04 Feb How I Was Moved To Support Same-Sex Marriage In The Church

Your beliefs don’t shift in an instant. We research and agonize, bouncing between hope and despair, until one day we hear ourselves say something a former version of ourselves never would have said. That’s how I came to support same-sex marriage in the church. When I came out as a teenager in Baptist circles in the Bible Belt, I never would’ve imagined God would still like me if I married a woman one day. And I want to try to explain, in theological(ish) terms, how I ended up here.

It seemed reasonable to be taken to an ex-gay ministry within days of coming out to my family my junior year in high school. At that point, gay people were hardly mentioned in the church, and when we were, we were told God thought gay people were gross. The main message from conservative Christians was that the Gospel would transform sexual minorities who sought the face of God, washing us, sanctifying us, and eventually making us straight.

A little lesbian who wanted so badly to be good, I abandoned my skepticism and latched onto the hope for “freedom from homosexuality.” I stuck around for almost a decade, hopeful that God would show up and surprise me if I remained committed to the process. When Exodus International asked if I would join their speaking team, I jumped in with a message of hope in what God would likely do in the future.

Eventually, we learned that even the most dedicated wouldn’t be able to change their orientation. Evangelical Christians shifted their theology a little at that point. Pastors and leaders decided that perhaps God’s transforming work would not result in orientation change, but it would result in the grace to pursue lifelong celibacy. Initially, Christian leaders were troubled when those of us committed to lifelong celibacy referred to ourselves as gay. They insisted we refer to ourselves as “same-sex attracted,” which implied we were basically straight people whose attractions happened to misfire from time to time. Then they realized it’s a bit much to demand lifelong celibacy from this one group of people and to define the terms of how we were allowed to talk about it, so it became more acceptable for us to say we were gay.

Some of this made me uneasy but I tried to be a sport about it, assuming those in leadership were more theologically sound than me and that their intentions were likely holier than mine. When Evangelical leaders said their views were rooted in sincere theological beliefs rather than homophobia, I believed them. In their minds, that is true. In my mind, that was true.

Thoughtful Christians have taught that all of Scripture points to a theology of marriage that involves one man and one woman in a lifelong commitment with a green light for sex in that context alone. This is based on the idea that the Bible is our ultimate authority, but it’s complicated by the fact that we bring an interpretive lens to the Bible. When we support women’s equality in all areas of leadership in the church, we trust one interpretive lens over another. Both sides are sincere Christians and both view the Bible as authoritative––they just differ on how the Bible, which was written in a patriarchal context in the 1st century, should apply to empowered women in the 21st century.

Since we interpret in community, we ultimately choose to trust one group of leaders in their interpretive endeavor over another. There’s safety in numbers, right? So I stuck with the crowd and assumed conservative pastors and Christian leaders probably brought a trustworthy lens to Scripture. Throughout my twenties I was committed to lifelong celibacy.

As the debate raged, I grew increasingly uncomfortable with the way the arguments shifted. Initially we were told we should become straight, so I tried to become straight. Then we were told a traditional theology meant lifelong celibacy, so I was on the celibate track. We were taught that a marriage between a man and a woman is primarily about sanctification: a place to learn how selfish we are in a sort of lifelong mini-monastery. We were taught that marriage is also about companionship because God said it’s not good for humans to be alone. We heard that the marital bond creates an energizing love that overflows into the kind of hospitality that helps us to welcome the hurting into our homes.

As more LGBT people came out and more theologians said a Christian marriage could actually extend to same-sex couples, traditionalists grew anxious. Pastors realized there is no reason two gay or lesbian Christians could not live into the kind of marriage they’ve taught all along: one that’s about sacrifice, sanctification, companionship, and reflecting God’s faithful commitment to the church. So they scrambled for some sort of explanation for why we should continue to apply the text in a way that excludes same-sex couples from marriage, and many now say it’s because the capacity for procreation is central to a traditional understanding of marriage.

The problem is that Protestants have never taught that procreation is central to marriage and we don’t actually believe that or we wouldn’t be cool with birth control. We suddenly adopted a quasi-Catholic view of sex and marriage but only when it comes to gay people––not when it might burden straight people.

For 13 years I was mostly on board with leaders who maintained that marriage was between a man and a woman, assuming they were onto something I was missing. I’ve been on board with this at a great cost––a cost that’s been worth it because I deeply love the community I’ve come from, the community that I still consider my family. But I watched many people use their power to protect themselves rather than using it to protect the most vulnerable. I saw them make decisions about LGBT people while excluding us from the community of interpretation. Over the course of hundreds of conversations, with tears and prayers and vulnerable pleas, my heart was broken. Many Christian leaders have scrutinized the people they could’ve learned from all along, anxiously creating new arguments that kept sexual minorities from pursuing calls to ministry, playing the piano in the church, or building a home with someone they loved.

When you put that example next to someone like Eugene Rogers, you start to feel like there’s something very life-giving and very Christian in the affirming view of marriage. He sees marriage as a school of virtue that nurtures generosity in gay and straight couples alike: “For marriage is an example of the concrete discipline that most of us (liberal and conservative) lack: in marriage we practice common discernment over self-interest. Marriage cultivates concern for one another: it offers lifelong hospitality; it enacts love; and it exposes our faults in order to heal them. It is the marital virtues that the church need, not only with respect to the Bridegroom, but with respect to one another.”

He goes on to say: “The married know that they have learned moral virtues––patience or temperance or courage, fidelity, hopefulness, and charity­––because of a vulnerability to their spouse that they could not learn from any other person. Eros makes a way to the heart; without the vulnerability it brings, charity grows cold. This is not a lesson of “sexual liberation,” if sexual liberation involves evading commitment and discipline. This is a lesson of the incarnation.”

