Interacting with LGBTQ people on Twitter as a Christian



I have a Curious Cat account, which lets people ask me questions anonymously. This has already resulted in some cool interactions, and getting some questions I otherwise wouldn’t, that I am happy to answer, including personal ones about my faith.

I recently received this question:

“I expect that questions like this might oft be a troll, I promise this isn’t- I’ve followed you for a long time (and plan to continue doing so) but I wanted to ask, I see you as a man of devout faith, however I also see you interact with many LGBT folk on Twitter regularly (myself included.) Can I ask you about how you reconcile your faith and your openness to people traditionally not welcome by men of your station? (This is somewhat a selfish question, I am a lapsed Christian for likely understandable reasons.)”

My response… is longer than the character limit at that site allows.

So I am posting it here:

###

You can definitely ask. Besides, what question *isn’t* selfish?

I’m not sure I’ll ever see a better question on here. This is quite a question. We can go to a lot of places from this question.

There is a temptation to just give a “Jesus is love! :D!” sort of answer and move on – but I get the sense you’re looking for a bit more here.

If you’re willing to read, I’m willing to be open. If you’re willing to respect me as a real flesh-and-blood person behind these pixels, I’m willing to take this Elephant In The Room sort of question… and drag that pesky pachyderm out into the light a bit.

Let’s do this.

###

It breaks my heart to think this has to be a “how do you reconcile your faith with it” sort of issue, like the type of person I interact with might be a demerit against my faith somehow, like it seems perfectly normal to ask this sort of thing.

But I get it: Christians have done a great job of setting themselves up as enemy combatants in the arena of culture. They have done a terrible job of simply loving people. Showing grace. Sharing burdens. Breaking bread together.

My heart is heavy for the ill reputation of Christians nowadays; not because it is unfounded, but because they are definitely guilty.

Christians just kinda suck.

They need to squirm uncomfortably in their seats with this truth, and wrestle with it, and acknowledge it. I’m not joking or being trite, I mean this in a real sense of the state of the modern church – I think Christians need to shift away from the reflex of “you’re a sinner” and start with “I’m a sinner” instead.

The modern church is full of Christians who, upon hearing Jesus say “let he who is sinless cast the first stone,” are eager to chuckle back “haha whatever” and start grabbing rocks. They’re cool with Jesus hanging out with the priests and the royalty, but frown upon the parties where he sits alongside thieves and prostitutes and turns the water into wine when they run out of alcohol.

“Why would we want to welcome someone who seems a little different from me?” a Christian may say, might think.

But when I consider, instead, the question “How do I live out the Gospel?” there is no hesitation.

###

“C’mon Eric,” I can hear someone asking. “You know what they mean when they ask how you reconcile your faith with this. What about the verses, Old Testament and New Testament alike, that condemn homosexuality? What about all the affirmations of marriage, and unions between a man and a woman?”

I mean, yeah, let’s go there – if you put a gun to my head and asked me, is homosexuality is sin? I’d have to say, yep, it’s there on the Big Ol’ List. Right there beside calling someone a fool and coveting my neighbor’s stuff, somewhere between murdering people and wearing clothing of two different fabrics, there among failing to honor my father and presenting the wrong sort of burnt offering.

And yet, I truly don’t feel convicted here, I don’t feel called to live out my Christianity as a man with a checklist, going about striking as many marks against as many people as possible. In fact, some people did exactly this, and they, the Pharisees, didn’t get along with Jesus very well, which should tell us something.

If a Christian really wants to have this conversation with me, if they truly want to reach up on the shelf of sexual sins, then I’d love to ask them where their heart and soul is at today, and how they would feel about their wife reviewing their browser history, and how recently they looked at someone with a lustful gaze, and hey wait a second have you ever known someone who’s been married before and what do you think when Paul says there’s no place in the kingdom of God for people who’ve been divorced?

So, back to the original question: How do I reconcile it? Let’s boil this down – I do not believe that sexuality would be the reason someone fails to enter Heaven. I know I’m a heterosexual man in a church-approved marriage – but I also know I am a sinner. If you wanted to condemn me for something, you could. And if I wanted to condemn people, I bet I could condemn everyone, without ever having to bring their private physical affections into play.

There’s plenty of condemnation to go around, if you want to find it. If I want to make the case for all of humanity going to Hell, I can do so without ever bringing sexuality into the mix.

But if we want salvation, we need Jesus. Period. There’s no asterisk in the equation.

On Judgement Day, when the Bible speaks of the Book of Life, it’s not talking about a book that tracks whether or not someone was cisgendered and heterosexual, no. When you’re standing there, is Christ going to be your Advocate? Is he your Lord and Savior? That’s the one and only ultimate question, and not something else.

