By / Aug 14

In this episode, Josh, Lindsay, and Brent discuss the resignation of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the Taliban taking over major portions of Afghanistan, the CDC’s new data about vaccines and pregnant women. Lindsay gives a rundown of this week’s ERLC content. And the gang celebrates Josh’s final episode as he wraps his time serving on staff at the ERLC.

ERLC Content

Culture

  1. Cuomo resigns over sexual harassment
  2. Taliban take over Afghanistan
  3. Pregnant women and the COVID vaccines

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  • A final Q&A with Josh

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By / Aug 11

Sandra grew up in a Christian home. She was a good girl in church — read the Bible, prayed, did her quiet time. She was homeschooled by solid parents. She never snuck out or did anything crazy. She’d never even been to a high school prom. On the outside, it looked like Sandra had a sheltered and safe Christian childhood, but on the inside, there was a lot more going on.

During her freshman year of college, Sandra met June, a girl who quickly became her best friend. They spent hours each day together, and, over time, their worlds began to revolve around each other. Their emotional closeness became codependent and inappropriately physical. One day it happened, and they freaked out. They cried and prayed and asked God to help nothing like that happen again. But it did. And Sandra and June never told anyone. They even promised one another they’d never tell their future husbands.

A kid like Sandra should feel safe confessing her sins to Christian parents and her church community. But there’s understandable shame for a kid confessing same-sex attraction or transgender feelings, especially if that child has grown up around coarse gay jokes or politically charged opinions about the LGBTQ movement. It’s understandable for a kid who grows up in that context to fear losing friendships if they allow their struggles to become public knowledge.

What can a parent or a church leader do in the face of such shame? What does it look like to show love and compassion for a child who experiences the discord of gender confusion or same-sex attraction?

First, cultivate empathy. If we’re honest, we know kids’ fears about confessing disordered desires are not unfounded. Many parents don’t react well. Some parents’ first instincts are to run from the situation and ignore it. Some become overwhelmed emotionally and get angry, whether with God or with their child: “How can this be happening? You were raised better than this!” These kinds of responses only create more distance between parents and their children. Like the Pharisees, many Christian communities sometimes teach true doctrine all the while judging and marginalizing those who publicly confess sin that makes us particularly uncomfortable or is socially unacceptable (Luke 18:9–14). We must remember that those who experience gender confusion or same-sex attraction are not unique in battling brokenness or sinful desires. Cooper Pinson asks:

Can you relate to a student who wants to follow Christ, but finds strong, competing, sinful tendencies within himself that moves him in destructive directions?1Cooper Pinson, Helping Students with Same-Sex Attraction: Guidance for Parents and Youth Leaders, (Greensboro: New Growth, 2017), 8.

If so, you’re more like your child than you may have originally thought. When we acknowledge what we have in common and move toward kids who struggle rather than away from them, we reflect the kind of love with which Jesus loved us (1 John 4:19).

Second, acknowledge the courage it took to be honest.2Adapted from Tim Geiger, Your Child Says, “I’m Gay, (Greensboro: New Growth, 2013), 8–9. Even if your child’s confession is hard to hear, thank them for being honest enough to tell you the truth. Acknowledge how hard it must have been for your child to speak this secret and get it out in the open. Thank them for trusting you, reaffirm your love for them, and assure them that your relationship will not end because of this confession. Affirming your love for your child and expressing gratitude for their truthfulness will help you cultivate an ongoing relationship that is built on authenticity.

Third, listen before you speak or act. If your child begins the conversation, respect their initiative by allowing the dialogue to be about what you can learn from them and not what you feel they need to hear from you. When seeking to understand, the most important thing is to ask comfortable open-ended questions.3Brian Hambrick, “Talking to My Boys after the Transgender Talk at Their Public School” (May 16, 2016), accessed online at http://bradhambrick.com/talking-to-my-boys-after-the-transgender-talk-at-their-public-school/. If your child says, “I’m gay,” “lesbian,” or “I want to transition,” for instance, it’s important to understand what they mean by that. Ask your child how they came to this understanding, how long they have been considering this, how certain they feel it is true, and why. Ask whether or not your child is content with this expressed identity, or if this is something they don’t want. Don’t assume your child or their friends understand these terms in the same way you do. 

It may be that your child is confessing a sinful experiment with a new gender identity or same-sex sexual intimacy in the same way a cheating husband who wants to turn away from unfaithfulness confesses, “I’m an adulterer.” When a Christian owns his or her identity as a sinner in this way, it should never be discouraged (1 Tim. 1:15). Your child is most likely describing an ongoing battle in which they feel oppressed and helpless. As Tim Geiger observes, “He might really be saying, ‘I’ve been struggling with these feelings for years, and the only reasonable conclusion I can draw is that I must be gay.’”4Geiger, Your Child Says, “I’m Gay,21.

Fourth, acknowledge your child’s suffering. Kids who struggle with gender confusion or same-sex attraction may have heard many times from the church that homosexuality is wrong. But rarely have we acknowledged their unique form of suffering and intense temptations. Students who experience same-sex attraction “often contend with intense loneliness, confusion, fear, and even despair as they wrestle with something that seems as if it’s an essential part of who they are.”5Pinson, Helping Students with Same-Sex Attraction, 14. The same is true for kids who experience gender dysphoria.

Having disordered desires, whether these desires consist in same-sex sexual lust or gender confusion, is not the same thing as giving in to these sinful desires, that is, dwelling on those desires and acting upon them. Both are sinful, but the kind of repentance required and the kind of change we can expect is different. We must turn from all sinful behavior. But where we can repent and refrain from sinful actions related to sexual temptation, disordered desires — while they should be resisted, confessed, and put to death — may nevertheless remain throughout our lives. Sharing your own struggles — how you may not always feel at home or comfortable in your own body, or, as appropriate, your own ongoing battles with lust and temptation — will demonstrate that brokenness and sexual sin is not unique to your child.

Fifth, pray for your child. We can educate our children as much as we want, have conversations, and teach them the biblical point of view. But in the end, their hearts must be in submission to God or these words will fall on deaf ears. A child’s repentance ultimately depends on the Holy Spirit’s work in their heart and not on a parent’s actions. Some things only come out by prayer (Mark 9:29). So, as parents, we must appeal to God to act on behalf of our children. 

The parents of Sandra or June may be in for a long journey. Sometimes it seems that we do and say all the right things, but our hearts break because our children continue to choose the wrong path. In these times, one of the best ways to care for our children is to advocate for them while on our knees.

