Posted Jun 23, 2016 by Michael L. Brown

Dear Isaac,

With great interest, I read your “Open Letter To My Conservative Christian Family: A Response to the Orlando Shooting.”

Over the last dozen years, I have done my best to listen to the stories of the LGBT community, especially those who profess faith in Jesus, and just as many of those stories touched me deeply, your open letter did as well.

If you don’t mind, I want to recap some of what you wrote for the benefit of those who have not read it, then I’ll share my heart with you.

As the son of two pastors, you’re responding to the question that many of us have asked, namely, “Why are we Christians being blamed for the Orlando shooting?”

It’s a question I have addressed as well.

Your answer is what I have heard from other gay writers, but you explain things extremely well, having been raised in the church.

You wrote, “I fear that conservative Christians are being lumped in with the homophobic shooter, ISIS and religious radicals because, to the LGBT+ community, these are the groups who maintain the system that produces homophobia.

“I’d like you to understand that homophobia is not only demonstrated by the shooter, the boys who punched me in the park, or the uncle who called me ‘faggot.’ Homophobia, at its core, is hatred that changes the way LGBT+ people understand their value.”

This, of course, is the core of the issue, even if there is no direct connection between the Orlando massacre and Christian teaching.

As you explain, “You see, the blossoming of homophobia is violence, while the root system is the cultural/religious mindset that’s comfortable branding an entire group of people as relationally inferior, spiritually immature, as well as socially and sexually deviant.

“When the messages of your churches and the sermons you clap for; when the messages you deliver as our parents, leaders, and well-intentioned friends negatively shift the way we, people of the LGBT+ community, feel about our version of love, our relational offering, or our position in this world [as God’s beloved children], the system of homophobia is working through you.”

I’m glad you also wrote that you know this is not our intention, and I hope you can also realize that, when the church encountered homosexuality beginning in the late 1960s, it was often in its ugliest and most extreme forms. (I wrote about this earlier this week.)

But this is what struck me as most important in your article.

As one who had been raised to embrace the “love the sin, hate the sinner” attitude, when you discovered you had bisexual attractions, you determined to hate your sin, adding, “But when your ‘sin’ is loving, your left with no option but to hate your entire self.”

Thus, you concluded, “I am not clean emotionally, romantically or spiritually. I am a perverted boy.

You were sure that, “As a diligent Christian boy, I knew God was going to kill me — an eternal life in hell,” and if He wouldn’t do it, then you should do it yourself, and so suicide was the logical option.

Isaac, although you may only know me as a conservative activist and alleged “vicious homophobe,” I can assure you before God that I have listened to other stories like yours (either face to face or in print), and I have wept at the pain you experienced. And I have sought to convey that pain to others.

In fact, if you read the opening chapter of my book Can You Be Gay and Christian?, you’ll see that I quote Justin Lee and other gay authors to convey these very points.

I truly believe the church must understand your perspective and feel your pain, and when you ask, “Without our sanctuaries, where would you have us turn?”, that is a question I have raised to my conservative colleagues on your behalf as well.

And your request is simple: “Many of us in the LGBT+ community are not bullying you into abandoning your religious values. We’re simply asking for camaraderie.”

As you conclude, “Please, help us build relational and religious paradigms free of hate. If we can accomplish this side-by-side, we could very well eradicate the divisions that keep us attacking one another. We may even save lives.”

So, here are my questions for you, which I write as someone who is absolutely committed to bringing healing and salvation to as many people as possible.

First, how can we “build relational and religious paradigms free of hate” when you are branding our sacred convictions as hateful?

If we are 100 percent sure that the Bible condemns homosexual practice, how can we hold to that teaching without you feeling that we hate you? If we are sure that our heavenly Father does not sanction same-sex relationships, no matter how loving and committed they may be, what would you have us do?

We absolutely want to be true to you, but we can only be true to you if we are true to God.

Second, if we cannot have real fellowship with professing Christians whom we believe are practicing sin– I’m not talking about the people of the world but about people who claim to be followers of Jesus – how can we have true fellowship with you if we believe you are living in sin?

We absolutely welcome anyone who struggles with any sin of the flesh or any fallen desire (and everyone one of us has these in our lives in one dimension or another), but we do not welcome those who celebrate their lifestyle as blessed by God when are we convinced that is not the case.

How do we resolve this?

Third, since you identify as bisexual, what stops you from affirming your heterosexual attraction as God-given and your homosexual attraction as fleshly, whatever its cause or root? Since all of us are called to deny ourselves and take up the cross and follow Jesus, why not deny that aspect of your self?

More fundamentally, why identify as bisexual?

What if you had other, deep, seemingly unchangeable desires that were ugly and shameful? (Again, on some level, all believers acknowledge such desires, at least at some point of their walk with the Lord.) Would you publicly identify as that?

