraged.

        • “So, yes, homosexuals are doomed to commit sin.”

          You’ve become the judge that I allow God to be. I ‘m not going to argue with you. I believe you are incorrect.

    • Stacey. If you will think about it for a moment, what you are really saying is that God knits together perfect children in the womb. We know that is not true because of Downs Syndrome babies and babies with all sorts of other gestational problems. It could very well be that homosexuality is a birth defect.

      I know for a fact it is not a choice because my gay friends are honest people. Before age 12, they were looking forward to normal lives with husbands, wives, and their own children. When the first day of puberty arrived—BOOM!!! Suddenly and out of nowhere this gay attraction trip lands on them like a dump truck load of bricks. Pain, hurt, agony, confusion, despair, and tears that the normally expected heterosexual inclinations did not show up at all. Stacey. It was just like if you went to bed tonight with two good feet and awakened the next morning to find that your right foot was now an electric toaster. Can you imagine how that would feel? That is precisely what gay people experience right out of the puberty gates. It is not a choice for them. It is not a lifestyle—whatever that is. If your preacher is feeding this story to you, he is either an ignoramus or a liar.

    • This is an utter, uninformed falacy and to perpetuate this attitude contributes to thousands of teen suicides every year. Please let God lead your heart and mind to love and acceptance of all God’s creatures.

      • I think some in the Christian community trivialize their own responsibility and the responsibility of their church to the causation of these deaths of gay youths. It is easy to be smug, kick back, relax, and say that “the wages of sin are death.”

        Most of you believe that your God is a “Hard Man” focused in on utter cleanness and absolute perfection—not being tolerant of even the slightest speck of dust on his robes. With respect to these LGBTQ children that you hate so much, who often seek after Jesus better than you do, I want to remind you that your sin is not of the Hostess Twinkie variety. You have blood dripping from your hands and your cloaks are soaked in it—and it is not the blood of Jesus. It is the blood of all the LGBTQ children you have driven to suicide with your hateful rhetoric and absence of love. You may not see this dripping blood on yourselves—but God does. Prepare your behinds for the Roto-Rooter when the JD comes—because as you all believe so intensely—He is a HARD MAN.

  52. I am curious about one thing- Jesus says a few times He desires mercy and not sacrifice. I unequivocally agree with you that we must love one another- and that Christ’s command to be perfect to each other just as our Heavenly Father is perfect is what occurs when a person commits their life to discipling after Christ and never gives up- it is the greatest “fruit of the Spirit” as Paul says. Love being patient is a love that waits with mercy on people’s slow responses to the fullness of the resurrection taking place in our lives- this is why Paul wrote about admonishing a new Greek Churh for three years when he first brought the gospel there in Acts 20… When did the Good News change? Where did the true Gospel go? You are no longer slaves to the sinful nature that has bound you- go and live worthy of the freedom you have been given. When did that stop being the Gospel and why have people stopped at, “You are no longer condemned by the sinful slavery you are bound to?”

    I mean- look around? When did sin become acceptable to those who have been made acceptable by the blood of Jesus Christ? Where it’s what men lie to themselves about pornography- or what a thief tells himself about his stealing- or a man living in a sexual relationship outside of marriage- sin is sin. There is a matter of sexual sin which God speaks of as early as the book of Levitacus. In the same place where God admonishes people about incestuous relationships, and adultery (all of which the Jewish forefathers and nation had been doing before this direction came from The Lord- see the story of Jacob and the story of Lot) The Lord directs men not to lay with other men- that it is an abomination to Him. He also says that while the whole world will make these practices normal- that everyone may do them- His children should not do them because of the fact of what we are: His own.

    Choice or not- Jesus shows incredible power and strength throughout His time on earth in overcoming what people did not choose. In my own life, apart from God and apart from the power of the Ressurection- I participated in homosexual activity and conduct. I would have called myself a homosexual. But when I came to Christ- my heart changed. I was not the same man. I do not know how to describe it. I prayed to God to change the desires of my heart, and God did. In all matters of sin, I have found that when I pray God changes the desires of my heart- homosexuality, drugs, alcoholism, pornography, cigarettes, cursing, rebelliousness, disobedience… He conquers everything for me- He does it for all who believe He will.

    • I am glad that you have had the experience you had, Mark. However, many, in fact the vast majority of gay people pray such prayers and some have for decades, without that answer. God may have desired for you, what He does not for someone else.

      Your experience of God is simply your experience. Millions of gay Christians have and another, and that’s OK. God loves and speaks to us individually.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  53. Why does this article lay the greatest commandment at the feet of the youth minister to the exclusion of the entire body of Christ?

    • Because I’ve written a dozen other posts doing that. As a youth pastor myself, I wanted to address this through that lens and to that specific, very influential segment of the Church. I thought the writing explained that.

  54. I love this post.

    I understand we are called to love and not judge.

    I was just wondering, you refer to a gay person as an LGBT person and use this interchangeably, do you feel they same toward Transgendered students as gay students? Being that the T in lgbT is inclusive of Transgendered people.

    I am just wondering because you did not mention this in your article.
    A transgender person may not consider themself to be gay.
    Not all transgender people are attracted to the opposite sex.

    • Hey Cali!

      “Gay” is sometimes used as an umbrella term, however you are correct in your understanding of bisexual individuals, many do identify as heterosexual.

      Sometimes it is difficult to talk about the LGBT community without sending incorrect or unintended messages to one segment of that very diverse group.

      I appreciate the comment. Thank you.

      • Our acronym is ever-expanding, too. I tend to use LGBTQIA these days to include queer/questioning, intersex, and asexual/agender in it, but it is a bit cumbersome and people tend to ask questions about what the additional letters mean. But there are also subcategories and other identities not even covered by it- pansexual, demisexual, and others. And I think there is a need for an umbrella term (one of my friends just calls us the “rainbow people”). I’m not sure, given the inclusion of transgender, intersex, asexual, people, even bi people, in the letters, that gay is the right one. Maybe we don’t even have a right one yet.

  55. It’s not our job to judge anyone. If you’ve sinned only once then you deserve the fires of hell. But Jesus paid the price for ALL sinners, and we are set free. Jesus did the work we can’t do.

    • Ah!!! But have you not heard? The fundies are going to judge angels one day—because they—and only they—are capable of performing “right judgement.” They can do all the judging they want to do because they are—well—perfect? I would suggest that God will one day disagree with that position because He—and only He—has the power of right judgement—and He is also capable of extending undeserved mercy. They never think about that—probably because they would be uninclined to show mercy to anyone themselves.

  56. John is right, youth workers and the Christian community needs to show love, care, and acceptance for those who come out within the LGBT spectrum. The job of the youth worker is to help them navigate wisely and with compassion, the confusion, shame, and myriad of messages that are out there on the topic from both sides.

    If you are a youth worker within a church which embraces the diversity message, and believe that an active LGBT lifestyle is compatible with Christ’s Kingdom values, then it should not be problem to walk a student through this. However, if you or your church does not hold to this theology, it will be much harder, though very doable. You must be that much more committed to communicating the love of Christ and His redeeming grace within the framework of your theology, and help them fully understand, without shame, the Biblical basis of your stance. This will be a challenge given the current cultural messages on the topic.

    The comments on John’s blog clearly represent the current war that is going on within Christianity on the topic. Neither side is going to “convince” the other, for both sides believe passionately and Biblically in the truth and validity of their position. I believe this WILL bring on a major split/chasm in the church in the near future. Unfortunately, one side is wrong. And we will not really know until we get to heaven. But I suggest that you all read and know your Bibles well, because as James says, “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly”. I’d hate to on the wrong side of the issue (and had counseled young people accordingly) when I stand before the King.