Finally, gently communicate what it looks like to follow Jesus. By adopting an empathetic posture and listening carefully, you set the stage for speaking redemptive truth. If your child is determined to pursue an intimate same-gender, sexual relationship or transition their gender, there may be no way of avoiding defensiveness on their part. Remember that it’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance (Rom. 2:4). Your child needs kindness too. It’s doubtful that arguments will convince your child their perspective is wrong. But if they are open to dialogue, share sensitively a biblical and compassionate perspective on suffering with sexual brokenness. We can encourage a child who experiences besetting and persistent trials with the truth that all Christians are called to suffer. As Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will find it” (Matt. 16:24–25).

Following Christ while enduring gender dysphoria or same-sex attraction will involve taking up crosses. It will mean rejecting impulses that run counter to God’s created design. It may mean that your child remains single and celibate into adulthood or resists temptation while their psychological distress increases. You should never gloss over or minimize these hard realities, but you can remind your children that they have a high priest who can sympathize with them in their weaknesses (Heb. 4:15). As Andrew Walker observes, “No one ever experienced greater dysphoria than the perfect Son of God being treated as a sinner.”6Walker, God and the Transgender Debate, 89. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Pet. 2:24).

As you encourage your child to persevere, keep in mind that this most likely will be a long journey. Change is slow. A girl like Sandra, whose story I told above, may gain confidence to confess her sins and grow both to live a life in obedience to the Bible’s commands and even to disciple others who experience same-sex attraction. But that same girl may still struggle to discern whether or not missing one of her girlfriends who is out of town is just a normal part of friendship or evidence that she’s still battling a sinful pull toward codependence. As Chris Torchia writes:

We all appreciate the success stories of someone coming to Christ and experiencing complete freedom from ingrained sin patterns, but God doesn’t always work that way. A more accurate picture of repentance is a gradual process of turning away from sin and turning to God more and more, usually with many bumps along the way.Chris Torchia, “Coming Out as Gay or Transgender: Five things parents must do—part 4,” The Student Outreach, (Sept. 21, 2017), accessed online at http://thestudentoutreach.org/2017/09/21/coming-gay-transgender-five-things-parents-must-part-4/.

Parents, you should find the kind of support network that will stick with you through the long haul. Don’t hide your weakness from your Christian friends. And don’t be afraid to reach out for help from your pastors and biblical counselors like those at Harvest USA (www.harvestusa.org).

We can be confident that Christ is ready, willing, and waiting to meet us even where brokenness seems profound and irreparable. We can persevere with faith, knowing that we share in Christ’s sufferings so we may also share in his glory (Rom. 8:17). For those who do not shrink back, God has prepared a great reward. We do not belong to those who shrink back to destruction but to those who persevere and are saved (Heb. 10:36-39).

This article was adapted from A Parent’s Guide to Teaching Your Children About Gender: Helping Kids Navigate a Confusing Culture.

  • 1
    Cooper Pinson, Helping Students with Same-Sex Attraction: Guidance for Parents and Youth Leaders, (Greensboro: New Growth, 2017), 8.
  • 2
    Adapted from Tim Geiger, Your Child Says, “I’m Gay, (Greensboro: New Growth, 2013), 8–9.
  • 3
    Brian Hambrick, “Talking to My Boys after the Transgender Talk at Their Public School” (May 16, 2016), accessed online at http://bradhambrick.com/talking-to-my-boys-after-the-transgender-talk-at-their-public-school/.
  • 4
    Geiger, Your Child Says, “I’m Gay,21.
  • 5
    Pinson, Helping Students with Same-Sex Attraction, 14.
  • 6
    Walker, God and the Transgender Debate, 89.
By / Dec 13

Jackie Hill Perry is one of those voices you can’t ignore. 

I knew before reading this book that Perry had experience with same-sex attraction (SSA). I also knew of her giftedness in communication. My big question in coming to this book was: How would Perry use her experience and giftedness? There are many winsome communicators out there who use their persuasive powers to lure their listeners into error. They wield their giftedness to confuse, deceive, and lead others away from the truth. How would Perry wield hers in her book, Gay Girl, Good God: The Story of Who I Was, and Who God Has Always Been? 

In short, she wielded it with tact, humility, and tremendous reverence for God and his Word. Christian communicators with “messy” pasts can sometimes go into morbid detail about their former sins, all in the name of “being real and transparent.” Perry did not do this. She did a spectacular job of sharing her experiences in a way that was not unnecessarily provocative or shocking. Sure, some things were hard to read—because of the prodigal story she tells of being in the far country. She was consistently thoughtful not only in what she communicated, but in how she communicated. 

Perry also writes about the Church’s failures without painting the Church as an insensitive, loveless villain. Sadly, many who bear Christ’s name have not treated those within the gay community with Christlike love. But the Church, with all her faults and warts, is beloved by Christ. Refreshingly, Perry demonstrates her love for the Church in how she writes about Christ’s bride. 

Her book shows every reader, Christian or not, same-sex attracted or not, that the path of Christ is not one of ease, but it is one of unfathomable reward and all-satisfying joy.

I was most pleasantly surprised at how clearly Perry allowed the reader to see the weaknesses in her flesh—especially the ones that were so pronounced during the beginning of her relationship with her now husband, Preston. When I think of Perry, I think of a strong, resilient, outspoken woman. This book showed me that underneath the strength that so many of us see in Perry is a person who, like the rest of us, is sometimes desperately clinging by faith to Jesus amidst a sea of frustrating, painful, and conflicting feelings. This transparency shows the reader where her strength is really coming from: God himself. 

Most of the book is a narrative telling the story of her life before, during, and after coming to faith in Jesus Christ. The book provides a helpful feature for readers’ use in discipleship and in the local church. The last section of the book is written and structured as a teaching resource to equip Christians to better understand God’s revelation of his design for human sexuality. 

The predominant theme throughout Gay Girl, Good God is that the Christian life is a cruciform life. She explains: 

“I’ve had countless conversations with many same-sex attracted men and women who are either trying to adhere to a biblical sexual ethic or have tried. Weary-eyes and burdened, they come to me, head almost bowed, to welcome me into their frustration. Eventually, they confess the reason for their cloudiness. ‘It’s just so hard,’ they say . . . I’ve always wondered if when they became a disciple, or thought themselves to be one, if they knew that following Jesus not only meant eternal life but also a crucified one. . . The crucified life is the life set on enduring until the end when once and for all, the cross is replaced with a crown.” (167-169). 

Her book shows every reader, Christian or not, same-sex attracted or not, that the path of Christ is not one of ease, but it is one of unfathomable reward and all-satisfying joy. 

By / Nov 3

Sam Allberry speaks at the 2018 ERLC National Conference on The Church as the Family of God: Singleness, Same-sex Attraction, and the Hope of Hospitality.