Romans 3:23 doesn’t say, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, but especially those LGBTQ people…”

Romans 1:16 doesn’t say, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes, oh but not the gays, no not them…”

John 3:16 doesn’t say, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever is heterosexual shall not perish…”

John 3:16 has been emphasized a lot throughout the history of the church, but how often do we focus on the verse right after? John 3:17 is beautiful:

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

There it is.

Maybe there are Christians who are eager to judge and condemn those around them (okay let’s be real, there certainly are). Maybe they refuse to open their homes to anyone, because anyone who walks through their door will be found a sinner. Maybe they refuse to open their arms to anyone, because anyone who might touch them would fail the Big Ol’ Checklist test of sins. Maybe they really do refuse to speak to anyone who’s a little different from them, or never invite them to church, or never offer a word of encouragement or the friendly laugh of community or to share a meal together.

I’m not called to live like those ‘Christians.’ I’m called to live like Christ.

So… it seems silly, honestly, to live out my faith in a way that worries so much about what people’s genitalia looks like and what genitalia they’re attracted to and – I feel gross just having to consider that sort of scenario and type it out, ha.

Is my family likely to attend any Gay Pride parades any time soon? Nah. But would you like to come over for dinner? Can we live life together? Can we lock arms and hold hands and get down into the trenches of this existence and wrestle with our struggles together? Can we celebrate each other’s victories and commiserate in our setbacks? Can we pray together? Can you tell me a story from your life experience as a fellow human being, something that made you smile or made you scared or made you cry? Can we aim for community before we aim for more division?

###

I mean, on some level, it’s also a matter of acknowledging that LGBT people have enough issues to deal with, without having to worry about me. I have no qualms interacting. In fact, I will even go this far: I believe my faith is stronger when I get to know these struggles better, when I get to know people’s stories deeper, and when my heart has room to listen to these voices.

The “lapsed Christian” part of this question worries me, not the other part. That makes my heart feel heavier than anything else in that message. I can’t exactly read that and feel warm & fuzzy afterward.

There’s a story there, and I’d be glad to just listen, if you ever want to contact me privately.

In your question, you had some wording here, I want to close with: “… traditionally not welcome by men of your station.”

I’d love to be a man of faith who welcomes the traditionally unwelcome. Jesus did that – and was himself unwelcome, too.

7 Responses to “ Interacting with LGBTQ people on Twitter as a Christian ”

  1. I’m not here to get into it with anyone, so don’t think that’s what I’m doing. But I’m a lapsed Catholic who doesn’t take the Bible as seriously or literally as everyone else seems to. I was always under the impression that the “gay is a sin” parts of the Bible were strictly Old Testament though? I know the New Testament mentions homosexuality in Romans 1:26–27, but that passage seems to be more about worshiping false idols and Gods and that people back in those days had some ideas about homosexuality in general that don’t line up with what we know to be true today (things like thinking Homosexuality doesn’t occur in nature and that it was in fact a punishment bestowed upon people for worshiping a false god.)

    I mean, the Old Testament is out the window, it’s like a giant retcon that occurs within the Bible. Jesus is Disney buying Star Wars and telling us that the expanded universe doesn’t count anymore, except the parts that they say count. He dies for our sins so that we do not have to adhere to the rules set forth in the Old Testament, only the rules set forth and mentioned by him in the New Testament. It’s what separates us from those who practice the Jewish faith who adhere to the rules and laws of the Old Testament.

    Overall, there’s not really any cut and dry answers in the New Testament about homosexuality. No big glaring 11th Commandment about it or anything, so really it’s all just up to individual interpretation. Different people can read it differently, and I pretty much agree with your stance. The only difference here is that you believe the Bible says it’s a sin, and I believe it doesn’t. We’re technically both right, but we should be acting like Christ and my gut tells me Christ wouldn’t care one way or another, it’s not our place to judge or condemn.

  2. Steven , on May 5th, 2017 at 12:41 pm Said:

    You had me until you mentioned that the only way into Heaven is to be Christian.

    Ultimately, that statement condemns whole populations of people in a single stroke. Worse, for no logical reason. What if you’re born of a place and time where you haven’t a chance to be Christian? More to the point, why does THAT matter so much, over and above being a truly good person.

    It’s subtle but I find this way of thinking way more off putting than simple culture-phobic rhetoric. Appreciate you putting thought to your reply, however.

  3. Let me preface this response with the fact that I’m an atheist.

    That said, I applaud Eric’s thoughtful response. Every person, just like every Christian is an individual. There isn’t a boilerplate response for every Christian on every situation.