  57. Pingback: Do you remember WWJD? |

  58. God loves us all and only wants good things for us. He will not let anything happen that He can’t, won’t or hasn’t already redeemed. Our inability to love ourselves and others is totally based on our trust in this fact. The greatest commandment is Love the Lord your God. He meets our every need right exactly where we are. This focus is on God and He shows us how to love as we let Him love on us. It is a relationship that is as unique as each star, snowflake or grain of sand. BTW, gender is not an issue in heaven.

  59. Thank you for these words. I have a gay son, and I am a Christian. It hasn’t been a difficult thing for me on a spiritual level simply because I believe that Jesus is love. Period. I personally don’t think it’s a choice OR a sin. I look at my son who is “fearfully and wonderfully made” and I know that he is who he is. My job is to love him. We belong to a church that allows openly homosexual people to serve as priests and we are strong advocates for LGTB people. Why? Because God commands us to love everyone. I struggle with fundamental believers who want to use their beliefs as a weapon to wound my son, because no matter how they want to cloak it under a veil of kindness and love, it’s still a sword. At the same time, God also commands me to love them. So I do. At the end of the day, all I can do as a parent is love my son the way Christ loves me. As frustrating and hurtful as it can be, I know that my son is bathed in God’s grace and mercy every moment. I know that his relationship with Christ is a very powerful and intensely intimate one. The rest? Not up to me.

  60. After reading some, & skimming some of this (I couldn’t get through all of it), I must say I have some real issues with your approach! It seems like an attack on youth pastors & God’s Word.

    First, if it’s not an attack on God’s Word, you don’t seem to have a very high opinion of the Bible with statements like, “I’m not talking about ‘right theology'”…”your exegesis of Romans 1″…”they need something more than your theology”. Shouldn’t the Bible be our first priority in our daily lives as well as when we are leading a youth group? That should be the first place we go, yet you seem to want it tossed aside.

    ‘Right theology’ is how we stay on track. If you don’t believe me, do a study of Paul’s teaching on the importance of sound doctrine. He’s very adamant that sound doctrine is of utmost importance.

    Second: It isn’t “our theology”…or shouldn’t be. It should always be God’s Wisdom. That’s what we must count on to help these kids.

    Third, “Jesus formed in your flawed flesh”? What is this exactly? Some preudo-transfiguration? We are supposed to model Jesus in our lives on a daily basis. That’s a process that takes time. Over time, kids in our group will see us model Jesus in our daily lives and trust that…they may even bring a friend struggling with sexual issues to talk with us about it….or open up themselves.

    Fourth: “clobber passages” of the Bible? Really, clobber passages? It’s as though you are trying to make pastors afraid to use the Bible. God, who is love, doesn’t clobber people with His Word. People, not focused on God, can & do misuse the Bible to clobber others. And that should be avoided. That’s how I would have worded this. But not the way you framed it. If we extend your thinking then passages about drinking too much, lying, cheating, stealing, adultery & murder are also “clobber” passages, since they also tell us what God disapproves of.

    Your letter to youth pastors contained zero information on reading the Word, praying daily, or of seeking the council & guidance of the Holy Spirit. Knowing they have access to the rock solid council of God, that never goes wrong, is what will encourage them. God knew these kids before He formed them in the womb, they are in His hands, and each pastor needs to know that. God loves these kids and He knows how to reach each of them.

    As youth pastors it is up to us to seek God’s direction in how to guide these kids. We do it by reading & living the word, praying, and listening to the Holy Spirit.

    How can youth pastors ‘be encouraged’ after the attack you just hit them with?

    • Thanks for the comments, Mel.

      The bottom line is that Jesus always left people feeling more humanity, rather than less. His treatment of them was never dependent on their actions, or moral condition. Most LGBT can’t say that about the youth group experience they’ve had. Most of them are pushed out, made to feel inferior, or given an ultimatum for inclusion. There’s a better way, and this post asks pastors to consider how they might shepherd the LGBT kids in their midst.

      As Paul said, without love, even the most theologically correct person is a “clanging cymbal”. So yes, love does trump theology.

      Rather than pick apart your comments piece by piece, I’ll simply say that the post reflects the heart I believe youth pastors should have toward all of their students, in including those who identity as LGBT, and many have found it very encouraging. I’m sorry you didn’t.

      Appreciate the comments though.

      • ” was never dependent on their actions, or moral condition”

        Demonstrably false.

        He condemned the Pharisees for using God’s name in vain, creating a false religion and controlling the population through it.

        He said twice to go and sin no more.

        He treated Mary and Martha differently.

        His treatment of people depended on whether they were willing to have a repentant or faithful heart, and that is the foundation of moral condition.

        If Homosexuality is a sin (which it is), then Jesus would absolutely leave a person that refuses to repent from that lifestyle without any further instruction, as he did the rich young ruler.

        “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required” -Jesus.

        We have the full scripture here. Once that is given, these children will be held accountable to “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” -John the Baptist.

  61. Hey John, enjoyed reading your blog post. As a 22 year old who has many close friends who are gay and have had very discouraging experiences with the church during high school, I appreciated your emphasis on how to love and encourage. However in regards to your feedback to others’ posts that are not in agreement with your views, I think you respond very passive aggressively rather than supportive of each person’s journey towards greater faith and knowledge in God’s love. I just want to encourage you to humble yourself when engaging in discussion with others of faith who are seeking the Spirit’s guidance as much as you are. Obviously, this is a comment section where we can only express ourselves through text, so this is just an observation of mine.

    Now on to a more related topic about your blog post! Clearly we can always do more to express God’s unrelenting love to everybody, not just the LGBT community. From my own experience, I personally do not think this is the tough part of the situation though. This is where I think your exegesis of Romans 1 would have been helpful to your post because the hardest questions to come out of students in youth groups want to know “How can I pursue a fulfilling relationship with Christ while having a loving [homosexual] relationship?” All I can do in these situations is relay to them what the Word says (in my interpretation) that homosexual relationships are a sin. Thankfully, I can rest knowing that it’s not my job to convince of them of anything but it is my commandment to love them and pray with them that God would work in their hearts.

    The important thing about Jesus’ moments where he says “go and sin no more” is that these are incredible moments of a true encounter with Christ. Jesus always serves and cares for others first but there are those that he reveals himself to in the most incredible ways that all they can do in response is to no longer seek sinful lifestyles. And that is what is important, it is he who encounters people and directs them to the Father through his Spirit. Every day I am seeing how God works in the most mysterious ways and I pray that my LGBT friends will receive spiritual guidance in this issue.

  62. This is better. But it’s not enough. It is true that spreading hate for homosexual behaviour is not what they need. But I don’t think this is enough. Only acceptance is enough. I take that back. Welcoming and encouraging people to be who they are and not seeing it as any different is when it is addressed correctly. Calling this a “war” tells me you still have it wrong. The Bible has been used to discriminate for hundreds of years. This is nothing new. Slavery was kept around as long as it was because people pulled Bible verses out to say “God said keep slaves.” Women have been abused and kept from equal rights again with people pointing to the Bible. You’ve got it wrong if you are still saying it’s a war to win. The war is against those who still choose to turn a blind eye and point to a couple Bible passages and say “see- right there it says it’s wrong.” You are wrong. I am a Christian and I believe there is nothing wrong with homosexuality. So, yes, love them, but my question is why wouldn’t you and when will you REALLY be accepting.