He says marriage exposes our faults in order to heal them and the grace cultivated in a lifelong commitment nurtures moral growth. When I considered the fruit of that kind of teaching over and against the fruit of one that views LGBT people with suspicion, relegating us to lifelong singleness with very little tenderness, I came to believe that we should celebrate same-sex marriage.  It became hard for me to understand what exactly was driving traditional teaching on marriage if it was not fear of change––a very particular kind of fear that’s often expressed through homophobia.

But we don’t have to live in fear any longer. Same-sex couples are getting married, and many of these couples are decisively Christian, and these Christian couples are a witness to a watching world that’s been disillusioned by the hypocrisy they’ve seen in the church. No amount of disagreement with these marriages will invalidate their Christ-like example of love and faithfulness. It will not diminish the power of their testimony when their love creates an energy that welcomes in the hurting, the lonely, and the forgotten. These couples exemplify a vibrant faith fueled by a man from Nazareth who embodied love and forgiveness in the way He lived and died. That is, after all, what a Christian marriage is all about.

63 Comments
  • Dr. Trista Carr
    Posted at 12:37h, 04 February Reply

    Wow! Powerful and vulnerable once again. I so appreciate your openness about your journey. Thank you for sharing it with the world. I am excited to see how avid continues to use you, my friend.

    Keep on keeping on…

    Many blessings to you!

    • Dr. Trista Carr
      Posted at 12:39h, 04 February Reply

      Oops…I just saw a typo. My bad! I’m excited to see how God continues to use you! 🙂

  • Liz Dyer
    Posted at 13:32h, 04 February Reply

    Julie, you have always impressed me as someone who tries to remain open to learning and growing … and you have always strived to put flesh and bones on your theology – those two things together are invaluable for those of us who seek to know God and his ways. I’m excited to continue to read about your journey and I appreciate you sharing Eugene Rodgers words about marriage.

    I’ve been on my own journey and have been working on getting it written out in a concise manner so I can share it with others. Not so much to convince someone but because I believe there is power and healing in sharing our stories.

    Here is a short version of my own journey that I shared with a small group at a local church this past Sunday. I am a big believer that sharing our own stories is very powerful and the absolute best way to connect with others when engaging about this issue. The group was mixed – some were affirming and some were not. The church itself is not affirming but are having a lot of “conversations” and the reception and response was very positive.

    “When my son came out he told me he had come to the conclusion that the bible did not condemn loving, committed same sex relationships. I fully expected to be able to prove him wrong.

    My goal wasn’t to prove him wrong but as a loving Christian mother I was compelled to “know” as much as I could so I could guide, advise, pray, model the right thing for him.

    I was accustomed to “studying” scripture as I taught women’s bible studies for years. I knew what it meant to dig into original language and consider the historical context of the verses I was studying.

    So, as I dug into scripture I was shocked to find that my son was right … there was no clear condemnation of the kind of same sex relationship that my son was talking about. None of the “clobber” verses were speaking about a loving, monogamous, healthy same sex relationship.

    In light of insufficient evidence in scripture I had to ask myself what to do.

    How should I respond to something if scripture doesn’t clearly condemn it?

    The only thing I could think is that I needed to know if there was any evidence that it was hurting others. I couldn’t find that evidence either – in fact, the evidence was that healthy same sex relationships had the same healthy effect on individuals and society that opposite sex relationships have.

    When I was going through all of this study, research and thought Micah 6:8 became a focal point for me:

    “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good;
    and what doth the Lord require of thee,
    but to do justly, and to love mercy,
    and to walk humbly with thy God?”

    It was one of those verses that I just kept being drawn back to and became one of those verses that ended up being “written on my heart”

    Everything combined led me to this:

    If scripture doesn’t clearly condemn it and there is no evidence that it is harmful to anyone it would be unjust for me to condemn it and I know how God feels about injustice.

    Shortly after I realized it was unjust to condemn same sex relationships due to insufficient evidence I also began to understand that good theology should result in good psychology (good fruit).

    I knew that scripture says that we (followers of Christ) will be known by our good fruit.

    I knew the good news should produce life giving fruit.

    If my theology was producing depression, hopelessness, self-loathing and suicide I had to come to grips with the reality that my theology must be wrong.

    As I pondered the “good theology = good psychology” principle and began to connect with a lot of Christian lgbt people I began to see a pattern … when lgbt people were connected to non-affirming faith communities they were typically very broken, desperate, hopeless, unhappy people and many times they were living out their brokenness in self destructive ways – but when they were connected to affirming faith communities they typically were a lot healthier and living much healthier lives. The evidence was clear and convicting.

    I had to let go of the theology that was producing death (emotional death, spiritual death, relational death, physical death) and embrace theology that was producing healthy ideas, healthy choices, healthy living .. theology that was producing health, wholeness and life.

    I share all of this with the hope that it might be helpful to anyone who is still working these things out because I believe our peace and assurance about these things will help our friends and family members who are LGBT to be at peace with themselves and, as a result, empower them to develop into healthy and whole human beings who can live into the person they were created to be.”

    PS Julie, next time you are in the Dallas Fort Worth area I would love to see you and tell you what has been going on in my private Facebook group for Christian moms of lgbt kids. We have more than 900 members now and the things the moms are doing to change the world are amazing.

    If you know anyone who wants more info about the private Facebook group for moms of LGBT kids they can email me at lizdyer55@gmail.com

    • BD
      Posted at 22:44h, 07 February Reply

      I’m glad you love your son.

      However, the idea that homosexuality is acceptable in any form in any Abrahamic religion seems absurd. Just like the idea that premarital sex is acceptable in any Abrahamic religion is absurd.