By / Sep 27

Editor’s Note: Eric Teetsel is an alumnus of Azusa Pacific University, where he earned his Master’s Degree in Education with an emphasis in College Student Affairs.

America’s Christian colleges and universities are increasingly finding themselves at the forefront of America’s culture wars over sex and sexual identity. With the threat of lawsuits, access to federal and state funding, and accreditation at stake, some have chosen to sacrifice their distinct, Christian identity and acquiesce to the demands of the culture. The latest to capitulate on this front is Azusa Pacific University.

On September 18, ZU News, the student newspaper of Azusa Pacific University, reported that the university had made the decision to remove from its student standards of conduct language that “prohibited public LGBTQ+ relationships for students on campus.” This change in policy is accompanied by a “pilot program to provide a safe space for LGBTQ+ students on campus,” which is in response to a resolution passed by the APU Student Government Association that requested such a program.

Previously, APU’s Student Standards of Conduct included a provision stating, “Students may not engage in a romanticized same-sex relationship.” It has been removed. The standards now read simply, “Students may not engage in sexual intimacy outside the context of marriage.”

ZU News reports the changes are the result of a discussion dating back to last year between members of an unsanctioned LGBT student group, Haven, and university officials that was coordinated by Erin Green, an APU alum. In November 2017, APU was sued by an employee who claimed he was harassed for being gay. At a rally for the employee, students delivered a letter to the administration that demanded, among other things, a change in university policy regarding LGBTQ+ students.

Speaking on behalf of the university, Associate Dean of Students Bill Fiala addressed the recent changes:

“The changes that occurred to the handbooks around sexual behavior creates one standard for all undergraduate students, as opposed to differential standards for different groups. The change that happened with the code of conduct is still in alignment with our identity as a Christian institution. The language changed, but the spirit didn’t. Our spirit is still a conservative, evangelical perspective on human sexuality.”

It is true that the Student Standards of Conduct include a link to the university’s Identity Statement on Human Sexuality. That statement reads, in part:

“We hold that the full behavioral expression of sexuality is to take place within the context of a marriage covenant between a man and a woman and that individuals remain celibate outside of the bond of marriage. Therefore, we seek to cultivate a community in which sexuality is embraced as God-given and good and where biblical standards of sexual behavior are upheld.”

In essence, APU has established a policy that allows for same-sex romantic relationships, while at the same time reaffirming the university’s commitment to the standard that the “full behavioral expression of sexuality is to take place within the context of a marriage covenant between a man and a woman.” What are we to make of the apparent contradiction?

Associate Dean Fiala doesn’t see a problem: “I’m not a big fan of who’s right and who’s wrong in this conversation, I’m a big fan of caring for people. So, my hope would be that we treat each other that way.”

Indeed, caring for others is the high calling of every follower of Christ, which is why APU’s capitulation is such a heartbreaking failure. Jesus rejected cultural norms and humanly-devised power structures, unashamedly proclaiming the Good News in a mission of love and light that culminated in crucifixion and the conquering of death. Rather than loving students by walking with and discipling them in a transformation towards Christlikeness, APU has shrouded the truth under a veil of doublethink and has exposed its students to grave error.

Erin Green sold the university on the faulty premise that opposite-sex and same-sex romantic relationships are biblically equitable. “We thought it was unfair to single out queer folks in same-sex romantic relationships,” Green said. “Queer students are just as able to have romanticized relationships that abide by APU’s rules. The code falsely assumed that same-sex romances always involved sexual behavior. This stigmatization causes harm to our community, especially those serious about their Christian faith.”

But opposite-sex and same-sex romantic relationships are not the same. The purpose of dating is to find the person with whom you will enter God’s covenantal “one flesh” union. Opposite-sex dating relationships can be chaste and lead to a marriage covenant. Same-sex dating relationships can never lead to that holy outcome and are by definition sinful. Scripture simply does not treat homosexual and heterosexual relationships as morally equivalent, and neither should we.

What is the purpose of a same-sex romantic relationship? And what might holiness look like in the context of a same-sex romantic relationship?

Since APU correctly affirms that marriage is reserved for one man and one woman, a same-sex romantic relationship is a dead-end. It exists solely for the purpose of formalizing and indulging same-sex desire – a desire which is, in itself, sinful.

What physical intimacy can be experienced in a same-sex romantic relationship consistent with biblical standards of righteousness? Whereas hand-holding and brief kisses on the lips might reasonably be understood as appropriate levels of physical intimacy in a dating relationship growing towards marriage (although we must acknowledge that Christians disagree about precise limits here), there is no biblical category for the expression of same-sex romantic intimacy. Same-sex romance is completely outside of God’s design for human sexuality.

In 2016, the California legislature nearly passed SB 1146, which would have required private Christian colleges and universities like APU to abide by so-called “anti-discrimination” provisions in order to accept students who access state financial aid. The bill sponsor, Senator Ricardo Lara, rescinded the relevant provisions of his bill following backlash, but the threat of future legislation remains. “The goal for me has always been to shed the light on the appalling and unacceptable discrimination against LGBT students at these private religious institutions throughout California,” Lara said.

That threat undoubtedly hung over Azusa Pacific University, and perhaps that explains why APU has revised its standard of conduct for students. In an age of moral confusion, when Satan sows doubt about such fundamental truths as God’s design for human sexual identity, proclaiming the truth is an act of love. Rather than render unto Caesar what belongs to God, university administrators should be emboldened by the example of Peter and the apostles who, when they were beaten and charged not to speak in the name of Jesus, rejoiced “that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name,” (Acts 5:41). They should honor the example of John the Baptist, who was martyred for speaking truth about sexual holiness to Herod. They should learn from Daniel, who sought to live at peace as an exile in a pagan land, but never compromised his witness.

This article was originally published here

By / Apr 24

The California Assembly approved a bill that will make it illegal to sell or advertise resources that offer treatment or ministry to reduce or eliminate same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria. 

Assembly Bill 2943, which is headed to the state senate, would make it an “unlawful business practice” to engage in “a transaction intended to result or that results in the sale or lease of goods or services to any consumer” that entails or includes “advertising, offering to engage in, or engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with an individual.” The bill defines “sexual orientations change efforts” as “any practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation. This includes efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.”

“The actions of the California Assembly are a drastic overreach,” says Andrew Walker, Director of Policy Studies for ERLC. “Whatever opinions individuals may have on the merits of conversion therapy, the proposed legislation is far too sweeping. It represents a secular form of religious establishment wherein California progressives are treating their views on sexuality and gender identity as a matter of orthodoxy so as not to allow any dissent.”

The effect of the law would be to make it illegal in California to advertise a conference, provide counseling, or sell books or other resources that encourage change of thoughts or behavior regarding same-sex attraction or transgenderism.