  63. Loving a person is always the right thing to do, but if you truly love someone, you will also tell them the truth.

    As a Christian, ALL of the Bible is real to me. The history, the prophecy, the law, the Gospels, and the letters written by the Apostle Paul, who, I might add, was hand picked by Jesus Christ to carry God’s truth to the world. I might also add that homosexuality is sin just like any other sexual sin, which includes sex outside of marriage, adultery, in fact even lusting after someone. So what does that mean? Well from my point of view, I would say that not one person here commenting, including myself is innocent. The Bible is clear. ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. That’s why Christ chose to die on the cross. He knew we couldn’t do it, so he took our punishment. It is the free gift of redemption, and Christ backed his words with actions.

    People attempt to justify homosexuality by claiming a person is born like that. And to further justify the behavior, they claim that God would not condemn a person born like that. So it would seem to me that it would be a contradiction if God says homosexuality is a sin but “makes” a person like that. Personally, I think that’s a lie, and if you believe the Bible, a lie of Satan to allow a person to remain comfortably entrenched in their sin.

    So what examples does Christ give us to follow, certainly he was clear when he said that a physician doesn’t go to people who are well, but to people who are sick. According to Christ, we are all sick and he comes to heal everyone including the homosexual. He went to the woman at the well, who he knew was living with a man that wasn’t her husband, and he went to the Prostitute that the Jews attempted to use to convict Christ of blasphemy. There’s allot of speculation about what Christ wrote in the dirt that day, but based on the reaction he received from the crowd, I’m going with the theory that he was naming names and the sins they committed.

    We all have issues in our lives, sadly some have bigger issues than others, and all we can do is love them, move them closer to God, and be there for them as they deal with their issues. As a Christian, I plant seeds, and God waters the seeds I plant. I don’t convert, I don’t condemn, and while a person is still alive on this planet, I don’t judge where they will spend eternity. But if a person is committing a sin, and truly wants my input, I will tell them. Mind you, I have plenty of skeletons in my closet, and I’m as guilty as the next person. I have my own battles to fight, but some don’t realize the fight they’re in and must be told. Homosexuality is one such battle, and encouraging the behavior is not love. It’s a cowards way out of the issue and wrapped in a facade that appears to be love.

  64. John,

    I must say I agree with the post itself. I think it is a good warning to youth pastors not to ostracize youth who are struggling to find Christ. It’s here in the comments where we tend to disagree.

    We as Christians are not called to attack those struggling with the sin of homosexuality. We should not make it our goal to change those who say they are gay. Rather, we should show them the love Jesus, while instructing them in scripture as that is crucial in doing so, and pray that God will do the rest.

    I myself was guilty of berating my friend who accepted Christ and then later said he was gay. I spewed scripture at him, in the attempt of changing him back to the person I knew before. Now of course it is important for him to know the scripture, but the way I was hurling them at him wasn’t helping the situation one bit. Rather showing him love was the correct path. We can’t change people, only Jesus can.

    But I think that it is one thing to struggle with sin and another to give in. It is perfectly okay to struggle with homosexuality, as long as you acknowledge it to God and repent. If you make an active attempt to not give in to those temptations, you are making a conscious decision to follow God and his commandments rather than indulging in your own personal desires.

    And I will say this much as to the debate in general. It is never loving to call what God calls sin, love. That’s just my view on it. I see these posts from time to time and the long list of comments debating one another. It is saddening to see comments that call the opposing side of view stupid or the like. But I think it is more than okay to have an adult conversation on topics like these where we may or may not agree.

    Overall, the debate on homosexuality should not be at the forefront. Leading people to Christ should be. Once a student or young person (or just anyone in general honestly) comes to know Christ, then topics such as these can be addressed.

    • I am reminded of the woman who buys the dress at the end of the movie “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion.” Michele tells her that smoking is not good for her health. The woman says, “Really!!! No one ever told me that.”

      Let’s get serious here. This woman had heard 10,000 times that smoking is not good for her. I am appalled at all the people here who are really stupid enough to think that these gay kids at church have not heard the “gay is sinful” message 1000 times already. They know that—but yet you want to lovingly instruct them in what they already know—which does not make one lick of sense. This can mean only one thing. You want to seal these kids off in a room at church, clamp down full-court press on them, and inflict torture and guilt on them—even to the point of death—hard, relentless, and incessant until you get a response of “I am sinful and want to change,” even though they have no ability to make that change. To you, it all seems like such a simple choice—chocolate or vanilla. Your ignorance, as usual, precedes you. You people major in the minors and hold rife ignorance up as a virtue—and then put the stamp of Jesus on it. You are not fooling me.

      You hate these kids. You think they are little better than ooze worms,and you want to inflict some of God’s justice on them—hoping you will one day receive brownie points from “Own Ha.” You may fool other people with your sweet-sounding words—but I have seen how you behave when you are not visiting “a liberal sinner’s” blog where you have to behave yourselves. In your on cages, you behave like the devil himself—and do not deny it—I have seen it firsthand for the better part of 20 years.

        • Ralph, as someone whose comments all include threats of Hell and damnation for those who don’t agree with him, I’d reconsider your snarky response.

          You’ve essentially made that your calling card, though often self-righteousness creates that blind spot.

      • “You hate these kids. You think they are little better than ooze worms,and you want to inflict some of God’s justice on them”

        Don’t assume this much.

        “1000 times already”

        And how many times have we heard that divorce, outside of abuse or cheating, is a sin?
        How many times have we heard that overdrinking and gluttony are sins?
        How many times have we heard that lust is a sin?

        I’m sorry, having heard it before is not an excuse to cover your ears or complain about having to hear it, or to even suggest that hearing it again is hateful.

        The difference in this sin, is that the consequences are hidden. And all of the pushback, is against lying to people that homosexuality is not a sin. That’s it.

        Yet, people who are overweight have to hear from their doctors on every doctor visit, “You need to lose weight. It will help your blood pressure. It will help many of your health factors.”

        What did Jesus call himself?

        A doctor.

        Where does a doctor go?

        To heal the sick.

        So why do you think Jesus would be willing to go to the house of someone living in habitual sin and not at least convict that person of that sin? Would a doctor visit a sick and dying person on a daily basis and not tell them that they are sick and dying.

        Oh you’re ok, you’re healthy…?

  65. you people who are judging are the reason why I don’t go to church and have little faith in this “God” anymore. Living in the south is pure hell. I am not gay but I stand behind them completely bc they have a right to freedom of choice just like the rest of us. They are not hurting anyone. If you don’t like it then simply don’t go around people like that. But I have tattoos and I hate going to church bc of the judgement. Don’t judge thy neighbor is in the bible and no sin is greater than the other so those of you “Christians” who judge are sinning just like the “gays”, “those with tattoos” same context. But that is the reason I have lost hope and don’t believe much anymore. If only we had more people like John in our churches then a lot more people would believe and attend and not hate them like I do.

    • Sarah, the Bible is very clear about homosexuality, and sex sin in general. It is not judging if you go to a person and tell them what God has made clear. As for your choosing to go to church because of all of the judgmental people, that’s simply the excuse you’ve decided to use to justify it in your own mind.

      Understand this, I really don’t care what you do. You can look like the “Illustrate Man” (A novel by the way) for all I care, you can get drunk five days a week, and high on the weekends. You can have sex with whomever you want, and do whatever else you want. I’m not saying God will love you any less for it. But, if you should die in your sins, rejecting Christ as your Savior, and there is no repentance in your heart for the sins you’ve committed, then you will have to face the consequences of your actions.