      I’ve no eggs in any Abrahamic religion’s basket. I just think people need to be factual about what their holy books say and don’t say, and whether or not they believe in literal meanings of the scriptures/verses/whatevers. That said, if I had to choose one of the 3 Abrahamic religions, I’d absolutely choose Christianity over Judaism and Islam – Jesus didn’t kill people.

  • Rachel Pinto
    Posted at 13:46h, 04 February Reply

    Rejoicing with you and lifting you up in prayer. If you’re ever in Little Rock, AR, please allow my wife and I to extend hospitality to you. Grace and peace.

  • Celeste DiFlaviano
    Posted at 13:59h, 04 February Reply

    Wow! Thanks for your post and your honest look at this. I have had a similar journey. Keep doing what you are doing because we need to stop condemning people even before they get into church. We all need Jesus period. We need his grace and He alone can save us. I was very blessed by your article and also by what Liz had to say.

  • Christine Callan
    Posted at 14:01h, 04 February Reply

    I hope that you will extend the same grace you extend to others, to yourself. You deserve to be happy and enjoy love!

  • Christine Callan
    Posted at 14:08h, 04 February Reply

    LIZ DYER, I applaud you. You are spirit filled and you have spoken much truth here! It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Equally, God is love. How are we as humans to fully know God, if we aren’t fully willing to receive what God has given us! It was never God’s intent to leave us alone. And God created us in relationship, for relationship. Your son is lucky to have you as a mom! What a gift! I can only hope that more parents like you will extend the unconditional love that Jesus showed us when he gave his life for us. We must be willing to extend completeness and wholeness to all of our brothers and sisters. God doesn’t show favoritism either. It isn’t as if God would say “to the heterosexual, you get love. To the homosexual, you will not.” No, God doesn’t work that way. Anyway, now I am rambling. Shalom, to each of you! And if you are ever in the Durham area, I would love to say hello. christine.callan@duke.edu.

    • Faith fraser
      Posted at 02:43h, 05 February Reply

      I total get this but where is your scripture to back up any of it.?

      • Jocelyn Newton
        Posted at 14:41h, 23 February Reply

        I find your question interesting, Faith. And on some level, it is to the very point. Had Julie written this post from a heterosexual perspective, I am guessing that you would not have requested scripture to back up any of it. Since it is from the LGBTQ perspective, you ask for scripture. Here’s the thing: There is no one specific scripture or set of scriptures for same-sex marital relationships. The closest I believe you are going to find is: Galatians 3:25-28 — “But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” And we are also told in Matthew 22:30 “For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.” This is what FatherGod gave to me in my request to Him why the gay loving relationship issue is not addressed in Scripture. As I am learning more and more about what these “issues” are, it is very obvious to me that it is people -fellow human beings- who have the “issues,” not God. This stuff doesn’t take Him by surprise. He didn’t create mistakes. He’s not all in a quandary as to why and because so many of His Children are gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender, queer/questioning, etc. A lot of the claims made (particularly by evangelical Christians) are founded upon Scriptures which do not address homosexuals or heterosexuals in a loving relationship. Those verses address lust, preying upon the defenseless, and people giving up God.

        • Brian
          Posted at 11:29h, 28 February Reply

          If you are going to make a Biblical case for anything, then it follows that Scriptural support is required. Right?

          The bible talks often about homosexual practice (I’m specifically not talking about SSA, but SS practice). No where does the Scripture support this practice. People often say Jesus didn’t approach the subject. Perhaps not directly but Jesus did define marriage. Jesus, when asked about divorce in Matthew 19 tells us what marriage is when He quotes Genesis 1 and 2… “have you not read that God made them male and female, THEREFORE man shall leave father and mother, hold fast to his wife and the TWO shall become ONE flesh.” (Matthew 19:4-5)

          Jesus says God’s plan for marriage and sex was clearly revealed from the beginning. Marriage and its design was pre-Fall and Paul says God clearly reveals through natural revelation (how we are made) his plans for sex. Now, sin has skewed everything and it follows that sex and marriage has been skewed by sin.

          I know many gay couples and have counseled many gay men. What I want to tell them is that they can do what they want. That marriage will make them happy and complete.. That sex and its practice are issues of identity and for them to be fully who they are they should be able to practice sex with a same-sex partner if they want. But, it isn’t about what I want. God through natural revelation, through His inspired word and even through His own mouth as Jesus declared His plan for marriage. Besides, is anyone going to make a claim that marriage completes you? That marriage and sex will solve your love problems? Talk to the countless heterosexual couples that can’t stand each other and realize that love is much more than sex and marriage. If love is truly not complete until it become erotic than Jesus wasn’t a whole person. Neither Paul or the hundreds of thousands of people who have given their lives to celibacy in service of the Lord. If sex and marriage are crucial to identity then we have lots of humans running around out there who aren’t fully human.

          As a heterosexual man I’m not immune to sexual sin and my sexual sin is just as condemned as homosexual sin. We all sin…and yet, we must call sin what it is. Sin. We are called to confess, repent and turn from our own desires/attractions/wills and take up our crosses (crucify self) and follow Him. Easy? No. Possible? Yes, but only with the Holy Spirit.

          Written from a heart of love, grace, and I pray, humility.