If you truly know the Lord, then that’s who are you: a son of God, washed in the blood of Jesus, even if you struggle with same-sex attraction.

But your attractions don’t define you. The world may think like that, but we who know the Lord should know better than to fall into that trap.

Fourth, what do you say to those who are ex-gay? Do you embrace their stories and thank God for their transformation, or do you deny their stories and even call them liars or self-deceived?

I personally have friends who went from gay to straight, others who experienced partial shifts, and others who are still same-sex attracted but are living celibate and blessed lives in the Lord.

What kind of camaraderie do you have with them?

Isaac, I don’t write these things to argue with you or to win a debate but rather to respond from the heart, as your open, heartfelt letter, merited.

Shall we continue to talk?

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Comments

Royce posted a comment · Jun 28, 2016
Dr. Brown you once again did an outstanding job of addressing Isaac's points. I just wish you would bring to point the specific Scriptures which refute his many suppositions and requests. For example, why would he desire or even expect Christians to disobey the clear instructions in Scripture to put the unrepentant sexually immoral out (1st Cor. 5:1-8), not to have fellowship with such (1st Cor. 5:11 & 2nd Cor. (or 2 Cor. if you prefer. LOL) 6:14-15) and that we are not all "children of God" (Eph. 2). Then there are the Scriptures that tell us to mark and avoid the false teachers. That said, I have long said there will be NO appeasing the LGBTQABCXYZ Community because there is a deep hole inside their soul that no matter how many "victories" they think they win, no matter how much "tolerance" they get, no matter how much they are "accepted", it will never be enough for them. And they will never stop until they get "Approval". And that is something they will NEVER get. They are in SIN and there is NOTHING that will ever change that. So, they will continue to fight in an attempt to assuage the guilt they will NEVER rid themselves of. And so, now we see that it is an offence to even "hate the sin" because it's "hurtful". Once again, the apostates have no Biblical substantiation to stand on so they resort to the only thing they can to win others to their POV and that is, "You hurt my feelings and that's so hateful and unloving." Which reminds me, you erred in your statement "no matter how loving and committed they may be". There is NO "love" in a Same-Sex sexual relationship. It may well be one of the most hateful things one can do to another. Deceiving and misleading one to believe that are being "loved" when in fact they are aiding and abetting their Eternal Punishment in the Lake of Fire. (Rev. 21:8) I do hope you'll correct the record there and in the future.
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FunnyOldFundie posted a comment · Jun 24, 2016
You caught the main sticking point. When "the LGBT+ community" say they “...are not bullying you into abandoning your religious values. We’re simply asking for camaraderie.” They don't seem to realize that they are, in fact, asking (and, through changes in cultural practices and even laws, bullying) us to abandon a religious value: as you write, "we are 100 percent sure that the Bible condemns homosexual practice." It's not just a personal feeling or the result of hate.<!-break--> As a culture, we all need to understand we can think people are wrong about something without believing we should hate them, harm them, or restrict their true rights. Unfortunately, we've gotten to the point where what constitutes a "right" has become a major can of worms, but that goes beyond the focus of this letter. <p> I'd like to emphasize something which seems to be one of the underlying problems in perception that gives strength to the movement to reject heterosexual marriage as the only proper venue for sexual intercourse. It is found in this passage: "...when you discovered you had bisexual attractions, you determined to hate your sin, adding, “But when your ‘sin’ is loving, [you're] left with no option but to hate your entire self.” " <p> The first thing that should be said and established in our society is that any kind of sexual attraction is NOT to be identfied with loving! They are two completely separate things! The failure to understand this could explain why some people think the Bible suggests there were homosexual or bi-sexual relationships between David and Nathan, and even between Christ and the Apostle John. Similarly, there can be loving physical contact between men without implying homosexuality or sexual attraction. <p> In the same vein, I'd like to comment on this question: "...since you identify as bisexual, what stops you from affirming your heterosexual attraction as God-given and your homosexual attraction as fleshly, whatever its cause or root?" <p> I would like to strongly emphasize that (as you bring out later) even heterosexual attraction is not a form of love (not counting the perverted Greek concept of Eros), and can be perverted from the ideal found in Adam and Eve when first created. Indeed, I believe this was seen as soon as they rejected God's direction and suddenly found their nakedness had become a problem. <p> As you point out, "...all of us are called to deny ourselves...all believers acknowledge such desires..." It seems that many, perhaps most people, today do not understand that just because a feeling or urge comes naturally, does not mean it is something that we should indulge, let alone identify with. Our nature is fallen, sinful. It should be obvious, if you consider that we all have moments when anger or some other emotion causes us to desire or wonder about doing something that would be clearly harmful to another person. <p> Frankly, I blame "the Church" -- over 100 years ago, churches began abandoning belief that the Bible was the simple, clear, Word of God from the very beginning, and conceded to "Science" the ability to tell us the true history of the world. First creation was turned into a myth about evolution, and from there more and more of the message of the Bible has been