I can be pretty stubborn sometimes. Okay. Scratch that. I’m rarely NOT stubborn. I suppose that’s what I get for being from a long line of stubborn people. My parents are happily divorced, and I recall one particular conversation with my mother. I don’t remember what brought out the conversation, but somehow it digressed into a classic opportunity for Mom to pick on my dad’s stubbornness:
“You are just as stubborn as your father!” Obviously this was meant to be some kind of put-down. But I had other plans.
“Yeah, Mom,” I said. “You know, it’s really hard coming from a parent who is bullheaded, always right, never wrong, and always has to have their way.”
“Yes. And then there’s Dad.”
My mom’s jaw dropped with a sudden gasp. Her face had an expression that was a cross between utter contempt and “damn, I hate when he’s right.” I didn’t test it any further. I knew to get out of arm’s reach really fast.
Stubbornness is definitely a trait that we Sheltons are becoming known for. I’m pretty easy-going as a person. But when I make up my mind, I dare anyone to try to change it. But at least I try to be nice about it.
There’s a different kind of stubbornness when it comes to the mainstream evangelical community. There’s a steadfast resistance to even consider the possibility that a person can be gay and Christian.
Put simply, change is the enemy to many evangelicals. After all, “it’s always been done that way,” hasn’t it? I’m reminded of a silly joke which asks how many Baptists it takes to change a light bulb, to which the punch line is, “CHANGE???”
Is it possible that maybe we as Christians can begin to look beyond our own bias and deeply-seated prejudice and begin to accept each other no matter their sexual orientation? Every time I ask this question, I’m bombarded with a quick and resounding ‘no’ from all across Christendom.
After the recent public disgrace of Ted Haggard and Paul Barnes, two prominent evangelical pastors, it’s clear that I’m not the only one asking that question. It’s time for us as gay evangelical Christians to stop pretending that we’re straight in order to be accepted. I thank God that I never did fall into the trap of “maybe if I get married, it’ll fix me.” Sadly, many of us do.
Now that more people are asking if someone can be gay and evangelical, it’s a little more difficult to maintain that steadfast stubbornness. There are now growing communities and congregations of evangelicals who are coming to terms with their own sexual orientation, just as there are growing congregations of evangelicals who have embraced the gifts of the Spirit. Yes, I just compared the charismatic renewal with the growing trend of gay Christians. It’s that important. We are Christians who embrace the Gospel with a solid view of doctrine and commitment to salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. We just happen to be gay. It’s not really that far of a stretch.
There are a number of wonderful communities online that I strongly recommend for gay Christians. There is http://www.gaychurch.org/ and http://www.gaychristian.net/. There’s also http://www.rainbowchristians.net/, an online dating service for gay Christians. For local fellowship, I’m learning more and more denominations that have retained solid doctrine including our denomination, the International Christian Community Churches (http://www.intlccc.org/). There’s also quite a few Metropolitan Community Churches (http://www.mccchurch.org/) and United Churches of Christ (http://www.stillspeaking.org/).
I don’t endorse all of these groups, but I do know that many of us who are GLBT or affirming Christians can find a home with these and other ministries across the country. That is, if we’re not too stubborn to get up on Sunday mornings.