        • Daniel
          Posted at 17:28h, 29 June Reply

          Summary:
          In response to JOCELYN NEWTON’s comment concerning there is no male or female, there are several things you are missing, and you have to realize if the same author keeps contradicting himself by saying one thing one place and some else in another, that makes him either mad or unreliable. However, judging from all events that this writer has addressed concerning the law, the subject of same sex relationships was not the main issue, but differences on how women were treated with regard to holding positions, covering their heads, abandonment after divorce, stoned in adultery and multiple factors relating to inferiority as a person. If the author is consistent in how he addresses the subject of homosexuality, then you have to understand that this is not an isolated text referring to licensing homosexuality, but freedom through baptism for the various groups mentioned that were subject to the law. This is why it sates there is no bond or free, Jew or Greek, man and woman (Christian community bible CC pastoral text) relating to the freedom they did not have under the law.

          Facts:
          If I may point you in the right direction, take the time to read from verse 19 to where you suggest at Galatians verse 25. You will see that the author is speaking with respect to the law. For example, verse 19 states, “Why then the law? It was added with sin in mind; it was something added; that it was only valid until the descendant to who the promise was addressed should come; and it was put into effect by the angels with Moses as a mediator between them; if it were given by God himself, he is one”.

          Now I want you to pay special attention to the verse that’s coming,

          “21. Does the law then complete the promise of God? Not at all. Only if we had been given a law capable of raising life, could righteousness be the fruit of the law. But the written law actually closed out every view point, other than that of sin. So believers receive the promise as the fruit of Christian faith. ”

          The author is also saying, only if there was a law capable of raising life would the law complete the promise of God. The ‘law actually closed out on every view point’, means, women did not have an opinion. To further explain that, you’ll notice in verse 23 leading up to the text you referenced concerning man and woman, it says,

          “Before the time of faith had come, the Law confined us and kept us in custody until the time in which faith would show up”

          This text is two verses above your quote, clearly demonstrating what the subject of ‘man and woman’ and other inclusive groups relate to. You’ll see further down that your baptism relates to giving you that freedom, as it states in verse 27.

          “All of you who were given to Christ through baptism, have put on Christ. Here there is no difference between Jew or Greek….man and woman”.

          This is clearly making comparisons between what these various groups had under the law and what they now have through baptism. This really has nothing to do with same sex marriage, it all relates to the differences they were experiencing concerning the transformation from the law to the new covenant they were receiving . If you take in isolation just a few lines of text without reading prior to the text, you can definitely be misguided and may end up applying it to things you’re craving for, because you mind is already pretext on what it believes. But if you listen to what the teachers and founders have been teaching you concerning homosexuality, and that in these latter times men will come and change your teaching, you will approach your reading with the correct mindset.

          However, I also want to remind you of the fact that the bible of your religious faith teaches you that the freedom you believe in is not a license to commit the act of sin. If you focus on the word sin, this freedom does not exempt you from these actions, but only from the law .

          Concerning the scripture about the resurrection and becoming angels, are you suggesting this text tells you to have homosexual/bisexual relationships. I’m not quite clear as to whether you’re saying the spiritual state in that transformation where gender no longer exist is right now. I’m confused. However, what I can tell you is this, the promise given to the faithful is that they would be like God, and that pertains to his state of existence.

  • Sophia
    Posted at 14:09h, 04 February Reply

    Oh thank you for this. Mine is a similar journey. I’ve only recently begun to come out to myself as gender dysphoric and the road ahead is so unsure. Thank you for your voice in the conversation. I really do hope that Christians can talk with each other instead of past one another…

  • Amelia Markham
    Posted at 15:10h, 04 February Reply

    Fly, Bb, Fly.

  • “Gay Christian” explains why she now accepts same-sex marriage | Denny Burk
    Posted at 16:18h, 04 February Reply

    […] just read another public account of someone who is walking away from what the Bible teaches about marriage. Former Wheaton employee […]

  • Snoopy
    Posted at 16:59h, 04 February Reply

    “Then they realized it’s a bit much to demand lifelong celibacy from this one group of people and to define the terms of how we were allowed to talk about it, so it became more acceptable for us to say we were gay.”

    Is this really true? I’ve found that there is still a huge amount of resistance among many evangelical Christian leaders to accepting “gay” as a self-identification marker among LGBT Christians. When you first came out in support for same-sex marriage, many blog posts were written about how this was proof that letting gay Christians identify as gay could lead to nowhere good.

    But I hear ya. After a while, you just get sick of the constantly shifting goal posts. And it makes me wonder how so many can admit to being wrong [about homosexuality being a choice] and apologize [for promoting reparative therapy] and yet will continue to thunder that the absolute Biblical truth is that same-sex behavior is condemned and that they might have been wrong before but they’re 100% right about this one and if you disagree with them, it’s not simply a matter of theological differences, it’s that you’re not a Christian at all. It’s the last part that really gets me, the total lack of humility. How can you acknowledge you were wrong before and yet refuse to entertain the possibility that you could be wrong now?

    • Tom
      Posted at 02:00h, 06 February Reply

      I think it’s because there are more Scriptures that talk of gay sex being out of bounds, than there are Scriptures which say that gay people can turn straight. There is no Scripture which specifically says that a person can loose their same-sex attractions.

      • Snoopy
        Posted at 13:30h, 06 February Reply

        But that’s my point. You say now that there’s no Scripture advocating orientation change, but back when “homosexuality is a choice” was in vogue, people absolutely did insist that these particular beliefs were backed up by Scripture as well. The same goes for other hot-button social issues of the past, such as slavery and segregation. Southern Baptist leaders are some of the most vocal when it comes to denouncing homosexuality, and yet their entire denomination quite literally has its roots in defending the institution of slavery. “This is different,” you say, “because the Bible doesn’t advocate slavery. The passages that talk about slavery don’t say what you think it says.” But my point is that back then, Christians insisted just as vehemently that Scripture did indeed condone/promote things like slavery and segregation. So why can’t these people at the very least exercise a bit of humility and acknowledge that it’s possible their interpretation could be wrong? Are they so arrogant to believe that they are 100% right and that there is no room for error, despite all of the times in the past when they’ve had to eventually acknowledge that they were indeed wrong? Talk about hubris.