relegated to stories by ancient people in a world that God intended to constantly change. This new view of sexuality is regarded by many as just the latest change in God's ever-evolving plan. Of course, with a view like this, there's no telling what might be considered within the will of God in the future, but it is part of fallen human nature to ignore the dangers of the future. It was predicted years ago that the sexual revolution would lead to the end of separate restrooms for males and females, but that was laughed at as extreme paranoia, or a wild scare tactic. Well, here we are, and what will tomorrow bring? <p> Finally, a related problem is a skewed view of Christianity and damnation vs salvation. The fellow you replied to wrote, “As a diligent Christian boy, I knew God was going to kill me — an eternal life in hell...” This suggests he was and is holding some common misperceptions. One is that Christian salvation is a matter of works - if we are "diligent" then God will let us into heaven. The Bible clearly teaches that salvation is a gift from God we accept by faith. Likewise, it is commonly believed that Christians are motivated to do good and love others out of fear - this threat of hell. Another old lie of Satan is that we would be fine, but God is waiting to pounce on something we do and use it as an excuse to kill us and send us to hell. Related to this is the wrong idea that God hates sinners and even (insert any group an unbeliever might identify or sympathize with), and Christians hate them, too. The true, Biblical situation is that we are all sinners and bound for Hell, and God has provided a way to be with Him in heaven, even though none of us deserve it (John 3:16). <p> A true understanding of what the Bible teaches, and general acceptance of Biblical history, would resolve these problems. As long as so many churches fail to accept and teach that the Bible is clear and plain from the very beginning, things will continue to get worse and worse, as Bible itself has foretold: 2Ti 3:13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. <p> See also Romans chapter 1.
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[email protected] posted a comment · Jun 24, 2016
An Open Letter to Dr. Brown: Rather than speaking to Issac, why are you not writing open letters to the people in the Christian community who have called on the government to murder gay people? Why are you not writing open letters on those in the Christian community who have stated that they are happy about the murders in Orlando and their only regret is that more were not killed? Why are you not writing open letters calling out the hatred and vitriol of groups like the AFA and the FRC when they publicly make statements that gays are pedophiles, out to destroy marriage, out to destroy the family, and out to destroy America? Why are you not denouncing the pastor who suggested that gays be rounded up and put behind electric fences? Why are you not denouncing Christian leaders who pronounce that it is gay people who are bringing the wrath of God upon America? Do you not see how these types of comments provide fodder for those who are simply looking for a reason to justify acting on their hatred? Do you not see how making those types of statements makes them complicit in the act? Do you not see the difference between simply stating that you view something as a sin and saying that a group of people are responsible for the destruction of a society or a nation or the family or society? No more broken hearts. No more prayers for peace and comfort. No more pseudo-solidarity. If you do not advocate for full equality for LGBTQ people, you are part of the problem. “But wait,” you say, “I never advocated for murder or violence. I would never, ever support that.” Dear weeping Christians, it is long past time for you to connect these dots. You cannot, in one moment, marginalize, demonize and cast as “other” a particular group, and then in the next moment, lament the fact that that group is being targeted for a hate crime. If you advocate for inequality—whether because of your religious beliefs, your cultural beliefs, your political aspirations, etc.—you are helping to create a culture that made LGBT people an easy mark for a lunatic homophobe with an assault weapon, regardless of whether his homophobia was internalized or externalized. By failing to speak up against discrimination and hate, you have made the world unsafe for LGBT people, fueling their own self-loathing and inciting homophobic rage in others. You are part of the reason hate crimes against LGBT people were up in 2015. You are part of the reason LGBT teens are the daily targets of harassment, bullying and violence in schools. And you are part of the reason they too often choose suicide over the pain of living as a human target. You. Are. Part. Of. The. Problem. If you really want to stand in solidarity with the victims, their families and our community a whole, stop vilifying our community by calling us pedophiles and predators. Stop telling people to "hate" the sin. Stop warning straight people we are out to destroy their marriages, their families and the American way of life. Actively denounce those, by name, who do make such claims. If you want to pay your respects for the LGBT people who were slaughtered in Orlando, first try tweeting these words: “This was a hate crime against LGBT people.” Then start voting for equal rights for LGBT people - not actively advocating against them, which says these individuals are not as worthy of others - their lives to not matter as much as others - they are not as deserving as others - they are more expendable. Ask your supporters to respect all people equally, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Actively and vocally discourage anti-LGBT bullying, harassment and violence. Actively denounce those, by name, who encourage such things. State unequivocally that #BlackLivesMatter. If you really want to make sure this doesn’t happen again, you must finally recognize the link between a cultural climate that demonizes LGBT people and the attacks against them that inevitably follow. If you can’t do that, please, have some respect for the fallen and say nothing at all.