“To put it simply,” says Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family, “Christian schools, churches and others who hold to a traditional understanding of marriage and sexuality would be open to lawsuits for teaching biblical truth about homosexuality or transgenderism.”

“No one doubts that Christian orthodoxy is contentious,” adds David French, “No one doubts that its teachings on sexual morality are increasingly unpopular. But they remain constitutionally protected, and no state legislature should be permitted to ban a “good” (such as a book) or a “service” (like counseling) that makes these arguments and provides them to willing, consenting consumers. In fact, state law would lock in a sexual-revolution orthodoxy that all too often hurts the very people the state seeks to protect.”

The California legislature is also considering two related bills that affect religious freedom and sexuality. AB-2119 affects children in foster care by prohibiting a licensed professional, or any other individual, from “subjecting a foster child or nonminor dependent to any treatment, intervention, or conduct that seeks to change the foster child’s or nonminor dependent’s gender identity.” Another pending bill, AB-1779, would prohibit a mental health provider from “engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with a patient,” regardless of the patient's age, competence, or desire to seek such treatment.

By / Jun 5

Join top leaders on July 29 at the first major event following the Supreme Court's marriage ruling. Equip Austin is a night set aside for equipping you to prepare your church for a post-marriage culture. Whether 200 or 2,000 miles, away, your church can participate through a simulcast. Click here for details. 

Jackie Hill Perry shares how the gosepl can equip Christians who struggle with same-sex attraction. This video was recorded at the 2014 ERLC National Conference on “The Gospel, Homosexuality, and the Future of Marriage.”

Perry is a writer and artist whose work has been featured on The Washington Times, Desiring God, The Gospel Coalition and other online publications. Since being saved from a lifestyle of homosexual sin and the like, she has been compelled to share the light of gospel truth through poems that have reached over one million views on YouTube. She also serves locally as Female Mentorship Coordinator at Grip Outreach for Youth, a non-profit organization loving Chicago's fatherless teens. At home, she is known as wife to Preston and mommy to Eden. 

By / Apr 1

Matthew Vines, God and the Gay Christian, New York: Convergent, 2014. 213 pages

Introduction

Imagine a book with a thesis that calls into question 2,000 years of established Christian theology and biblical exegesis. It recasts basic principles of biblical anthropology and human embodiment. It also puts two millennia of faithful obedience to divine revelation on the side of injustice and ignorance. Now, Christians are accustomed to either non-Christians or liberal Christians making claims of this nature, but not from individuals supposedly nestled confidently within the evangelical camp.

This week a book making such claims is hitting bookshelves written by a young author named Matthew Vines.

Readers may not be familiar with Matthew Vines. But you will need to know him, for the movement he is leading aims to change the way the evangelical church thinks about human sexuality. At the very least, his work will help advance the coming rupture in the evangelical church at large over issues of sexuality.

Vines is a former Harvard student whose 2012 video taking aim at the Bible’s teachings on homosexuality went viral. Raised in a conservative evangelical home, Vines struggled with his sexuality while attending Harvard. Finally admitting his same-sex attraction, he came out as gay, left school, returned home, and devoted himself to studying all that the Bible teaches on homosexuality. He emerged from his study convinced that loving and committed same-sex relationships are consistent with the Bible and evangelical faith.

He has not only come to terms with faithful homosexual relationships, Vines has become an activist determined to alter the church’s long-held belief that homosexual conduct is sinful. Vines’ organization, “The Reformation Project,” has one, clear, unmistakable goal in mind: to see the Christian church affirm homosexual relationships. His new book, God and the Gay Christian, is the first step in a larger effort to fundamentally recast long-held, universally acknowledged norms pertaining to sexual ethics.

What makes Vines’ book unique is that Vines does not consider himself a theological liberal. He proudly brandishes the identity of a conservative evangelical, claiming to uphold the authority of Bible, affirming its full inspiration and authority. Throughout the book, he quotes John Piper and Tim Keller, thus signaling his evangelical bona fides.

In the marketing materials for God and the Gay Christian, Vines is a theologicalwunderkind having found the formula for making biblical authority and homosexuality compatible. Vines no doubt believes the authenticity and sincerity of his interpretation and indeed, that is where the heart of this book resides. As the reader soon discovers, Vines doesn’t believe the error in understanding homosexuality is found within the Scriptures, but in our interpretation. Along these very lines, he cites Galileo’s embattlement with the Catholic Church to help justify the new rationale he’s advocating. Like Vines, Galileo wasn’t advocating the abandonment of Scripture, but certain interpretations of Scripture in light of new discoveries about the universe. For Galileo, it was a heliocentric universe. For Vines, it’s the recognition that homosexuality according to our modern understanding is morally praiseworthy. He writes: “My larger argument is this: Christians who affirm the full authority of Scripture can also affirm committed, monogamous same-sex relationships” (3). He attempts to maintain an evangelical account of biblical authority while attributing error to reader interpretation. What I hope to show in this review is that the integrity of Vines’ interpretation is an anomaly unfitting for evangelical consumption or approval.

A few comments are needed, however, about the timing and context of this book.

If I were mapping a playbook for the gay rights movement, this book is an important point in the strategy. It has to be written in order to introduce confusion within the evangelical firmament, one of the last remaining constituencies in America that has not embraced homosexuality with gusto. This book need not be 100 percent compelling or accurate in order to succeed. All that needs to happen for Vines to claim victory is for his readers to be confused and not necessarily convinced of his argument.

Vines will have succeeded in re-fashioning evangelicalism in his image by allowing sexuality to be treated hermeneutically akin to baptism or the Lord’s Supper. If Vines can blur the lines of interpretation, such that evangelicals can rest at ease with “disagreement at how best to interpret Scripture on sexuality,” he will have succeeded. If he can convince evangelicals that sexuality is an issue that can be reduced to secondary status, such as the mode of baptism or the proper form of church governance, his efforts will have succeeded. That’s what makes this book so pernicious: It’s primed to strike at a time when many evangelical Christians are looking for a way to bail on historic Christian teachings on sexuality—because it makes us culturally foreign and estranged, unsophisticated, non-cosmopolitan, and—gasp—unpopular.

Indeed, if I were a mega-church pastor who stood to gain or lose on this issue and I was wanting to bypass the contentious debate on homosexuality and same-sex marriage, God and the Gay Christian is the book I’d look to and handout to members of my church.