        • BD
          Posted at 11:11h, 04 March Reply

          According to Matthew 21:22 “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive,” orientation change shouldn’t be a problem for God. I believe the context of Matt 21:22 is entirely that belief causes change – period. After all, Jesus made the fig tree whither because he believed it to be so.

          I look forward to replies.

  • Life Changers – RCU Edition
    Posted at 18:43h, 04 February Reply

    […] In the raging debates about GLBTQ affirmation in the church, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone else besides Julie Rodgers who is more beloved and respected by all sides. Hers is a most balanced voice of both reason and compassion. How I was Moved to Support Same Sex Marriage in the Church. […]

  • Faith fraser
    Posted at 02:40h, 05 February Reply

    “HOW I WAS MOVED TO SUPPORT SAME-SEX MARRIAGE IN THE CHURCH”… my only confusion in this article. .. where’s the scripture!!?? Our opinion in the face of God’s law means nothing. I could only every be moved to change my stance on anything through God’s word.

    • David Ford
      Posted at 09:43h, 05 February Reply

      I highly recommend William Stacy Johnson’s “A Time To Embrace”. He presents a cogent argument based in Romans: 1 for the view Julie Articulates here (i.e., the consecrationist view).

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    Posted at 08:32h, 05 February Reply

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    Posted at 08:45h, 05 February Reply

    […] beliefs don’t shift in an instant,” Julie Rodgers wrote in the start of a recent blog post. “We research and agonize, bouncing between hope and despair, until one day we hear ourselves […]

  • David Ford
    Posted at 10:01h, 05 February Reply

    Julie,
    My sincerest thanks for writing this. The sanctity of marriage is revealed in the lives of gay couples, not in yet another debate about the meaning of arsenokoitai. Those who choose a biblical interpretation that excludes gay couples do so to their own spiritual impoverishment and to the detriment of their gay congregants. Thank you for making this private journey public.

  • Friday Finds: Feb 5 • Matthias Roberts
    Posted at 11:58h, 05 February Reply

    […] How I Was Moved to Support Same-Sex Marriage in the Church Julie Rodgers […]

  • Bob C
    Posted at 17:49h, 05 February Reply

    So what I hear is that the inconsistencies of evangelical Christians are a good reason to support gay marriage. There certainly are many, many, many inconsistencies among evangelical Christians. There is also what I call the protestant deductive logic game. You start with scripture, apply deductive logic, and you make make it say whatever you want it to say. This is one of the reasons there are 30,000 protestant denominations. None of this means however, that nothing is clear in God’s word and it does not mean that some things are not so clear and simple that anyone who really wants to know the truth cannot see it … like Genesis 2 on marriage, between one man and one woman.

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    Posted at 18:44h, 05 February Reply

    […] beliefs don’t shift in an instant,” Julie Rodgers wrote in the start of a recent blog post. “We research and agonize, bouncing between hope and despair, until one day we hear ourselves […]

  • Kathy Arnold
    Posted at 00:01h, 06 February Reply

    The end of your post put everything in a nutshell.

    “But we don’t have to live in fear any longer. Same-sex couples are getting married, and many of these couples are decisively Christian, and these Christian couples are a witness to a watching world that’s been disillusioned by the hypocrisy they’ve seen in the church. No amount of disagreement with these marriages will invalidate their Christ-like example of love and faithfulness. It will not diminish the power of their testimony when their love creates an energy that welcomes in the hurting, the lonely, and the forgotten. These couples exemplify a vibrant faith fueled by a man from Nazareth who embodied love and forgiveness in the way He lived and died. That is, after all, what a Christian marriage is all about.”

    We simply need to keep on going and moving forward with this, eh? The gospel is being preached to the whole world including LGBT people- who once were on the fringes and outskirts of society and now they are grafted in, just like everyone else AND that is amazing ! Keep going, keep being courageous, Julie, all my best.

  • Frank Franklin
    Posted at 11:54h, 06 February Reply

    Meanwhile all same sex romantic and sexual behavior remains sinful.

  • Alice Bowser
    Posted at 13:23h, 06 February Reply

    I suggest all of you read Romans 1: verse 18 and vs. 21-27. . Don’t say there is nothing in the Bible that does not mention homosexuality. Just read it’

    • ehhh
      Posted at 00:18h, 07 February Reply

      It’s like a lot of people here can’t even bother digesting Julie’s words, you just have a Pavlovian response whenever someone uses the word “gay.”

    • Jocelyn Newton
      Posted at 15:25h, 23 February Reply

      Alice, I have been told about Romans 1 before. I have read it many times. Yet again, for your suggestion, I read all of it again today. I love the Word of God and read it every chance I get and with every suggestion to read from its life-giving words, I always anticipate that FatherGod has some little gem I missed from reading it before!! So, thank you so much for suggesting it to me today. I sincerely appreciate it. What FatherGod showed me back in 2001, He reiterated to my heart yet again today!! Keys to the passage you suggest are found in verses 18 and 21. God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against ungodliness and unrighteousness. (Those who forsake God are unrighteous.) BECAUSE (that means there is a reason) when they knew God, they didn’t glorify Him, they weren’t thankful, they became empty in their imaginations and their foolish heart was darkened. Then verse 24, WHEREFORE, God also gave them up … You see, all this stuff about sexual lust, preying upon the defenseless, and all the rest of the ugly stuff in verses 24 to the end of the chapter are a direct result of having GIVEN UP GOD! These verses have nothing to do with loving relationships of heterosexual and homosexual people. They are a direct result of -and have to do with – having given up God first. – – – When your heart experiences the all-encompassing, the unconditional love of God the Father, God, as Creator and Sustainer of life, and you glorify Him, on what grounds would He give you up to vile affections?