    As Eric pointed out, many Christians (and the populace as a whole, really) look to condemn others without looking in the mirror first. Most people are guilty of this. He is referring to non-straight people, but you could swap that with any other type of person, and there will be someone who is the polar opposite.

    Some people who hate use religion as a justification for their hatred. Christianity doesn’t have a monopoly on that.

    Rather that condemn him for not including other peoples who are not afforded the option to choose Jesus as their savior, how about we embrace him and the fact that he’s willing to be open to views that are outside of his faith.

    Again, as Eric pointed out, we can all be buried in sin and denied entrance into Heaven (if one is so inclined) based on sins in the Bible.

    Faith doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game. One of my closest friends is a gay man who’s been with his partner for decades. He also happens to be very religious.

    At the end of the day, for me at least, it comes down to living by the Golden Rule. Pretty much all faiths and other decent people around the planet can get behind that.

  4. Great, well thought out post on a very touchy subject.

  5. The Cheesiest , on August 4th, 2017 at 11:26 am Said:

    Well, this might be the most interesting thing i read all day, but id like to add on to Stevens statement. i suppose i usually tell people i identify as a Christian, since they are mostly inline with my beliefs. Except for my idea of God, Jesus, and the holy spirit becomes a very muddled affair as i don’t see a difference in most religious beliefs. There’s no, My Christian God, or your Hindu Gods. I see them as one and the same. Just different names for the same thing. And in the end its really all about how you live your life. I’d even argue that mr. Atheist has a “God” because whether or not he believes in my God, there is a group of beliefs and standards with govern and control his life he “worships.”

  6. The Cheesiest , on August 4th, 2017 at 1:44 pm Said:

    I forgot to mention, I’ve always ponder about the interpretations of any religious book. Because not many ever talk about how even though the scriptures are the “word of God,” are more or less influenced by Him, and subject to fault or biased based on all of us being imperfect or sinners.

  7. @Steven
    “What if you’re born of a place and time where you haven’t a chance to be Christian? More to the point, why does THAT matter so much, over and above being a truly good person.”

    Romans 1:20 and Romans 2:15 are the answer to the first question. The second bit is covered by Ecclesiastes 7:20. (This is summarized, of course. You’re talking some seriously deep theology, which I can’t really cover in a few easy comments!) We can’t save ourselves. If you could be a *truly* good person, then yeah, you could save yourself. Problem is, we can’t/don’t. Life proves it to us over and over. That’s why grace is such a gorgeous thing. It steps in and intervenes for us. It says “Even though you are broken and do evil (willingly), love will erase that from the record.”

    As far as “the only way into Heaven is to be a Christian” I have my own musings on that, but I’m not God so I can’t say for certain. It’s not my ultimate call to make, I didn’t create the universe. It seems to me, and again, this is ME speaking, what is required is the acceptance of grace. The admission that we have done wrong (because even if you know nothing of the bible, everyone knows when they’ve done something wrong now and then; C.S. Lewis sums this up nicely in Mere Christianity) and acceptance of the gift of love. We, as human beings, latch on to Jesus as the human being in this instance. To take “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6) and run with “No one comes to God except through Jesus the man” is a very human thing to do. Could it also mean “No one comes to God except through grace and forgiveness?” My brain says that’s a possibility. I see valid logic in that, given the rest of scripture. But again, I’m not God, can’t say for sure. Since I believe Jesus is the living fullness of grace and forgiveness, to say all must go through him to get to God makes sense to me, though I’m not as quick to care about the physical human form aspect as others. This seems okay to me, personally. If I’m wrong, I will (justly) pay for being wrong. In the end, all I have to put my hope in is grace, one way or another.

    Anyway, either way one has to accept it. It is the willingness to accept it that really makes all the difference. Are you/me/whomever willing to say we’re wrong and need saved? Or are we proud, and so bent on saving ourselves (or that we don’t need saved and are already just great people) that we refuse grace? That, I think (and I think is also scripturally sound) is the question.

    Whatever the case, it’s fascinating stuff to be sure. Super, super deep. I’ve been studying for years in earnest and I feel like every time I check it out the pool seems even deeper! I’m just glad we voice these questions, because for a long time I was afraid there might not be answers so I kept quiet. The answers are there, even if challenging sometimes.

    PS. I hope you’ll forgive me for being presumptuous and jumping in with a reply to your comment. Feel free to ignore it if you didn’t intend for responses!

    @Eric
    Nicely put! Well done, and thanks for being a light amidst a lot of broken individuals. We certainly do a lot of harm out there, all in the name of God. I never fail to marvel that he keeps forgiving us. I know I’ve been part of the problem plenty of times, and only more recently tried to rectify that. Every day, a little better.

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