      One last thing, if you think Christians believe we are sinless, think again. I fight daily with sin, and constantly ask for forgiveness for those sins. I have faith that God forgives my sins because of the sacrifice Christ made for my sins. But a person has to acknowledge that what they are doing is sin. How can a person be expected to be forgiven if they won’t even own up to their sin?

      Hopefully this will make it past the moderator, we’ll see.

      • Nothing is ever censored here, Ralph, unless it contains vulgarity or personal attacks.

        I believe your arrogance and spiritual superiority border on Pharisee levels, but that is not my concern. I don’t need to police your life,as you are accountable for you. I’m simply here to share my faith perspective, and I can do that without needing to argue into agreement.

        I’m glad you “fight daily with sin”. That is the only fight you need to concern yourself with.

        Your continual religious “threats” to me and others are also quite out of character for someone claiming to follow a Jesus who claimed not to come to condemn the world.

        I believe in your heart you are acting out of love, but it is certainly getting lost in translation.

      • I’m sorry, religious threats? I’m sitting here shaking my head in disbelief. The Bible is replete with so called religious threats. Do you recall the statement, “The wages of sin is death”?

        John, the consequences are very real, just as God’s love and judgment is very real, just as Christ’s anger at the money changers in the temple was very real.

        From where I sit, I hear you telling people that homosexuality isn’t a sin, and those who are homosexual should be comfortable with who they are. Something similar happened to Christ when Peter rebuked Christ. But you are free to read that for yourself. The passage is Matthew 16:21-23.

        I want to lastly add that Paul instructed Christians in Rome on what to do with a person who chose to live in sexual immorality. You may want to read 1 Corinthians 5:1-5.

  66. John, I couldn’t tell from reading your post – I know you think we should love all people (which is good), but do you think homosexual activity/thoughts are sinful or not sinful?

    • What do you think, Amy? Do you believe “homosexual activity” is sinful? I assume you do. By the way, please specify what that consists of.

      Do you also believe that “homosexual thoughts” are?

      Jesus says in Matthew 5, that if we lust with our eyes, that it’s the same as committing adultery. (so the thoughts are as sinful as the act itself). If we use that concept regarding LGBT people, then not only are their sexual acts/acts of affection sinful, but their thoughts about those acts are sinful as well. Therefore we’re saying that they are all hopelessly doomed because their very thoughts are an abomination to God. There’s no way they can escape God’s wrath, unless they don’t think they way their brains are wired to think.

      I don’t believe God would do that to LGBT people. I don’t believe Paul was referring to people born LGBT in Romans 1 either. The term “homosexual” didn’t exist at the time of the Bible. I don’t think the Bible refers to people born LGBT desiring to love another person I believe it refers to a pagan temple practice involving sex with stranger, and most often, otherwise heterosexual men having homosexual sex.

      • Seriously John, your understanding of the Bible is sadly convoluted. That’s too bad, because by telling people what they want to hear, you are keeping them from salvation, and I believe you will pay a heavy price for that when you come face to face with God.

        I will pray for you.

      • Oh you mean Matthew 6:5-15. Yeah, Christ wasn’t sanctioning one form of praying over the other. He simply said we shouldn’t pray with the intention of getting attention. I personally pray in private to eliminate distractions, but I engage in group (or public) prayer when praying with other Christians, or as you would put it, “fundies”.

        • Ralph,

          I’ll issue you a direct challenge:

          Search every blog post and every comment I’ve ever posted, and find one reference I’ve ever made to “fundies”, other than to tell someone else not to use that term. If you find one, I’ll shut down this blog.

          I won’t hold my breath.

          Meanwhile, be very careful as you sling insults and make assertions.

      • Well that was enlightening. I just took a look at your Facebook page, John. So to reassure yourself that you’re right, you laugh at others, and get others to stroke your ego.

        Well done.

        • What is enlightening, Ralph, is your inability to defend your beliefs, without attacking others or without throwing out of context Scriptures out, without attempt to justify using them in the conversation.

          I don’t need to reassure myself that I’m right. I’m prayerful, faithful, and thoughtful in how I write, speak, and minister. “Being right” is the Pharisee’s way. I’ll settle for being honest and trusting that God is more forgiving and less judgmental than some of His people. I’ll err on the side of loving people.

      • How about instead of closing your blog down because I may have made an error as to who said what, you close down your blog because you are telling people that homosexuality isn’t a sin? That is what you’re telling the homosexual communtiy, correct?

        • You can’t make a bold accusation, and then simply claim to have “made an error”. You called me out and placed words in my mouth I have never uttered. You don’t get a pass on that, I’m sorry.

      • Okay John, you want context, let’s go with context in accordance with the Bible.
        Leviticus 18 New International Version (NIV)

        Unlawful Sexual Relations

        18 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘I am the Lord your God. 3 You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices. 4 You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees. I am the Lord your God. 5 Keep my decrees and laws, for the person who obeys them will live by them. I am the Lord.

        6 “‘No one is to approach any close relative to have sexual relations. I am the Lord.

        7 “‘Do not dishonor your father by having sexual relations with your mother. She is your mother; do not have relations with her.

        8 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your father’s wife; that would dishonor your father.

        9 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your sister, either your father’s daughter or your mother’s daughter, whether she was born in the same home or elsewhere.

        10 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your son’s daughter or your daughter’s daughter; that would dishonor you.

        11 “‘Do not have sexual relations with the daughter of your father’s wife, born to your father; she is your sister.

        12 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your father’s sister; she is your father’s close relative.

        13 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your mother’s sister, because she is your mother’s close relative.

        14 “‘Do not dishonor your father’s brother by approaching his wife to have sexual relations; she is your aunt.

        15 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your daughter-in-law. She is your son’s wife; do not have relations with her.

        16 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your brother’s wife; that would dishonor your brother.

        17 “‘Do not have sexual relations with both a woman and her daughter. Do not have sexual relations with either her son’s daughter or her daughter’s daughter; they are her close relatives. That is wickedness.

        18 “‘Do not take your wife’s sister as a rival wife and have sexual relations with her while your wife is living.

        19 “‘Do not approach a woman to have sexual relations during the uncleanness of her monthly period.

        20 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your neighbor’s wife and defile yourself with her.

        21 “‘Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molek, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.

        22 “‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.

        23 “‘Do not have sexual relations with an animal and defile yourself with it. A woman must not present herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it; that is a perversion.

        24 “‘Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. 25 Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. 26 But you must keep my decrees and my laws. The native-born and the foreigners residing among you must not do any of these detestable things, 27 for all these things were done by the people who lived in the land before you, and the land became defiled. 28 And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you.

        29 “‘Everyone who does any of these detestable things—such persons must be cut off from their people. 30 Keep my requirements and do not follow any of the detestable customs that were practiced before you came and do not defile yourselves with them. I am the Lord your God.’”

        Leviticus 20 New International Version (NIV)

        Punishments for Sin

        20 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Say to the Israelites: ‘Any Israelite or any foreigner residing in Israel who sacrifices any of his children to Molek is to be put to death. The members of the community are to stone him. 3 I myself will set my face against him and will cut him off from his people; for by sacrificing his children to Molek, he has defiled my sanctuary and profaned my holy name. 4 If the members of the community close their eyes when that man sacrifices one of his children to Molek and if they fail to put him to death, 5 I myself will set my face against him and his family and will cut them off from their people together with all who follow him in prostituting themselves to Molek.

        6 “‘I will set my face against anyone who turns to mediums and spiritists to prostitute themselves by following them, and I will cut them off from their people.

        7 “‘Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the Lord your God. 8 Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the Lord, who makes you holy.

        9 “‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death. Because they have cursed their father or mother, their blood will be on their own head.