      • Jason Bowen
        Posted at 12:22h, 22 January Reply

        Curious about what you think of Leviticus 18:22??

        For the record. I think everyone can do as they feel, freedom of choice is our god given right.. but when you say there is no scripture condemning being homosexual when there is.. it throws a question mark up.

  • BD
    Posted at 22:23h, 07 February Reply

    ” Both sides are sincere Christians and both view the Bible as authoritative––they just differ on how the Bible, which was written in a patriarchal context in the 1st century, should apply to empowered women in the 21st century. ”

    Now the floodgates of freethinking are open. Given the acknowledgement that everyone has their own lens, everything can now be questioned.

    Why should people believe that Jesus/God was born of a virgin? Highly unlikely given how humans reproduce.

    Why is marriage a requirement for engaging in a sexual relationship? Marriage was very different in the 1st century compared to today.

    Why should people believe Jesus/God created everything within a week? Why not in a blink of an eye?

    Why would Jesus/God create a place called Hell to send people to who do not believe in Him? Would you create a place like that to send your children to?

    Why would Jesus/God be angry and moody in the Old Testament but decide to be loving in the New Testament? God changed his mind about how He will love His children? God changes his mind?

    And the questions can go on and on.

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  • Jocelyn Newton
    Posted at 15:49h, 23 February Reply

    It appears some “take exception” to Julie’s position, which changed, on why she can now accept same-sex marriage. I am writing a book describing the “…painful labor and delivery of my birth into acceptance of myself as a Christian who is gay.” – In it I note: “…most of those to whom this work may discover itself are also in a learning process. And perhaps FatherGod may be pleased through this to reveal to you, as well, that what you believe early on is likely to change as you invite Him to open your heart, mind, and understanding.” So, Julie’s words were confirmation to my own heart of what God had revealed to me earlier, that what we believe so staunchly in the youth of our knowledge and experience is most likely gonna be the target for God to do a transforming work within our thoughts!!!

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  • Tara Ernst
    Posted at 21:40h, 23 February Reply

    Yay! So happy you’ve seen the light!!!!!! 🙂

  • Sam
    Posted at 23:48h, 05 March Reply

    Julie,
    As a same-sex-attracted Christian who very much appreciates the ministries, your writing strikes me as quite hurtful. How does coming out as gay-affirming praise God? If you were in the ministries and in the celibate community, you know how much those people are sacrificing for Christ. Do you assume that because your stance changes, there is no need to care about those “misguided” people any more. I love the LGBT community, and I demonstrate that by offering opportunities to affirm and reconcile between opposing groups–change groups and gay affirming groups. But, in order to do that, as you well know, it is important to use language that is not hurtful. Do you have a heart for SSA people too or have you thrown out the baby with the bath water? Hopefully, your background will give you more grace for people on both sides. But, I feel no grace in your words. Of course, it’s all a matter of perspective, but I think you might understand where I’m coming from.

    • BL
      Posted at 14:51h, 09 March Reply

      SSA Christians who are affirming, celibate, and sacrificing are not so different from celibate heteros and married couples who are sacrificing “self” within marriage to the care and upbringing of procreated beings, their children. It can be impossibly lonely, funny as that may sound, to be in a marriage and to be a parent. Lonely as a “self.” It is certainly self-sacrificing when done unselfishly.

      The long journey from Genesis to the cross is a story of procreation; of barren women suddenly able to give birth and in so doing moving the lineage forward of sonship: Solomon’s; David’s’; Judah’s; Jacob’s’; Isaac’s’; Abrahams…back to Eve. The primacy of blood lineage and genealogy is clear in Mathew and Luke’s claim and verification of Christ being from Royal David’s line, and thus meritorious of kingship. Both Joseph and Mary were of David’s line.

      The entire tapestry of salvation is woven by conception, starting with Eve, and after each conception (which required a spouse), the future kingdom for the Jews was advanced. As the ongoing social structure advanced, the concept of marriage did as well, but even loosely defined, it was between a man and a woman for the purpose of family, lineage, and procreation; and procreation was a blessing from God for the present and for the future of his people.

      Tampering in any way with that tampers with God’s laws and is punishable and fineable. This is recorded in the old testament and new in the torah and the talmud which assigns specific value for both a born and unborn child. This bloody process (and it is bloody, the act of intercourse and the birthing) is elevated from the animal to the divine by cooperating with God in anticipation of the fruit of the union: a child. In other words, we become like God when we are able to procreate: we become lifegivers. But it all emanates from God.

      Marriage, relationship, family all flow from this cooperation. And, so does society. In every Rabbi’s tract in the Talmud, throughout the Torah, in the Old and New Testaments we witness an ongoing discussion and narrative of the actual and the metaphorical, the bride and the bridegroom, the family and the children, and it is all instituted in the divinely overseen procreative power of the family until we arrive at Jesus, who also lives in a family.

      Uniquely, in His case, is the virgin birth. A perfect miracle of procreation not in need of the marital act, but definitely in need of a mother.

      These notions are not Catholic but Jewish, Orthodox, Catholic etc., Procreation and the tampering of it was unheard of in Protestant circles prior to the early 1920’s which is when Protestants began to accept birth control. We accepted abortion, we accept now gay marriage.