It’s rather appalling that Vines’ organization is called “The Reformation Project,” a title synonymous with the movement of Martin Luther, because there’s a simple, yet glaring error in how he understands the reference to “Reformation.” Luther never believed the church had been in error from its beginning. He wasn’t calling for the rejection of long-held beliefs; instead, Luther was reaffirming the faith “once and for all delivered to the saints.” Vines, in contrast, is calling for Revolution, the type consistent with the sexual revolution of the 1960s. Vines believes the church has been wrong for 2,000 years. The early Church Fathers—wrong. Augustine—wrong. The Roman Catholic Church—wrong. Luther, Calvin—all wrong. But I wonder if Vines is willing to accept the alternative—that he’s wrong? Here are the stakes of this book: If Vines is right, the Christian Church must repudiate its long-held teaching. But if Vines is wrong, he isn’t just leading people down the path of error; he’s leading people down the path to hell by denying that homosexual sin needs to be repented of.

Summary

If I was to condense the substance of Vines’ book, here’s what is happening: Vines has compiled liberal biblical scholarship and popularized it for a non-technical audience. Let me be clear: Vines is not advancing new arguments. In fact, his work draws largely from existing gay-affirming scholarship. Vines is making liberal scholarship accessible for common audiences and then compounding its effect by bringing in the emotionally laden context of our times.

Space prevents me from working through a thorough chapter-by-chapter synopsis and the arguments he cites with each relevant text, though resources to counteract his hermeneutical errors will be provided. I would, however, like to hit upon four significant arguments that Vines advocates and considers central in each chapter of his book. These theses form the basis of his interaction and criticisms of the six “clobber passages” in Scripture that condemn homosexuality. What Vines does is filter each of the six passages through his hermeneutical grid, thus allowing him to say that the Bible intends or can be adapted to communicate his point of view, but got lost in a sea of misunderstanding and bigotry.

There are four main theses of God and the Gay Christian. I’ll explain each thesis separately and then provide interaction in a following section.

Thesis 1: Vines believes the historic position that the church has held on homosexuality leads to “bad fruit” in the lives of homosexuals.

Drawing off imagery used by Jesus, Vines insist that only practices that enrich a person’s life meet the criteria of “good fruit.” Hence, the historic Christian position that celibacy and chastity is expected for all those with same-sex attraction is considered “bad fruit,” because it consigns would-be committed, loving same-sex couples to a life of separation, psychological duress, and unrequited love.

His sexuality made him uncomfortable with the Bible’s prohibition on homosexuality and he began “losing confidence in the belief that same-sex relationships are sinful: it no longer made sense” (12). He continues: “As I became more aware of same-sex relationships, I could not understand why they were supposed to be sinful, or why the Bible apparently condemned them. With most sins, it wasn’t hard to pinpoint the damage they cause. Adultery violates a commitment to your spouse. Lust objectifies others. Gossip degrades people. But committed same-sex relationships did not easily fit that pattern. Not only were they not harmful to anyone, they seemed to be characterized by positive motives and traits instead, like faithfulness, commitment, mutual love, and self-sacrifice” (13).

So, for Vines, “If something bears bad fruit, it cannot be a good tree. And if something bears good fruit, it cannot be a bad tree” (15). Homosexual relationships, for Vines, bear good fruit.

It is important to recognize here that Vines’ a priori assumption brings a moral category to the Bible itself without first subjecting one’s moral assumptions to the text itself.

Thesis 2: The world of the Bible does not speak to the issue of a modern and comprehensive understanding of sexual orientation.

Says Vines:

“Same-sex behavior in the first century was not understood to be the expression of an exclusive sexual orientation. It was understood as excess on the part of those who could easily be content with heterosexual relationships, but who went beyond them in search of more exotic pleasures” (129).

“The Bible does not directly address the issue of same-sex orientation—or the expression of that orientation. While its six references to same-sex behavior are negative, the concept of same-sex behavior is sexual excess, not sexual orientation. What’s more, the main reason that non-affirming Christians believe the Bible’s statements should apply to all same-sex relationships—men and women’s anatomical complementarity—is not mentioned in any of the passages” (133).

Thesis 3: The Bible speaks without any reference to the modern knowledge of faithful, loving, and committed same-sex couples.

Pertaining to Romans 1, Vines says that Paul omits all references to “love, fidelity, monogamy, or commitment. So should we understand Paul’s words to apply to all same-sex relationships, or only to lustful, fleeting ones? How we answer that question has profound implication for our conversation in this book. If there is a substantial difference between the type of behavior Paul condemned and the intimate, committed relationships of gay Christians, then he has not relegated our gay friends and loved ones to the proverbial dustbin. But if his moral objection in Romans 1 was not primarily about lustfulness, but about the anatomical complementarity of men and women intended by ‘nature,’ then that rationale would extend to all same-sex relationships” (102).

Vines believes that Paul is condemning sexual acts based on “excess passion.”

Thesis 4: The patriarchal context within the world of the Bible explains the prohibitions against homosexuality.

Vines writes about “Customary and Uncustomary Gender Roles,” saying:

“In the ancient world, if a man took the active role in sex, his behavior was deemed ‘natural.’ But if he took the passive role, he was derided for engaging in ‘unnatural sex.’ The opposite was true for women: Sexual passivity was termed ‘natural,’ while sexual dominance was ‘unnatural.’ Same-sex relations challenged those beliefs about nature and sex by putting a male in the passive role or a female in the active role. That inversion of accepted gender roles, combined with the non-procreative character of same-sex unions, is why ancient writers called same-sex behavior ‘unnatural’” (111).

He continues: “These texts show how the terms ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’ were used in ancient writings. They were not synonyms for ‘straight’ and ‘gay.’ They were boundary markers between what did and did not conform to customary gender roles in a patriarchal context” (112).

Gender roles, Vines argues, issue from a patriarchal worldview evident throughout antiquity and within the world of the Bible. In a time where women were seen as inferior to men, it would be wrong for a man to place himself in the passive and thus, female, role in sex. This thesis allows for Vines to see Scripture prohibiting excess lust and passion, not a normative condemnation of homosexuality itself. He says that the argument against homosexuality based on “nature” and “anatomical complementarity” as evidenced in the work of Robert Gagnon is “speculative” (114). So according to Vines, Scripture does not condemn homosexuality, what it actually condemns—by way of patriarchy—is a man mimicking a women’s role in sex. Had Paul had a modern understanding of sexual orientation, Vines believes the Scripture’s narrative arc would lead toward condoning and celebrating homosexuality and “marriage equality.”

Aside from offering personal biography peppered with a highly unusual concept of celibacy, Vines spends the middle section of his book addressing and correcting what he sees are wrong interpretations of the Bible’s condemnation of homosexuality. Vines presents the offending text, offers rebuttal from liberal scholarship, and then weaves in either one or all theses mentioned above. He concludes that the church throughout the ages has been, ostensibly, “on the wrong side of history” when it comes to biblical interpretation.