        10 “‘If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death.

        11 “‘If a man has sexual relations with his father’s wife, he has dishonored his father. Both the man and the woman are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

        12 “‘If a man has sexual relations with his daughter-in-law, both of them are to be put to death. What they have done is a perversion; their blood will be on their own heads.

        13 “‘If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

        14 “‘If a man marries both a woman and her mother, it is wicked. Both he and they must be burned in the fire, so that no wickedness will be among you.

        15 “‘If a man has sexual relations with an animal, he is to be put to death, and you must kill the animal.

        16 “‘If a woman approaches an animal to have sexual relations with it, kill both the woman and the animal. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

        17 “‘If a man marries his sister, the daughter of either his father or his mother, and they have sexual relations, it is a disgrace. They are to be publicly removed from their people. He has dishonored his sister and will be held responsible.

        18 “‘If a man has sexual relations with a woman during her monthly period, he has exposed the source of her flow, and she has also uncovered it. Both of them are to be cut off from their people.

        19 “‘Do not have sexual relations with the sister of either your mother or your father, for that would dishonor a close relative; both of you would be held responsible.

        20 “‘If a man has sexual relations with his aunt, he has dishonored his uncle. They will be held responsible; they will die childless.

        21 “‘If a man marries his brother’s wife, it is an act of impurity; he has dishonored his brother. They will be childless.

        22 “‘Keep all my decrees and laws and follow them, so that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out. 23 You must not live according to the customs of the nations I am going to drive out before you. Because they did all these things, I abhorred them. 24 But I said to you, “You will possess their land; I will give it to you as an inheritance, a land flowing with milk and honey.” I am the Lord your God, who has set you apart from the nations.

        25 “‘You must therefore make a distinction between clean and unclean animals and between unclean and clean birds. Do not defile yourselves by any animal or bird or anything that moves along the ground—those that I have set apart as unclean for you. 26 You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.

        27 “‘A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death. You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads.’”

        1 Corinthians 6 New International Version (NIV)

        Lawsuits Among Believers

        6 If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people? 2 Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! 4 Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, do you ask for a ruling from those whose way of life is scorned in the church? 5 I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? 6 But instead, one brother takes another to court—and this in front of unbelievers!

        7 The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? 8 Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters. 9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men[a] 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

        Sexual Immorality

        12 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”[b] 17 But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.[c]

        18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

        Romans 1 New International Version (NIV)

        1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— 2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life[a] was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power[b] by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from[c] faith for his name’s sake. 6 And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

        7 To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people:

        Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

        Paul’s Longing to Visit Rome

        8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. 9 God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you 10 in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.

        11 I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— 12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters,[d] that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.

        14 I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome.

        16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last,[e] just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”[f]

        God’s Wrath Against Sinful Humanity

        18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

        21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

        24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

        26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

        28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

        I have no problem with putting the Bible into context, just as you apparently have no problem with distorting the truth.

        • So: 20: 9 “‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death. Because they have cursed their father or mother, their blood will be on their own head.10 “‘If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death.

          Do you believe these words? Does God sanction this? Should disrespectful teens and people who have affairs be put to death? Since you’ve included these verses, without commentary, I assume so.

          That’s the problem with just tossing Scriptures into conversations in place of the conversations themselves.

          Enjoy your stone-throwing.

      • That’s the best you can do, John? That’s been done before by the way. When Satan tempted Christ for 40 days, he twisted the Bible to distort the actual meaning.

        But you know as well as I do, I was giving example after example to show that you are in error, not to illustrate how a person should be punished for their sin.

        While people are still living and breathing, they can be saved from their sins, and that includes the sex sin which is homosexuality. But to be saved they must ask for forgiveness and repent of their sin. By telling those who are caught up in the sin of homosexuality that it’s not a sin, you are effectively blocking their healing. THEIR BLOOD IS ON YOUR HANDS, JOHN!

      • “Therefore we’re saying that they are all hopelessly doomed because their very thoughts are an abomination to God. There’s no way they can escape God’s wrath, unless they don’t think they way their brains are wired to think.”

        That’s absolutely what the Bible says.

        We are born sinners, we are doomed from day one.

        That’s how deep the need for salvation runs.

        That’s how deep God’s love runs.

        Anyone that points out homosexuality and says that, “That sinful lifestyle is worse than my sinful lifestyle” is a liar, and totally missed what grace is and means.

        How many thoughts do you have that are an abomination to God?
        How many lustful thoughts of women who aren’t your spouse do you have?
        How often have you caught yourself thinking things that are unholy?

        If you say none, the Bible says you are a liar.

        If you admit you do, then you are no less “doomed” than a homosexual.

        You’re teetering dangerously close to the thought that “God wouldn’t make us knowing we were doomed to sin”. Which inevitably leads to either redefining God, or dismissing God entirely.

        • Your desire to justify being less than loving and compassionate toward LGBT teenagers is well noted on this thread. As a student pastor, I find that incredibly sad.

          Thanks for commenting.

      • And what about adults who are born attracted to little children.

        Go look up the stories about people who are afflicted with this curse and choose to not act on it. It’s almost word for word what the person denying their homosexual nature will say.

        Do we just love them? Do we just say, no it’s ok, you were born this way?

        And before you say that children are helpless victims, that’s how I view people indulging in homosexuality, as victims to themselves to have compassion and pity for.

        Because I know exactly what they deal with.

        I know exactly what those thoughts are like, and I know exactly how dark and how much death that path is paved with.

        And I know, if I feed that temptation by dwelling on it, it becomes stronger until I’m overcome with depression and guilt.

        But if I instead choose to deny that nature inside of me, and follow Christ, I put that behind me daily, that I will experience Joy.

        I choose which path to feed, and I have to make that choice daily.

        I have first hand experience exactly how that works, and it works exactly the same for EVERY temptation. They all work the same. You deny that the particular desire/sin/temptation is a part of your sanctified self, and you walk away from it.

        No, you are lying to these people that they can somehow accept this part as being truly a part of themselves and just accept that they have to allow it in their life. All because you are afraid of facing the criticism of telling people the truth.

        • If you wish to equate an adult preying on a child, with two consensual adults choosing to be in a loving relationship with one another go ahead, but I would say that’s a heart problem that you need to address.

      • “Your desire to justify being less than loving and compassionate toward LGBT teenagers is well noted on this thread.” – John

        “Anyone that points out homosexuality and says that, “That sinful lifestyle is worse than my sinful lifestyle” is a liar, and totally missed what grace is and means.” – Lee

        Please, tell me, how do you reach that conclusion from my statement.

        How do you go from me saying that thought sin is sin, that all sin is equally bad, and that we need a savior…
        To saying that I’m somehow less compassionate to LGBT?

        At this point you’re not even considering my comments in a fair and logical manner.

        I basically said that we are all equally sinners, all equally fallen from perfections, and all equally needing a savior…

        And you’ve stated that even mentioning that homosexuality is a sin is being less than loving.

        You are actively subverting the salvation of Christ, by denying the imperfection of sin.

        You are artificially planting yourself as savior of these teenagers.

        “If you wish to equate an adult preying on a child, with two consensual adults choosing to be in a loving relationship with one another go ahead, but I would say that’s a heart problem that you need to address.”

        Yes, absolutely, because both are sin. Both take a person from being perfect to falling short. I’d equate that with stealing a candy bar at a shop, because both are going to separate you from God.

        But the similarity between those two are deeper because both are taking the relationship that creates families, the relationship that Christ used in almost all of his parables. The relationship that Christ used to explain his relationship to the church (The Bride). The first relationship he created on Earth between humans. Taking all that and subverting it into a lie. That’s how they are similar.