      But these acceptances simply cannot be argued as the familial understanding and obligation or RIGHT and BENEFIT of the old or new Testament. There are no male/male couples moving the lineage of Abraham, Moses, David and Solomon along to Jesus. Nor are there female/female couples. There are Sarahs, Leah’s, Ruths, and Nitzevets…the quality of relationships moves from multiple wives to only one under Jesus’ kingship, as he refines the law and says: one man, one woman. . But never to same sex relationships as a part of the covenants between God and man. Never to same sex marriages or couplings as a means of self fulfillment. Never to those marriage as a divine cooperation with God for the family of man.

  • Isaac
    Posted at 07:17h, 31 May Reply

    In my opinion, this isn’t as much a question of hermeneutics, church history, or whatever else as it is a question of identity. As a Christian, I receive my identity from God. He tells me who I am and why he created me. In the garden, God created man and woman in his own image. The fall happened when humans turned from God and looked for truth apart from him. Rather than having dominion over creation, as God commanded, we began to get our identity from it. We listened to the serpent, and then to one another, instead of God.

    I don’t believe that we should listen to ourselves (even what our own bodies might be telling us), others, or ANYTHING in creation when it comes to questions of identity. Bodies can change. God doesn’t change. He’s the rock I want to stand on.

  • Bryant Rivas
    Posted at 22:01h, 29 June Reply

    Hello Julie,

    Thank you so much for sharing your testimony. I know it must have been difficult to publically share something that is so personal to you. I would like to dialogue more about your position on same-sex marriage. Many of your statements caught my attention and I would like to offer a Catholic perspective.

    First of all, let me assure you that I am not here to judge or condemn anyone. My intention is to present truth through the teachings of the Catholic Church. Also, I do not want to argue or debate rather dialogue with you.

    As a Catholic, I am called to love all people. I love you as a sister in Christ. I can confidently say that God loves you and all people who struggle with same-sex attractions. However, as “siblings” in Christ, it is my moral obligation to gently correct others in matters of truth and doctrine.

    I know you come from a Southern Baptist background so I will try to give you a brief summary of Catholic teaching so we can understand each other better.

    As you have already alluded to, God created man and woman so that they could multiply and be fruitful. In philosophy, it is said that everything or every action is created to serve a specific “end” and purpose. For example, we use a cellphone to communicate with others via conversations or texting. Thus, everything is made to have a particular function. From a Catholic point of view, sexual intercourse is intended for the procreation of children. This can also be supported from a biological perspective. Animals in nature have sexual intercourse not for pleasure, but for the survival of their species. The male and female genitalia are anatomically designed to complement one another like a lock and key. For this reason, the Catholic Church is against any form of artificial contraception because it prevents the life-giving purpose of sex. Now on a more spiritual level, Christ gave himself completely on the cross and held nothing back. This is the ultimate type of love which is called “agape” or unconditional love. This type of love is sacrificial in nature and the most perfect of any type of love. Therefore, sex within marriage is supposed to reflect this complete giving of self that is open to bringing life into the world.

    Now, same-sex couples are physically barred from giving themselves completely to each other in the sexual act. Also, they cannot bring children into the world which are supposed to be a physical representation of their love.

    As we have already established, Sacred Scripture clearly states that marriage is between a man and woman. However, there is another scripture verse that I would like to share with you. Christ tells his disciples that:

    “Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it” (Matthew 19:12).

    This is an extension of “carrying our cross” in order to follow Jesus. Catholic priests and religious renounce marriage and live a life of celibacy in order to love others more profoundly. Some can argue that they “chose” to live that lifestyle. However, a vocation is not something we pick for ourselves rather a calling from God. He calls us to deny ourselves and what we want. I understand that this is not easy. Nonetheless, a life of chastity and celibacy can free you to love in a more profound way that transcends the physical.

    Overall, the LBGT community is a gift from God. You are good and beautiful because God loved you into existence. Your sexuality is not a curse, but a blessing to love others in a different way. The Catholic Church teaches that all people have an intrinsic dignity and worth. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that:

    “They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition” (CCC 2358).

    It seems that the world presents two solutions: denying your sexuality or embracing promiscuity. However, the Catholic Church offers a third way. Here is a link to a Catholic documentary:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rgDLWOFCRA

    Thank you for listening to my position. Please contact me if you would like to speak more about this topic. God Bless!!!

  • Lori Kucharski
    Posted at 21:02h, 29 July Reply

    As a licensed therapist who works with the LGBTQI community as an ally, and as someone who grew up Southern Baptist hearing one thing about “homosexuality” but believing and knowing another in my heart, I am so grateful to read about experiences such as yours–not because of your pain and heartache, but because of your purpose, impact, and passion. Out of the darkness and ashes really does come beauty.

    PS–I left the church for years but am a part of an ally-minded church community where all leaders are welcome to be themselves, LGBTQI or cys.

  • Joy Leverette
    Posted at 18:00h, 19 September Reply

    Hi Julie- I want to know, you mentioned a lot of other people’s take on homosexuality,…. pastors, elders and other christians and how it could be just wrong interpretation of the Bible.. what would be your interpretation of homosexuality? Is it NOT sinful to do homosexual acts …(obviously Samesex marriage is irrelevant if you think homosexuality is NOT a SIN) and what would make you think that? …just an honest question I am definitely open to learning.

  • Chris
    Posted at 23:48h, 31 October Reply

    Julie, I have followed your journey for sometime now. The more I listen, the more I hear you saying intentionally or unintentionally, that your decision to embrace gay sexuality is in many ways related to your disappointment with the poor handling of questions of sexual identity by supposedly solid Christian leaders. I’ve been following your writing for a good while now and it is a thread that seems to run through the center of your shift. I was one of those people who tried to be very supportive of you when you professed being same-sex attracted but also being celibate. I hope you will recognize that there are many many people who want to stand on the middle ground with you and that we are attempting to discern the Holy Spirit’s leading and to yield ourselves totally to the Lordship of Christ regarding these questions.