What one will observe is that refashioning of texts condemning homosexual conduct also requires Vines to refashion central themes of the entire Bible. For example, he is forced to render established principles such as the complementarity of human physiology and anatomical complementarity as irrelevant to the Bible’s teaching on sexuality and marriage. He is forced to extinguish the significance of Ephesians 5 from its immediate context. [1] Vines writes,

“So according to Ephesians, gender difference is not necessary to become one flesh in Bible’s understanding of those words. What is necessary is that two lives are joined in the context of a binding covenant” (148).

A similar move is made in his re-interpretation of Romans 1 and Genesis 1-3. Vines is forced to advance untenable and awkward interpretations that wreak havoc on the text’s authorial clarity—that God’s creation of male and female is somehow not uniquely orientated around biological difference, but rather “covenant keeping.” And, ostensibly, Jesus must be wrong in affirming the creational structure of marriage in Matthew 19:4-6. And this is the key problem with Vines’ project: To accept his arguments, one has to question almost the entire narrative of Christianity’s most basic teachings—marriage, human embodiment, biblical anthropology, etc. Vines’ interpretations require that we overturn two millennia of church teaching.

Interaction

For saying he has a high view of the authority of Scripture, Vines is wholly dependent on scholars and books that are no respecters of biblical authority. He has drawn exclusively from a pool of scholars stalwartly liberal and hostile to evangelical hermeneutics. What Vines has done is put together a piecemeal re-telling of liberal hermeneutics for a lay-level readers.

First, Vines’ interaction with conservative scholarship is specious. While he likely has read and interacted with individuals such as Robert Gagnon, he did not elucidate any clear interaction with heavyweight scholarship such as Gagnon in the book. Dismissively, at one point Vines calls Gagnon’s work “speculative” on the issue of creation and human nature, something that cannot be done against the weight of evidence in The Bible and Homosexual Practice, what many consider the definitive work on the topic.

But as to the larger aspects of his four main arguments, responding to Vines can be done in tandem.

It becomes apparent from the introduction that Vines’ basic thesis regarding orientation is not derived from the text of Scripture. Rather, the moral force of his argument in favor of legitimizing homosexual desire is used to explain away the text. Which is to say, he’s relying on some other authority for his basic claim—namely, an extra-textual moral authority that neither the history of scriptural interpretation nor church history considers valid. This is evidenced immediately by way of his appeal to “good fruit” and “bad fruit.” Vines does not appeal to the actual exegesis of this imagery in Scripture, but rather employs it in order to enact a moral pronouncement based on a lived and subjective experience. Vines’ argument is first a moral presupposition, followed by a belief that the Scriptures could affirm homosexuality based on the cavalier exegesis and theological interpretation he offers.

Let’s examine Vines’ second assumption: The Bible is silent on “sexual orientation.”

First, just because the biblical authors may not have elucidated an understanding of sexual orientation in modern terms, it does not mean that they didn’t have at least some recognition that individuals of their time were expressively and uniformly homosexual. This is the point that Gagnon makes in his work.

Gagnon has showed convincingly in his volume that New Testament writers like Paul wrote in a context that “could not have been unaware of the existence of men whose sexual desire was oriented exclusively toward other males.”[2] Gagnon cites multiple classical sources that demonstrate this familiarity. To insist, as Vines does, that a classical Greek like Paul would have lacked this understanding lacks warrant itself. Vines merely assumes that Paul could not have familiarity with this concept, despite classical sources proving otherwise. Vines nowhere proves that Paul lacked familiarity with men interested in homosexual relations only. Moreover, an argument in favor of orientation and against conduct is a bifurcation read into the text.

Scripture may not have a highly developed explanation for the modern categories of same-sex attraction such that is a now an “orientation.” In one sense, it’s anachronistic to read our time back into Paul’s. But Paul was not ignorant. He was a man of his times, steeped in the soaring intellectual arguments of his day. He was also infused with the Spirit of God to author what he did. A well-developed understanding of “orientation” in modern terms does not mean that a semblance of this feature is absent from Scripture. What Scripture does unequivocally prohibit and consider sinful, however, is the manifestation of these desires in homosexual sex. Working backwards, it seems sensible to conclude that if the branch (homosexual sex) is considered falling short of God’s intended sexual design, so too is the root (homosexual attraction/desire/attraction).

Liberal scholar William Loader—who is in favor of same-sex marriage—has acknowledged similar claims in his book The New Testament on Sexuality.

Loader states that Paul’s indictment of homosexual relations in Romans 1:26-27 “included, but [was] by no means limited to exploitative pederasty,” “sexual abuse of male slaves,” or “same-sex acts … performed within idolatrous ritual contexts” (325). “Without differentiation he condemns all with such sexual attitudes and desires” (326). Same-sex relationships in the Greco-Roman world “could include lifelong consensual adult partnerships” (324). “It is inconceivable that [Paul] would approve of any same-sex acts if, as we must assume, he affirmed the prohibitions of Leviticus 18:22; 20:13 as fellow Jews of his time understood them” (322). Again, “it is also hard to imagine that Paul would approach [issues of homosexual practice] without awareness of the prohibition of same-sex relations in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, which had come to be applied to both men and women” (314).

This is a devastating blow to Vines’ entire argument. Indeed, the hinge of Vines’ argument is really whether Paul and the Bible have a comprehensive understanding of human sexuality vaguely reminiscent of “sexual orientation.” The question of gay identity is superfluous from the condemnation of acts that issue from a gay identity.

As to Vines’ third and fourth theses, he writes that Paul is in fact writing within a patriarchal worldview and views the female sexual role as unfitting for a male to perform. But there’s an authorial intent question at play, one especially relevant to questions of biblical inspiration: Doesn’t Paul still have the right to say, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that sodomitical acts—whether lustful or monogamous—are wrong; that a man should not penetrate another man in a way that chafes against sexual design, regardless of a patriarchal context? Vines assumes that it could only be patriarchy that accounts for a condemnation of sodomy, something that he infers and does not exhaustively demonstrate. What Vines ignores is that even loving, committed, and monogamous homosexuals are engaged in a sexual act that Paul finds contrary to sexual design. That Paul would enlist sodomitical acts as a particularly vivid illustration of human rebellion in Romans 1, it seems compelling that the repugnance that Paul displays is characteristic of all sodomitical acts, lustful or monogamous.

