Editor’s note: The recent series of articles by David Gushee on homosexuality generated an unusual amount of response. ABP solicited these two representative responses — from Peggy Campolo, an advocate for gay Christians, and George Guthrie , a professor at Union University.
By Peggy Campolo
Thanks to Dr. David Gushee for his engaging article on Christian ethics as they relate to gay and lesbian Christians. I am a committed Baptist who has worked within the church of Jesus Christ for more than 20 years to foster the understanding and acceptance of my gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender sisters and brothers – I’ll just say “gay” for shorthand. I can personally testify to the anguish gay people feel when rejected by church and family because of who they are. I have also witnessed the joy of the many gay people I know who have found church homes where they are loved and accepted.
I agree with Dr. Gushee that the majority of the church is devoid of the kinds of discussions that would enable its members to gain a sound, biblically based theology of sexuality and marriage. Sadly, that has left its people to be manipulated by political voices who influence public opinion on sexual issues to win elections.
Dr. Gushee is right on the mark when he states that the problems of gay Christians cannot be properly addressed without the church clearly defining the meaning of sex and marriage, and I think he would agree with me that those who reduce marriage to “plumbing and baby-making” are the ones who demean marriage. The church should be grateful to those gay Christians who are raising the right questions.
The current problems of straight people, as well as those facing God’s gay children, cannot be solved until the church of Jesus Christ clearly defines for its people the meaning of celibacy, sex, marriage and what constitutes a family. However, as Dr. Gushee clearly states, the large majority of the church today is afraid to talk about divorce or discuss any of these matters, even as they relate to heterosexuals.
Dr. Gushee calls for “a careful, unhurried process of Christian discernment” on this subject. I join him in longing for that. But God’s gay children cannot face exclusion any longer. They are raising the very questions that need to be addressed by all of us, straight and gay. The anguish and despair I have seen in the Christian gay community does not allow time for such a scholarly approach to be our first move. We who are called to love our neighbors as ourselves must get to know and listen to them NOW.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote a letter titled “Why We Can’t Wait” from a jail in Birmingham, Ala. He made his point about racial equality by talking about his own four small children, and all of the other children of color who were growing up feeling like second-class citizens. Those children of God, those who do not happen to be straight, are the reason that I, and so many others who love Jesus and believe in the Bible’s message of grace, demand justice for them NOW.
A pastor friend of mine, who has conducted too many funerals for gay children of God who ended their lives because they could no longer live the lie that their churches and families demanded of them, tells of a suicide note left by a young Christian. He dearly loved the godly parents who had accepted him but could not bear the anguish felt when their church excluded them along with him. His final letter to his mother and father read simply, “I didn’t know how else to fix it.”
Dr. Gushee’s proposal for “a careful, unhurried process of Christian discernment” is a necessary wake-up call for the church. However, we must also find a way to end the exclusion and anguish of God’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender children NOW.