        You go ahead and rank sin, but that doesn’t change the need for a savior.

        This discussion is no longer fruitful.

        What I will do is pray for all the children who are suffering from hate on one side and false love on the other. Hoping that they will find the Joy on the narrow path, for wide is the path to hell.

      • One more thing before I go.

        I have defended my position with scripture. In any case where scripture is ambiguous, it is paramount that you seek the answer through great prayer and supplication.

        If the Bible is ambiguous on homosexuality as a sin as you suggest, then that means you had to have asked God for guidance, to have formed this opinion.

        I only ask that you be sure that God has weighed in on this in your heart, because the eternity of lives is at stake.

        How much will you risk whether you are wrong? Your will won’t save them.

        Please be sure.

        That’s all I ask.

        I am pleading with you.

        • You know, we ALL fall short of the standard required to earn our place in Heaven. That’s why God’s Grace and Mercy are necessary.

          If we talk about homosexuals as being unsaved, regardless of their belief in Jesus, and His sacrifice for all who believe (John 3:16), then we get into the realms of LOSING our salvation (presumably due to unconfessed/unrepented sin).

          That’s a theological minefield. Scripture makes it clear that once we accept Jesus, we are assured of eternal security. A homosexual who believes in Jesus may WANT to remain celibate, or may even WANT to become heterosexual, but whatever they WANT, they may fail in that, and have sexual contact with someone of the same gender.

          Apparently, that means they’re going to hell.

          So let’s look at a heterosexual Christian who WANTS to not have sex outside of marriage, but his or her weak will means they have sex with someone of the opposite sex that they’re not married to.

          Where are they going?

          Or a Christian who has a history of drunkenness, violence, bad language, drug addiction, theft, or anything that a Christian shouldn’t do. Suppose they fall to the temptation. Are we saying they’re going to hell?

          If you say not, then what is different about homosexuality that separates it from any other “non-Christian” behaviour? Why are they still saved, when a gay person is doomed?

          And if you say the answer is yes, they ALL go to hell, then you have completely misunderstood the significance and power of the cross.

      • “And if you say the answer is yes, they ALL go to hell, then you have completely misunderstood the significance and power of the cross.” – iivlxvii

        Well, they would ALL go to hell without grace.

        “So let’s look at a heterosexual Christian who WANTS to not have sex outside of marriage, but his or her weak will means they have sex with someone of the opposite sex that they’re not married to.”

        I believe that we all equally need grace.

        But I also believe that a true born again Christian will eventually be convicted of their lifestyle choices that are sinful, and will either repent from them, or forever live in guilt and conviction.

        They may make it to heaven, but they’ll be holding fewer crowns to use in their worship. And they’ll live with more suffering.

        “If we talk about homosexuals as being unsaved”

        I never said that. Again, what I’m talking about is that we are doing a disservice by placing a stamp of approval on LBGT lifestyles because we are afraid to speak truth because we are afraid of driving them away.

        The focus of discussion for a lost person is their salvation, but after that they are accountable for the faith.

        The key image to remember is when they get to heaven and God offers to remove their temptation of sin, will they choose that and God, or will they choose to keep their sin?

        The people in hell, will be in hell, because they love their sin more than God.

        • I would say there are very few Christians who actually love their sin more than they love God. But let’s imagine sin is chocolate. Now I love God with all my heart and all my strength, but sometimes that strength isn’t enough to resist chocolate.

          I don’t love chocolate more than I love God, but I do have a weakness for it.

          All Christians sin, because it doesn’t matter how strong we pretend we are, we all have weaknesses, and we all succumb to those weakness from time to time.

          Pretending homosexuals are any different to you and me is heresy. Pretending their sin is unrepented, while our aren’t, or that homosexuals enjoy sin while the rest of us hate it, is heresy. You know which sins you commit because you’re weak, and which ones you commit because you enjoy it. And what we enjoy, we don’t truly repent.

          You talk about putting a stamp of approval on the LGBT lifestyle; nobody’s actually doing that. What we’re doing is saying that the LGBT lifestyle doesn’t preclude salvation. Once a person is saved, their sin (regardless of its nature) becomes the target of the Holy Spirit’s convicting power, and it is then something between Him and the individual with the sin.

          At that point, it continues to be none of our business. Otherwise, we’re saying we can do a better job than the Holy Spirit. Do you really want that claim hanging over you on Judgment Day?

          Sure, we can offer advice if it’s sought. But we don’t have the right to charge in, all guns blazing, just because their sin is out in the open and ours is well hidden. As you say, we all need Grace. Let that Grace then be sufficient.

          • I’m not talking about “charge in, all guns blazing”. I’m talking about lovingly warning them about the dangers of that lifestyle from someone who knows about the dangers because I deal with them daily. I daily remove the plank from my eye, and that’s the only reason I can talk to people about it.

            I find it ironic that people who don’t deal with this temptation, are telling me, while I do deal with the temptation, that I’m being hypocritical and judgmental for warning people about the dangers of this temptation and the need to abstain from it.

            “You talk about putting a stamp of approval on the LGBT lifestyle; nobody’s actually doing that. What we’re doing is saying that the LGBT lifestyle doesn’t preclude salvation. Once a person is saved, their sin (regardless of its nature) becomes the target of the Holy Spirit’s convicting power, and it is then something between Him and the individual with the sin.”

            Silence can be confused for approval, that’s my only point. I’m not condoning the hateful people out there for their actions. Don’t assume that of me. I generally take an approach that, if people don’t ask me about it, I won’t tell.

            However, there are opportunities where I speak up.

            1. A public discussion
            1. Someone asks me whether homosexuality is a sin.
            2. Someone says that if I mention homosexuality is a sin, then I’m judgmental and unloving.

            “At that point, it continues to be none of our business. Otherwise, we’re saying we can do a better job than the Holy Spirit. Do you really want that claim hanging over you on Judgment Day?”

            Then what right did Paul have to admonish the church?
            The Bible is full of >>> people <<< telling other people that idol worship is wrong. God didn't hover over Israel and with a miraculous voice say something, he sent the prophets to say God said something. Now he has the complete Bible.

            The only reason this sin isn't confronted is because there aren't any outward expressions of damage. Spouse abuse, excessive drinking, gluttony, violence. All these things are spoken against and we don't have this conversation. However, indulgence in homosexuality is damaging, to the person. I can confirm this to be true for myself. I see incredible darkness in following that path. The lie is very damaging.

            "Sure, we can offer advice if it’s sought. But we don’t have the right to charge in, all guns blazing, just because their sin is out in the open and ours is well hidden. As you say, we all need Grace. Let that Grace then be sufficient."

            Let me make it clear.

            I'm not talking about confronting lost people. I never confront lost people about their sin other than to say that they are sinners and need salvation. I never say they have to clean up first, because that's not scriptural.

            What I'm talking about is confronting people who claim to be Christian and want to tell people that this lifestyle is acceptable to God. And I feel, failing to confront people who are established in the church, with the sinful nature of this lifestyle is allowing people to inform themselves that the lifestyle is acceptable.

  67. Reblogged this on David V. Goodwin and commented:
    I don’t know if you all got to read this yet, but this is an important post regarding siblings of ours in our churches.

    Personally, I see this letter to a youth pastor being just as relevant for a senior pastor. Perhaps I’m wrong. I’m only a student.