Gagnon writes:

The description of excess passion was a way of demeaning a desire that on other grounds had already been evaluated as abominable; otherwise, how would the author know to characterize the passion as excess? In other words, the characterization of homosexual desire as excessive lust is incidental or supplementary to a prior revulsion toward such conduct.[3]

If Vines’ thesis about sexual orientation is knocked down (and we have historical and textual evidence that it should be) his other arguments fall as well. For if homosexuality—whether in orientation or in practice—is considered a disordered passion, then commitment and monogamy are irrelevant. And so is the question of patriarchy. If Paul is correct in holding to a sexual teleology inherited from a Jewish worldview that saw sodomy as inherently sinful, charges that Paul viewed women as somehow inferior is sublimated under the larger concern that men should not be performing deviant sexual acts—not because they shouldn’t be acting like women, but because anatomical structure was not designed with such actions in mind. Again, one can accept Vines’ argument only if he’s argued convincingly against other themes such as “one flesh” and “nature,” which he has not.[4]

Every issue related to sexual and anatomical complementarity is done only in the context of charges of patriarchy. He simply does not posit any meaningful interaction about the anatomical difference of male and female. For Vines, the Bible cannot posit positive teaching about the significance of male and female embodiment, for if it does, it chafes against his argument. Additionally, questions about human embodiment and sexual architecture are simply missing. From this vantage point, procreation is merely ancillary to the biblical drama that promises salvation through a procreative vehicle (Gen. 3:15).

Throughout the volume I found myself having to willfully suspend disbelief in order to accept his hermeneutics. That’s not because I’ve been immersed in evangelical interpretations such that I’ve become immune from finding liberal arguments compelling, but simply because the interpretations Vines offers are, simply, bizarre.

Vines may read this review and reply, “That’s what I’m saying, the Bible is far more complex on these issues than supposedly ‘settled interpretation’ would have one think.” But this belies a key fault at play in Vines’ work: There are credible and overwhelming amounts of biblical scholarship confirming the traditional biblical interpretation concerning homosexuality. What Vines does is use a set of moral assumptions, insisting that those moral assumptions have to be accounted for, and then finds a way to explain away what the text seems to be saying on the surface. The question for him therefore becomes: What is the basis for this moral assumption that homosexual acts are morally legitimate?

If we account for the Bible’s traditional teaching on homosexuality being correct (and we have exegetical and historic evidence to suggest it is), Vines has two options: 1) To abandon the Bible’s authority, thus negating his evangelical credibility; or 2) Be at peace with representing a minority opinion within biblical scholarship, an opinion that goes against settled scholarship that both liberals and conservatives accept. It seems best to suggest that Vines take “option 1” and admit his disavowal of biblical authority.

But there’s a question that left me with an ache about this book. Matthew Vines is clear that homosexuality and homosexual marriage are to be embraced and celebrated in the life of the church. But here’s my question: If something so vital to Christian theology and human existence has been left ignored and so patently in error, how did it get left out until now? Why should we believe that the church is wrong, now, on issues like sexuality? If there were an opportunity for same-sex marriage and homosexuals to be given its equal place, wouldn’t it have been given its place already—especially in a far more homoerotic culture such as Greek and Roman culture? If we can’t trust the church’s history of interpretation on such things as sexuality, what can we trust it with?

Conclusion

It is likely that Matthew Vines will read this review. As I wrote it, I thought to myself, what would I tell Matthew if we were to sit down over coffee and discuss his book?

First, I would tell him that I love him, and that he’s deserving of dignity and respect as an image bearer of God. I would apologize to him for what I can only assume are the countless insensitivities and insults he’s experienced as a same-sex attracted person. I would also apologize to Matthew for the pat, unhelpful answers and rejection he’s received from Christians who don’t know how to speak about homosexuality.

Secondly, I would give him a copy of Wesley Hill’s book. I would point him toward the testimony and work of my friend Sam Allberry’s book and heroic ministry, Living Out. I would tell him of Rosaria Butterfield, whose testimony is a witness to the power of the gospel. I would be honest and tell him that these ministries provide more hopeful, and holistic narratives.

Third, because I love and respect him, I would be compelled to tell him that he’s deceived. He’s believed the lie that homosexuality will prosper his life. Fourth, I would implore Matthew to repent of a book designed to cast a shadow of suspicion and doubt about the Scripture’s teaching on sexuality. Fifth, I would exhort him to a path of discipleship with incalculable unknowns—unknown difficulties I will not experience and can only sympathize with. But I will commend him to set his desires before the cross, knowing that Jesus is better than any desire we think needs satisfied; that Jesus is better than marriage, than children, than sexual fulfillment itself. I would tell him about costly obedience. I would tell him about radical self-abandonment, something I imperfectly attempt each day. I would tell him the story of the Rich Young Ruler, reprised for today, and reframed around the issue of sexuality. I would tell him that the gospel subverts the very points at which we say, “Yes, Lord, but…”

Pastoral Considerations

What follows are abbreviated points on why pastors should be aware and ready for this book to spark conversations amongst their members.

The book subverts how Lordship and sexuality are inextricably bound.
It casts a shadow on the clarity and rationality of the Bible’s teaching on sexuality.
The authority Vines insists upon casts a shadow over the heroic testimonies of those who have gone above and beyond their sexual desires.
For saying he has a high authority of Scripture, Vines has marshaled evidence from authors and volumes that do not.
Vines does not clarify that while not all individuals may be called to a life of celibacy, all individuals without a spouse are called to exercise sexual chastity.
The book drives a wedge between our design and desire. According to a biblical template, our sexual desires should be oriented to how God intends human sexuality to function. A sentiment underneath Vines’ argument is this: “If it feels good, do it.” Vines makes the claim that an expectation of celibacy has evidence of bearing “bad fruit,” and thus, cannot be accepted. The problem, however, is that this idea assumes any innate attraction or desire must be acted upon in accordance with a person’s will. A proper evaluation, however, would understand that “innateness” is not a normative ethical category worthy of adoption.

Resources for Review

To church leaders, this book will be a pernicious attack on uninformed or easily persuadable Christians that are seeking to abandon the biblical and historic position. In an age when the church is being pressed in on both sides—those outside the church and those supposedly from within the church—it is incumbent that pastors ready themselves with key resources that counteract the errors advanced by individuals like Matthew Vines. Below is a collection of resources that should help. They provide hermeneutical responses to all the thorny issues related to biblical exegesis, along with pastoral responses on how churches should minister to individuals with persistent same-sex attraction.