    I continue to seek wisdom in reading all sides in terms of theological and biblical scholarship on these questions. And I have to say, that for someone so thoughtful and sensitive, I have not found your reflection on your sexual identity to be persuasive. I share that only as a friend who cares. I am a single, celibate, heterosexual man who longs to find intimate connection in marriage. I took some consolation recently from the fact that studies have shown that the average person spends less than 4/10ths of a percent of their life being sexually active. That is the source of great solace to me and I hope it is to you. I truly agonize for same-sex attracted people. (By the way I thought your critique of the term same-sex attracted was something of a cop out.)

    I am deeply saddened by the idea of people who want to honor Christ with their lives but who are attracted to, and feel that they can only experience sexual fulfillment with, members of their own sex. However, I also know from personal experience and from years and years of ministry that most of us spend most of our lives outside of relationships that are fulfilling in most areas of life. I worry sometimes that same-sex attracted people feel they are being cheated out of a relationship that even most heterosexual people experience at most for only short periods of their lives.

    Your comparison of women in ministry and sexual identity struck me as very problematic. While context provides an important corrective with regard to women in ministry, sexual identity is thoroughly defined by the Bible as heterosexual and covenantal, within marriage. I’ve yet to encounter an argument or citation from Scripture that counters that. I’m the type of person that wants everybody to be as happy as they can be doing whatever they want, but I also know that we do not belong to ourselves. The heart is deceptive above all things. I know that you love the Lord and I pray that he will make his will blatantly obvious to you.

    I agree with you that most evangelical protestant pronouncements regarding sexual identity seem self-serving, not well thought out and often hurtful. I’ll look forward to the contributions you will make to that dialogue. And I also hope you will recognize all the Christian people who love and care for you unconditionally regardless of where you stand.

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  • Daniel
    Posted at 04:44h, 29 June Reply

    Julie if you are attracted to the same sex, why do yo feel you have to be married. Put it this way, if marriage was originally formed as a scared institution, why do you feel you have to drag others into it to be participant in that life style. You could have just lived your life as you please based on your belief, but don’t ask the church to become an accomplice to your sin. This is what’s been happening today, many are either forced through the law or pressured within their churches to give up the standards of the creator, male and female he created in every creature. Most people who are gay or lesbian never want to admit that their early encounters from childhood had a lot to do with what they’ve turned out to be, and sexuality has to do with what gender the child was exposed to. It also has to do with the sex the individual identified with. Homosexuality is a spirit, and a spirit is a desire. There are clean and unclean spirits. An example of something that is called a spirit in legal terms is alcohol, because it has the ability to control you just as demon possession (evil spirit) has the ability to control personality and behavior.

    Desires are things we can develop through habits or indulgences. We are body soul and spirit, the mind is the spiritual part of us, which is highly responsible for balancing hormones in our body. How you saw yourself as a child and how you envisioned your identity, had a lot to do with your hormonal balance. For example, if your mind experienced a bad dream resulting in you frightening, your body secrets an adrenaline hormone. When a male thinks of sex his body produces more testosterone for reproduction. Anger in the male also increases testosterone because the body prepares for authoritative behavior. That’s why males sometimes want to smash something when they get angry, because testosterone is the hormone that gives him strength, sometimes resulting in a hormonal imbalance. Hormones receive messages through the mind based on what it sees.

    It’s the main reason why sexual identity was taught in early childhood education, because how they see themselves played an important part in their development. Liberals after taking power changed school curriculums stating that a child should not be taught its sexuality and as a result, the problem has significantly increased. We now have a higher rate of bisexuality and homosexuality. No one is born gay, it simply has to do with what they get exposed to and how they see themselves, which triggers personality traits and behavior according to mental identity. .

    We live in a pagan society where children are exposed to all kinds of life styles, and can pass on sexuality through play and fondling each other, a means identified by researchers and psychologist in the 70’s – 80’s, as the main medium for transmission, sometimes initiated through pedophilia.. In some case, excessive tickling of children and the gender that initiated it played a vital role where sexuality is concerned. The answer to this problem is not about encouraging it, but to turn to parental education and early childhood education where kids are shown a family with a mother, father and children, with the understanding that they will one day grow up to also have a family. If the mind can be programmed in the early stages, the body is likely to get the message on it’s sexuality.

    For adults who already have the problem, they are wrestling with a spirit, just as someone wrestles with alcoholism. There are many who have gotten off alcohol or any controlling spirit through therapy, and likewise the same can be done for getting any spirit under control. The desire may still be there, but with the right mindset and exposure to the opposite sex can help bring a normal relationship and a happy family.

    Do not build on your childhood mistakes. Instead, learn from them and use it as equipment in diagnosing where you went wrong. Members of your church should help point you to the right direction, not take you in the reversed.

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  • Jeff Hollett
    Posted at 13:09h, 02 August Reply

    Well yet another unbiblical approach to interpreting scriptures. You have basically shared your opinion and as a result simply wrote a long winded justification of you own strong desire. I am a man and as a man I think about sex a lot or the typical amount for a man. As a married man there is an outlet for these desires, that said, left to my own devices I would try to have sex with every woman I am physically attracted to. No amount of justification would allow for this behavior. So what is the answer? Most of my friends gay and exgay say the same thing. They continue to struggle with the desire. If the goal is to stop being tempted the pray would go unanswered if the goal is to be led of God he will satisfy our desire his way. Giving into temptation is as if we are saying God is not enough.

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