  68. I normally don’t get into these discussions with strangers, but I have to say that I think this thread has taken a turn for the worst. I don’t really see why it always has to turn into an argument. The world can debate all day on whether or not homosexuality is a choice, and maybe even right or wrong. As Christians, which it seems most in this thread claim to be, we don’t have to debate right or wrong. The Bible clearly lays this out. It also clearly lays out how to treat others. As a Christian, I can (and should) love someone in the LGBT community just like anyone else. I don’t have to agree with their beliefs and they don’t have to believe mine. If they choose to know my beliefs, I can clearly say that I believe homosexuality is a sin (as any other). My love for them shouldn’t change and they shouldn’t expect me to change my beliefs to accept theirs. That would be the same a me trying to force them to change. That’s God’s job, not mine. It is my job to love them, but also share the Word of God. I am a sinner just like anyone. As soon as we start altering God’s Word to fit our lifestyle, we are on a slippery slope.

    • I agree with this.
      The only exception being pastors themselves. If you are called to preach the truth, then you have to mention at some point that INDULGING in homosexuality TEMPTATIONS is a sin.

      People are all tripping over whether having the desire is a sin, careful to avoid the real issue, whether indulging is a sin, and it is.

      Many people are born with particular desires which are sinful. Being born with a weakness, doesn’t mean you lower the bar.

  69. I’m breathing with relief now having read this blog post. While I am not a Christian ( I regard myself as believing in God however from a spiritual perspective) I’ve been struggling to know religion can be safe. I can’t deny the power of some of the content here, it touched me deeply. I’m heterosexual, but believe in everyone’s right to be accepted without the pressure to be someone they are not. Well done for challenging the status quo, this can really change the world in a positive way.

  70. What is a wordless grace? How does one “make Jesus tangible and touchable”? Oh, I know he says it happens in some mystical sort of way, a new “hip” kind of Lord’s Supper communion without the Lord’s Supper. He wants us to show the greatest commandments; that’s the old “a picture is worth a thousand words” cliché. But it’s those words that give life, not the picture. He wants to completely ignore what God says in His Word (yeah, that’s right, the Bible, Scriptures and verses and the like). God says the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. If you really want to make a difference (another tired cliché), then preach the gospel, proclaim the truth about King Jesus. Now if he wants to preach the truth in love, I am with him; but if he wants to put the Word of God on the shelf and replace it with some warm fuzzies, he’s against God. We are not their judge, but if we fail to warn them that there is a judge, can we really say we love them? We can talk to them in love the same way Jesus did with the woman at the well (John 4). He exposed her sin in a loving way. How about the woman taken in adultery (John 8)? Again, Jesus loved her, did not condemn her, and told her to go and sin no more. Oh and by the way, Jesus did all this with WORDS (aka, the Word of God). Sometimes well-meaning pastors try to out-love God.

  71. Your comments are very loving. However, surely the debate is not just about LGBT issues, but human sexuality. Is it OK to have sexual relations outside of a publicly declared commitment to another person, which society calls marriage?
    What is a same sex or bi teenager to do with their feelings of attraction and their sex drive?
    What about a hetero teen? Or a an older unmarried person, young or old of any sexual inclination?
    What is a gay teen who wants to be a Bible believing Christian, and has read all the relevant verses to do? Does all this mean they must live celibately as the Bible says the unmarried, the widows and the widowers must do?
    Paul says it is better to marry than burn with passion, so what are all these people to do with their
    passion? In the country I live in, both civil partnership and full marriage is available to gays and discrimination against them is illegal.
    Many gay or bi teens are wracked with guilt and despair about their sexual orientation. They’ve prayed or been prayed over, yet their orientation hasn’t changed. They have to face their parents and peers and they are finding it very difficult to experience the abundant life, Jesus came to give us.
    Despite some confident assertions on this blog, the peer reviewed scientific causes of same sex orientation have not been found. No one has found a “gay” gene, or inutero or external causes or factors which definitively create same sex orientation. So the orientation is not a choice.
    If such a “gay” gene is found, then it will raise profound moral questions about aborting such foetuses, as some throughout the world might want to do.
    Society, is changing ever more quickly, and Christ’s body on earth must debate and fast and pray and ask the Lord what He would have us do.
    In the meantime we must love sinners and hate sin, especially our own which should always be before us. It is by grace we have been saved, so that none of us may boast, except in the Lord who loved us and gave Himself for us.
    LGBT teens, know that Jesus loves you, and know too that there are many who feel your pain and hold you in their thoughts and prayers. With Jesus help you will find a way through.
    Thank you Pastor John for raising this important issue, may He pour His blessings on all you seek to do for Him

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  75. John, great post. I was basically born in the church. My dad was a Presbyterian Pastor with four degrees and mom a Pentecostal. I was raised Conservative and my wife went to a Baptist Bible college. When our son who was 13 years old told us he was gay it hit us hard. We cried and questioned God. We read the bible and sought help from those who walked similar paths. Now, over a year and we see how precious our son is. Yes, the church has been the one institution that has hurt him. But my son is forgiving and still open to Jesus. He loves going to Youth Group but is still alone. Despite that he is reaching out to other gay kids because he sees so many who are fearful from what happens at home and in the church. I admire that. Today, we love him unconditionally and we have such a compassion to the LGBTQ Community. You know, I am reminded of the scripture where it says that we are to go into the highways and biways to bring people into God’s kingdom. Many in the church won’t do this but we will and it is about time.

  76. I want to leave a comment, and I do not need a reply. I am a sinner. I need to be loved, and sometimes, as the scripture directs, I need someone to point out my sin and guide me toward repentance. I KNOW I sin.
    My daughter is gay. She has decided that she wants to be a man instead of a woman. This “doesn’t hurt anyone” is a lie! It hurts more than you can imagine. I love her. I prayed for a daughter. I wanted a baby girl and God blessed me with her! I still love her, but I struggle every day with her choices. I will always love her, she will ALWAYS be my baby girl. She knows I do not agree with her choices, but I do not have to beat her over the head with it. I do however have to LOVE her.
    I agree with your post John. ALL kids just need to be loved. They KNOW they sin. Sometimes they need to be reminded and guided in the right direction, but more than anything else, they need to feel safe and loved.
    We live in a broken, cursed world. We are born broken, ALL OF US! We ALL sin. And without Jesus, we all have to pay for those sins (even though we may or may not have chosen them). Only Jesus can free us and who in the world would choose Jesus if all they see is hate. Jesus LOVED. We are called to LOVE. He did say, “go and sin no more” but FIRST He loved, He protected, He healed. How will they listen if they are hungry? Hungry for love and safety. So yes, John is right! All kids need to feel safe and loved before we can ever give them direction!
    I don’t agree with everything John says, but this is so true!
    Love them while you can! Point them to Jesus when you can! Pointing out their sin without first loving them will only push them further and further away.
    I am struggling with the church and my faith more than ever. The “church” as a whole looks more like the pharisees and priests of the New Testament to me than it looks like Jesus. I want to resemble HIM more.
    Feed the hungry… clothe the naked… visit the sick and those in prison… love them! This means more than just physical food and clothing! (although it applies to that as well)
    Thank you for letting me share.