Dennis Hollinger, The Meaning of Sex: Christian Ethics and the Moral Life, chapter 7.
Robert Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics.
Richard Hays, The Moral Vision of the New Testament, chapter 16.
Stanley Grenz, Sexual Ethics: An Evangelical Perspective, chapter 11.
Stanley Grenz, Welcoming but Not Affirming: An Evangelical Response to Homosexuality.
Denny Burk, What is the Meaning of Sex?
, chapter 7.
Denny Burk. “Why Evangelicals Should Ignore Brian Mclaren How The New Testament Requires Evangelicals to Render a Judgment on the Moral Status of Homosexuality.” Themelios 35, no. 2 (July 2010): 212–27.
James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries dedicated a full five hours to refuting the hermeneutical arguments that Vines employs.
Jonathan Leeman, “Love and the Inhumanity of Same-Sex Marriage”
A collection of resources available from Robert Gagnon website,http://www.robgagnon.net
“The Church in a Homosexual Culture: An Interview with Robert Gagnon”
Two sermons by John Piper on homosexuality:

The Other Dark Exchange: Homosexuality, Part 1.
The Other Dark Exchange: Homosexuality, Part 2.

Kevin DeYoung, A Sermon on Leviticus 18:1-30 (Part 1)
Kevin DeYoung, A Sermon on Leviticus 18:1-30 (Part 2)
Kevin DeYoung, A Sermon on Leviticus 18:1-30 (Part 3)
Kevin DeYoung, A Sermon on Leviticus 18:1-30 (Part 4)

[1] Because I lack the space to address every argument the book advances, it should be said that Vines’ re-interpretation of Ephesians 5 is disjointed bordering on dishonest. He writes “In keeping with the focus of Ephesians 5, the essence of Christian marriage involves keeping covenant with one’s spouse in a relationship of mutual self-giving, which does not exclude same-sex couples” (146).

[2] Robert Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice (Nashville: Abingdon, 2001), 385.

[3] Gagnon, 386.

[4] On the issue of “nature,” see Gagnon, 389-91.

Andrew Walker
Andrew Walker is the managing editor of Canon and Culture. He also serves as the Director of Policy Studies for The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the denomination’s entity tasked with addressing moral, social, and ethical issues. In his role, he researches and writes about human dignity, family stability, religious liberty, and the moral principles that support civil society. He is a PhD student in Christian Ethics at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Andrew lives in Franklin, TN with his wife and daughter and is a member of Redemption City Church. You can find him on twitter at @andrewtwalk.

By / Mar 4

Jackie Hill is a Christian poet whose spoken words have moved the hearts of listeners around the world. Ex-lesbian, her testimony of redemption and grace has been featured by in a variety of publications.

For those who might not be familiar with you, would you briefly share your testimony? 

I was raised in St. Louis in a single parent household by my mother. I had a pretty regular childhood apart from being fatherless, (which is sadly normal to most African American children), being molested at five, and being introduced to porn around the age of seven. So it’s safe to say that my early influences consisted of some neglect when it came to my father and perversion when it came to what I saw on TV.

Besides that, I had an aunt in my life that took me to church consistently from a toddler to an early teen. This consistent exposure to the gospel affected me greatly even during my rebellion. To make a long story short, around high school I began to act out on the same sex desires that I had been having since as early as I could remember with a particular young lady. This ended up becoming a lifestyle that I was very open about. I entered into several sexual relationships with women, and frequented gay clubs and pride parades. But even in this midst of it all, I lacked peace. The knowledge I had about God as child “haunted” me in a way. I knew without a doubt that my life was not pleasing to him but I didn’t have the strength nor the desire to change.

That is until the age of 19, when God convicted me of my sin. And not just homosexuality but my entire life. All of my “head knowledge” became a reality to me. I saw that I deserved death but I also saw and believed that Jesus could not only give me eternal life, but that he could also give me the power to deny all that I love more than him. I repented of my sins that day in my bedroom, believing that Jesus was simply better. And I’ve been different ever since. 

The “Same Love” performanace by Macklemore at the Grammy Awards made news. Why did you feel compelled to respond?

Though it grieved me, it did not shock me. I do not expect the world, or those that are in it to boast about God in a way that brings a true reverence and respect for him and his word. What happened at the Grammy Awards was simply an outward display of the inner workings of sinful hearts in my opinion. With that said, I was filled with compassion for those who saw it and could be led to believe that God cannot change the affections of someone struggling with same-sex desires. That performance was a well orchestrated lie. God in his word has shown that those who fling themselves onto the mercies of his son will change. It is not possible to know God and remain the same.

So I would encourage believers to boast about the power of Jesus wherever they are. No matter if they are teachers or construction workers. As the opportunity arises, boast on our Lord. Show them why he is better. Jesus prayed to the father in John 17 that we may not be taken out of the world. We are still here to point our fingers to the glorious face of Jesus so that men may see and bow down to the truth. We should count it a privilege to be here at such a time as this, to be used to draw many to himself. 

It seems like the gay community can be tight knit. When you became a Christian, it would seem you are truly counting a cost and giving up not only a lifestyle but also a vocal and supportive community. With this in mind, how might the church be better equipped to serve Christians who once embraced the homosexual lifestyle?

That is very true. When I left my lifestyle, I had to leave the majority of my friends. I had to create new hobbies. It was a huge adjustment to say the least. For the church to serve those who were once in that environment, I would encourage them to simply be the church. Love in deed and in truth. Disciple new converts. Train older ones. Do the same things you would do for any person saved by the grace of God. 

Sexual temptation affects many people. Even though the temptations are different, is there a common way to fight lust for those who struggle with same-sex attraction and those who struggle with opposite-sex attraction? How have you learned to fight these desires? 

I do agree. I believe the difference is that, in our society, the culture has done a good job of making this particular affection an entire identity. So when someone comes to Christ and is tempted with same-sex desires, if their identity is not rooted in the truth of God’s word, their reasoning may be that “If I am still tempted with this, then I must still be gay.” This reasoning is dangerous because it can further tempt someone to stop fleeing from sin and to just “accept” it as who they are instead. Understanding that alone helped me fight my desires. It helped me to no longer be discouraged by my temptations. I began to read about what it means to be in Christ (Ephesians 1 is a good reference for this kind of study) and how that applies to my struggles. 

What are you doing now? Are you still a spoken word artist? 

Besides planning for my wedding, I still travel around doing spoken word poetry. Spoken word poetry is simply performing a written poem in an artistic way. I’m sure if David was around in our day and age, he might’ve been doing the same thing.

Congratulations on your upcoming marriage! Would you share more? 

Yes indeed! I met Preston Perry at a spoken word event called Lyricist Lounge back in 2009 when I was 20. I was doing my testimony poem called “My life as a stud” for the first time and he was sharing a poem about his testimony as well. We connected and remained friends for about three years. We both finally confessed our feelings about each other about two years ago and began courting with very clear intentions that we would be getting married eventually. He proposed to me through a spoken word poem called “The Covenant” at the same event we met at in August and the rest is, or should I say, will be history.