  77. John, you say in your ‘about’ section that you want to live out the ‘red letters of Jesus’. Perhaps you might want to consider that when Jesus first came into ministry after being baptised and tempted by Satan in the desert that the very first words he spoke when he began to preach were “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near”, echoing the earlier words of John the Baptist. Repentance of sin (no matter what it is – homosexuality, pride, adultery, murder, stealing etc etc etc) is vital for salvation because it is turning away from that sin, being forgiven through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and following the Lord as His disciples. We don’t just repent once, it is ongoing as the Lord convicts us of our sin because sanctification is an ongoing process of the Holy Spirit working in our lives to make us more and more like Jesus. It is interesting also that in the book of Revelation when John sees the vision of Jesus Christ he falls at His feet as though dead. Then Jesus shows John the vision of the end times and wants him to write down all that he sees…what is now and what will take place later. All these words of Jesus are written in red. Jesus then speaks about the seven churches, from the church in Ephesus to the lukewarm Laodicean church. He clearly mentions what their sins are and calls them to repent. In Revelation 3:19 Jesus says “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.” As Christians, whether we are youth pastors, senior ministers, or just lay Christians we need to be reminded of this. God’s Love includes both grace and discipline. If we preach one and ignore the other we may as well toss out half the Bible.

    • I don’t believe in all the sin that you identify as sin.

      Repentance is what Jesus leads us to as the Holy Spirit convicts us of it, not what someone else prescribes for us.

      • Dear people on the blog,
        I know this is a late comment, but as a gay youth who goes to church regularly and graduated from college, I’ve heard all the comments from above. From how I’m going to hell or that I’m loved. But, no matter what comments people say, I have no doubt that I love men and yet I believe in God. As a kid, I always knew I was attracted to guys, it’s kinda obvious as you get older and bodily functions seem to happen when I think of guys and not girls. It’s just the way I’ve always been, but I hated myself. I wished I wasn’t so different to the point where I became depressed, had an eating disorder, and attempted suicide multiple times. I have scars to prove it. Yes, you should love and accept your youth for who they are and celebrate their coming out because they have courage and bravery to not only come out, but survive all the hateful comments from people like you. Be the influence in their life to be themselves and not be like some youth who end up dead. God loves everyone, and if a guy who sleeps with a guy goes to hell, so does the child who lied to their mother. That is all.
        Sincerely,
        Bryson Jones
        Gay, Christian, human.

        • Thank you thank you thank you for sharing. My friend called me once as a teenager and asked me outright if he should kill himself because if he was gay, and god was going to damn him anyway, what was the use of waiting around for it? It was because of comments like the above that he asked this question. That as a 15/16 year old, I had to convince him to stay alive.

          If these people want to know what hurts, it’s being that kid in pain. It’s being the friends scared of losing them. It’s knowing that the faith community they trusted their entire childhood was what was causing this belief.

          Jesus did not badger anyone to suicide. The voices above collectively have.

          Bless you, stay strong.

  78. I watch a movie based on a true story and always wonder how true it is. The heart longs for good but especially for true good. I like that John bravely addresses a critical issue. I agree with John that youth pastors (and pastors) have people struggling with homosexuality in their faith communities. I disagree with all the dichotomies John advocates. A person can love purely AND express doctrine (i.e. core truth). A person can love AND have an “agenda.” Spirit-filled Paul did and so did Christ. Know the truth and the truth will set free. It is not easy to speak truth and love– the Bible calls for spiritually mature to do so, but Spirit-filled, Bible-centered teaching (as old fashioned and counter culture/counter post modern) as at the heart of ministry. God’s Word (mind) has clearly told us this (Acts 6:3-4; 1 Timothy 3:1-5 esp. verse 2; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; James 5:13-20; Galatians 6:1-5; etc.) As such, some of what John advocates (i.e. seek to express pure love) is helpful, but it is a false dichotomy to say that has to happen without doctrine (i.e. sharing Scriptural truth) or having an agenda. This is not child’s play. This calls for mature, spiritual ministers. I am not suggesting quick fixes or necessarily “miracle” healing, but do think ministers can and should find a way to confront with love and truth (i.e. doctrine.) Josh Mcdowell’s LEADER (Listen, Empathize, Affirm, Direct, Enlist, Refer) model is helpful.

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  80. As a gay teenager who also is deeply in love with Jesus and his church, this post means so much to me. My youth pastor found out about my sexuality, then proceeded to tell the whole youth ministry staff. Now, I still attend my church regularly, but I feel as if the leaders don’t want to invest in me as much as they did before. My youth pastor sat with me and over coffee, discussed what I was going through. While at first I felt safe speaking with him, the conversation turned and it didn’t end so well. It is very awkward at church now. I wish I could share this with him and let him see that all I want is acceptance like Jesus gave to people. I want him to make sure to treat the other LGBT kids that will walk through the church doors with love and open arms. Thanks for this John, it really opens the eyes of some people who are distracted by doctrine and forget about the one thing that God was for, period : love.

    • Mason,

      You may want to pick up a copy of Justin Lee’s book “Torn,’ which is a great read for folks like us. His is a beautiful testimony. I’d also highly recommend ‘Walking the Bridgeless Canyon’ by Kathy Baldock, which not only gets into the verses but breaks down the science and history of how we’ve come to be regarded as we are in society at large from a historical standpoint. Both books, in my opinion, are must-haves and are great opportunities for being able to have a conversation with folks who don’t understand what they are doing with their words or how and why they have come to believe what they do. I don’t believe in changing people’s minds, as that’s something we have to do for ourselves, but these resource can help relax the tension that arises, and can at the very least help others to be more compassionate. God bless you!!

  81. As a youth pastor who was fired for creating a safe place for LGBTQ youth within the church, THANK YOU. Thank you for putting words to all my thoughts and feelings over the past few years. I still love my kids and provide a safe space to confide, even after moving thousands of miles away. It breaks my heart that they were not allowed to continue at the church and turned away, more for their looks than any “sins” (a few trans teens scared the older congregation who showed up on a Wednesday night). I, myself lost my faith in church and have not been able to seek out a community since.

  82. Thank you for writing this. The judgmental people on here were the reason I completely abandoned faith- if these were Christs’s representatives on earth, what the heck was I supposed to want to be with them for? Continual condemnation? No thank you.

    The more I’ve read, though, the more I’ve started to understand how Jesus meant the world to look and what he was condemning it for. He spoke against the Pharisees, who used faith as a tool for vanity and a means of social elevation to crush the less worthy with the weight of their righteousness. He stood against those who would use faith to literally kill others while ignoring their own failings and instead simply drew in the sand (some stories say he was writing the names of the men in the group who were committing adultery by lusting for the half naked woman they had dragged from her bed) and asked her to go and make a better choice. He got truly and violently angry once, and that was when the money-changers were exploiting the faith of others for their own gain, turning a ritual they did in the expression of their faith into a profit venture, their money a gatekeeper to the sanctuary.

    And he served.

    With all this in mind, it seems to me that you are 100% right. His followers should be looking out for people, seeking to find those who would hurt them, those who especially would use their faith as weapons against the struggling and hurt, and stand between them and the stones. Literally, if needed. That’s some powerful stuff. It isn’t just about forgiving sin. There’s some direct action called for if Jesus really said that they will know you by your actions adn that the followers of Christ are to be his hands and feet in this world.

    Maybe if I’d seen that more often from the Christians, I wouldn’t have left the church. Instead, I watched them circulate petitions to vote away the civil rights of my friends, my family, myself, that teen I kept alive, in the pews on Sunday morning. Instead, I’m part of Unitarian Universalist congregation now where exploring faith and direct action in our social justice efforts are encouraged. I see more of Jesus here amongst the people of many faiths and no faith than I ever saw in the church in which I grew up. My atheist friends have taught me so much about the impermanence of life and the need to make every moment here count, lived in love, the world around us critically important to protect. They have taught me that we are so short on this earth that we absolutely must respond in love or else we might miss our chance to respond at all. I wish more Christians would see this. I wish more were thinking as you are in this.

    Bless you for shepherding and sheltering kids like I was.

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